Paper Systems // 2018


Posted a quick poll a week ago on Instagram asking if anyone would be interested in seeing what I use for journals and paper organization. The response was a yes - and the NOs I know who you are ;) - so here it is!

In 2016 I planned to go completely paperless. It lasted for about a year but then I found myself constantly forgetting things, relying on my phone way too much, and generally spending too much time starring at screens. I ended up splitting my organization and learning systems into a hybrid paper and digital method and from there it's grown a bit.

Currently I use three things to keep track of life and work on projects: a bullet journal, 5 smaller notebooks, and the notes in my computer.

Bullet Journal

New for this year is a bullet journal. I wasn't sure if I'd want to move back into a planner set up but this is really working for me. Especially because it's completely tailored to what I need and the things I need to keep track of. That was a general issue I had with pre-made planners in the past and why I usually gave up using them by the end of March. This one's a simple yellow one with dots instead of lines or grids.

The sections I have right now are:

Lead section: future log, goals (professional, personal, health, and financial), overall year tracking for statistics associated with personal and professional goals, and a media consumption list (what I read and watch).

Make section: lists of client projects completed in 2018, list of personal projects completed in 2018, 12 monthly content calendar pages, overall project page for the Toronto collective I'm helping to organize (meeting info, cool project/collab ideas), and then a few blank pages that I'll fill in throughout the year if I need them.

Monthly section: this is the day to day portions I use. Each month is marked with some tape on the side of the page to find quickly and each month has the exact same pages in it. A monthly calendar as a title page, a monthly goals and master monthly to do list, Habit tracker for health and personal development, financial account overview/income list and spending tracking (both personal and business), weekly spreads, and then two blank pages for something I may need to do specifically for that month. January's blank pages will have a vision board I'm working on (giving that a try for the first time this year!).

There are a ton of resources online for creating a bullet journal but I found a lot of them to be really art heavy - which is totally cool and great and I wish I had the ability - but I wanted to keep mine dead simple and kinda ugly so I've stuck with just a pen and couple makers to break up the amount of text. Takes me about 20-30 mins to set up a new monthly section. So far I'm really loving it so far.


ABOVE LEFT: The Journal itself - it's A5 size so easy to transport with me day to day.  ABOVE RIGHT: My content calendar for January. I created one for each month to keep track of the projects I need to be sharing on social media to try and keep a balance between personal and client work. I don't completely love the split in the middle, to be honest, but I'm going to change it up next month and see if it works better. Maybe colour coding would be a better way to seperate them.

BELOW: Sample Weekly Spread -  Monday's I usually put everything I need to get done that week in that day's to do segment and then drag things down throughout the week as I do them. They only get crossed out when they're done. This one is from the beginning of fanuary when I was doing overall business admin stuff so there isn't much.



These are for long form writing or note taking for certain projects. They come in a set of 5 so it seemed perfect for what I need and colour coded for easy access. The first page of each notebook has the date I started using it and the date I finished it so that if I need to recall anything written in it I can do that based on the date range (especially important for client notes).


From Left To Right:

Client Notes, Language Study, Personal Projects, Free Writing, and Creative Education Development.

Breaking up into those categories and finding a group of small sized journals means I can transport them easier and, psychologically, it helps me to know that I can complete the journals faster which keeps me wanting to study/write/learn more. In each there's a mix of written, printings and clips from magazines, lists of artistic campaigns I'm loving, and sketches of ideas or lighting set ups.


Digital Notes

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Three of the most frequently used digital notes.

Done List is a daily list of all the things I've accomplished through the day, mostly to keep track of the unrelated tasks that aren't part of my top priority list in my bullet journal. It's easy to identify where I'm losing time or when I'm procrastinating based on what's written here. It's also easier for me to throw on future tasks here than in the physical lists because I can move them around easier. Usually, I pull tasks from that list into my physical journal for the week so I can focus on just them.

Billing List is for clients to keep track of who has paid, income for the month, and then things that need to be added into the accounting software I use.

Random Thought Placeholder is for the times when I'm procrastinating or unfocused. I can place links and info there that doesn't have anything to do with what I'm working on and revisit later. It's not super effective to be honest but it's good to have instead of writing it on a post-it note.

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Digital Note Filing System. These are the folders I have for random one off digital notes I make. Lots of phone call or quick transcribing things go in here. I prefer to write out client notes when I'm meeting with people in person but typing when it's a phone call or skype.

And that's it. Definitely over the top (I assume) but it works for me right now. Usually I prune or pivot every 6 months or so. Keeps things fresh.