Posts Tagged Organization

Jump Start Your Journal With A 21 Day Journaling Challenge – 50+ Thought Provoking Journal Prompts

Jump Start Your Journal With A 21 Day Journaling Challenge – 50+ Thought Provoking Journal Prompts

jump start your bullet journalIf you’re anything like me and have a million thoughts swirling around in your head, you probably want to get some of them down on paper, too! For me, journaling is a way to process and make sense of things. It allows me to articulate my thoughts and feelings on any number of things in my life.

You might want to keep track of a busy schedule, find time to work in some daily creativity to your life, be better organized or work towards a goal. Many people want to keep track of things like gratitude or meditation. Maybe you’re trying to build a new habit, like exercising. You could keep a yoga journal or track your progress as you get in shape. Whatever your purpose is, you can tailor your journaling challenge to meet your needs.

What Are The Benefits Of Journaling

what are the benefits of journaling

For me, writing is a way to work through my thoughts and articulate my feelings around something that’s been on my mind. The process of writing helps me define, distill and put words to things I may be feeling, but not able to readily identify.

Journaling has been shown to improve mental health by bringing intention into our lives. A practice of journaling – like a 21-day journaling challenge – brings clarity, improves emotional intelligence, builds mindfulness, increases gratitude and strengthens self-discipline. Simply put, by committing to taking time for yourself through journaling, you’re investing in yourself.

How Do I Start Journaling

how do i start journaling

It’s important to first get a clear idea on what you hope to achieve from starting a daily journal habit. It could be a goal you are wanting to achieve, it could be solving some pain point in your life, or it could be to reconnect with yourself. Whatever it is, take a few minutes to think about it and define what success is going to look like for you.

bullet journal printable designsOnce you know your direction, you can determine the smaller, daily steps you need to accomplish that will lead to your larger successes. You’ll want to take that bigger goal and break it down into simple little actions that you can do each day. No matter how big your aim is, find the simplest thing that you think you can realistically do.

The key here is to orient yourself in a general direction and figure out the first step. It’s important to realize that even if you have missteps in this process, you’re at least making forward progress. If you fail over and over, you’ve discovered multiple ways of knowing what not to do. The benefit of making mistakes is having more data to show what doesn’t work and pointing you in the direction of what does.

People will sometimes get in their own heads about figuring it all out or having all the answers, only to give up. Just start, even if you do it badly, you’ll still be ahead of doing nothing.

From there, use some of the prompts I have provided here for you as a starting point. Tweak them for your purposes if you need to, but the main goal is to just put your pen to paper and write. Even if you decide to write about not knowing what to write about, it’s a start!

How To Do A 21 Day Journaling Challenge

how to do a 21 day journaling challenge

Once you’ve laid out your goals, get a journal and a good pen to write with, I’d suggest coming up with a few go-to questions and writing prompts you can always fall back on. Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes, set aside all other distractions and begin to write.

Leuchtturm 1917 notebook
bullet journal pens

A Few Basic Journal Prompts To Get Started:

Use these basic journal prompts to get started journaling if you don’t know where to begin.

Basic Journal Prompts

  • What’s the big thing you need to get done today?
  • What is one thing that you can’t stop thinking about?
  • What do you want more of in life/career/love and what do you want less of?
  • What would make this day or week a great day/week?
  • What guilt am I carrying around with me, how do I address it?
  • Create a list: What are 50 things I love?
  • What’s something that bothers you and what are different ways you could fix it?
  • What are 5 things you need to let go to move forward?

Different Types of Journal Challenges You Can Try

different types of journaling challenges

The nice thing about journals is they are super flexible. You can treat it like a diary, set it up like a bullet journal, or have it be purpose driven. Here are a few different types of journal challenges you can try out, feel free to try a few!

Daily Journaling Challenge

daily journaling challenge

This is a great place to start if you’re just getting into journaling. You can morph into whatever you want and can try some of the specific journaling exercises below to see what works for you! All you have to do is grab your journal and pen and then start writing a few pages at a time. Start with 5-10 minutes each day, but if you’re on a roll, go with the flow.

