Task Management and Bullet Journaling

One thing I’ve been working on lately is figuring out how to best manage my to-do list. I often have a lot of different projects going all at once, and along with that often a lot of little tasks. Keeping track of everything—and knowing what to do when—is something I definitely haven’t gotten down to a fine art yet.

Daily log

Sometimes, I have to wonder if a lot of the struggle is mostly found in the fact that I’m in an in-between stage—not a child anymore, not really a young teenager anymore, almost an adult but not really that, either. As I’ve put it to some of my friends before, “Adulting it is hard.” Sigh. (And yes, all of you people with many years and much more experience than me, feel free to chime in with any advice you may have!)

What I’ve been doing lately as far as task management is collect everything in Todoist, then work through it each day as I can. I love Todoist because I can paste in multiple jobs at once, and if I type them up right, the inline parsing setting will automatically assign dates and priority levels (1-4) to the different tasks. It’s slick, easy, and remembers the stuff I need to remember.

Often through the days, though, working with Todoist involves transferring jobs to my “daily log” notebook—a fun gift from my aunt!—which I love, because seeing something written down and completed on paper is just that much more satisfying. It’s also helpful in the fact that if I want to find out when I last did something in particular, it isn’t hard to skim back through my previous entries.

Daily log

However, this means that in effect I have two systems running at once. While it works, I would like to figure out how to do this faster—or eliminate one or the other to make things go smoother.

Lately, I’ve come across a system called bullet journaling. And although I haven’t looked into it much, I do know a lot of productivity gurus out there use it. However, I’m not sure the time spent (at least at this stage) would be worthwhile to figure out how to do it. One thing I have discovered, much to my surprise, is how much of a “thing” this is! Search “bullet journal” on Pinterest, and you’ll find pages and pages of pins. Look on Youtube, and it’s easy to find 10 – 30 minute videos.

So while I’m curious about how some people do it, at this stage I’m choosing to use what I have. I wonder if Paul’s admonition to be “content in all things” would apply here?

What do you use for keeping track of tasks? How do you streamline things so you get things done rather than always trying to make the process work better for you? Have you ever heard of bullet journaling before—and if you have, do you have any experience with it?

Photo Challenge Finale (days 6 and 7), Snow, and This Week’s Plans

Whew! Busy, busy times. Between a full-on weekend last weekend (often not to bed until 11 or so), getting sick for the good part of last week, and a few other things that needed to be done, I decided to take a break. I’m sure I needed it, but in many ways I always hate taking breaks because it’s often really hard to get started again.

However, this time it hasn’t been that bad to get back in the groove. Yes, I did miss posting the last two posts of the photo challenge, even though I did take pictures each of those days. I finally have time today to get this post up—yay!

Day 6:

Birthday deserts

I even got a chocolate cake in the end—wished on me by a cousin, and given to me by a friend!

It was my birthday! I spent the whole day playing in the kitchen baking different things (pavlova, sugar-free pavlova, and sweet rolls), which was really fun. That evening, several friends came over to help us eat the turkey that had been butchered for the occasion. We had a great time.

Day 7:

Cook-out 01

The boys decided to burn a pile of sticks we had out in the paddock, and someone suggested a cookout for Saturday lunch. So that’s what we did. They got one of Mom’s cast iron skillets, fitted a long pole to the handle, and settled it in the middle of the coals after the fire had burned down. They then proceeded to roast precooked sausages. It was a delicious meal, finished off with a few marshmallows!

Cook-out 02

Cook-out 03

After lunch, most of us headed out to the ocean. Ross, one of the friends who had come Friday, was staying with us for the weekend and we wanted to show him around a bit. Since we were going to be near water, the boys inevitably wanted to bring their boats along. They had a great time for a little while—until it simply got too cold to be on the water any longer!

Boating 01

Boating 02

Boating 03

Boating 04

The two little boys got cold first. They ended up sharing a towel for a bit, until the older one was offered a quick boat ride. Then the youngest sat on my lap in an effort to warm up a little while we waited for the older boys to get ready to leave.

