Avoiding the Scheduling Extremes :: BuJo Setup Mini Series

May 2016 165

Confession: I’m just a woman who learns from all my many (daily) planning failures; I’m really not a scheduling guru.

Also, I’m pretty normal when it comes to busy seasons of life – I fall into the lazy mode of letting things coast. Have you been lured into the “schedule-break” temptation too? The bait goes something like this:

“Living moment by moment isn’t so bad! Things are getting done, taking a break from writing out a ‘week at a glance’ isn’t a big deal, and I’ll remember that appointment – no need to write it down.”

After giving into these thoughts for weeks (or even months!), I wake up one day way too stressed for the level of activities in my life and way too overwhelmed by the amount of list-items swirling around in my head.

The pendulum has swung and I’ve gone from one extreme to the other – hyper-scheduling to under-scheduling.

When I swing too many times, I go a little bit nuts and start to think in extremes:

“I’ll never be able to manage our calendar.”

“I will always fall behind on laundry.”

“I never remember to take our library resources back on time.”

“I’m always running late for our appointments.”

And this is when I have to admit to myself (and others) that I need a Bullet Journal intervention. I need to stop avoiding the work, stop neglecting the truth – that organization is best in small daily doses, and stop over taxing my brain by trying to just remember it all. Just by spending 15 minutes per day, I can completely order my life and trade my crazy for calm.

Have you tried using a Bullet Journal? Do you use it for your calendar too? If so, do you copy your schedule in multiple places? Does that help? Why or why not?

I want this series to be super practical, and that means addressing potential setbacks before you even begin. The swinging back and forth between the scheduling extremes is common. Don’t feel bad about doing this in the past. Now I want to give you some ideas to think about. I call these questions The Big Jump. (Soon I’ll focus on the baby steps.)

I need to set aside an hour to have a JDM – Journal Defining Moment. This is when I decide what the scope of my BuJo (Bullet Journal) will be. I answer these questions:

  • Will my BuJo be my calendar too?
  • Do I need to write out the months in advance or just each week?
  • What other planners and/or organizers am I currently using? Are they working?
  • Am I going to include journaling space too?
  • What categories of my life will go into this BuJo? Homeschooling? Personal Growth? Family Activity Calendar? Business Goals? Etc.
  • Do I feel creative and what tools do I want to try to use? Am I satisfied with this BuJo being plain?
  • Is it important to me to be economic or visually appealing* with my entries?
  • What “Mom Bag” will I use to carry it in and will I commit to taking it everywhere? (This may seem like an unnecessary question but I will address why it’s a big jump question later on.)

* I say visually appealing not creative because even though I can create some pretty pages sometimes, my right hand tends to shake and I can’t guarantee pretty handwriting all the time. I like to use markers and larger point pens because when I write too small, the strain hurts my hand too much. SO. I will never be the person who can boast of being a closet hand-letter-er. But I do like to make my pages visually pleasing to me. Meaning: Spacious, colorful, and clearly readable. I tried being super efficient with my pages for a while – cramming more than one day or more than one list onto a single page and that made me crazy. You, however, may feel more productive setting yours up this way. You do you.

Can you think of other questions that would be important for your personality to think through before you take a big jump into a new BuJo? List it out and face it before you start! This will set you up for personal success. Many times I look at other Pinterest-worthy BuJos and think “Oh…in a perfect world, I would just copy their set-up!” But they don’t have 4 kids, or work 3 jobs, or their spouse works from home and their home set up is catastrophically different than mine!

Hear me: To successfully set up YOUR BuJo, you have to do it for YOU. Copying mine or even the expert BuJos online will only set you up to quit a quarter of the way through it.

And I bet you know what that means.

You will feel like a failure, let your scheduling slide, and wind up stressed and overwhelmed a-g-a-i-n.

And one more tip before you start the next step: don’t take the Big Jump until the timing is right for you. How do you know if the timing is right?

Easy:

  • If you are reading this post and thinking: Wow, that’s really great for her. It sounds like she’s really thought this through. I may give that a try sometime. THIS IS NOT THE TIME FOR YOU.
  • But if you are reading this post and thinking: She’s reading my mind. I need to start this process yesterday! I’m ready to do this for ME. THIS IS DEFINITELY THE RIGHT TIME FOR YOU.

