Ah, the holy grail of perfect organisation.

I’ve been chasing it since I was about sixteen, and apparently doing a good job of pretending, as people often tell me how organised they think I am.

And to a point, it’s true – I never miss an appointment, rarely miss a deadline and usually know what’s going on in the next few days, weeks and months – even if I do repeatedly fail to get presents and such to those events on time.

I’ve always previously done this in a whole series of notebooks, online tools, and random scraps of paper, or, in a pinch, writing notes on my arms and legs which I then transpose to paper before I get in the shower. Apparently that last method isn’t very common… can’t think why!

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I love my Filofax, couldn’t live without my small diary and am addicted to my Trello boards. And all of these things have a place in my life and in my businesses. But I’d never found one system that could capture and hold all, or at least the vast majority, of the ideas and plans and stuff that happens on a daily basis between Ink Drops, my blog, the confidence course I run, my photography business and my plans to launch a mermaid experience. Not to mention friends, family, food, shopping lists and keeping track of the kitties’ health & vet appointments.

Until Bullet Journal.

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(Luna never lets it out of her sight… she’s a very organised kitten).

Late last year, I was introduced to the concept of the Bullet Journal. Annastasia has used a version of this for years, and I sort of started last year, with a beautiful daybook – but was still haunted by scraps of paper, and oddly-coloured marks on my skin which often made people ask whether I was experimenting with temporary tattoos…

The Bullet Journal (BuJo for short) is a remarkably simple yet genius concept, and infinitely adaptable for your own needs.  Here’s a short introductory video, and step-by-step instructions to get started:

It’s such a simple concept, but one that has utterly changed my life. For the first time ever, I’m not surrounded or followed by umpteen bits of scribbled paper, nor do I scrabble around for information I just know I’ve written down somewhere… it’s all in one place. Indexed, expandable, and adaptable.

Lifechanging.

Honestly… I know I’m one for hyperbole but even people who don’t know me that well have commented how much calmer I seem – and how panicked I was when, in mid-December, I lost my BuJo for a few days.

In fact that’s perhaps its only downside – if you lose your BuJo, you lose everything. But provided you can keep it safe, it’s magical. Practical magic.

Fancy a closer look at mine?

Here’s the first ever bullet journal I created. As I wasn’t sure whether I’d love this system, I used a teal Moleskine I had lurking, which didn’t have toooo many pages in it – and fit beautifully into my handbag.

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So far, so good. Inside is messy but functional – I upgraded to a dotted version for 2016, because although I love the freedom of no lines, it was also driving me mad.

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There are various planning pages for each business, for new ventures, for the cats and the vets, for ideas that have occurred to me and for information that just needs somewhere to be. Not very structured, but in one place and most importantly in the index!

Here’s my 2016 book so far:

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I love the dots and the structure, I love how much neater it is, and I love the hardback which will keep it more protected from being bashed around in my bags. It’s not small enough to go in my photography bag, and it’s not as light as the Moleskine – but I have been freed of bits of paper and the endless trying to remember where I put information – and for that, I will always love the BuJo.

Adaptations as I go through the year are almost inevitable, and I have started a separate notebook for the book I’m writing so I don’t use the entire BuJo on one topic.

But overall – I can highly recommend it, as after only a couple of months I can’t imagine my life without it.

Digital supplements

Glorious as it is, I do still need online organising to make everything run smoothly across my day job and all my businesses.

In addition to the BuJo, which is the foundation of my organising and planning, I also use:

Google calendar

It excels at repeat scheduling and sharing appointments with other people, but everything goes into Google Calendar so I can access it from any device.

Trello

Trello is my digital bullet journal equivalent. It works in a slightly different way, but is visual enough that I can plan things in record time there – and again has the collaborative aspect which I find really helpful for big projects.

Toggl

Browser-based time tracking software, which was invaluable when I had time-based client rates, but is also helpful to me now so I can see where I’m spending most of my time and what I could outsource to claw some of that time back for what I’m best at.

Pinterest

An unexpectedly useful tool, as well as losing myself for hours in beautiful photographs and creative ideas, I also use Pinterest almost like a favourites list, to keep track of things I want to try or read or work on in my next business retreat, and to bookmark articles that are actually useful. Secret boards are the magic trick here, so I can keep my visible accounts relevant to their audiences.

What do you use to stay organised? Are you trying out anything new for 2016?