It can be a good idea to block out time on your calendar each day. Many people like to journal in the morning to set intentions, clarity and focus for their day. If you’re like me, I like journaling right before bed to take all the ideas swirling around my brain and get them on paper. This lets me address them head on and allows me to fall asleep more easily with a calm mind.

Daily Journaling Prompts

  • I couldn’t imagine living without these things…
  • If a younger version of myself were to see me, they’d call me out on ___.
  • I feel most energized when I am doing ___
  • Create a word cloud of what your ideal self would be, summarize it into three rules to live by.
  • What is getting in the way of being happy or reaching your goals, what part do you play in that?
  • What are the ways you could build more meaningful connections with friends, family and love interests?
  • What things do you say you’re going to do, but ended up not? How can you improve your say-do ratio?
  • What are things you like to do that others are willing to pay for; how could you leverage that?
  • What’s one project you’d like to spend more time on, why is it important? Bullet out 5 steps to make it happen.
  • What’s something that you’re not doing out of fear? How would you deal with the worst-case scenario?
  • If your house were to catch on fire, what 10 things would you save from the fire?

Yoga Journal Challenge

yoga journal challenge

While you’re journaling, you might also want to give yoga a try too. Many people who want to add more intention into their lives like to journal and do yoga at the same time; it’s a nice balance of mind and body. I know many yoga instructor certification courses suggest adding daily intention into the mix to help reflect on the process.

Take 15 minutes each day for three weeks to journal about your thoughts and feelings that come up during your 21-day yoga challenge. Journaling can be directly about your process of getting into yoga or it could be wide open as a way to process things to have a more wholistic approach.

21-Day Yoga Journaling Prompts

  • What does balance feel like in your life?
  • How do you recognize when you’re in “the flow”?
  • Where is your focus: on the journey or the destination?
  • How can you best serve your future self?
  • How do you express your creativity? How can you foster that?
  • What things bring energy to your life? What things take energy away?
  • What do you need to be more present in your life?
  • What is your ideal life? What things bring you closer or further from that ideal?
  • What are three words you want to characterize your life? Write about each.
  • Who are the people in your life that you’re grateful for and why? Be specific!

Bullet Journal Challenge

bullet journal challenge

A bullet journal is a great system to organize your thoughts, goals and habits. What I like about the system is that it’s both flexible for many needs and structured in a way to keep the chaos manageable. Start the process by setting up your bullet journal index, key and number your pages: I show you the basics of bullet journaling here.

Each day you will create a daily to-do collection page, then spend some time building out the rest of your bullet journal with purpose built spreads that support your goals. If you’re not sure what to put in your bullet journal, check out my post about how to choose what pages to include in your bullet journal.

Once you’ve got your layouts finished, start with some daily reflections and journal on some of these questions. Then, add it to your index. If you’re feeling really motivated, create a habit tracking page to mark each day you journal!

21-Day Bullet Journal Setup


21-Day Bullet Journaling Prompts

  • What are your top priorities this year? Bullet out 5 steps each to make them happen.
  • What things get in the way of achieving your goals? Brainstorm ways to address them before they happen.
  • What are the biggest nuisances in your daily life and what could you do to fix them?
  • What’s the difference between your actions and your intentions? How could you close that gap?
  • What is a favorite memory of yours, what lessons can you pull to apply moving forward?
  • What’s the best job you’ve had and what’s the worst one? Write about the differences and how to spot them.
  • What types of experiences do you want to have in your life, what about them makes them meaningful?
  • What’s an idea that’s consuming you right now? Journal about that idea.
  • What’s an area of your life that could be improved? Brainstorm about how you could make progress there.

how to start a bullet journal

Daily Gratitude Journal Challenge

daily grattude journal challenge

If you’re like me, it’s helpful to focus on what is good in your life as a way to stay positive. I once heard a saying “Was it a bad day or was it a bad five minutes that you milked all day”. That really stuck with me because I think my life has a lot going for it, but sometimes I get so wrapped up in the one little thing that didn’t go my way. Having a focus on gratitude can help fix that.