Ready for more? The mini series will continue! Did you miss the first post in this series? Click here. Want to see what tools I use? I wrote about them here. 

Back to School Supplies for Homeschool Moms

Nothing says back to school like a package of Crayola crayons for 25 cents.

But I didn’t buy those. (Maybe you don’t need to either.)

I already went back to school shopping for my kids’ supplies and I bought one measly package of pencils. Because, as it turns out, that’s all we really need.

As a homeschool mom, I get to design our back to school supply list. And boy am I glad I do.

I don’t have to buy washable markers, glue sticks, and a hundred #2s. I don’t have to buy anything we don’t need or won’t use. Sure, I’ve learned the hard way that we don’t use crayons (last year’s box of crayons – bought during “Back to School” – is still unopened).

I can wait for the crazy Amazon deals on Prismacolor and stock up in October because that’s when we will need them.

Also, we don’t have to worry about buying uniforms, Under Armor (or whatever other brand is currently “the coolest”), 2 pair of new shoes, lunch boxes, backpacks, or whatever else is now “last years” and therefore insufficient for this fall.

I can buy clothes when we need them, cater to our tastes, and use last year’s (or even many years ago) because it still works!

All of this not buying leaves a lot of room for the things that really matter to me.

Here’s what I bought for my back to school supplies:

A nice journal – for my Bullet Journal.

Sharpie pens – for writing everything because I don’t like to use ballpoints or gel. (I prefer blue ink simply because I think blue looks happier than black.)

Prismacolor Markers (Just $5.95 right now! Check the price before you click; subject to change.) – for writing titles and creating other little designs in my BuJo.

Great coffee – for the beauty of it! I love coffee, and I simply adore drinking coffee from a pour over like this one.

A Happy Life Planner – for my calendar and school planner. (More about why I’m using a Bullet Journal and a Planner in my BuJo Series!)

A book that is just for me. I know this season will get busier than I will be able to handle. It will be easy to fly through my days checking boxes and showing up for appointments. But I don’t want to lose touch with my inner self through this season. So, I make sure to pick a title that deeply speaks to me me – not mommy me, wife me, or educator me. I want to make sure that I leave room in my days for at least 10 minutes to pour inspiration into my heart and soul or none of this whole “back to school” thing will be very fulfilling. (This book is also in addition to my daily Bible reading! I simply can’t emphasize the importance of being spiritually healthy!) **See my 2017 list of books here.**

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Savvy Minerals – for the perfect mixture of self-care and dignity! I am more prone to be productive when I feel put together for the day. I just recently switched to Young Living’s makeup line because they are chemical free! It’s seriously the best makeup on the market – for you and your daughters! Watch this super short video to learn more about Savvy Minerals. Your health may thank you for the switch. Sign up or browse Young Living’s website now.

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Products to help me feel as comfortable as possible during “that time of the month” – for goodness’ sake!!! After four kids, I have ample reasons for needing support for this time. Watch my video to learn more about what I’m using!

The whole line of KidScents Oils – for my peace of mind and my kids’ comfort and health!

So what’s your Back to School plan?! Whatever you need, want, buy — don’t forget to take care of YOU. Because a healthy mom will be a better homeschooling mom than one who neglects her own care.

Cheers to the new homeschool year!

 

Whose planner is it anyway? (BuJo Series Intro)

BuJo Setup Series Intro

The Bullet Journal (affectionately nicknamed BuJo) is a powerful tool, and you’ve probably either tried it or have heard enough about it that you’re curious to find out what it is.

There’s no shortage of Pins or posts on the topic to help you on your way. This post will probably rank 200,000 on a Google search.

That’s okay.

This isn’t a “How To,” or a “List of Supplies.” I won’t be telling you how to design your spreads. (Although those posts are coming for those who are interested.)

Before I begin this BuJo Setup Mini Series, I want to put a question out to you – Whose journal is it anyway?

