bujo · Miscellany

December BuJo Plus My New To-Do System

I was so ready to leave the ridiculousness of November behind me and move into December, but unsurprisingly, December is starting off even more ridiculously than November. We’re all stuck at home in quarantine (we’re fine, thank G-d). In person school has been cancelled until after Chanukah so we’re back to zoom. Plus over a foot of snow has fallen today, so basically all Cleveland is stuck inside. WHATEVER. Onward and upward.

Here is my monthly spread (not so happy with the illustrations this month. I definitely need a better brown marker):

And here is my gratitude page and mood tracker, which I am really, really happy with this month:

Last week on my Instagram account I mentioned that I would share the system that I’m currently using for my never-ending always-growing to-do lists. Even though my plans and routine have been completely upended since I promised to post, there are still things to do.

It never ends, not even for a pandemic!

How many of us are completely swamped by our to-do lists? Hmmm? I know that no matter how organized I get, there are always things that fall through the cracks and then I feel like a failure (yes, I’m too hard on myself, yes, I’m working on it) and every time I hear about a new system I latch onto it like a drowning woman clutches a life preserver.

Overly dramatic? Of course! This is me, after all.

Lately I’ve been working with a coach (very happy to recommend her, be in touch with me for details), to help me move past some professional blocks that I’ve been dealing with for a while, and she clued me into the current system of organization for managing my life and I have been really really enjoying it.

I’ve been getting up early and taking five to ten minutes to make my list for the day, get an overview of what needs to be accomplished, and I’ve found it helps me focus and accomplish more in less time, so that by the end of the day when I have no energy, it doesn’t feel like a crisis.

Of course, now that everyone is home with me for at least the next two weeks, my daily to-do list experience is going to look very different, but I’m still going to try to keep to it in some modified way and see how it positively impacts the free-for-all that is my current situation.

The system is called The Four Buckets by Omar Itani. You can read all about it here. To sum up, you have four columns. It might sound complicated, but I found it actually simplified things for me.

In the first column I put things I Want To Do. This might sound like it’s for optional, fun things, but the way he put it is that it’s for things that are the most important to us, the things that if we get one of them done, we will feel like the day was a success. So for me, I include things that are a priority for me (and that often get sidelined by the necessities of running a household).

  1. Writing
  2. Editing my WIP
  3. Working on a new project that has yet to be announced but that you should be excited about
  4. Music
  5. Learning

I don’t do all of those every day, of course. That would be impossible. But these are what I consider the lodestars of my life. When I get these things done I have more energy for my family and tend to do everything more happily.

In the second column are things I Have To Do. These are responsibilities that if they don’t get done, it makes a vey negative impact on my life (and the lives of those around me, lol). It also includes things that I have to get done for other people. So this tends to look like:

  1. Menu Plan
  2. Grocery Shopping
  3. Make Dinner
  4. Laundry
  5. Exercise
  6. Make Save The Date for Chizuk Retreat
  7. Blog Post

The next column is stuff that I Need To Do. I consider this the column the “stuff I can procrastinate” column. Looking at emails, responding to texts, cleaning out my car, making appointments, etc. I can put these off, but eventually they’ll end up in the Have To Do column if I wait too long.

The fourth column is for things I Can Do. This is like extra stuff which I can do when I have down time. I really liked this column because it forced me to think about the many ways that I spend my “non-productive” time and it allowed me to be more mindful about how and when I choose to relax. And that made me feel less guilty when I did those relaxing things.

So that’s the system. This is how it looked in my BuJo last month:

This month I’m going to see if I can fit it in my weekly spread. I only created two weeks so far to give myself room to modify the spread if I see the space constraints aren’t working for me:

So that’s this month’s plan. As always, I love to hear about what you’re doing, what systems work for you, and any and all feedback. I’m stuck in the house, so leave a comment and keep me company!

Have a great week.




Featured Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

5 thoughts on “December BuJo Plus My New To-Do System

  1. It’s always great to see how other people use BuJo. That check-in in the morning and at night are so crucial. I’ve not been good about my daily logging the past week and I definitely feel my anxiety going up. Thanks for the push to get back to basics.

    1. I totally relate to the connection between lack of daily logging and increase in anxiety. It’s one reason I love the beginning of the month – I find I’m much more consistent in my BuJo use for those first couple of weeks. :)

  2. Love the Bujo layouts! I use a Passion Planner and don’t do much drawing. My to-do lists are long and overwhelming! I currently have the to-do tasks organized by category like “university,” “writing,” “home management.” The bucket system seems like it might be a better way for me to prioritize what has to be done and hopefully integrate some of the other priorities I can’t seem to ever get to! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Ooo I’d like to hear more about a Passion Planner. I feel like switching up systems is a great way to at least take the never ending to-do lists and look at them in a different light, which can help with the burden of them. And I feel you about the priorities you can’t seem to get to! So frustrating!

      1. The Passion Planer is great for weekly planning and there is space to write on the weekly layout and extra pages in the back as well as goal sheets. But I have to use a separate notebook for my to-do lists because they are so long. The alternative is to shorten them!

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