Take 5 minutes each day to just reflect on all the good things that happened. You can journal about what the good things were, how they made you feel and why you are grateful for them. You can also try out some of the prompts below. Consider adding in a mood tracker, which can be helpful to give you an objective view on how things are going.

21-Day Gratitude Journaling Prompts

  • Make a list of all the things you are grateful for in your life.
  • Write a gratitude letter to someone important, even if you don’t send it.
  • Take time to reflect on things you take for granted, what are they and how can you recognize them more?
  • Why is a habit of gratitude so difficult? What could we do to change that?
  • When everything goes wrong, what do you fall back on? Write about that.
  • What kindnesses have others shown you and what did they teach you?
  • What failures are you grateful for? What lesson was learned from them?
  • What went right when you really needed it to? Write about the experience and how that felt.

21 Day Meditation Journal Challenge

21 day meditation journal chalenge

Many of you know introspection has been a big part of my journey through life and that takes a willingness to be alone with my thoughts. Meditation is a great way to settle my mind when I need to be in the right head space for important work in my own life or in business.

There are many great resources on how to meditate, but realize that journaling in and of itself is a form of meditation. You can reflect on your meditation went the thoughts that tried to push their way into your mind while doing it. You can also meditate for 10 minutes and then start to journal with a clearer mind.

21-Day Meditation Journaling Prompts

  • My favorite way to spend my day is ___. What lessons can I take and apply from that?
  • Make a word cloud of words that you want your life to embody. Summarize them into a single sentence.
  • What are the things that bring me back to center when things are stressful or not going my way?
    Make a list of what is enough for you.
  • What was one of your life’s biggest mistakes, what lessons can you take away from that?
  • What are three things you could do to live a more fulfilling life?
  • What rules should you set to determine when to say yes or no to something?
  • What words do you need to hear from important people in your life?

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Journaling Challenge

how to get the most out of journaling challenge

Taking just a few minutes to journal each day will bring a lot of intention and clarity to your life. Putting down the phone, switching off the TV or breaking from your busy day to spend a moment on self-development and discovery each day can have a huge impact for little investment.

Here are some tips to make the most out of your time journaling:

  • Try to take a step back and challenge your assumptions and self-limiting thoughts
  • Defend your time for reflection, make it a priority and guard it well during the challenge
  • If you don’t know where to start, start badly to build momentum
  • Remove barriers and excuses to building a journaling habit before they come up
  • Calendar time each day to make it a priority

I hope that was helpful to kick starting your journaling habit. Doing a daily challenge can be a great way to build meaningful habits into your daily routine. So, grab your journal and get writing!

Your Turn!

  • What tips do you have for people just starting out?
  • What prompts do you like to write about?

How to Start a Bullet Journal and Master Your Productivity

How to Start a Bullet Journal and Master Your Productivity

How to Start a Bullet Journal and Master Your Productivity

How to start a Bullet JournalAs someone who is obsessed with mastering my time and productivity, I can’t emphasize the benefits of starting a bullet journal enough. A bullet journal is a paper journal, but it’s also a planning tool. Thanks to the system of migrating tasks, it’s a powerful goal-setting method as well.

printable bullet journals for saleWhen you start a bullet journal, you’re essentially wrangling all the bits and pieces floating around in your head (and on post-it notes around your desk). You’re setting priorities and creating a deliberate, practical action plan. You’re able to track your status and know your next step each day. Bullet journals offer clarity and focus.

The concept that really sealed the deal for me on bullet journals was the system of migration. With bullet journals, you roll over, or “migrate” unfinished tasks each period (weekly or monthly). This methodology quickly helps you keep track of what’s on your plate at any given time.

The other feature I love is an index as page one of the journal. It’s searchable and convenient. Again, it’s such a simple solution, but that’s the appeal of bullet journals—they seem stupidly simple, but they’re incredibly useful.