I’m creating the perfect setup for me. This is the 4th journal I’ve started using the main BuJo ideas. I’ve changed each journal with use. I like following some of the “rules” and not others. (I don’t think I ever want to migrate a list again.)

The point I’m trying to make here, is that this is my journal. I’ve made the adjustments I’m going to detail in this series because they better served me. But I’m not saying that this series will be pointless to the greater world.

What I want you to remember from now through the end of the series is that your BuJo will only serve you if you take the time to process what tips and tools will help you make it yours.

Sounds silly to take the time to write this out, but I’m writing from personal failure. I have put my BuJo on a shelf for weeks because I thought I wasn’t using it “correctly” only to realize that I was trying to use someone else’s journal (of course, I do not mean literally).

And can I just pick on the idea of “failure” for a second?

Good. Thanks.

Who says it’s a failure if I try to use washi tape and it looks silly? What if I use a different pen and my handwriting looks wobbly? Or if I title a spread and see that it’s off center?

These and so many other mishaps happen to me. I’m not a natural born scrapbook visionary. I don’t see blank journal space as an opportunity to showcase my vision for a beautiful layout of colors, stickers, etc.

But I do like to look at beautiful things! I try little ways to make my journal more visually pleasing.

So, from the beginning of my journal creation, I set my standard at “plain with purpose” and I own the fact that I’m not going to secretly wish for a vivid, colorful, impressive display of book art. This journal is going to serve me by being my brain on paper, and if I can keep my standard in the right place then I will be so much more likely to just grab it and write as often as I need to. This, to me, is BuJo success.

Are you ready to dig in?

My goal is to inspire you to think, not copy. I want you to design a BuJo that will call to you. One that will be so easy to write in that you wonder how you ever lived without your brain on paper. It may be decked out in all the Hobby Lobby glam, or it might be a college ruled spiral notebook and pencil. Whatever it is, I want it to be yours. The more you write in it, the more valuable it will be to you.

Let’s get started!

Watch my videos on YouTube for more thoughts and tips!

Read all my previous posts on the Bullet Journal:

A “Busy” Mom’s Guide to Weekly Homeschool Planning

busy-weekly-plan

Let me tell you about my “busy.”

It’s 11am. And even though I’ve been up since 7am, I haven’t eaten yet.

I haven’t started teaching the lessons for today yet either. I know I need to start preparing lunch instead of lessons at this point, because if I don’t eat-something-now I may just collapse.

I make a quick sandwich and begin eating.

The 3-year-old sees it and begins whining for food too (I’m never allowed to eat anything without one of the children thinking that they should be given what I have) and the baby works herself from a fuss to a full cry.

Our schedule spiraled out of control all because I was daring enough to take a shower this morning.

All of this chaos keeps me busy. Constantly fighting to keep just a step ahead of the next task, mess, or meal.

This is the type of busy that causes 24-hours to fly by and feel like nothing has been accomplished, and it is often to blame for not planning or setting goals. This is the busy that most often keeps me from my priorities: “inside busy.”

“Outside busy” can be just as troublesome; it is the plague on our culture to book our calendars with good things that take us out of the house.

So, how can I get homeschool planning accomplished if I can’t even make time to eat breakfast?

Homeschool planning guides say something like:

Set an appointment with yourself and ask your spouse to take care of the kids in order for you to focus on planning for the next week.

I tried this.

But it was discouraging because it basically never worked. The “inside busy” always distracted me, derailed my schedule, and discouraged me that I would never have a moment to restfully plan ahead.

And even though my husband is my greatest support, our “outside busy” keeps us from being able to find a concrete time that I can count on to get this task done.

Last year I floundered with our plans. We didn’t have curricula that was highly structured so I could get away with not charting our week or our days. Each day could be planned on the fly. (But I did record everything we did in our Bullet Journals.)

But not so this year. We have dedicated ourselves to a more disciplined path, and with that path comes a higher standard of planning ahead.

So, how do I manage to plan when I have to compete with inside and outside busy?

First, write!

