Habits, Productivity

Productivity Series #4: Accessory Notebook+ Habit Tracker/Highlight Journal system

Now that I’ve covered all of my “basics” (my planner, digital calendar and to do list system), today I’m going to cover an important but probably less crucial piece of my productivity regimen.

I call this “my notebook” usually. 🙂

It’s a cream of the crop, top of the line Five Star grid paper notebook from Walgreens. Haha. Many of the fancy planners include accessory notebooks/ pre-designed pages for this purpose, but I went old school on this one (for now).

Here is the Table of Contents:

I have to give LOTS of credit to Sarah from theshubox.com. She was my primary inspiration on setting up this notebook and I borrowed/ adapted most of her general style!

In reality, I view this notebook in two big chunks:

#1 The beginning– pages 2-42 (all of the various lists)

#2 The back– My Monthly Goals/ habit tracker + highlight journals

Monthly Goals/ Habit Tracker/ Highlight Journal

I’m actually going to start with “the back” because it’s my most used/ most important part.

In the Monthly Goals/ Habit Tracker section I have a page for each month. One side looks like this:

sample month from May

And the back of the page looks like this:

sample month back from July

I’ve written more detailed posts on my habit tracking system if you want more on that (here).

Then after the 12 months of those pages starts my Highlight Journal pages. I’ve also written posts on this (read here), but basically it’s a place where I write a paragraph each morning outlining everything I did the previous day. The highlights (and lowlights, really.) I get pretty detailed but it’s all written in very casual, short hand so it doesn’t take more than ~5 minutes to do. I have almost an entire year of my life captured, pretty much play by play, in this journal! I love doing this.

Here’s a sample day from April (I also record my workout here):

The beginning (lists!)

This section has been a bit hit and miss. This is my first year really using this full system, and some pages I just ended up not using as much. Oh well.

The big ones that I definitely use are:

🔷Someday/Maybe (a place to write down random things I might want to do someday. It’s like a brain dump place. A couple items on there currently: “the Greek Isles + Athens” 🙂 (someday…..) Also “start a blog??” (written last January 🙂 )

🔷20 for 2020 List (a pretty epic fail, more here and here)

🔷Books Read (I LOVE updating this list. I also track books in Goodreads but I enjoy writing them down by hand)

🔷Movies I want to see (not a long list currently, but I like having a place to jot down movies I hear about (old or new) that I want to watch

🔷Podcasts to check out (also has been a very handy list)

🔷Quintile Goals + Recaps– this didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped. I usually have always just made MONTHLY goals. And while I like the idea of Quintile Goals, I really only ended up doing it once (Q1) and that was it. I’ll have to reconsider for 2021 and decide.

🔷Rituals – just a brief page where I jot down little routines that are currently working for me (like my morning routine). It’s a nice place to capture how different things work at different times of the year/stages.

🔷Weekly Review Steps– This I copied straight from Sarah’s podcast episode and am LOVING it!

Some pages that I’m just not using much:

🔶Active Projects/ Home Organization – ended up using my Google Tasks list for this

🔶Future Projects– I like the concept of this list (a place to brainstorm/ dump household projects I want/need to do eventually) but I just didn’t really use it

🔶Evernote Notebooks– didn’t need a list of this like I thought I wanted

🔶Activity/Family ideas- I did use this SOME. Just not as much as I’d hoped. Maybe next year? (I listed things like a local hike I heard of that I wanted to try, the idea to go river tubing, etc.)

🔶Vacation ideas- kind of redundant with my Someday/Maybe list. Didn’t really use. Plus, 2020….

🔶Blog Stuff- I started out tracking my topics in a list but just stopped.

🔶New Spanish Words- was using this last spring when I was reading a book in Spanish and wanted a place to record any new words I learned/ looked up. Now I bought a special “Book Notes” notebook instead.

I keep “the notebook” in my desk drawer and use it daily! My big consideration for next year is if I want to get a planner that already includes sections for all of this, or not. I kind of like having it separate/ keeping it private in my desk drawer versus potentially being carried around with me in my purse. I’m currently considering options for this! Maybe I’ll just get a smaller/lighter notebook. I think I’ll want to keep these for a while, and this notebook is too big.

Daily Gratitude:

I am grateful for Christmas lights!! Ours are NOT all up yet, but I did string up a strand around our deck rails. Seeing them this morning made me happy. 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Productivity Series #4: Accessory Notebook+ Habit Tracker/Highlight Journal system

  1. I keep track of fewer things than you do, but I do this in my bullet journal, which holds everything I do in terms of paper planning. I had more spreads/things I tracked pre-Paul and hope to return to more intensive planning/dreaming in the future but it’s not happening right now. I can see how this low-cost system is working perfectly for you. It would probably be nice to have both your planner and accessory notebook in one book but it doesn’t seem to impact you, especially since you work from home! If you were going into an office, you might be annoyed having 2 notebooks to carry around but it’s so not a big deal when you aren’t schlepping stuff from one place to another! That was the main appeal of the bullet journal for me. It’s an A5 size so easily fits in my purse and it has a very hard cover with a elastic band that goes around it to keep it from opening in my purse. But now it doesn’t leave my house so that’s even less crucial. And it’s pretty cheap – I think around $25? And lasts me about 2 years w/ how little I plan these days!! It lasted about 1.5 years when I had more spreads/tracked more things.

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