My maternal grandfather, in addition to being my hero, was a large man and a country vet who had a work ethic the likes of which I have not again encountered in my time on this planet.
You know how people talk about that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life?
Well that was him.
He never worked but always worked.
It was near impossible for him to be idle unless he was asleep or reading the paper at night, (and even that he did with pencil in hand, sipping tea and making notes and looking up words. That man loved words.)
In fact, once, when I was 16 years old, I pulled into his driveway to find him lying under his tractor.
He wasn’t moving, and I knew at that moment that he was dead.
So I ran over to him, shouting and already crying, hoping that maybe it was just a terrible-but-somehow-OK head injury that had rendered him unconscious.
“It’s OK Tweety,” he told me, sitting up and smiling. “I was just trying to figure out how to fix this thing. I’m fine. I’m just fine.”
We was 78 years old.
My grandpa always had a long to-do list, but he was also always busy, so sometimes he would lose track of things. For most of the time that I knew him, he carried a “brain” in his back pocket.
“I can’t do anything without my brain,” he would laugh, and he would often pull it out and flip through it to remember his next task, what he needed at the grocery store, or the plans for a small but useful invention.
I wish now I had even one of his many, many brains. I’d love to look through his quick notes, written in the illegible scrawl of a busy doctor with hands the size of banana bunches.
I found myself thinking of my grandpa last week at the library.
I was talking to my friend about my attempts to organize my thoughts. Things were feeling rather scattered, and I had actually missed a few appointments and tasks, which sent me spinning.
“I just think that I’m a paper person,” I said. “I just need to get everything written down and out of my brain.”
Suddenly, saying it outloud, it made so much sense. Apps and online calendars just weren’t doing it for me. Structured planners with 2×2-inch blocks weren’t working.
I needed a BRAIN.
But like my grandpa’s — an external one. A place for everything.
I had stumbled on the idea of bullet journaling at the beginning of this year, but it seemed very overwhelming at that point. Besides, I had invested in a fancy Kate Spade planner (which only survived a month. I think I ask a lot from a planner — I need it to multitask.)
And so I started researching bullet journaling a bit more, and eventually, I was won over.
By the office supplies.
Man am I a sucker for office supplies.
In my old Newspaper Woman days, when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed, my pal Sharon and I would go to McDonald’s for Cokes, and then hit Staples.
I’d come back and use the caffeine buzz to completely reorganize my desk.
And so I went online and admittedly, had a little bit of fun, purchasing stuff to create a bullet journal.
I created my bullet journal with:
- This notebook (I LOVE the dots!)
- Washi tape
- More pens
- Post-it tabs
- and these paper clips because CATS.
And I set about getting everything in one place.
And I think I’m in louvre because:
- I need a daily to-do list — that’s kind of the whole idea of bullet journaling!
- I need a non-daily to-do list. That’s totally my current Page 2!
- I need to write down my rhythms and routines in one place — Eureka!
- I’m tired of reinventing the wheel every week with meal plans and grocery lists.
- I’ve got a section for blog stuff, which is good because Post-its on my desk sometimes migrate.
- I’ve got a section for school stuff, which is good, because I will tell you I am having a lazy summer, but come on, the wheels are still going. (But now I can write stuff down and let it go!)
- I had been struggling with how to track my work hours — I’ve got a page for that!
- I’ve even got a section just for books. Books, glorious books. In one place.
- And maybe best of all, I can pick a page, label it Brain Dump, and go to town. (And then go to sleep!)
This all feels, of course, like something I should have done a long time ago.
But maybe you need to drop a few balls before things fall into place, right?
At this point, I am loving my new brain.
And frankly, it’s helping my previous one CHILL OUT. Yeah!