I write down anything I can whenever I can, and it helps me get a little bit done here and there. This was hard at first because I despised having to leave the task unfinished. At first, I also struggled to pick up where I left off. But over time this became normal and helped me understand our rhythms even more accurately which leads me to the second tip for planning.

I'm writing a little bit while snuggling the newborn. It's possible; be creative!

I’m writing a little bit while snuggling the newborn. It’s possible; be creative!

Second, refuse to be distracted by bad planning.

  • Planning is not just arbitrarily writing activities and times in my calendar and then crossing my fingers that it will work.
  • Planning is not writing the same schedule over and over every week without actually using it.
  • Planning is not best accomplished the day of or spontaneously.
  • Planning is not pushing on to the next lesson. Neglecting the child’s understanding of the subject and moving on to more and more lessons without allowing time for the child to master the subject is not good planning.

Third, focus on taking baby steps toward the goal.

Like I said in the first point, writing what I can when I can is a baby step toward the overall goal of writing a weekly homeschool plan.

Start planning earlier than your deadline. I need to have all my plans laid out by Sunday evening in order to start the new week on Monday. I used to wait until Sunday afternoon to plan, but after a busy morning at church and a full belly from Sunday lunch I tend to forget how important it is to be productive. So, I finally learned to start planning for the next week on Thursday. By that time in our current week, I have a good handle on what we’ve done and what we won’t be able to do. I am able to see clearly what pace we are currently working at and adjust for the next week – either faster or slower.

Fourth, set a general plan for the month and keep an eye on it.

Before we start our 6-week term, I write out how many lessons we need to accomplish in each subject. I have already calculated an approximate number of lessons we need to work through for each term in order to finish each subject by the end of our school year. But I only write the lessons in the calendar one month at a time. (I explain this in detail in a video which I will publish soon!)

Fifth, know your week.

Remember this “homeschool stuff” isn’t just added on top of your life – homeschooling is a lifestyle. In order to best accomplish your goals for leading your child in the learning life, you need to know what demands on your time you are going to face for the week. Each week is a little bit different in every home. There are appointments, plans with friends, extra trips to the grocery store, etc. If you know in advance that any of these things are coming up, then they need to be accounted for in your lesson plan. 

Watch this video to see what I mean.

I use my Bullet Journal to chart my week. I write out each day of the week on the left hand side of the page, and then I list the events of that day along with what meal I plan to make for dinner.

These are the 2 major variables: where we need to go and what will be for dinner.

These two parts of my day account for the bulk of what consumes my time. If we have a doctor’s appointment for example, it isn’t just that time of day that we are “busy” but at least an hour beforehand in prep to leave the house. Also, we require a transition period once we get home. I have to be prepared for what I’m going to ask my children to do when we arrive back home. This has to be flexible and take into account their energy level, hunger, and time of day. It’s important that I don’t push them too hard nor neglect them because I failed to plan. (Let me know in the comments if this is confusing and I can explain more about how I plan for our transitions.)

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The same idea is true for dinner. Writing out that we will have pork barbecue sandwiches on Monday night requires more than just 30 minutes before 5:00pm to assemble. Every single dinner meal goes through a thorough “how long will this really take to make” process. There are days when I know I will have time in the morning to prep a crock pot meal and mornings when I won’t. I chart out our Outside the House appointments and then factor in how much time each meal requires. (Again, if it would be helpful to have this explained in more detail, I would be happy to share.)

Finally, always think a day ahead.

Because of the lessons in the evening and morning courses by Crystal Paine, I have been trained to plan ahead. I can’t tell you how life changing this little shift has been! Instead of packing the diaper bag on our way out the door, I pack the night before. Instead of writing the agenda the morning of, I write it the night before – this helps to double check our week’s plan one more time too. I take account of our daily timeline for the next day but this time with a lot more perspective. For example, on Monday evening I look at the Week Plan and see that I want to run a couple errands before the library for our “Tuesday Plan.” But Monday was a very tiring day. We had a busy Sunday and needed more rest Monday to recover which means that we didn’t finish our Monday household chores. So, I move my errands to the next opening in our schedule and try to lessen the amount of time out of the house because I know 2 things: #1 we won’t have the energy to run around town, and #2 if we don’t make time for our chores then our home gets out of balance.

