Tag Archives: getting organized

Productivity, Here I Come: Starting a Bullet Journal!

Just a couple of weeks ago, I posted about my to-do list conundrum. I’m a lot busier these days, and I’ve been desperate to find a single journal/planner/to-do list method that would work for everything. Something I could use for work, for personal things, for my writing WIPs – for my LIFE, basically.

I couldn’t find a single productivity app or method that seemed capable of doing what I needed it to do. When I wrote the post, I’d decided to just go back to the DIY planner I’d made last year, as it was in a nice Moleskine and was still partially blank. And I would just date stamp the pages and put my to-do lists on there.

I had lovely comments on that post, some of them with great suggestions. I really liked Bernadette’s description of how she uses Remember the Milk (RTM), so I set up an account there, and downloaded the app. (I love the way you can have repeat tasks on RTM that are based on a time period "after" you last performed the task – their example was, "clean out fridge three months after cleaning out the fridge", which I thought would be pretty awesome for a lot of household chores.)

But RTM didn’t work as well for me because of all my lists. Not to-do lists, but just lists of things, whatever things happened to be on my mind. I do that list thing a lot, you see. And you definitely can use RTM to make lists, but on the iPhone app, if there’s no set due date for an item (which I wouldn’t have on a "books to read" list, for example), you have to choose "never" and I didn’t really like the sound of "never".

So I searched around for some list apps for the iPhone, figuring I’d just use that in conjunction with RTM and Google Calendar (with which RTM syncs really nicely) and ended up downloading an app called Quick Drafts, which has the ability to turn any list you make on it into a to-do list.

And there I was, all set to be super productive. And guess what? It didn’t work. There were too many pieces to my system and the only thing I really used was Google Calendar because I’ve got so many deadlines and I find some days I’m having to scare myself into working by pulling up a monthly view of my calendar and staring at it.

Then, this past weekend, I came across this: the Bullet Journal. I actually discovered it when I was searching (yet again) for a productivity app on my iPhone. One of the apps I was looking at included a line from someone’s review in the description, and the review said something like, "If you use the Bullet Journal method, this might be an app you could use in conjunction with it."

That had my head spinning. Bullet journal method? What the heck was that? So then of course I had to Google it, and I found the site, and I watched this video:

And I was hooked. I was so hooked I spent another couple of hours searching Google to see how others had implemented the system, because it’s such a flexible system and I was in the mood for more tips and ideas. Unfortunately, not too many people seem to have written about their own personal implementation of the method.

I did come across some cons of the system, like not being able to plan ahead, but honestly, I plan to do forward planning in my bullet journal and it seems easy enough. I figure when I have something that comes up in the next month, I’ll just add that month’s page right then and there, even if it might be a few weeks away. Since the index is the fabulous thing that holds the bullet journal system together (and you can imagine how much I love that, being a professional freelance indexer and all), all I’d have to do is add that month to the index and away I go. If I got at all concerned about being able to find the various monthly calendar pages (I probably won’t, but anyway …) I’d just highlight them in the index.

Anyway, I was so thrilled and excited by the Bullet Journal method, I immediately rooted through my stash of notebooks to see if I had just the right thing. Only to discover I didn’t have a blank Moleskine of the type that I wanted – the hardcover squared, in large (which is about 5" X 7"). So I ordered it then and there.

And it just arrived today!

I will be happily occupied getting my life completely organized over the next few days. (Well, I’d settle for nearly completely organized. Actually, who am I kidding? Even partially organized will do.) I even plan to do bullet-point journaling in it. I’m really hoping the Bullet Journal method is exactly what I’m looking for. One place for all those notes, lists, scribbles, ideas, thoughts, to-dos and events. Plus Google Calendar, of course.

The Procrastination Queen Gives Herself a Pat on the Back

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Yes, I’m wearing my crown proudly.

I am definitely the Procrastination Queen.

And that pat on the back is very well-deserved, if I do say so myself.

About six months ago, give or take a month or two, I announced here that I was going to be giving MsBookish.com a makeover.

“Yes, yes, yes,” I said gleefully, “a whole new look, major cleanup, and those tags and categories? I’m going to be cleaning them up, too. Sparkling clean. When? Why, soon! Very, very soon, dahlings!”

So it’s now the beginning of July, and I can finally say, I did it!

MsBookish.com now sports an awesome new WordPress theme, Thesis, suitably dressed up with the most delightful new header designed by my dear friend Chrissie – that link is to her book blog, Book Addict Reviews.

If you were to walk into my house, you’d find yourself surrounded by much the same colors as grace this blog now, so to say it feels like home is not an exaggeration.

And my new tagline is a better reflection of what I’m blogging these days, I think.

After the major overhaul yesterday, I spent a bit of time tweaking things here and there, and then, for most of today, I rolled up my sleeves and bit the bullet: first I waded into my tags and trimmed them back, got rid of singulars where there were also plurals, eliminated caps unless necessary (it appears I have a habit of using singulars and plurals indiscriminantly, and capitalizing everything in sight when it comes to tags), and then I plunged into my posts and pared down my categories.

Nice and trim, don’t you think? An almost (almost!) spare list.

It took a while, but I finally finished, and now I’m sporting those great “it’s all done!” feelings that come when a long-put-off job finally does get done.

It feels good.

And now I can settle back and enjoy this beautiful Canada Day long weekend!

The Mess That Is My Desk

Sigh.