Boating 05

Flowers

Someone had the brilliant idea of giving me a few of the early daffodils right before we left the ocean—I loved it! And it was fun to be able to use my new vase for the first time, too. Lovely spot of color for my desk, especially these last few days as a winter storm has finally brought a little moisture to our part of the country.

And now today, a week later:

We got a little rain the last part of this week, and both yesterday morning and this morning we actually had a little snow on the ground! That doesn’t happen very often, because we’re only 50 meters or so above sea level—we do have a range of hills between us and the sea, but even so we generally only get rain. This morning on the way to church I got to take a couple pictures of the gorgeous hills and mountains surrounding us. There’s nothing like a touch of snow to make everything look bigger and even more beautiful than before!

Snow! 01

Kaikoura mountain range

Snow! 02

Taken as we crossed a river north of us—these are some of the hills between us and the sea.

Since it was snowy and very frosty (so much so, in fact, that early this morning we couldn’t get any of the van doors open—they were frozen shut!), we set off for church half an hour early. There’s a fairly high range of hills between us and church, and we’ve slipped a bit before on black ice, so Dad wanted to take it slow. Praise the Lord, we got through safely with plenty of time left, so we headed out to the ocean for a five-minute stretch break before going back into town for church.

Ocean

It’s been a gorgeous day, and the sun just set about half an hour ago behind the trees and hills to the west. It was one of those golden sunsets, the kind that you have to just stop and take in for a moment or two. God is so good to us!

Plans:

I posted a “planning” post two weeks ago, and although I would have done a new one last weekend, that didn’t work out due to more worthwhile activities. This past week ended up having plenty to keep me occupied with anyway, even without goals to meet, and I learned some valuable lessons through that. Even though it was a more difficult week, God has shown Himself faithful in innumerable ways and I think I’ve learned to rest even more on His guidance. It’s tough at times, but I know He holds the future and in that I can find complete peace. After all, “…the LORD thy God, He it is that doth go with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (see Deuteronomy 31:6). What a promise!

For the most part, this week will probably be pretty normal, although next weekend is going to be busy. Lord willing, we’ll be attending a conference, so along with all the “normal” weekend stuff, that’ll be added in somewhere too. That means wonderful but FULL days! Even so, I’m looking forward to it. 🙂

To-do list from two weeks ago:

  1. Schedule reviews through the 31st
  2. Read The Destiny of a Galaxy
  3. Watch the DVD Fly Away Home (can’t watch this on my computer, so I’ll have to borrow Mom’s sometime)
  4. Read up/do practice tests for getting my learner’s driver license (nope, but I’m hoping to focus on that this week)
  5. Sign up for another affiliate program
  6. Work through the website to-do list
  7. Do some baking Friday!

This week’s to-do list:

  1. Write reviews of The Destiny of a GalaxySacred AllegoriesCapyboppy, and begin one for Coffee Cake Days (we’ve actaully almost run out of reviews, and I’ve read these lately so I ought to get the reviews written so I can post them!)
  2. Finish watching Ben-Hur and review
  3. Watch Fly Away Home
  4. Read Manuscript for Murder
  5. Upload reviews for the week
  6. Get this week’s newsletter out on time
  7. Study and practice for driving test

Overall, I’ve had a great couple weeks. I hope you have, too! Keep your eyes on Jesus this coming week and glorify His name!

Week 30: Last of July and Photo Challenge

The sun was shining brilliantly through my half-window this morning as I sat on my maroon-colored bedspread reading from Isaiah. It’s such a treat these days to have the sunshine, and even though we’ve had much more of that than cloudy days this winter, I still love the sun and its warmth. The call came for breakfast, so I blew my candles out and watched the smoke weave its way upward—sometimes thin, sometimes thick curls that can be seen but never touched, smelled but only enjoyed when the light hits it just right as it was this morning. It was a beautiful sight. And yes, I got into breakfast a little late because I stopped to enjoy the sight of the smoke. It truly was gorgeous; I’ve never seen it last as long as it did this morning!