The bottom line is that planning requires consistent, daily management. If you will do the daily work of thinking through your responsibilities, then the weekly spread will come together quickly and practically.

Practice makes permanent! Keep planning and it will become a habit regardless of how busy you are.

Want even more encouragement for the learning journey? Click here to join the Accountability Group!

Looking for a way to make staying at home more affordable?

Grocery University will teach you how to save your money so that you can use it on more important things – like books!

(Affiliate links used in this post. At no additional cost to you, any purchase you make from these links supports my family!)

Planning Your Year-at-a-Glance: Homeschool Planning Tip #3

HPT 3 Year at a Glance

Maybe you’re like me and the rush to start planning for the next school year has already faded.

Don’t give up! One thing I continue to learn is that baby steps in the right direction, with the long view leads me not only to my destination but also to a sense of personal satisfaction.

So, let’s jump into the planning tip for today: Get your planner ready now.

This coming school year, I will be using the Ultimate Homeschool Planner. To learn more about this planner, click here.

(Last fall I flirted with buying one of these even while writing all my Bullet Journal posts. A friend of mine picked one up so I was able to see it in person – that makes a huge difference to me when considering any purchase – and I was impressed.)

Cara's Samsung June 8 031

I still believe that just using a Bullet Journal can be best for keeping all your thoughts, plans, and agendas in context – the homeschool mom needs to simplify, right?

This year, I wanted to try something different.

The Ultimate Homschool Planner will allow me to write in so much in advance, and for that I’m grateful. With the new baby about to make her arrival in just a couple weeks, I want to be able to have as many ducks in their rows before life takes a major shift in momentum.

Because no matter how much money I spent on the curricula and resources, they won’t use themselves. I need to make a plan.

Start with a “Homeschool Pause” (see picture above). I listed out what my feelings are, milestones to expect, discipline issues (self included), and challenges and temptations. I will use this list (I’m actually not a big journaler, my thoughts and feelings best come out in lists) to fill in the pages of the Ultimate Homeschool Planner.

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Next, beginning to fill it in:

  1. Read everything. I know it’s tempting to skip “Introductions” and I’m all about saving time and being efficient (skimming is fine for some intros), but for homeschool resources – I believe it is best to take in the author’s point of view before forming your own. For example, the creator of my planner Debra Bell recommends setting aside a whole day for your first year-in-advance planning. But I’m not going to do that. I see her point for why she recommends it, but I know it doesn’t work for me. Picture this: I ask my husband for a Saturday away to plan for the next year. Said Saturday arrives and I start off by going to my favorite coffee shop. After ordering, sipping, and finding the “best place” to set up my whole shah-bang I realize I’ve wasted an hour. So, I feverishly start to read the introduction while being distracted by the couple at the next table who just started a political conversation. Ugh. This isn’t going to work. I decide to finish my coffee and pack up in order to go to the library where it will be quieter. But….there are just a dozen other distractions at the library. So, in short: #1 I plan best at home, #2 I plan best in short spurts. But I read her suggestion and I’m implementing it in a way that works for me. IMG_4148
  2. Research your state’s requirements for the number of days you will need to account for school. (Read this in depth post on state requirements for homeschooling.) Then in either your planner or Bullet Journal make a spread of the whole year – block out vacations, holidays, and any other known special days. Gage which months will be heavy school months and which ones should be light. Keep in mind how many total days you will need to account for. IMG_4149
  3. Set goals for each student. This goes back to the first post I wrote on why planning now is important versus waiting until August. Ideals, dreams, goals, and the like get cast off in the rush to just get started when running late. The whole August overwhelm takes over and these important things are forgotten in the face of the urgent. So, do it now! Write just a few short and sweet goals for each child. What are their interests? How have they grown or failed to grow this past year that needs your encouragement and focused attention? List 3-5 character goals, and 3-5 academic goals. These may be items that fall on your shoulders in order to see them accomplished. Don’t expect that just writing down “learn to spell” will magically occur for that child without your direct involvement. So, be very careful how many things you list, especially if you have a larger nest. IMG_4150
  4. Family Priorities. Why do you homeschool? What do you want the greatest point of this next year to be? What makes the people who live under the same roof as you different from everyone else in the world? Honor those things and write them down so that you can continue to pray over the list. Use this list when making decisions so that you can have the confidence to say “yes” or “no” to the many options that will come into your family life throughout the coming year. Seasons will come and go – busy, slow, fruitful, hibernation – these priorities will help to keep you emotionally stable as you pass through these changes. 
  5. Write a resource list. Keep an account of everything purchased and intended to be used this year for each child. This is the time to make cuts and additions. If the list is already overwhelming and you haven’t even began your year – cut it out, set it aside or sell it! Don’t pile on more than you can handle. Chances are your children will do a few things well or many things poorly. IMG_4151
  6. Choose a start date. This will be unique to your family. Some school year round, others start on the same date as the public school system in their area. Whatever makes the most sense to you, start with that month and write out that month. Look for potential setbacks and scheduling conflicts now. This will help you again with making commitments.

