Systems

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With a new year comes new systems. In addition to reading process posts, I love hearing about how friends and colleagues organize themselves.

I’m a bit of an organization junkie. You probably can’t tell from my desk (there are piles, but they are ordered piles!), but I can’t live without my systems.

This year I’ve seen two come up repeatedly: bullet journals (Kate Messner blogged about hers here) and the Passion Planner. Both are paper based and look comprehensive and pretty wonderful.

I was a paper planner, but I switched to Workflowy a while ago, and in the fall switched again to Evernote. While I enjoy paper planning, I like having a system that’s on my computer and phone and backed up. I live in mortal terror of losing my planner, and it’s much faster for me to set recurring tasks and to update and change things as I go virtually rather than having to copy and write everything out by hand.

My Evernote system was initially set up based on a Lifehacker post about The Secret Weapon, a GTD system built in Evernote. It looks really complicated, and it’s much more involved than I need. I tried it out for a few weeks and simplified as I went along until I had something that fit how I work.

I write and capture everything in Evernote — from grocery items as they occur to me to links for blog posts to notes for our family & friends newsletter. Evernote lets you attach images and PDFs, so if I need to fill out and submit a form, it gets attached to my to do so that I don’t have to track it down.

I’m pretty vigilant about daily and weekly planning, but as I looked through the bullet and passion planner systems, I realized that something big was missing from what I’ve been doing: reflection. My system didn’t leave time or create a space to evaluate how the week or the month had gone. I tend to set annual goals in the form of resolutions, but I check in on them at the beginning and end of the year and do my best along the way to keep those goals in mind, but my approach hasn’t been particularly mindful.

So I’ve added a layer. Now I have my reflections and evaluations in my journal and start each week and each month by looking back at what worked, what didn’t, and why in the previous time period and set some goals for the next one. I also loved one element of the passion planner — the ongoing list of good things that happened. For a while I was posting gratitudes here, but it didn’t make sense to post a gratitude every day, especially when some are very small or very personal.

Now I’m setting aside a page in my journal each week for that week’s good things and gratitudes. Sometimes it’s as small as an excellent scone and cup of coffee. Other days it’s something bigger, like the baby’s first tooth emerging. And now, on particularly challenging days, I read through some of these pages (which are, of course, indexed in the back of the journal for easy retrieval!) and smile and know things are okay, and I can move onto whatever is next.

2 Responses to "Systems"
    • Happy New Year, Sarah! The gratitude entries have been a great way to end each day. Low stress because they’re only a sentence or two, and I like thinking through the good things that happened instead of getting bogged down by the latest crisis.

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