Back in August, I was featured at Kittling: Books’ Scene of the Blog feature. Kathy had asked for a photo of my blogging space earlier in the year, and she had impeccable timing, because I had just cleaned my office when I received her email.

I pulled out the picture today, because it’s such a great reminder of what my office can look like:

bellesoffice

But right now I am deep in the midst of my busy season with work and deadlines, not to mention doing NaNoWriMo last month, and I’m afraid you can’t even see the color of my desk. And the two cabinets at the very front of the picture are buried under an avalanche of page proofs, books, and my little one’s art stuff.

I’d take a picture but I don’t really want to immortalize the state of things as they are right now!

So I thought I’d re-post this picture of what my office can actually look like, as a sort of inspiration to myself. And just maybe, I’ll be able to get around to cleaning it this weekend. We’re having a tapas drop-in party in a week and a half and it would be a Very Good Thing if the office was tidy(ier).

Yes, I’d be happy even with tidier.

I’ve tried to be more organized – I even toyed around with the Get Things Done system once. But unfortunately, it didn’t stick. It’s funny, too – I have a whole shelf full of books about getting organized.

I just wish someone would write a get-organized book for pilers, because that’s what I am. I pile. Everything.

What is your work area like? Do you get as messy as me, or are you very organized? Or somewhere in between? Are you a piler?

And if you’re organized, I’d love to know how you do it (especially if you’re an organized piler, if that’s even possible) – any how-to-get-organized tips that work for you would be appreciated!

Getting Organized: Keeping Track of Links and Book Recommendations

I’ve always been envious of bloggers who seem to so easily keep track of who recommended a book they’ve just read and reviewed. At one point, I was using the Zotero plugin for Firefox to keep track of blog posts that introduced me to books which were added to my TBR, but eventually I had so many bookmarks accumulated, it became overwhelming.

But today, as I looked at my resolve to face a month of upcoming deadlines with ease, I decided it would be very handy to get my online life organized. Zotero is a fabulous plugin, but it’s mainly a tool for researchers (by the way, if you’re a student writing your thesis or research papers and you use Firefox, you really should check it out – it helps you to collect, manage and cite your research sources).

So I decided to look at other Firefox add-ons, one thing lead to another, and I discovered Evernote.

evernote

Have you ever wanted something very specific to help you do something, then turned around and found the exact thing you were hoping for – and, to top it all off, it’s free? I get very excited and very happy when that happens, and I think it happened today when I discovered Evernote.

Here’s how I’m going to use Evernote to get my online life organized:

Tracking Book Recommendations

It will be handy for a lot of the things I’ll be doing online over the next few months, but it is, in particular, the answer to my “how on earth am I going to track who recommended what book to me?” dilemma.

My problem, you see, is that often I’ll read about a book, and decide to add it to my TBR pile, but by the time I get around to reading it, many, many months will usually have passed by. It’s only rarely that I remember who recommended a book. Yet, the majority of my reads these days are books that I discovered on other blogs. And when I talk about them here on MsBookish, I’d really like to be able to give credit for the find to the blogger whose post lead me to the book in the first place.

With Evernote, I can quickly add a web clipping of the title of a book to my Evernote account. Then, six months later, I just go to my “Books” notebook and search for the title and voila! there’s the URL of the blogger to whom I owe my latest great read!

I love that I can do this so easily. There’s a little bookmarklet that you drag to your bookmarks toolbar (in Firefox – if you’re using IE you have to right click your mouse, unfortunately). One click and away you go! And because my account is online (and also on my desktop – there’s a desktop install that syncs with your online account if you’d like), I can use it whether I’m on my desktop or on my netbook.

Instant Library List

The other thing I really like about Evernote is that there’s an iPhone app, which I’ve just downloaded. I’ve created another notebook (“Library”) and I’m planning to use it to add titles and call numbers of books that are available at my local library.

I can’t put a request for a book if it’s not checked out at my local branch, and my library website’s “list” feature doesn’t, for some reason, include the call numbers, not even when you print out your list, and not even though you can actually choose to sort by the call numbers!

Up until now, I’d been typing in titles and call numbers into a list app in my iPhone – not the most efficient or fastest way of doing things, but at least I always had my library list with me. Now, though, I won’t have to manually type anything in. I can just copy and paste titles and call numbers of books from my library’s website into notes on Evernote, and see all of this information on my iPhone!

Yes, I am a book geek. I love that I can now do this so easily.

Twitter Links

I’m on my iPhone a lot – even when I’m at home, if I’m away from my desktop PC, I’m usually online via my iPhone. On my desktop and netbook, I use Seesmic Desktop to access my Twitter account, but they haven’t released an iPhone app yet, so on my iPhone, I use Tweetdeck’s iPhone app. Which means I can’t sync between my desktop and my iPhone. So when someone tweets something interesting, (for example, a link to a giveaway that would be handy for my giveaway post on Sundays), I have to email the tweet to myself.

It’s cumbersome.

But Evernote lets me send tweets I want to save to my Evernote account! Very fabulous. Very easy.

I’m Aiming for “Easy and Effortless” in November

It’s the only way I’ll be able to handle all those deadlines. And things just got a whole lot easier and more effortless, I think!

I can already think of several more ways Evernote will come in handy (like sharing recipe finds with my husband so he can cook delicious stuff and blog about it). But I suspect my ideas are only the tip of the iceberg.

Are you using Evernote? I’d love to hear ways you’ve been using it. What other online or desktop tools do you use to help you stay organized with your blogging and your life?