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A few other reasons why I like the Ultimate Homeschool Planner are the Monday Meetings, Weekly Reviews, Weekly Planner, Teaching Tips, Reading Lists, Year in Review, and Record Pages. Setting up a planner is more than just writing out dates in advance, it is a means of accounting for your time.

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It all comes down to time management. Whatever helps you to be a wise steward of your time with the responsibilities and talents you have, use that!  

Get your own copy of the Ultimate Homeschool Planner or learn how to use a Bullet Journal for homeschool moms.

Up next in this series: Know Your Teaching Style (How to avoid the vices of homeschool moms.)

Related Posts:

Just jumping into this series? Catch up by reading Tip #1 and Tip #2. Also, note that some links on this site are affiliate links. Thanks!

Bullet Journal Quick Start Guide

BuJo QSG

After writing yesterday’s post on the importance of using a Bullet Journal, I felt like it was time to write a Quick Start Up Guide.

What is a Bullet Journal?

A lot of people have heard of the Bullet Journal by now, and most people still want to know: is it a calendar, a journal, or a planner? The answer is: yes. This system sounds sleek and fancy, but it really is super simple. So simple that you could look around your house and find everything you need to get started right now.

The system is a method of keeping your life contained in one journal. So, your calendar gets written in here, your grocery list, the notes from last week’s seminar, your plans and dreams for the future – all of it. Just turn to the next page, title it, and start writing.

Sound too random to really work for you? Maybe at first. It might take a couple weeks to fully transition to the method, but I guarantee that the writing part of it all will be so rewarding that it will far outweigh your original feelings of skepticism.

How does it work?

There are four main pillars of the system: a spread, the index, migration, and future logs.

Most importantly, before you give this method a try, you will need to abandon any notion of doing it “right or wrong.” This is your journal, do what makes sense to you. The only essential piece to the success of your journal is to just keep writing.

Now, for pillar #1: A Spread

This is the next open page in your journal. What goes on the new spread is totally up to you.

Spread = the next blank page

Spread = the next blank page

A spread could be:

  • Your daily agenda
  • The current month’s events and dates to remember
  • A grocery list
  • You name it – whatever is going on in your life can be written down on a spread

#2: The Index

This is the only organization piece of the Bullet Journal system. It’s simple, easy, and streamlined. It’s commonly what people want to skip in using the system, but trust me when I tell you that this index will serve as a valuable record once you’re well into the middle and end of your journal.

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How to index:

  1. Section off the first 4 pages of your blank journal and dedicate these pages as the INDEX. (If you choose to use the Lechtturm journal – recommended below – the Index is included as the first 4 pages.)
  2. Title each new spread. (Keep it simple! And use shorthand. See picture above for example.)
  3. Write a page number at the bottom of each spread.
  4. Record the page number and title on your index page.

#3: Migration

Sometimes when I write a to do list, I include everything I must do and everything I want to do. When the want-to-dos don’t get done, the mark of their true importance is whether I want to move them to the next day’s spread and list them again. This is the process of migration.