The light is long gone now, swallowed by the clouds that occasionally spit a little rain but for the most part make it chilly and as such more pleasant to stay inside this evening than be out. As I sit again at my blue fold-up table this evening, looking over my last week and praying for wisdom for the week to come, music playing quietly in the background, I can’t help but think how privileged I am. That I can take time to enjoy things like candle smoke twisting in the morning sunlight, that I can even plan my week! So many don’t have this privilege, so many in poorer situations must fight day after day to just get a little food on the table. Many—like my Dad—work incredibly long hours, never complaining, while I sit at home and can use my time just about any way I please. I’m incredibly blessed. And I don’t want to ever forget that, sunshine or not.

Colossians 3:1-3

One thing I decided this morning was that this week I want to do a photo challenge again. I did one back in January, and that was pretty fun, and I want to do it again. This evening as it was getting dark I realized I hadn’t taken any pictures yet today! Well, my chosen subject for this week was “daily life”, and as I looked at my desk I realized I had a piece of my daily life in front of me: One of my memory verses. I copied it out onto some note paper a week or two ago, as a reminder to focus on the Lord alone, and it’s proven to be a great reminder over the days since then. I love verse two, especially.

Last week’s to-do list:

  1. Schedule book/movie reviews through the end of the month
  2. Read one book
  3. Set up some settings with Amazon and AbeBooks (done Thursday; this was something that’s taken me quite a while to do, but it’s a relief to have it done!)
  4. Do bookkeeping (done Wednesday)
  5. Respond to the emails that I haven’t replied to yet (done Tuesday and Wednesday)
  6. Finish an interview (done Tuesday)
  7. Do 45 min. of science and last day of history
Jonah 2:9

A reminder I keep in my planning folder; a verse I found one day while studying Jonah.

This week’s to-do list:

  1. Schedule reviews through the 31st
  2. Read The Destiny of a Galaxy
  3. Watch the DVD Fly Away Home (borrowed, so I ought to get it back)
  4. Read up/do practice tests for getting my learner’s driver license (it’s about time…)
  5. Sign up for another affiliate program
  6. Work through the website to-do list (mostly simple changes, but ones that I’ve been putting off for a while)
  7. Do some baking Friday!

What are your plans for the coming week? Enjoy the sunlight and more than that, keep looking to the Light of the world, Jesus!

Playing Hookey (and This Week’s Plans)

(Before I start, I thought you might like to know that Mom is currently running a giveaway for two books from one of our favorite authors! Details here.)

I realized yesterday afternoon as we were winding our way up the curves this side of a nearby river that I had completely spaced doing my normal “Sunday” post on my goals for the week. I had fun Sunday afternoon, during the time that I normally do my planning…I played two different board games with my siblings and we watched part of a movie together! In the end it really isn’t a problem, except that after a day in the city I wasn’t feeling particularly up to trying to figure out what I want (or need) to do this week. So it falls to Tuesday evening to tell you of this week’s goals.

As far as last week, I think I got almost everything done. Thankfully, I hadn’t planned much, and even though we were gone only 3 1/2 days in the end, it was still good to be able to relax and prepare to face the world again.

Last week’s list:

  1. Finish preparing this week’s newsletter (done Saturday)
  2. Do a little sewing (done Monday)
  3. Reply to/take care of K and S’ emails (S’ done Saturday; the other had to wait until this week because of the technical difficulties involved)
  4. Send this week’s newsletter (done Saturday)

This week’s list:

  1. Schedule book/movie reviews through the end of the month
  2. Read one book
  3. Set up some settings with Amazon and AbeBooks
  4. Do bookkeeping (keep forgetting to do this!)
  5. Respond to the emails that I haven’t replied to yet
  6. Finish an interview
  7. Do 45 min. of science and last day of history for the “school” work I’m currently working on

I think that’s it. Have a great week, folks, and keep your eyes on Jesus!

Planning: Second Week of July

Well, it’s already quite late, and I need to head off to bed but before I do so I wanted to do a quick recap of last week’s plans. This next week is going to be pretty busy, so I’m not planning to do much at all. And besides a few basics (like sending the newsletter), I’m probably not going to be online much either.

