Like many people interested in productivity and optimization, I’ve consumed a lot of resources and tried a lot of different systems — too many of which blend together and soon fall by the wayside. This summer, though, Ali Abdaal’s channel introduced me to Make Time by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, which has substantially changed my planning mindset in a positive way.
My 2021 Planners
New year, new planner setups — you know the drill. Not a ton has changed since 2019, actually, but here’s a look at how I’ll be organizing my 2021.
Setting Up My Fourth Bullet Journal
After trying out a traveler’s notebook for a year, I found that flipping back and forth between monthly and weekly/daily and collections journals wasn’t working for me; I also missed the catchall nature of having everything together in a single system.
So when I finally filled up the notebooks at the end of July, it was time for me to return to the bullet journal.
My 2020 Planners
Whether it’s a fresh calendar year or academic year (or even semester), I love the organization and anticipation of new school supplies, new bullet journal spreads, new goals.
This year I actually haven’t made many big changes from my 2019 setups — there’s no need to fix what’s already working. But since I love reading about other people’s planning systems I figured I might as well share mine; hopefully some of you will find it interesting and maybe even helpful!
Setting Up My First Traveler’s Notebook
When I started my very first bullet journal in December 2015, it seemed like the natural next step after five and a half years of preprinted school planners. (I got my first one in fourth grade, at nine years old.) Pen-and-paper planning definitely worked for me, but I had my own ideas for customized page layouts and lists.
Three and a half years — and three filled notebooks — later, I’ve decided to switch it up yet again. My parents got me a lovely traveler’s notebook cover last Christmas; since I’d have to set up a new planning notebook / system anyway, and in September I start a new phase of my life (professional pharmacy classes), the timing seemed perfect.
Even if you were productive every day of the week (kudos to those of you can manage it, I am not one of you), you’d probably still have tasks left over at the end of each day — whether because they take a lot of time, or so little time that you de-prioritize them, or you keep putting them off because you just don’t have the energy or want to do them, or you just forget about them in the course of a busy day. Or if you manage to check everything off the list, odds are you could use a break: some self-care, whatever form that takes for you.
So you set aside a period of time — it can be an hour every morning, every Sunday, the first weekend of each month, or on an as-needed basis … whatever works for you — and get all those things, and yourself, taken care of.
Get Your Shit Together (GYST) days are a concept introduced to me by Clo @ Book Dragons, but as far as I can tell the term was coined by YouTuber Kalyn Nicholson. No one’s perfect and things can slip through the cracks all too easily, so it’s really helpful to dedicate some time to check in with yourself. And hey, if you find your life is running smoothly, you’re not stressed out and want to keep the momentum going, you can always get ahead for next week or next month. Adulting never stops.