Hey, Friends! Today is the start of my annual little “Birthday Favourites” series, meaning that over the next two weeks, I’m going to be sharing all the fun new things I’ve discovered during the last year.
It’s a tradition my mom started when I was a kid – every year on our birthdays, she’d record everything we loved most at that moment, and we always thought it was fun to look back at how things changed or stayed the same or whatever! It became so much a part of turning a year older that even now, as I’m nearing 40 (gulp!), I still see my birthday as a time of reflection and a little bit of goal setting, too – I love the idea of improving with age, and doing it on purpose! What do I love, and how can I learn, grow, and challenge myself to discover new things which increase my enjoyment in life?
I’ll be sharing what I’ve discovered in the past year (and there are some really good things I can’t wait to tell you about!), but there’s also the opportunity for you to get involved! Every time you choose to share a comment about a product/experience/habit you’re loving right now, your name will be entered in a draw for an Amazon gift card, so you can have the chance to try even more new good things.:) I’ve loved doing this in the past, because hearing new ideas from all of you has been really interesting, and I try as many of your suggestions as possible. As a result, I’ve discovered some of my favorite songs, books, and all kinds of good things. Share the love! Or at least enjoy reading through the comments to find out what others are enjoying.:)
So let’s jump in and get started!
This was the year I discovered the benefits of Bullet Journaling. I’d heard of it many times in the past, and tried it out, but a few months ago, it finally stuck, for the simple reason that I got a specific “special” notebook (different from the kind I usually make my “to do” lists in), just for bullet journaling.
Bullet Journaling is an incredibly flexible way to keep track of your life that can work for pretty much anybody, because you decide what to include. It’s fast and customizable, because you’re using a blank notebook. You start with an index, give every page you use a page number, and add whatever you need. I started with a monthly to-do list – just a quick list of tasks I needed to get done that month. Then I started adding my daily items to check off. But anytime I think of a list I need to make, like blog post ideas, a shopping list, gift ideas, or books I want to read, whatever, I can just add them in anywhere, making sure to add the page number to the index.
Everything goes into one notebook.
I used to have a million little pieces of paper lying around with all the lists I made, but now they’re all in one place.
I’ve kept things pretty basic in my Bullet Journal, but there are tons of beautiful ideas on Pinterest for how to make this as artistic and intricate as you want. The artistic part does appeal to me, but at this point in my life, I don’t really have time for doodling! Someday. In the meantime, this little journal is keeping me on track in ways I’ve never experienced before. I’m a pretty organized person, but it just felt like things would slip through the cracks, and I needed to find a way to keep everything together.
This is the video which first got me interested:
There are two other tools I use along with bullet journaling. Evernote became a favourite of mine this past year, because it’s also fantastic for making lists with, and when I don’t have my bullet journal with me, I usually have my phone, and can add stuff to Evernote so I won’t forget anything. I love being able to search Evernote for things I’ve entered, so I can make endless amounts of lists on it but still always be able to find what I’m looking for later. I use it for writing down funny things the kids say, taking notes of messages or podcasts I listen to, information I’m collecting on stuff I’m researching (like price comparisons for products I want to buy or information on new products to try), books I want to read, grocery lists, quotes I love, whatever.
The second tool I use which works very well with bullet journaling is the “Getting Things Done” method. I’ve listened to a few of David Allen’s podcast episodes which explain the method, and it’s very easy to implement. There’s also a book about the method, which you can check out here (affiliate link).
David Allen explains that we can only remember about four things at a time, and it’s difficult for our brains to hang on to those things for long, so when we write everything down, we get more done, and feel less stressed because we’re not trying to remember everything. He talks about doing a regular “brain dump”, which simply involves writing down every single thought that crosses your mind, no matter how random it might be. Afterwards, you can go over your list and decide what action needs to be taken. Sometimes it’s an item I need to add to a shopping list. It could be something important I need to add to my to-do list. Or it could be an item I need to pray or journal about. Everything on the list needs to have a place to go where I’ll remember to take care of it.
This method fits perfectly with bullet journaling – I do my brain dump at the back of my journal, then when I’m finished, I go back over every item and add them to the correct list, all in the same notebook. It’s been so practical and effective, I really feel like it’s given me more peace of mind. I’ve reached the point where it feels really uncomfortable to have something in my mind that I’m not writing down – like carrying something heavy that just needs to be set down! I love the feeling of not trying to lug too many thoughts around in my head or feeling concerned that I’ll forget something important!
So those are three of my favourites this year. I’d love to hear how you keep track of things and get stuff done! What makes you feel productive, motivated, and stress-free?:)