But as for last week’s plans…I went off the rails a bit last week! Instead of working like I probably should have done, I decided to watch a couple borrowed movies instead (ones that need to be returned, but I want to review first). Besides that, we had visitors one day, which cut into my time a little. It was wonderful to have them here, though—well worth the “lost” time! Also, I realized Friday that I hadn’t even looked at my plans all week. Hmm…wonder if the old adage “out of sight out of mind” had anything to do with not much being done? Must remember to look each day next time!

Last week’s list:

  1. Schedule book reviews through the 24th (done Saturday)
  2. Edit reviews doc 6 (done Thursday)
  3. Upload the four reviews that weren’t ready before now (two done Saturday; the other two need to wait because they aren’t quite ready yet)
  4. Send this week’s newsletter (done Saturday)
  5. Prepare next week’s newsletter (begun Saturday, but ran out of time to finish)
  6. Do bookkeeping
  7. Set up affiliate program payments
  8. Do some much-needed sewing!

This week’s list:

  1. Finish preparing this week’s newsletter
  2. Do a little sewing (has to be done Monday)
  3. Reply to/take care of K and S’ emails (need to remember to do this next Saturday when I’ll have a little time)
  4. Send this week’s newsletter

Okay, that’s all I think I need to remember later this week.

Have a great week, and keep serving Jesus!

My Plans for the First Week of July

As I sat at my blue collapsible table this evening, one wing propped open to give me a nice area to spread everything out on, I sipped my coffee and reviewed last month. There were a good number of things I got done in June, several that I didn’t even start, and a couple that were absolutely fun to do. The things that I didn’t touch were ones I really want to get done—need to do—but also ones that have grown to gigantic proportion in my mind so I haven’t even started tackling them. I want to work at them this month. At least get started on those hard things.

Most of the time, though, I get so focused on the urgent that I forget what’s really important—what I really ought to be doing. Finding the balance, between what needs to happen and what should happen is hard. I’m tired of just barely scraping by on my jobs. Tired of doing the absolute minimum for my commitments, making it look like I’m doing okay when underneath I really suspect I’m blowing most of my time. This month, I want to be different. So I’m dedicating it—rededicating it—to the Lord. Asking Him to use me and use my time to His glory. I want to be a tool. And this is the only way I know how to be a tool.

This doesn’t mean I won’t outline what needs to be done. This means that I’m saying “Here, Lord, this is what I believe I need to be doing now—should I do it? Or do You have something more important for me to focus on at the moment?”

Okay. I don’t know if any of that makes sense, but that’s what I’ve been thinking over this evening.

Reading Sacred Allegories

From my phone this week: Little brother enjoys coming out to my room sometimes, and often picks up the copy of Sacred Allegories that a friend gave us. He loves the detailed pictures in it!

Last week’s to-do list:

  1. Reply to emails in inbox (done Monday, except there’s one in the inbox now that I want to respond to ASAP)
  2. Edit doc 22 (done Tuesday)
  3. Upload reviews in doc 22 (done Wednesday and Thursday)
  4. Catch up on writing reviews (done Wednesday)
  5. Spend 2 ½ hours on new theme (this is one of those monsters I haven’t conquered yet…but I want to!)
  6. Send weekly newsletter (done Saturday)
  7. Finish I Needed a Neighbour (done Saturday)
  8. Spend 15 min. researching I Am Not Skilled to Understand (yeah…another “monster”. I don’t know why.)

This week’s list:

  1. Schedule book reviews through the 24th (already up to the 13th, but I need to get a bit further ahead)
  2. Edit reviews doc 6
  3. Upload the four reviews that weren’t ready before now (several were just published recently or will be published soon, and I don’t like posting the reviews until the books are actually available)
  4. Send this week’s newsletter
  5. Prepare next week’s newsletter (next week might be a bit hit-and-miss because of other plans, so I want to be ready in advance)
  6. Do bookkeeping
  7. Set up affiliate program payments (for some reason, I’ve never finished this…I don’t know why)
  8. Do some much-needed sewing!

Well, this week looks set to be an interesting one. We’re expecting some visitors who just “happened” to come across us online while searching for long-lost relatives (we sort-of know the relatives; they live about 7-9 hours south of us and we’ve met the family twice), and they want to meet us. We’re looking forward to that!

What are your plans for the coming week?

