Monday, February 1, 2016

Keeping all the Balls in the Air: January 2016

With a new year upon us I decided to try a few things to stay more organized, waste less (time and food and energy), and keep better records. It almost sounds like I made a Resolution to get organized, waste less, and keep better records, but really I'm not making any resolutions this year. Really, I swear; resolutions never stick. 

Instead, I did the whole "choose a word" thing for this year....one for me (Authentic) and one for the farm (Simplify). Last year's farm motto was "Work Smarter, Not Harder" so I feel like I'm just continuing 2016 on the foundation I laid last year with my attempts to simplify (and organize) things further. 

If you have more than one job and wear many hats like I do, then you know that keeping all the balls in the air is crazy-hard sometimes. Seriously, it is NOT easy. I only work two days away from the farm, but even on those days I have to do the farm chores too. Some days I juggle like a Master Level Ninja Clown....some days I am just a clown. I have to have routines to get it all done.

The barn command center.

Some time last year I added the chalkboard to the barn. Occasionally someone else does the chores without me there to boss them around, but all the feeding info was in my head. It occurred to me that if I ever got knocked on the head and couldn't do the chores or boss someone around we might find ourselves in trouble. The board immediately came in handy, until we realized that I never updated it when I changed rations. Oops! I rectified that problem and the board is now current and correct and anyone could come in and feed my girls. So a couple of weeks ago I went one step further and I added the dry erase board. This assigns chores to specific days to remind me, or point someone else in the right direction if I'm not there to give orders. So far, things are going pretty smoothly using this system.

One page of the bullet journal.
 Someone (hrmm, hrmm) pointed out that I had not done a very good job of keeping my farm records this year and I almost always screw up the monthly budget by forgetting to add something, so I needed a better way to manage all the papers, receipts, info, and numbers that bombard me all day long.

I googled around and happened upon the idea of a bullet journal and I started immediately. OH MY, you are going to laugh at me when I say this, but this freakin' thing has changed my life! I actually think this Bullet Journal thing might be a cult, but I DO. NOT. CARE. This is awesome. Since today is February 1st I can go on record as saying that this works for me. I've made a few adjustments, but WOW...I kept records for a full 31 days. Accurate, complete records. That's never happened before. NEVER.

So, true to form I'm not doing it exactly like the traditional bullet journal, but this way is working for me. Pictured to the left is the daily column system I'm using. I decided up front what I wanted to keep track of....some is business and some is just fun.

Each day I fill in my "template" which includes: What I'm reading; what I'm watching; what's going on on the farm; how many eggs, how much milk; who milked; what's happening in the garden/greenhouse; the weather; what I'm doing that day; What we are eating that day; money spent; blog post ideas. That might seems like a cumbersome list; however, it is so NOT.

The column prompts are all abbreviated and look like this: R. W. F. Eggs. Milk. Garden. WX. Do. Food, $$, Blog. Same thing every day and so much easier keeping everything in one place.

Each day (or couple of days) I stick in a post-it list of things to do on those days. I mark them off, then record them under the Do category. Instant record keeping and my counters and desk are no longer littered with To Do Lists that we lost or abandoned. One list. I used to feel like nothing was ever getting done because I had 3 or 4 or 5 lists running at once. Now, I feel like I've gotten better at juggling all the things that have to happen in a week. Of course, I've employed a few other sneaky tricks to keep myself on track that didn't come from the bullet journal. Each week I label each of the seven days as either: Work (2), Farm/Garden (2), Sew (2), or Housekeeping/Laundry (1). I use a post-it note to make these days mobile and flexible....so, if the weather is nice I might switch a farm/garden day for the sewing day. Or if something pops up that needs priority I just swap the post-its. I haven't felt like I was giving all my time to one thing...ahhhh, balance.

 Under the $$ category, I put all the receipts, rounded up, but I also added a page for recording farm receipts and mileage. Again, ALL IN ONE PLACE. I've been a little bit of a Spendy Sue lately and I've been tracking the days that I don't spend anything. Alas, I could do better, but I coded each expenditure as household, personal, crafts, books, or farm. So, sometimes when I'm spending money I'm not actually being naughty and I can tell at a glance what my habits are; which brings me to the Habit Tracker.

Habit tracker.
The Habit Tracker includes quite a bit of legit info, but it also serves as an accountability partner. For example, I would really like to get back to a daily yoga practice...sadly, I only marked three days this month....but next month I can do better. Visually motivating, huh?

I'm tracking a lot of very different things here, and it is cool to see the whole month at a glance. Besides yoga, I am trying to get a walk in each day...this month: 13. I milked 22 days (but was in the barn all 31 days of the month for morning chores). I worked 32 hours at my teaching job. The chickens laid 67 eggs. I did 23 loads of laundry, but only hung 4 on the line. See? Cool, huh?

Besides the daily bullet list and the habit tracker. I included a page at the beginning with goals for that month with little check off boxes to tick off when I accomplish something. I divided my monthly goals into several categories: Garden; Farm; Creative Business; Personal; and Blog. I didn't accomplish every item on the list, but I'm happy with what I did accomplish. I got every thing done that had a specific date, i.e. all the seed starting for this year's garden was done on time (probably for the first time ever).

The beautiful thing about the bullet journal (at least for me) is the idea of "migration". This means that things that don't get checked off this month, just migrate to the next month. I love that....no pressure. I have also been applying the migration technique to the daily To Do list...it sure does make the list less daunting.

Since my bullet journal has a Food category, I'll tell you too that labeling the outside of the freezer is the BEST thing I ever did to help us avoid food waste and stay organized.
Freezer Inventory.
Mom and I have discussed more than once the shared perception we have of our preserved food. 
There is this window of time when you don't allow your to dip into the reserves because it is "for winter," but then winter comes and you're still running to the store each week.

So, after we talked about this a couple of times I challenged myself to cook from the pantry, freezer, and garden. Without this nerdy organizing method I would have NO idea what was in the freezer and it is working really well. Part of the information I included in my bullet journal is the recipes I'm using during this time and perhaps I'll share that in another post.

Well, that's the January recap though it appears to be a major plug for bullet journaling and maybe it is. I'm gushing over this technique. I feel calm and balanced and in control. I know what has to get done: I have time to do it, but if I don't it can just "migrate" to the next page. There is freedom in that and sanity and less call for juggling and more time for Me and Us.


1 comment:

  1. I have started a bullet journal/ sketch book...I haven't been so successful in opening it the last couple of weeks! Lol! This makes me want to try again. Thanks

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