Simple, but genius! That sums up bullet journaling.

productivity quote from Benjamin Franklin

Finally, there’s no understating the convenience of paper. Now, I know the trend these days is toward cutting back on paper and going digital whenever possible. I agree with this idea for the most part, as well. I’ve digitized much of my “paper life,” and it’s been beneficial for organizing. BUT a few weeks ago, Google Calendar went down. I logged off my computer and stopped working for the day. There was no way to know what I was doing, and that’s where paper wins—paper can’t “go down” like the internet.

There are many additional reasons to start a bullet journal as well. This is a great productivity system. Here are all the details you need to know to start a bullet journal and take control over your to-do list.

Why Bullet Journals Work So Well

why do bullet journals work so well to organize your life

I got turned onto bullet journals by my friend, Zach. I was visiting the school where he worked and during our conversation a question came up. He reached for an innocuous looking journal. He checked the index and then flipped right to his plan. Instantly, he had the answer.

I had to know more about this super-efficient notebook system. I asked a lot of questions: What was a bullet journal, and how did it work? How should I start a bullet journal? Most importantly, would a bullet journal actually increase my productivity and help with organization, or was it a pretty way to doodle (and waste time)?

As many of my readers know, I’m a big fan of any tool to organize the chaos of everyday life and bring a minimalist mindset to work. Bullet journals are no exception.

Keeping a simple office and minimalist working habits

I’ve explored a lot of productivity concepts, time management, and planning activities. Anyone who’s hoping to follow a minimalist approach to their schedule (cutting out the chaos, clutter, and stress) has probably looked into many of the products and ideas like the Pomodoro method, daily planners (like the Franklin-Covey system or the Happy Planner system), and digital tools like Trello, Basecamp, and Asana. There is no shortage of ways people try to tame the chaos in their lives.

While most of these productivity tools have pros and cons, I’ve found there are positive takeaways and lessons in each one. The main idea of any efficiency tool is organizing your time and taking control of your schedule.

being stressed out over time managmentChaos, stress, clutter, and confusion all stem from a lack of priorities. Minimalism is the counterfoil to chaos because it’s all about aligning your life to your priorities.

Do you know your priorities? Do you know where you’re going? Do you know how you want your future to look? Clarifying these questions and distilling down the solutions help you move in a productive direction toward the life you want. Bullet journals offer you a simple, clear road map to your destination.

The most appealing aspect of the bullet journaling process for me was the process called migration. One of the biggest problems with other productivity methods is the lack of a way to carry tasks forward. With digital calendars and apps, you check off a task and forget it, or you keep mindlessly rolling it forward and changing the date. With a paper list or planner, you turn the page, and it’s gone.

The idea of migrating tasks is shockingly simple at face value, but from a practicality standpoint, it makes a HUGE impact and is a big deal for me. Writing down each task reinforces your dedication when you migrate them forward. You are thinking about what you’re doing, and you’re solidifying the importance.

how to migrate a bullet journal

The other aspect of bullet journals, that I liked was the index. As I said, when Zach showed me his index, it was one of those “ah-ha” moments. I’d avoided the idea of a paper planner or journal because it seemed there was a lack of searchability (unlike digital tools). You must flip through every page to find your notes. The index feature of a bullet journal provided an analogue, but still effective solution to my hang up with paper journals.

The paper aspect of a journal is nice too. Paper is convenient; you can take it anywhere. There’s something very intentional and deliberate about writing by hand. You think of what you’re jotting down. You write it with purpose. If the bullet journal system resonates with you, I think you’ll find the paper factor is a pro rather than a con.

Since bullet journaling seemed to work so well for Zach, I figured I’d give it a try, so I jumped in and learned how to plan and organize my life with the bullet journal method. I researched bullet journals further and was blown away by the amazing and artistic spreads and layouts, interesting collections, and the system itself.

What is a Bullet Journal (and How Does it Work)?

what is a bullet journal and how does it work

A man named Ryder Carrol invented the bullet journal (or bujo as he likes to call it). The system of “rapid logging” was designed to help people quickly jot down their thoughts and ideas. This method consists of bullets and signifiers (symbols) to indicate the status of each item.

