April 11, 2016
This is my first post in an Organizing Ideas series. My next post is A Personal Retreat Day for Life Assessment and Planning.
When I first started writing this post it was going to be about my Personal Retreat Days.
Since last summer I've been taking a personal retreat and planning day every 6 weeks. Every time I mention it, mostly on Instagram (because I'll usually post a photo of my doings), I've gotten a lot of interest asking me to share what that looks like.
When I started to write about my Personal Retreat Day I realized it was more in-depth than one post, so I've split it up into three posts.
Evernote, regular retreats, and my Bullet Journal are the three key tools I'm using right now to manage life: all the thoughts and ideas of homeschooling, my writing ideas, the to-do's and planning of making a home, the insights, dreaming and scheming that accompanies my personal growth, and more, it's all managed by these three.
Homeschooling is an idea beast in and of itself and I'm not going to explain in-depth my management workflow in that realm, though I will briefly mention it.
I am a thinker, writer, and reader. I homeschool three teenagers, I manage our home and our family schedule, and I'm actively finding my way into as-of-yet unknown vocation (you could say I'm finding myself). I like to learn, make stuff, and go places.
All of these activities, and more, generate a lot of "ideas" in my life. I'm not an "idea" person in the personality trait sense, but I still have a lot of ideas I need to manage.
Everything from find a family doctor, go to the museum of fine arts, to a writing lists of personal dreams and goals and the notes I write when I listen to podcasts. Updating the IKEA shopping list, making garden plans, taking stock of the kids clothing needs, developing my homeschool philosophy, writing blog post ideas, quotes, the list of TED talks to watch. You get the picture.
I've always been this way, writing lists of what needs to be done, things to remember, journaling what I'm learning. And as I've spent more time on personal development and self-awareness that's just another note and idea generator in my life.
Years ago, a couple personal journals, a homeschool binder and homemaking binder sufficed to keep these things organized in my life. But times change and technology improves and as we simplified our household in general I decided to digitize some of these ideas into Evernote instead of maintaining binders and sheets of paper.
Now, because it is so easy to make digital notes and write down thoughts while I listen to podcasts etc. I write way more than I ever did using paper and pen. The potential exists for too much digital clutter.
I am a write it down person. I don't keep things in my head. Anytime something comes to mind that I don't want to forget or lose, something I need to capture, I write it down.
If the idea is an action item related to my day or week it lands in my Bullet Journal. Out of my head, onto paper.
All other ideas get written down in Evernote. (Items will sometimes get transferred from Evernote to my journal and vice versa but I'll explain that in my Bullet Journal post.)
These ideas could be related to any aspect of my life: homeschooling, managing our home, travel, creativity, personal growth, blog management, spirituality.
(I don't use Evernote to keep track of the books I've read and want to read. I do that in Goodreads. I also don't do grocery lists or menu planning in Evernote.)
I record all my writing ideas in Evernote, for both my blog and other writing projects. These are the seeds of what I want to write. The actionable step is the process of writing, possibly researching, editing and publishing. I do my actual writing, fleshing out those ideas, e.g., a post like this one, using different apps. Everything you've read on the blog for the past few years started as an idea in Evernote.
Here is a screenshot of my current Notebooks. I regularly update, rename, and delete Notebooks. I love this digital flexibility.
This is what it looks like to write down an idea.
At this point I'm going to start capitalizing Idea as I discuss it with Notes and Notebooks in the Evernote context. An Idea may be brief or it could be long. The point is that it's usually discrete and specific: one thought, a list of related ideas, a writing prompt, etc.
For homeschooling I use Evernote a little differently. I will capture homeschooling ideas the way I outlined above but I also do all my planning in Evernote, writing out the curriculum for the year, what resources we're using, etc. Documents I want to keep forever, e.g., a copy of our daily schedule, each child's curriculum for the year, etc. I export to my the permanent files on my computer hard drive.
I do all of this homeschool planning in Evernote, not a word processing document because:
I love managing Ideas digitally in Evernote because I can re-categorize, re-sort and re-organize to my heart's content. I am a organizing junkie.
My strategy for using Evernote is to capture my Ideas and turn them into Notes, which are filed in Notebooks. Ideas → Note → Notebooks.
Here's my process:
So what do I do with these Notes in my To Sort Notebook? When do I make plans for the actionable steps? When do I give careful consideration to these Ideas?
That's the purpose of my Personal Retreat Day, which is my next post.
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