The Planner, The Journal, and Evernote

I posted earlier this week about my 2015 DIY Planner and mentioned that I would share how the journal, the planner and Evernote play together. This post won't be as long as the 2015 DIY Planner Update. I promise. (I hope!)

The planner closes nicely with the journal tucked inside the front cover and I secure it with the large elastic band that comes with the Arc Notebook System. The journal is an Extra Large Cahier Journal by Moleskine made for Evernote. Most of the time I carry both books around with me just like that.

Even though there's a lot of flow back and forth between the two, I use the journal and the planner separately for different purposes. It's pretty obvious the planner is used for planning and the journal for journaling - but there's also journaling that happens in the planner and planning that happens in the journal. If a thought pops into my head and I want to capture it, I'm going to write it down with what I have at hand without flipping pages or opening and closing the books. I like to capture fast and in the moment wherever I am.

The idea of capturing without editing is important because you want to stay in your creative right-brain groove as long as possible until you choose to shift purposefully to the analytic left-brain work of evaluating, categorizing, and prioritizing. 

I've been keeping a journal for over 20 years. I began journaling after I read The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. Cameron recommends (highly recommends) that you commit to three pages of unedited stream of conscious writing first thing every morning. She also recommends that you don't read, edit or analyze that writing for at least a month after you write it. Another excellent book on journaling that I read years ago is The New Diary by Tristine Rainer. I put links to both books at the end of this post. 

This is where the morning routine makes its entrance. The ideal is to wake up early, exercise for 20 minutes, journal and plan for 20 minutes, learn for 20 minutes - then get ready to get out the door and go to work. This is Robin Sharma's 20/20/20 for the 5:00 AM club. I don't get up at 5:00 AM, but someday maybe ... (who knows what any of us will be capable of a year from now). 

I do my best to write in my journal every morning. While I'm writing, something will invariably click in my brain and I'll write something I want to remember and put in my planner so I can act on it. I use the same bullet journal notation in my journal that I use in the planner.

Empty box = Action item
Circle = Event

I don't use the Dot to represent a note in my journal because the entire journal is devoted to notes. But, I do use the Dot in my planner to indicate a note so I can expand on that note in my journal later if I want. Not every note in my planner turns into an expanded journal entry, but it happens often enough that I need to track and cross reference between the two. If a symbol is highlighted that means it's been cross-referenced and captures in the other book.

You can see my journal below and some of the other Bullet Journal symbols I use in it so I can easily find things I want to transfer to my planner. 

Exclamation ! = Idea I want to plan and/or action steps to follow up on
Asterisk or Star * = Important! "Don't lose track of this." This should be in both books so I see it and review it often

I was telling my bestie about my new planner and her response was that it was a lot of stuff to carry around. Yup. It can be and it isn't always appropriate for me to carry my planner everywhere. But the handy dandy journal tucks neatly into my purse so I can carry the journal and capture things as needed. I actually bought this purse because the front flap has a pocket that's sized perfectly to fit my journal (and my Kindle). Being without my journal or without access to reading material is unthinkable for me - like crossing the desert without chocolate - I mean, water.

Now, Evernote ... Evernote is a big-time brain organizer that leaves no article or inspiration behind - EVER! It goes beyond the beyond of what I can carry around in a planner or journal.

I use Evernote to capture and organize thoughts, ideas, articles, resources, inspirations - and anything else I can snap a picture of or clip from the internet. All of this goes into a set of notebooks that I've set up to match as best as I can the organization of all the things I love into all the various compartments of my entire life. Evernote has a search function that lets me find anything related to a particular subject that I've EVER saved EVER. Get it? :)  

Everything I capture in Evernote goes into one notebook, my Action Notebook. The Action Notebook gets reviewed frequently because I don't want to be overwhelmed with having to sort 50+ pieces of information at one time. After an item is reviewed, it gets sorted it into one of the other notebooks according to its purpose.

I also have the Evernote app on my phone - so if I ever find myself without my planner or my journal (Yikes!), all is not lost - I can type a quick note into the Evernote app so I can review it and incorporate it into the appropriate book later. 

I have a notebook in Evernote called Journal and another called Planner. If one of my pages in the journal or the planner has something I want to incorporate into a specific writing project or a larger set of notes, I can either scan the page or take a picture of it to save it in Evernote and move it into the appropriate notebook. This is great for writing projects especially.

Also, since I'm only carrying one month of daily pages with me at a time, I may scan all my pages for the completed month into Evernote for later reference. I haven't decided if this is necessary or not yet. Certainly the project and lists pages can get scanned into Evernote when they're completed if there is something I want to reference in the future.

You may ask why I don't use Evernote for everything and forget about carrying the journal and planner around altogether. I've thought about it. I tried. I wanted so badly to be one of those uber-efficient minimalist modern people who do everything in the cloud, but I'm not built that way - there's something about the pen to paper mind/body connection that I crave. (Also you can't use washi tape and stickers in Evernote!)

Writing makes things happen for me in a way that typing with my thumbs doesn't- so I've done my best to create a powerful dialog between my analog personality and the best digital tools I can find.

"But, wait a minute! You create digital art. You paint and collage digitally." (That's my brain calling my attention to a perceived contradiction.) 

My response: Yup, you caught me. I can't explain it. Writing is different.

So there you have it, That's how the planner, the journal, and Evernote play together. Again, please let me know what systems you've found that work for you. I love, love, love exploring and learning about new systems!

A note on the book links: I was an Amazon Associate at one point and these are Amazon Associate (affiliate) links. However, our Governor passed some genius legislation that prevents Missourians from earning commissions with Amazon. I don't understand it. I just wanted to be forthright about identifying links that I would potentially earn commission from - these are NOT those kinds of links. :)