There are central components to a bullet journal:

  • Index
  • Key
  • Spreads
  • Calendar/Future Log
  • Collections (projects)

We’ll go into the definition for each of these components, but it’s important to realize there is a lot of internal jargon and lingo when it comes to bullet journaling. These terms may seem intimidating or off-putting at first, but let me assure you, the components and actions are actually straightforward and practical.

introspection quote by Ryder Carroll

In addition to the basic components, there are many different collections/projects people like to include:

  • Habit trackers – Meals, workouts, moods, and more…
  • Brain dump or mind map sheets
  • Goal sheets
  • Lists – Books/movies/podcasts, travel, shopping
  • Schedule or agendas
  • Plans for meals or workouts
  • Inspiring quotes
  • Vision boards

enjoy the journey with beautiful printable bullet journal pagesAs you see, there are endless bullet journal ideas out there. The bullet journal layouts vary for each collection. After viewing so many bullet journal ideas on Pinterest and Instagram, I have to say there are very talented artists out there! The aesthetics of bullet journals was one of the aspects that really appealed to me personally. They’re small works of art for some avid bullet journalers.

But again, it’s easy to get caught up or intimidated by beautiful layouts and designs. You don’t need art skills to create a bullet journal. Many of the signifiers (symbols used to indicate the status of items on your log) are simple: a star, a checkmark, a box, or a greater than/less than symbol. You don’t need to be a calligrapher or designer to create an aesthetically pleasing bullet journal.

Better still, there are many bullet journal printables and pre-designed layouts to help you get precisely the look at features you need—no artistic talent required!

masculin printable bullet journal pages of moutains

Bullet Journal Printables


Get a head start on your bullet journal and do it in style with these printable designs.

tropical leaves printable bullet journal pages PDF

Basic Terms of Bullet Journaling

Basic bullet journaling terms

In bullet journaling, there are many specific terms used to describe the various pieces. Here’s a quick breakdown of bullet journal terminology and their definitions:
  • Index: This is the first page of your bullet journal. Each subsequent page gets a number and is logged in the index. With a quick check, you’ll find each piece of information at a glance.
  • Key: Like the key on a map, your bullet journal key breaks down the symbols (signifiers) and colors you will use to indicate the status of your projects. Most people like to put the key in the front (or in the very back), so it’s easy to reference.
  • Signifier: Signifiers are the symbols indicating the status of each task. Usual signifiers include a square (for a checkmark when complete), a > (meaning a migrated task), a < (meaning a scheduled task), a – for a note, and a * for priority. Customize signifiers to whatever makes sense to you.
  • Spread: A two-page overview of the month. The left side contains the dates, usually written as a numbered list. The right page contains your tasks/to-dos for the month. Some people prefer a weekly spread.
  • Daily Log: The heart of your bullet journal, your daily log is used to write down bullets (rapid logging) each day. You enter multiple days on a page. The topic is the date (or dates) on the page.
  • Collection: Each page in the bullet journal has a topic, and those topics are referred to as collections. Every entry in your bullet journal, whether it’s a project, list, or tracker, is called a collection. You may have several collections aligned with the tasks on your monthly spread.
  • Future log: The future log is essentially a calendar where you will add your future tasks. You consult your future log when you set up your spread each month (or week).
  • Migration: When you set up your spread, you’ll migrate the incomplete tasks/to-dos from the right page of your last spread. The migration system ensures you never lose track of what you’re doing. Migration also really sets your intention for the next period.
  • Dot Grid: Many bullet journal users journals with dot grid pages. These dot grids are useful for tracking habits and to-do items. For example, each day you work out, you may fill in a square on the grid (or a line segment) to show your progress.
  • Doodles: While this isn’t necessarily a specific term for bullet journaling, many journals feature themes, doodles, or drawings. They’re often very beautiful with different motifs used throughout the journal. Many people find a beautiful journal is more motivating.

How to Start a Bullet Journal

how to start a bullet journal in a few easy steps

When you set up your bullet journal, you’ll create the index on the first page. Then you’ll number all the pages in your journal, if it isn’t already numbered. Decide if you want your key on the front page or the back page.

