I’ve written regularly about the amount of clutter in our house and all the attempts to sort it out, which have invariably failed because of impaired executive function. But now I know that my executive function is impaired, I can work with that. Using a Bullet Journal has definitely helped, and I’m actually working towards my goals most of the time.
In one of my “try to work out what to do next” / daydreaming moments I had the idea to release 10,000 things before the end of this year.
Why 10,000? It’s a number plucked from thin air but it’s also probably realisable, albeit challenging. In order to have any chance of hitting 10,000 there has to be leeway in the definition of “a thing”. So for example I will count every piece of a puzzle or game, every sheet of separate paper, every pencil or crayon; but not every page of a book or magazine, or every teeny item like sequins or Hama beads 😉
My other self-imposed rule is that day to day rubbish and recycling don’t count towards the goal. Rubbish and recycling from hoarded boxes do count, that’s part of the point.
I’ve seen these challenges elsewhere but I’m not joining in with a community for this, it’s just extra motivation for me to do the decluttering I need to anyhow.
The most challenging part will probably be remembering to count everything!
I’ve no idea whether 10,000 is a ridiculous aim or not, but I may as well aim high.
I may have mentioned Bullet Journalling a few times recently. I’ve now been using the system for almost six weeks so am still new but I’m a convert.
What is Bullet Journalling?
A Bullet Journal is a system for organising your planning. It’s simple, infinitely customisable, and doesn’t need any special materials.
One notebook. One pen. One you.
The introductory video explains the concept, and the basic modules to start a Bullet Journal.
Anything on top of that is up to the individual. Below is an example of how a Bullet Journal can evolve over a few months of use to something beautiful.
A Bullet Journal won’t magically change your life and make you more productive. Nor will any other planner system. But the flexibility of Bullet Journalling means that it can work better for each individual than a planner designed by someone else, which probably includes things irrelevant to your life, and excludes things that are vitally important.
Why I’m using a Bullet Journal
I’ve been writing plans and sketching room layouts and making goals for years, but I haven’t got anywhere. I manage for a while, and then something happens and I forget everything and start writing new lists and new plans and never quite manage to keep up with the day to day, let alone bigger goals.
My Bullet Journal is helping because I’m using it. I’m looking at it every day, several times a day. I’m adding new things, but rereading what’s already in there to cement it in my brain.
It’s funny how having a task written down is making me more likely to complete it, because I don’t want to write it again for the next day!
But also having everything written neatly in one nice book (for me, the nice book helps me use it, so I did invest in a Leutterm1917*), is helping me flow my thought processes and break down tasks more easily.
All of these things are me making me more productive. But I find peace in looking through the pages, so I can de-stress for a few minutes doing that. I’ve always liked visualising and planning and writing lists, so the system suits me for that. Looking back at completed tasks shows me how much I’ve done, and motivates me to do more.
How I’m using a Bullet Journal
Because I like to do things my own way, I’ve been picking and choosing from what I’ve seen online to suit what I need, along with relevant lists of long term plans from old books. I’m slowly and carefully breaking these into smaller tasks, on days when I can manage. On off days, I write basic daily tasks to do, so I get mental reinforcement in using the system.
At the moment I have the following ‘modules’:
Index (already included with Leuchtterm1917, as are numbered pages)
Future Log (handwritten 2016 calendar with space for monthly tasks on two double spreads)
Monthly overview (currently similar to Boho Berry, but developing monthly as I discover what works best for me)
Monthly tracker (really not happy with the first one I’ve created for January but like the concept, so am sketching out plans to change for Feb)
Monthly gratitude log (an idea I’ve taken from the Bullet Journal community. Thinking of two things every day that were good. Finding two things is do-able, albeit hard on bad days. It adds up: there will be 62 positive things at the end of January. 732 positive things at the end of this year. 732 good things in a year when I usually can barely think of a handful because I focus on the negatives so much)
Dailies (a list of tasks I want to complete on a particular day – as well as what’s on the tracker – plus some journal notes for things I want to track, which in my case are mainly what I’ve decluttered and the books I’ve read! I don’t include weather pictures or special hand lettering!)
