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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

In Search of Order

In Search of Order

Being organized is comforting.  I feel in control of this crazy thing called life when I have my days and weeks and months somewhat planned out.  As a former teacher, I led a very ( and I mean VERY) structured life. Simple things like bathroom breaks and lunchtime had to be planned in advance. I lived by planning things out.  You can't just wing-it day after day in a classroom; you would be eaten alive by the little lion cubs! So, when I retired, I continued using a planner to map out all the things I needed to do and wanted to do. I needed to set goals, make lists of places and people to see. I also became the sole meal planner. It soon became apparent I couldn't do all of that in my 5x7 weekly/monthly calendar, so I searched for something better.

I kept encountering a thing called a bullet journal. At first I thought it was just an unorganized daily, bullet-ed list of what happened in your life; a kind of diary.  But as I investigated and looked at examples on Pinterest  I discovered it was much more organized than this and could be the exact tool I needed to organize my unstructured life. No one told me that one of the things you need to adjust to and prepare for when you retire is the lack of structure to your days and weeks. At first the lack of structure was liberating, but that soon palled, and I began to panic that I was wasting valuable time by not setting goals and accomplishing them.  The bullet journal helped me ease off the panic button. All you need to construct a bullet journal is a notebook, a pen, some colored pencils and a ruler.
I found a journal in the sale bin of Barnes and Nobles and turned it into my bullet journal. P.S. pick a nice pen that won't smudge or bleed through pages. Here is my pick: the pen is a Paper Mate Ink it!

I won't go into too much detail about the set up of a bullet journal because there is so much out there on the Internet that you can investigate for yourself.  But, I do want to point out that the beauty of a bullet journal as opposed to a calendar/planner is that you can customize it to fit your needs.  For example, I create a two- page spread every Sunday for the following week.  I construct space for daily appointments, notices of importance. There is also space for meal planning.

And one of my favorite spaces on this 2-page spread is the Quote of the Week block. I like to choose a quote that will help me focus on some aspect of life that I want to work on or that will help inspire me in some way.

In addition to the weekly calendar spread, I use another 2-page spread to create space for listing weekly know those pipe dreams of "this is what I want and need to get done this week." I turn to this page whenever I'm at a loss during the week and I'm asking myself..."what should I do next?"

I also use the bullet journal for lists. For example, right now I have a pretty lengthy Christmas list going that is divided into columns for each member of my family. I have  a list of books I want to read, a list of places I'd like to visit, and a list of house improvement projects.

I also use the bullet journal to organize projects that need to get done.  For example, presently I am re-doing the en suite bath off of the master bedroom.  I listed all of the things that needed to get done to accomplish the task and even some of the "if money were no object, this is what I would do" ideas.

The bullet journal can also be a motivational tool.  I have several sections that I use for personal improvement goals, such as a fitness tracker where I set and record goals for things such as weight loss and steps walked per day, and even a page where I keep track of daily expenditures so that I stay within my budget.

The final thing I will share about the bullet journal is that it is also a relaxation tool. Not only does it help me organize my life, but it provides an artistic release...I  get to color!  If you are artistically talented you can really go crazy with this.  Me, I'm more of a doodler, so my embellishments are pretty simple. The opportunity to color like a child is relaxing in that you really don't have to think...just choose a color and go.

For all you retirees out there who might be struggling with that feeling of being unmoored...give a bullet journal a try.