Week 26 Plans

Well, this week is bringing June to a close already! With the end of June comes the end of a couple challenges I’ve been running for myself (well, not really challenges as such; more like trying to do things a different way to see if I get different results).

The first “challenge” would be the weekly newsletter I’ve been sending instead of the usual monthly one. I’ve really enjoyed doing that! For some reason, it feels a whole lot easier and more personal than the monthly one—even though it takes longer to put together. I’m planning to continue that on this next month at least, and perhaps will make it a semi-permanent feature.

The other “challenge” would be these weekly goal posts. It’s been good to have a clear goal in mind the past four weeks, even though I haven’t managed to complete everything every week. I’m planning to continue this on through July, too.

Overall, I’ve had a great month. God has been so good to us! Our washer broke down a couple weeks ago, but it just so happened (one of those “only God” things?) that it was still under warranty! We were able to get a gift card for the amount we had spent on it, and soon after we got the gift card we were able to find a new washer. Then this past weekend, we’ve had a friend come to visit and more friends came for dinner one evening before the Creation meeting I mentioned last week. Overall, it’s been a great weekend—nice to catch up with everyone and enjoy a little fellowship.

I neglected to get a single picture from the weekend (maybe I was too busy socializing?)—sorry about that! So we’ll just have to have a picture-less post.

But on to last week’s goals, since that is actually the reason why I’m writing this evening!

Last week’s list:

  1. Proofread doc 4 (realized that this has already been done; started on doc 22)
  2. Send this week’s newsletter (finished Friday)
  3. Plan what I’ll bake Friday (finished Monday)
  4. Make a list of needed ingredients for baking (finished Monday)
  5. Bake stuff on Friday! (finished Friday)
  6. Schedule book reviews for this week (finished Thursday)
  7. Schedule book reviews for next week (almost finished Thursday; just have two days to go)
  8. Edit/post walnut picking pictures (finished and posted Thursday)
  9. Decide on hymn (finished Wednesday; chose I Am Not Skilled to Understand)

This week’s list:

  1. Reply to emails in inbox
  2. Edit doc 22
  3. Upload reviews in doc 22
  4. Catch up on writing reviews (I’m behind! I’ve been writing too many other things!)
  5. Spend 2 ½ hours on new theme
  6. Send weekly newsletter (maybe I’ll remember it earlier if it’s on the to-do list?)
  7. Finish I Needed a Neighbour (it’s short, which means I should get through it fast…right?)
  8. Spend 15 min. researching I Am Not Skilled to Understand (hopefully, eventually, I can write a “story behind the story” on this one…one day!)

Well, another week is here. And I believe—with a little extra time seeking the Lord’s guidance and taking time to meditate on the Word—that it will be a good week. Oh, and it’s only 9:30, which means I can indulge in a story before I go to sleep and still be asleep by 10 pm! Now how’s that for the perfect ending to a great Sunday?

What about you? How has your weekend been? What are you planning to try to accomplish this week?

Week 25 Plans

Last week was a great week! Somewhat different from what I expected, but still a good week.

This week is looking interesting—our washer died about a week ago, so we need to get another one. That’s one day away from home, and then this weekend we’re hosting a Creation ministry meeting, which will be lots of fun but there will be some prep work that needs to be done. We’ll also get to have friends visit or come for dinner then, which is extra wonderful!

Anyway, with three different days full this next week, I’m planning a fairly light workload. Hopefully, I’ll have more time to work than I think I will, but we’ll see.

Last week’s list:

  1. Get links for books in doc 20 (finished Tuesday)
  2. Get covers for books in doc 20 (finished Monday)
  3. Contact author and send interview questions (done Tuesday and Thursday)
  4. Decide on hymn to research
  5. Research hymn
  6. Brainstorm ideas for hymn story
  7. Write 500 words in hymn story
  8. Finish The Old Man’s Home (haven’t read any more since the week before)
  9. Proofread doc 21 (finished Saturday)
  10. Proofread doc 4
  11. Finish uploading doc 20 (finished Thursday)
  12. Review Ante Up! (finished Friday)
  13. Spend 5 hours on new theme for website
The Cutest Walnut Picker-Upper

Sneak peek: The cutest walnut picker-upper!

