Easy wins: get low-fi organised by keeping a no-frills notebook

My life is a collection of failed journals. Lockable diaries, page-a-day prompts, sketchbooks from the brief period I thought I would be the kind of person who sits around sketching people on public transport – journal after journal after journal containing three neatly-written entries, followed by something scrawled in six months later and then blank pages until the end.

Bullet journalling was the last trend I failed. Seduced by Instagram accounts showing beautiful penmanship and perfectly maintained tracking pages, I believed that this, finally, was the thing that would turn me into a calm and organised person whose anxiety was neatly contained within strips of washi tape.

It broke down about two weeks in. My handwriting is illegible, and after years of court reporting it always reverts to a mix of long and shorthand. I lost the coloured pens. It was a mess.

But this time I kept using the journal.

Every major work meeting, every significant project, every call to my bank or my lawyer or a real estate agent in the past five years is written down somewhere in this journal or the one that followed. There are budget notes and superannuation calculations and esoteric notes of passwords and account information. If it was important, I’ll find it somewhere in there.

Not quickly, mind you, because there’s no system. But it doesn’t get lost. That great idea I had in February? It’s in there, somewhere.

It is a common trap, when you set about trying to organise your life, to look to the habits of hyper-organised people and try to emulate them. As if the gap between being the kind of person who writes notes on the back of whatever paper is nearest or says “I’ll just remember it” and someone who sets aside four hours each week to colour-code their feelings can be breached by dropping $55 at Leuchtturm.

Start smaller. First, write all your inane notes in the one place. But you don’t need to be hyper-organised. You just need to remember who you called to get quotes to fix the plumbing.

It will not be beautiful and Instagram-worthy. But it will work.