You’ll want to set up your future log next. This is a year-long calendar (usually set up with space between each month, covering 2-4 pages). In this log, you’ll add significant dates like vacations, holidays, birthdays, conferences, etc. Think of your journal as working from the broad to the specific, starting with your bigger goals and planning, then as you get deeper into the journal, you get down to the nitty gritty of weeks or even daily spreads.

You may want to leave a few pages to set up various collections as you go. You don’t need to set up your collections anywhere in particular, but some people like to put them in the front of the journal. These include lists like your bucket list, books, movies, podcasts, and more. You could add your goals, meal plans, and other collections here as well.

From there, you’ll set up your first spread. The left page should show the monthly overview, including the primary goals you’d like to accomplish, as well as other important or meaningful tasks. The right page is your focus for the next week, with a daily list of goals, tasks and other important items.
example spread pages
Your next pages contain your daily log. Each day, you’ll write down notes, to-do items, scheduled items, and goals. Next to each item, write a symbol to indicate the status. A sample log may look like this:
example daily spreads
Each day, you spend a few moments noting and then migrating tasks. The migration process really makes bullet journaling a great way to stay organized. Despite being an analog method for project management, I find bullet journaling simple and effective.

bullet journal migration steps

At the end of the week or month, you’ll re-write your tasks and information on the next spread. You’ll migrate the to-do list forward, adding any incomplete items to a new list (along with any new tasks). Each time you add a new spread or a new collection, you’ll add it to your index.

Thanks to the rapid logging and signifiers, the process is quick and efficient. Scan through a bullet journal very fast and know precisely the status of every item.

There’s no dogma to bullet journaling either. Similar to minimalism or living the tiny life, there are guidelines, but the process is entirely up to your interpretation. Find the ways bullet journaling works for you. Start simple, adjust as you go, and incorporate new ideas and new collections as you become more comfortable with the process.

how to know what to focus on, goal settings quote henry thoreau

Keep in mind, you WILL make mistakes (we all do). This bullet journal is for your personal use. There’s no way to really “mess it up” or ruin your journal. If you’re worried about aesthetics, you may want to invest in whiteout or use erasable pens before you go out and buy calligraphy markers (which are in no way a requirement for bullet journaling).

You’ll also want to remember this is your journal! Use it to make notes, jot down reminders, and make notations. The power of a bullet journal is that you can refer back to it for years and years.

Using a Bullet Journal to Manage Projects

using a bullet journal to manage projects at work

Where bullet journals really shine is as a project management tool. While bujos are also a useful tool for goal setting and getting organized, I find the method is also very useful for projects requiring step-by-step action.

For example, when setting up land for a tiny house build, a bullet journal is a highly effective way to manage all the lists, to-dos, and planning.

As you see, the bullet journaling process helps you organize and keep track of moving pieces. You’ll know the status of every part of the project. Easily adjust timelines and plans accordingly, add to the lists and refer back as needed.

Some people prefer to set up a separate journal for a big project like a build. Others prefer to keep all their to-dos in one place and manage the project in their single journal. I’ve found it’s nice to create a bullet journal for each project because it gives me plenty of information to refer to later. The journals are helpful for blogging and future tiny house projects. If I run into a question, I look back in the appropriate journal and know precisely what I did, how long a task took, and any complications I encountered on the job.

Bullet journals are practical because they give a home to all the moving pieces you’re tracking. You no longer need to hold everything in your mind, jot it down on sticky notes, or access an app to remind you of the status. It’s all right there in your organized bullet journal.

An example of a bullet journal page I created for setting up land for a tiny house:example page to set goals in a bullet journal

If you’re looking for a way to organize information clearly, keep track of your day-to-day activities, or get serious about your goals, I highly recommend bullet journaling. It’s a beautiful way to keep track of your life!

Bullet Journal Printables

tropical leaves PDF printable

Start your bullet journal today with these tropical plant inspired printable journal pages.

Rugged moutain masculin printable PDF bullet journal downloadable

Get organized with these mountain inspired printable bullet journal pages.