This week’s list:

  1. Proofread doc 4
  2. Send this week’s newsletter (this always gets left until late, and I want to get it done earlier this week!)
  3. Plan what I’ll bake Friday (in preparation for meeting)
  4. Make a list of needed ingredients for baking
  5. Bake stuff on Friday!
  6. Schedule book reviews for this week
  7. Schedule book reviews for next week
  8. Edit/post walnut picking pictures
  9. Decide on hymn (I keep meaning to do this, but keep forgetting to look!)

Have a great week, and keep serving the Lord!

Week 24: My Plans for the Coming Week

Last week was a success in my opinion, and even though I didn’t get everything done I’m satisfied with what was accomplished.

Last week’s list:

  1. Clean out inbox (finished Wednesday)
  2. Proofread reviews doc 20 (finished Wednesday)
  3. Get links for books in doc 20 (3 left out of 15)
  4. Get covers for books in doc 20 (3 left out of 15)
  5. Decide on author to interview (done Thursday)
  6. Contact author
  7. Finish reading Ante Up! (finished Tuesday)
  8. Decide on hymn to research
  9. Research hymn
  10. Brainstorm ideas for hymn story
  11. Finish The Old Man’s Home (made progress, but not done)

This week’s list (besides the unfinished ones above):

  1. Write 500 words in hymn story
  2. Proofread doc 21
  3. Proofread doc 4
  4. Finish uploading doc 20
  5. Review Ante Up!
  6. Spend 5 hours on new theme for website

Looks like a lot of work, but I really want to get this much done. Even though a good portion of the work revolves around reviews, I am hoping to take time to hone other skills such as semi-fiction writing and perhaps a bit of piano practice this week too. Every little bit counts!

Just sent out this week’s newsletter tonight. If you’re interested in finding out about the latest reviews, or seeing what I’ve been reading lately, go here to read that.

Have a great week!

My Goals for This Week

Planning has always been a sore point for me. I love the idea; love the feel of paper under my fingers and seeing plans take shape before me. I can easily spend hours reading productivity blogs about how one could go about making a plan for what you want to do in a year, broken down into quarters, months, weeks, and finally days. I love it, I really do.

Yet, this morning, as I was mulling over the words from Proverbs: “The hand of the diligent shall bear rule…” (12:24), I realized how very lazy I have been about my work lately. How little I’ve accomplished, and how much I’ve let the important things slip.

I’ve discovered—over, and over, and over again, that I don’t do well with no plan at all. The weird thing is, I rarely finish everything I plan for a week, but maybe knowing that I want to do it spurs me on to at least try to meet my expectations. It is discouraging when I realize that what I planned to do four weeks ago is still there to be done this week, but somehow it is also reassuring that somewhere I’m still fighting to continue making progress.

Morning Beauty 01

I’ve never quite known how to combat the endless chain of planning and then after a few weeks feeling discouraged because I didn’t manage to even hit the mark on my own expectations—let alone meeting the perceived (more likely imagined) expectations other people have for me! In some ways, it’s a harsh, never-ending rat-race.

Then I looked out the window at the foot of my bed and saw the rising sun coming through the trees, lighting them with a golden glow, and was reminded that each day is a new day. Yes, we—our work—suffers when we don’t do it, but the Lord is gracious and gives us a fresh, golden start. Every. single. day. Even when we don’t see it. He gives us a chance to try again—and it’s up to us to take that chance and use it to its full potential.

So for this next month, I’m going to fill out one of Productive Flourishing’s weekly planner, and scan a copy (one for the past week, one for the coming one) to post on the blog each week. I don’t need to do this, but I want to be accountable to myself. I’m going to do this.

Morning Beauty 02

After praying about this month and this week, here are my plans for what I need/want to get done this week. Next week, I’ll show this one again (with the accomplished stuff marked off), and next week’s plans.

Week Planner

This week, I want to focus on learning from the Lord. From that, I want to do my work to serve Him and His people better. More opportunities seem to come up daily to serve. I just pray that I can be faithful to this calling, and be able to support those around me in their callings as well.