Specific to my goals, my ‘collections’ include:
List of all rooms / areas of the house so I don’t forget to declutter anywhere (including garden, sheds, and garage)
List of categories of ‘things’ (so far just children’s stuff and paperwork, but I categorise anyhow and it’s also in the KonMari method – seeing how much you have of each ‘category’ helps declutter it down)
List of what is going to be in each room (so far just for the children’s rooms) This is to help plan where furniture etc is going to fit, but also my plan is to write everything (category-wise) that we want to keep, then anything else either needs a home created or isn’t needed!
List of the storage we have, to plan a place for everything…
List of chores, to work out when to fit them into routines
List of steps towards goals, that can then be broken down
Initial plans of routines, schedules, and timescales for goals, allowing for changes
Lists of books to review, books to read, books received…
I’m also using colour coded stickers, tabs, and washi tape, because – well, because I want to!
At the moment, rereading and checking my bullet journal is taking up a lot of my time, while I build habits. But this was time I’d been wasting on phone games because I couldn’t pull myself together enough to do anything. So the games playing has gone down, and I’ve been productive, and I’ve taken ‘me time’ and space so I don’t stress.
Being happy with myself has been a rare occurrence for too long. So I am a Bullet Journal convert for now, and long may it continue.
Disclosure: * affiliate link. I actually bought my book from my lovely local independent stationary shop.
I’d heard about Marie Kondo and her method, but having a personal recommendation carried more weight (given who recommended it) so after looking at the huge library waiting list I decided to buy the book.
There are good parts to this book. I definitely couldn’t follow the method exactly, but there are good points on changing your mindset to think about what you’re keeping rather than what you’re discarding.
She lost me at the point where she carelessly tore pages out of books (which she then also discarded, in her defence years later when she realised she hadn’t looked at them) but later on we made up when she said that different people got joy from different things so a book lover, for example, would keep more books. I also found it a tad sexist in its description of feminine, but that could be a cultural thing.
But I’m finding it hard to motivate me to start decluttering, because she starts with the category of clothes. Clothes bore me. It makes sense, going from less emotional things to more emotional as you work through decluttering, but I need something a bit more interesting than clothes to start me off. Besides, if I chose clothes purely from whether I felt joy when I held them, I’d have none left.
Clothes are functional. They have a purpose. I have shoes for wet, cold, and all-year and replace them once they’ve got holes through the soles. I only replace my clothes when they are no longer wearable. I don’t want to go through clothes. At the end of it I’d be so bored I’d never start on anything else. I don’t get fashion.
So I think I’ll just take a couple of ideas from the book, and keep trying to work out a method that works for me.
The book is worth reading if you live in a cluttered house and don’t want to, and it’s a very speedy read. But I wish I’d been more patient with the library waiting list, as another book would have brought me more joy!
No matter what I’m actually doing, I always feel I should be doing something else. If I’m decluttering, I should be cleaning. If I’m reading, I should be reviewing. If I’m walking, I should be doing the laundry. If I’m putting the clothes away, I should be tidying the lounge floor. If I’m sweeping the kitchen, I should be cooking dinner…
The problem with all these conflicting thoughts is that my brain just freezes and can’t decide what to do. I can’t do everything, so which things should I prioritise? I want it all done already, and if I schedule I get stressed by the length of the list.
I spend far too many hours starting at walls, or playing inane games on my phone. If I’d walked in all that wasted time, the house would still be a mess but I’d be fitter.
And I’d still feel guilty about the mess.
I’m still processing my autism diagnosis (autism spectrum condition, not Aspergers, although I assume I’m Aspergers) and trying to work out methods that will work for me. I have spoon limitations (look up spoon theory if that makes no sense) and now I know I also have executive function limitations, I can’t follow a scheme that might work for thousands of other people. I need a way of decluttering and organising that actually works for me. I need to get rid of the backlog of mess and have time to have a life again.