Benefits of migration:

  • Rewriting tasks takes intention
  • Intention fuels productivity
  • Conversely, rewriting a task multiple times reveals that the task may be irrelevant

Threading is also nice when migrating tasks or thoughts to a new spread. To remember where in your journal you first wrote a specific plan or idea, just write that page number at the bottom of the new page next to the current page number.

It would look similar to this: 45 | 62

The “45” is the first page a topic was written down, and the “62” is the current page you are on.

#4 Future Logs

A future log is usually a collection of plans, dates, and events for the future. Since the point of the system is to remain in a daily mindset and not write plans in advance, the future log is a place to jot down future events that need to be remembered.

So, if you are currently in the month of January, then you would write out the whole month in dates and days on the first of the month for reference. Every day in the month of January would then get a fresh spread. (You can combine days and write more than one day on a spread.)

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To create a future log:

  1. Open a spread and section it into months of the year
  2. Label the months
  3. Jot down dates and events you’re already aware of
  4. Include the page number and record this log in the index 

Can I customize it?

Yes! One of the beauties of this system is how unique it is to the user. Some prefer to go all out and buy tons of scrapbooking extras and others work best by using a simple spiral notebook with no bells and whistles.

I created a Budget Bullet Journal for keeping track of our ledger. I keep this in a separate notebook which is technically a breaking of the Bullet Journal rules.

Thou shalt not keep separate calendars, notebooks, or planners.

But I’m okay with that. I’ve been with the system long enough to know what encourages me to write and keep the system going and what discourages me and leave me staring at blank pages.

Do what works for you in order to just keep writing.

What makes this system different than other packaged systems?

For those who struggle with fear of failure, this system is golden because you simply can’t fail at it. Each new day is a blank page. Start fresh.

For the creative types, there isn’t a box you have to fit your ideas into. Live it up, the Bullet Journal is your muse.

For the rebels and control freaks, you are in complete charge of where your Bullet Journal goes. You can be as ordered, organized, and OCD as you need to be.

What do I need to get started?

Simple Start – you probably already have what you need. A simple spiral notebook like this one and something to write with works fine.

Better Start – I have used a spiral notebook, a plain Moleskine (no lines or grid), a dotted Lechtturm 1917 (dots are my favorite – plus the pages are already numbered for you!), and an Official Bullet Journal.

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The Official BuJo doesn’t add any value for the added price (and it’s often “out of stock”) so my top recommendation for starting out is to get a dotted Lechtturm.

Optional accessories:

  • Specific pens, these are fun but these are my favorite
  • Page flags, I’ve used these in the past to mark months
  • Washi tape, YouTube videos abound on how to dress up your journal – I do not recommend this (I tried it, and it proved to just slow me down and make me feel obligated to make a system out of the colors of tape). Some people really enjoy adding this flare, so to each their own!
  • Pen holder attachment for a Lechtturm, there are many options to choose from – none are necessary

What’s in the name?

Bullet Journal comes from the creator of the system who recommends writing your lists using a “bullet” mark. Once the task is complete, you mark an “X” through the bullet. I personally prefer to use the “Dash-Plus+” system. Again, their’s freedom and beauty in the uniqueness of using the Bullet Journal system.

So. What are you waiting for? Get writing!

Want to learn even more? I share even more tips and challenges in the Accountability emails. Click here to get started and make sure to mark “Yes!” to get motivation in your mailbox.

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Bullet Journal: Homeschool Planning Tip #1

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You know you need to plan out what you want to accomplish in the next year for homeschooling your children. But where do you start?

In the last post, I wrote that I would be sharing my year planning tips in short and sweet chunks, and the best place to start is by emphasizing the importance of using a Bullet Journal.

There are so many moving pieces with lining up a homeschool plan, that every mom I know has struggled to keep it all together. From not being able to see the big picture, or not being able to figure out the small details, it can all feel overwhelming.

And most people don’t feel the urge to pull it all together until August anyway. When August rolls around they are shocked, overwhelmed, and irrational (usually this stays on the inside but it has a way of leaking into “jokes” and crazy eyes). Suddenly, there’s so much to figure out, and most moms complain that they feel so far behind.

