Old School Planning

In my interview with Gwen Montoya, she talks about how it feels like there are too many tabs open in her brain and how she relies on analog systems to keep her on track. 

For years I've been pretty dependent on digital systems, partly because I have chronic pain that makes hand writing painful and partly because I have a checklist program at my school job that does a great job of keeping me in line (most of the time). Unfortunately, that checklist program is no longer available and my needs as an entrepreneur are much different than in the school system when my tasks are pretty much the same thing repeated again and again for different students. 

This last year I discovered the handiness of the dot grid journal through the popularization of the Bullet Journal system, which calls itself "the analog system for the digital age." Although the exact Bullet Journal system is a little elaborate for my tastes, the flexibility of the dot gid is highly appealing to me. It offers more structure than a blank page but is infinitely more adaptable than lined or graph paper.

Here are some of the things I've started to use my dot grid journals for:

Mind Maps - Mind maps are a non-linear way to map out what is going on in your brain. You can also use it to keep track of "collections" or lists of things that go together in a more visually holistic way. This is a mind-map list I created to help both my son and my self come up with things to do before we got on any kind of electronics. It was helpful for a while, but as with all tools to keep you on track, you have to use it for it to be useful. We are revisiting this now since we both have challenges with coming up with ideas of what to do spontaneously, but when given a spark we can really get the fire going!

Seeing Your Time - If you lean toward the ADHD side, you may have difficulty with your sense of time. A few years back, I participated in a training by Marydee Sklar called Seeing Your Time where she talked about tools to help you stay on track. As she says when things are out of sight, they are out of mind, so having an analog system to keep things constantly in view when you need to can be very helpful. For me though, the most helpful thing was to map out my typical week and to see how little free time I actually had. Once you see what your typical week looks like, you can then map out what your ideal week would look like. I'm working on a weekly planner that will soon be available on my products page. 

Tracking - One of the things I've seen used in a lot of Bullet Journal communities is a "tracker" to track positive habits or other things you want to keep track of. The simplest way to do this is to hae the letters for the days of the week in each square and then track each habit in a row (see picture above). I also used a two page spread to keep track of the entries into my retreat giveaway last summer so that I could make sure that everyone got counted. You can also track progress on goals. 

Creative Doodling - A lot of people in the Bullet Journal world like to get super creative and doodle throughout their journal pages. I am not the most artistic of people and while I may have fun with a page here and there, I am more likely to have just utilitarian lists and notes on the page. Recently I've started practicing Zentangle and drawing labyrinths (see above). Adding little visual elements here and there can be a nice way to make it look more appealing, but it can also trigger your memory so that things stick more. My son and I also started playing with drawing books from Ed Emberly who writes simple books for kids that let you make icon like dawings out of the simplest of shapes. 

This year I started creating some tools for my own use that I will be making available for beta testing for my friends and community members at the cost of printing. If you'd like to test out my 2017 A Powerful Year Planner, you can contact me or get on my mailing list for an update when the final draft is up and ready for purchase. I will also be having an undated weekly planner and dot grid journal available as well. All three will be posted on the products page.

What is your favorite analog tool?