I find I work best when I track things. Not just the things that need to be done, but also the tasks that have been completed. Or haven’t been, as sometimes is the case. My preferred method for this is my bullet journal, which I use for daily tasks, monthly planning, appointments, to dos, tracking habits, etc. I check off what has been accomplished and make note of the areas where I fell short, noting why and any remediation I need to do because of that. I find this the most effective way for me to accomplish what needs to be done. As well, there’s a bit of a creative element to it as well, which appeals, though my doodling is mediocre at best. I’ve been using a bullet journal for about 7 months now and of all the planners I’ve used, this one seems to be best suited to my needs and personality.
But then there are those things that are a little less quantifiable. That don’t fit neatly in a to do list. The why of things. The pros and cons of doing something, or not doing it. The obstacles that rear their ugly heads after you make a decision, how best to deal with them, and how I feel about the situation as a whole. For this, I use a regular journal. Often hard bound with thick, quality paper that ink won’t bleed through, and a decorative cover of some sort. (Don’t get me started on my pen preference – that’s a whole post in itself.)
I’ve been keeping a journal since I was about 9 years old. There were some years where the writing was sparse, but for the most part, the last 41 years of my life have been chronicled in these journals. It’s in these pages where I make my biggest decisions, where I figure out my toughest obstacles, where I spill out my confusion and anger, elation and hilarity, sadness and disappointment. And in doing so, find solutions or, at the very least, a little peace in getting it out.
It was my journal I turned to when the clutter in the house made it feel as if the walls were closing in on me. In those pages, I listed the problems as I saw them, hashed them out and found solutions. Made a plan on how to make things better and why I thought that was the best way to go. And it was in the pages of my journal where I realized that clearing out the accumulated junk in the house was not the answer. Because it wasn’t just the house that was the problem. My life had become cluttered, as well. And a simple purge of physical things was not going to fix that. What I needed was a change in mindset.
I started listing the things that filled my life then took note of those things that were no longer working for me. Some of those things I could change immediately. Some things I had already committed to and would have to allow them to run their course before I could let them go. Where I could change things, I did. Not so much by purposefully eliminating them, but by focusing more on what was important and putting my energy toward those things. In the process, the things that weren’t working began to fall away of their own volition, leaving behind a clear path in the direction I wanted to go. Where I needed to go.
It became clear as I went along, that living a simple life, a more minimalistic life, meant sweeping out the detritus in my mind, not just my home. And that once I did the first, the other followed more easily behind.