Editor’s Note: Jasper Thorsson shares some ideas and suggestions for personal organization. 
I’ve always just gotten by on cruise control when it comes to personal organization. I trust my strong contextual memory and my piles of notes, and use a few online tools to keep ever-updating files I can access everywhere–mostly for projects only half completed. As I’m becoming more professional, I’ve known that I’d need to get more organized ‘some day.’ Organization makes the difference between managing one or two projects at a time, and a dozen so if I want to grow my business, I need to grow first!
This December became that time: I was offered a preview of a five day challenge by Jordan Aspen to make my own planner. I’ve never used Ryder Carroll’s bullet journal method before, but I can see its appeal and why it works. Digital files don’t have the same pull at my memory, so often I’ll know I wrote something down but have to look at two or even three places it might be. An analog system is also more flexible, enabling drawings, charts, and more. This preview got me excited: It wasn’t a whole complex system I needed to learn, but a taste of simple and customizable organization for pouring my brimming mind out into, a place for each piece and category no matter how seasonal, temporary, or weird.
Her five-day challenge took me only about an hour to go through, so about twenty minutes a day over the course of a week. It reminded me strongly of the strengths of analog notation as opposed to digital, and dwells in it. I’ve always hated planners and booklets with assigned days and sections because my life isn’t always so clean and categorically defined. Some days I’m in a rush or plans fall through and I need to move things around, sometimes I just need a place to jot down a whole mess of ideas on a topic, or record an enlightening conversation with another professional or mentor. This is the first journal I’ve ever hoped would be able to do all these things. I can bite off as much or as little time as I am confident to plan out, and I can set things in the size of paper cubby-hole that I see fit–while leaving open pages for expansion or linking pages together in a custom index.
I believe the journal I will make–and my new year’s new organization–will succeed. I don’t have to learn something complicated, I get to make my own method. It’ll evolve, but I can’t get frustrated at wasted pages or space because I’m in control of the pages and ink! I am pumped that someone has finally discovered and shared an alternative to the same frustrating issues digital mockups have that day planners suffer from, an organic and self-focused organization that works for me. How fresh, and the challenge is free too! It is nice to do more than dream when looking at next year’s calendar, and the new me that will come. I can build it now.
What ways do you want to improve yourself in 2019? How have you begun laying the groundwork?