And I really need to write all those book reviews I have in my head. Sigh.
I’m not a particularly clean and tidy person. I’d much rather spend time doing something I find interesting than doing housework. I find most things more interesting than housework! But I would like to live in a tidier house.
When I say this, the response I get from most people is “you don’t want to live in a show home,” and they’re right, that’s not what I’m aiming for. But I also don’t want to live somewhere that is as cluttered and messy as my brain is. It would be nice to find coming home a sanctuary, not a stress.
Mentally I’ve been so up and down that even though I’ve done lots, I’ve never finished, and I want that to change. So this week I changed the garage from this:
Definitely not a show home, but more accessible and sorted. This is good.
It’s the second year that I have two children in full time education, so I feel like I ought to have achieved something in the last year, but both mental and physical health did put decluttering and tidying on the back burner for a while.
Before I did my back in, I got the lounge looking like this:
I have a secret weapon on my side though. I was lucky enough to win a place on My Organized Chaos two years ago, and whenever my health allows, I can use the tips and tricks from the course to get me on track to where I want to be again.
My Organized Chaos has been completely overhauled this year, and re-opens in October. I thoroughly recommend signing up. The price includes lifetime access, which means two years on I’m still receiving supportive comments from Jo and the MOC group when I feel overwhelmed.
Having non-judgemental, emotionally unattached feedback is a godsend, and knowing that I can go back to the course whenever I need to means that even when life throws a spanner in the way, there isn’t a deadline before you lose course access.
My Organized Chaos isn’t just about the home, that’s just my personal focus at present, it covers three main areas: Mama, Home, and Kids. Jo is running free training sessions now, and has a free to join Facebook group for Moms That Rock, so you can get a taster of what she can do for you.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the kids, the mess, and not having time for yourself, I recommend you have a peek at the free offerings. The full course is even better, and set up to fit individual requirements.
I’ve just dropped Mighty Girl and Danger Girl back at school for the new term, and am taking the morning to do basically nothing before going into work this afternoon. I’m looking at the living room floor: huge box of rail track with random stuff piled on top; paper and scissors and glue; bags and toys and musical instruments; top trump cards piled on the sofa; blankets and soft toys draped everywhere; bookcases half empty with books spread around the house…
Yep, the children have definitely been home for a fortnight.
For the two weeks before the school holidays I decluttered and sorted, tidied and organised, and for the first time in years I felt like I’d achieved something.
Before the school holiday
Two weeks later and I don’t want to do it all again. Besides, I have about eight weeks of blogging to catch up on…
I seem to have developed a fairly laissez-faire approach to parenting (quickly googles laissez-faire to make sure it means what I think it means… Yeah, that’ll do.) Or maybe it’s just that I’m a terrible parent who ignores her children! I’d like to lead by example and be a wonderfully perfect person with manners and a tidy, clean house but I’m not so I do try to explain right and wrong and we have all sorts of discussions about things in the world too. But sometimes I do just hide behind a screen and leave them to it.
Which results in things like MG’s book The Lonely Bear that I’m serialising this week. And a whole bunch of paper and felt tips soaking into clothes and covers as they (the felt tips) are left with lids off leaning on them (the clothes, bedsheets etc) that are also left lying around. Not to mention the mountains of paper and other art materials that appear to breed (see Clutter Creep).
I am neglecting DG in this description. There is a reason she is called Destructo-Girl but she is also incredibly creative and imaginative. She loves small world play and will make up stories for hours on end with all her favourite toys – mixing Sylvanians and Budkins, soft toys and dolls’ clothes, wooden food and trainsets… Until the entire house hasn’t any spare floor space from top to bottom. But if you look carefully, it’s not mess. You can see her creativity shining through:
Shame I have to tidy everything up, and all the teeny bits seem to get lost all over the house though!