Your Turn!

  • What’s your favorite method for goal setting and tracking?
  • What do you like about the idea of using a bullet journal?

Organizing Versus Decluttering

There seems to be a constant debate on organizing versus decluttering. Which one is more important? Should I organize, declutter, or both? This is my experience with organizing and decluttering.

I used to spend hours every week watching organizing videos. I would be amazed and so satisfied watching people organize the contents of their closet or storage cabinets into neat, clear plastic tubs, complete with lids and cute labels. Watching these videos would make me so motivated to go get my own organizing tubs and move all of my belongings into clearly labeled containers, where everything has it’s place.

Organized Versus Decluttered

The idea of organizing all of my stuff seemed like so much fun, and I started to use my coupons (I was also into couponing) to buy organizing bins and drawer sets for my cabinets. I organized all of my bulk toothpaste, extra deodorants, and even put all of the clothes I hardly wear in a cute box to put up in the attic. I organized a box of scarves, a box of spare shoes, and I even organized all of my books from college into a box with a label to put in the garage.

I soon realized the problem with my organizing spree. I was simply organizing all of the stuff I wasn’t using. I didn’t need fifty tubs of toothpaste or thirty Bath and Body Works shower gels. I didn’t need that box of clothes that I never wore, or my books from college.

Soon after my organizing spree, I found minimalism. At this point, I turned my focus from organizing to decluttering. I stopped with the couponing madness, and I stopped buying more stuff. I started working my way through the stuff that I had, and gave some of it away. Eventually, the storage and organizing containers became useless. I didn’t have stuff to fill them anymore, so they got donated along with a lot of the stuff in them.

This experience taught me that decluttering should always come before organizing. For the majority of my organizing phase, organizing was just tidying up the stuff I wasn’t using or didn’t need to begin with. Though organizing can feel productive and look pretty, now I much prefer the minimalist look of clean, clear homes with only the essentials and nothing more.

Organized Versus Decluttered

Living this way has opened my mind and schedule, so that I have the time to be doing things that really light me up and make me feel alive. I have time for all of my many hobbies and goals. And I can tell you, organizing isn’t one of those hobbies anymore.

Your Turn!

  • Do you prefer organizing or decluttering?

How To Organize Your Life With Trello

Trying to keep on top of things in life is sometimes daunting.  If you’re like me, I’ve tried a lot of different things over the years, but finally I have found something that works for me.  It’s called Trello and it’s a free web app and also has a really good iphone app for free too.

how to organize life and keep organized

Before I get into Trello, I wanted to share a little bit about my philosophy of use and then also a break down of other things I’ve tried over the years.

Applying a philosophy of use to productivity tools

A tool is only as good as the skill of the user.  The truth is that most tools work really well, it’s when you bring a human in the mix that things go awry.  We have a plethora of tools at our disposal, what we need to do is bring in a way of thinking on how we use them and form habits around them.

Start with your goals

know where you want to go

The biggest thing I see people failing on is not having goes.  If we don’t know where we are going, how can we figure out which direction to even go?  How can we validate that the things we do are even the right things?  What if we are doing things that are actually working against us!?

Take big goals and break them down to bite sized pieces

When you are setting out on a ambitious journey it’s very helpful to think about the first step you need to take.  If you focus too much on the entire goal it can be overwhelming, it can seem impossible, but when we break it down into smaller parts, we then realize all we have to do is this one thing today.

Understand you can only work on a few things at any given time

focus on one thing at a time

In many cases it’s better to focus on one thing at a time, tackle that head-on.  I will often work on a few things at once because there is often time when I’m waiting on someone else (email response, contractor to finish work, etc).  Have a select few things means I can work until I have to stop, then transition to work on that other thing.

Understand you’ll get to the other things later

This is something many people struggle with a lot.  I see it time and time again.  When you set your goal, you must understand that trying to do all of them at once will get you nowhere.  Like I said above, focus on 2 or 3 things at once and put the rest to the side.  This is where people falter; putting things aside for now, isn’t the same as putting them aside forever.  We need to get over the emotions that

The Tiny Life guide to using Trello to manage your life

 

Your Turn!