So, why stay on that crazy cycle?

Let me encourage you that you can avoid all of that by taking the time to implement my bite sized planning tips now in the late spring and early summer. By the time August rolls around for you, it will be possible for you to feel at peace with your next homeschool year’s plan and have the confidence to begin.

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How to begin:

You need to have ONE place where you write everything down. You need a method of recording all the things in your life. This is why I strongly encourage you to use the Bullet Journal system. It’s simple, streamlined, and customizable to your specific preferences.

All you need is a journal and pen.

{I wrote all about how to set up a Bullet Journal for homeschooling last year. If you have never heard of this system before, go to this post and check it out. Then come back here to finish this post.}

Now that you’re ready to write, clear out a couple evenings or a Saturday afternoon to start brain dumping all your thoughts about your home, your kids, and your philosophy of education. This will be an ongoing part of your planning, but it is also extremely important that you honor this part of the planning process by putting it first.

WARNING: Do not purchase any books, resources, tools, etc. until you have completed this step.

It’s important to know how you feel about homeschooling. It’s valuable to write down where you are now emotionally, where your family is at in terms of functioning in the home, and where the next year could potentially take you.

Take the time to note all the major milestones that are expected to come within the next year. Can you imagine how these changes will influence how you feel about being a home educator?

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The goal in writing all these things down is to settle your mind and heart, to center your focus on the present and the foreseeable future, to detail the specific challenges you face, and to prioritize just a few educational goals. The whole point in all this is to turn away from the temptation to buy the prepackaged curricula that feels promising: Homeschooling made easy! Or the temptation to blame the challenges of the past year on the resources that you chose: Well, we completely failed to finish our science curriculum because the instructor’s guide was just too hard to use.

Both of these temptations appeal to my desire to have a sure thing. I want to be successful at this lifestyle of home education. I want to prove that I’m capable.

But when I write out that my child struggles with mood swings and impulsive behavior then it doesn’t really matter if I pick a perfect “school in a box,” it’s likely that this child will not want to do anything I propose in our homeschool year.

And if I’m not growing like I should in the discipline of ordering our routine to be consistent, trustworthy, and beneficial to all in the family then it doesn’t matter if I find the best science program with an instructor’s guide that I can understand – because chances are I won’t be disciplined enough to use it.

So, this is why the first step in planning for your next year needs to happen now. You must give yourself time to honestly reflect on the strengths and weaknesses that you have within your home.

Whether you like it or not, in the next homeschool year you will not be able to accomplish everything you feel like you “should” do. That’s why it’s important to make the time to really prioritize your goals.

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In summary, to begin your homeschool planning:

  • Set up a Bullet Journal
  • Write out the highs and lows from this past year
  • Note your child(ren)’s strength and weaknesses and just a few simple goals for their personal growth (I wrote out a page of prayer requests for my kids to help me remember the most important things)
  • Articulate your educational philosophy
  • Write down any anticipated milestones coming in the next year
  • Chart what a potential week in your life will look like – include outside commitments, routine goals, and rest.

Sit with this journal and continue to write until you feel settled. Don’t move on from this step until you feel confident that you can make wise decisions regarding how you will spend your time and money on the next homeschool year.

One game-changer resource that has helped me in this part of the planning process has been Sarah McKenzie’s book: Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace (affiliate link). You should get this book, read a few pages a day (there are only 81 pages – but each page is a gold mine of truth), and record all your thoughts in your Bullet Journal. I promise you will treasure what you write. 

Next in this series, I’ll be sharing how I find closure for the year that we just finished. This can be a tricky thing because we don’t always “complete” a subject, but keeping it on the shelf when I don’t we won’t use it anymore isn’t helpful. The next post will help you move on, let go, and clean the slate.

Are you feeling motivated to plan? Or is it draining just to think about it? Maybe you're like me and you waffle back and forth between these two. Wherever you're at in this learning journey, I'd love to help you take the next step. That's why I've created an Accountability/Encouragement group. I send out 2 emails per week to inspire and challenge you - and these are applicable to anyone at any stage of personal discipline. Want to join us? Click here to sign up.