Having read Bullet Journal creator Ryder Carroll’s work, I suppose I can see it (though I never would have thought to sell my system as a System — clearly a failure of imagination on my part!) I use my paper notebook (Mead notes, Cambridge edition; purchased at Target) to write down lists of weekly priorities, and then sublists of daily priorities. I create what Bullet Journalists call “collections” in various places: books read, Christmas presents, RSVPs for a party, voice mail messages, weekend plans.
(There are no illustrations or stickers. Not my thing.)
I use my paper calendar (At-A-Glance DayMinder weekly appointment book; 3 9/16 x 6 inches) for recording any time-specific obligations or desires.
I know people who use electronic calendars can just put in new dates whenever, but for those who use paper systems — or electronic folks who just haven’t sat down to think about the year! — January is a great time to fill in important things for the next 12 months. Here’s what I’m filling in; if your life is like mine (kids, job, etc.) you might take some time this week to write these in too.
1. When the kids are out of school. Many schools publish their calendars far in advance (2019-2020 should be available; our school board approved this calendar in April 2018). Individual schools may also have half days for conferences, teacher in-service and the like, but they probably announce these far ahead of time too. Put these on your calendar now. My district’s schools are closed for the major Jewish holidays, and since I’m not Jewish, I would not naturally be aware that September 30 and October 1 would be when we’re observing Rosh Hashanah in 2019, but I know it now! And it’s on my calendar so I know we could theoretically take a long weekend September 28-October 1. Knowing these dates far ahead of time allows you to either arrange for a parent to work differently, or to find childcare if you need it.
2. Major kid events. I have grown weary of reading work/life literature that features some parent, usually mom, experiencing a conflict between a work event and a kid event and consequently lamenting that she must dial down, scale back, opt out, and otherwise join the Greek chorus of the disillusioned chanting that no one can have it all. BUT I will say that it’s highly likely your kid’s choir director has already scheduled the spring concert. If you put it on your calendar now, you’re more likely to be able to schedule around it. Athletic tournaments are likely scheduled too, as leagues need to book space. This doesn’t prevent a work emergency from arising. But you might be able to push to leave a conference on an earlier flight to reduce the chances of a flight delay causing a conflict you then need to write an angsty essay about.
3. Your vacation landscape. If you have a certain number of vacation days, taking a pro-active look at your calendar allows you to deploy these to maximum effect. For instance, if you’re not worried about school schedules (e.g. you only have pre-schoolers), and your office is closed on the Thursday and Friday of Thanksgiving week, you could put in to take November 25, 26, and 27 off, and thus be able to take a 9-day trip (Nov 23- Dec 1) for the price of 3 days of paid time off. You could pull off a similar trick around July 4 (which is on a Thursday this year, so a lot of offices will also be closed on July 5, allowing you June 29-July 7 for 3 days of PTO).
4. Things you might like to do. You’re not committing to things now. But if there’s a conference you’re thinking of going to, mark those dates as a maybe. That way, when someone asks you to do something on those dates, you know what the opportunity cost would be, rather than assuming they’re completely open.
5. Recurring dates. OK, this is a definite upside of an electronic calendar. If someone’s birthday was on December 5 last year, it will be on December 5 this year too! An electronic calendar can auto-populate. But if you’re using a paper system, go put these in now. If you’re planning to do something big related to a recurring date, make a note a few weeks before as well to remind you to think about it.
6. You-snooze-you-lose dates. Maybe this is the date your favorite band’s concert tickets go on sale. Staying in the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone during August 2018 required me to book those rooms on May 1, 2017. Likewise, I have a date marked for trying to get a reservation at a certain restaurant (when they open reservations for the season). Put it down, and if it requires you to be online at a very specific time, put a note whenever you do your planning (in my case, the Friday before the event).
7. Reminders. On October 9 (incidentally, Yom Kippur — we have the day off school) I plan to ask the kids about Halloween costumes. If there’s anything you recall saying “geez, I wish I’d remembered to think about that earlier…” now is the time to make sure you do think about it in 2019.
What’s on your calendar for the upcoming year?