  • What do you use to organize your life?
  • What tricks work for you?

2 Second Lean: Eliminating Waste And Making Life Easier

I recently came across this book (which is free) and was blown away.  Lean is a philosophy of eliminating waste in our daily lives, at work or at home, to improve how we get things done.  There was a lot of overlap with a lot of what we hold dear as tiny housers.  It’s primarily oriented to manufacturing, but has a lot of practical applications in any workplace and even in our homes.

get rid of waste in life

What struck me was that 2 second lean was approachable. I’ve read a lot on Six Sigma, Agile, Scrum, and other systems, but this just clicked better.  The method had a lot of very simple lessons and application was super easy.  A lot of the techniques employed are things that we already do as tiny housers, but some new ones as well.  There some practices that really stuck out for me.

Here are a few key terms before we get into it all, most are from the Japanese who developed a lot of this stuff:

Kaizen: is a Japanese term continuous improvement.  Though slow and steady improvements we attain a better way of life.  Example: when we notice something bothers us constantly, we fix it.

Poka Yoke: this term is designing things so we can’t make mistakes or minimize them drastically.  It also is design that when a mistake is made, it jumps out at us so we can identify it.  Example: a front load washer will not start until the door is fully closed, preventing spills.

Kanban: is a technique we provide cues to remind us to refill something, buy another of an item etc so we don’t run out.  Example: I take a bright colored piece of paper, cut it to the size of a toilet paper roll and place it on top of my last one.  When I use the TP, I suddenly see the bright paper, I know I need to order more.

Visual Controls: This is employing marking and other visual cues to help people understand what’s going on at a glance.  The ideal situation is to be so clear a person could walk in and find anything or understand the flow without external direction.  Example: label bins so people know what is in them without having to look inside.

Lean is all about seeing and eliminating waste.  In our own lives we want to remove waste to make our lives easier, to give us more time to do things we’d rather do, to improve the work we do, and enjoy things more when we are relaxing.

There are 7 types of waste

At Work
At Home

  • Defects: we make a mistakes
  • Overproduction: we do extra work to fix know problems over and over again
  • Waiting: When we sit around waiting for someone to do something
  • Missed Potential: We don’t use the best person for the job
  • Excess Inventory: We have to much stuff, which leads to clutter and stress
  • Wasted Motion: we don’t have what we need close by or at hand
  • Defects: Time consuming mistakes
  • Overproduction: We don’t fix something that bothers us
  • Waiting: Wasting time on things
  • Missed potential: We don’t empower others to help
  • Excess inventory: We have clutter
  • Wasted Motion: We are constantly walking to get something

 

 

Kaizen at home:

how to declutter

When you are decluttering an areas have three boxes handy: one for trash, one box for things you want to keep, and a third box for things to donate.  When you declutter an area pull everything out.  While you’re in your downsizing process, consider having a set of general boxes so when you find something that needs to be dealt with it has a place to go right away.

Poka Yoke at home:


Think about how you can make sure things get back to where they’re supposed to be, to make sure people have the tools at hand to do the job and error proof things as much as you can.

Kanban at home:

kanban boxes in life and at home

These are bins that are mostly blue, but one end is red, an adjustable divider lets you set your threshold.  Let’s say you have 6 cans of soup, you’d put four in the blue half and then two in the red half.  Start with the blue side out, but when you run out of soup in the blue half, you’ll be forced to flip the bin to the red side.  You’ll have two more soups to go, but your bin now signals that you need to get more soup because you look for the red.

Visual controls at home:

Organizing things with visual controls will let you know exactly what goes where and identify quickly what is missing or out of place.

Taping spots for things will show people where things go.

Kanban Board in real life:

kanban board to do list

So for those of you who want to check the book out, it’s called 2 Second Lean and it’s free in a pdf and audio.  You can check it out here:  read 2 second lean here

 

Your Turn!

  • How do you eliminate waste in your life?
  • How do you make small improvements in your life?