Tag Archives: new year

New Year, New Me (Really!)

The apple comes from our squadron’s history flying COMBAT APPLE missions, and normally is a red apple with 100 in the center, to signify that you’ve flown 100+ flights locally while a part of our unit. I had 753 total flights, most of them from Kadena, so I made my retirement patch a golden apple with 750 to commemorate the milestone.

We joke about the “new year, new me” phrase people hashtag or share, and I suppose there must be some people who actually use that unironically.

For me, it’s more true this year than it probably will ever be!

As of 1 January, I am officially retired from the United States Air Force after 24 years of service!

I posted some time ago about all the chaos and upheaval in my life, and how that would affect my writing and my activity on my site… but I had no idea what a mess of paperwork and bureaucracy I would be wading through to reach this point!

We’re not even done yet, as a family, but we’re close. Over the next few days, we’ll hopefully sort out details like driving legally, closing out our old home, and proving that yes in fact I do have a job that requires me to be on Okinawa.

The next month or so will be full of forms and procedures to get me back into the building I just left last week, along with finalizing all the details of military pay and housing expenses. That said, now that the hectic holidays and (most of) the terrifying transition to civilian life are behind us, I can start posting here and getting back to the writing I so often claim I love.

Over the next few posts, I’ll capture my thoughts about retirement (my coworkers are awesome and took great care of me), and I definitely want to show off the view from our new place at Toguchi Beach on Okinawa.

Wishing you all the best in the new year!

— D-Will

A Year of Bullet Journal: Lessons Learned

“This one notebook will make you delete all your productivity apps,” the clickbait headline promised. It came from a writers’ group, so it couldn’t be all bad…

So began my Bullet Journal experience about a year ago.

Side jaunt: What is a Bullet Journal?

A Bullet Journal is a paper brain that never forgets, so that your real one doesn’t have to juggle so many reminders, priorities, and worries. When followed, Ryder Carroll’s system is quick, easy, and efficient at what it’s designed to do: track what you’ve accomplished, record what goes on throughout the day, and assist future planning.

Today’s notes, events, tasks, and questions are recorded as they happen. At the end of the day, unfinished business is evaluated based on “Is this worth my time in the future?” If so, it gets migrated to the next day or scheduled for a later date. Notes about upcoming events feed into the monthly calendar, which also feeds back into the new day to assist with planning one’s schedule and efforts. Notes taken today can also be added to pages set aside for certain projects or areas of responsibility–a page dedicated to writing, perhaps, or to a list of references and rules for a program at the office. The brief few minutes of planning in the morning and reflection in the evening are crucial to making the system work as designed, but other than that, there’s no significant commitment.

As originally designed, it’s minimalist. However, it’s also individualized and customizable. The Bullet Journal website has links to a variety of blogs and videos with advanced options people can incorporate. Some are elaborate and artistic, others are crisp and functional, but all are optional.

Don’t be fooled by Pinterest-perfect pages and Instagram-worthy layouts. No one needs 50 water-based Stabilo pens and mild-liners, nor is a degree in art required. You don’t have to buy a special notebook from a German company or the Bullet Journal site store in order to make the best use of the system… though I do like the dot-grid pages.

Over the course of the year, I went from artistic to… we’ll say “thrifty with my time.”

Pros: The basic system works great at what it’s designed to do.

  • I tracked a bunch of tasks, events, and projects throughout the year–professional work, personal stuff, and random things.
  • I had a personalized schedule that covered my days, month, and year–and it wasn’t tethered to my phone or wi-fi access (I work in a facility where I can’t have those things on hand).
  • I expressed my creative side while keeping the system fast and effective.
  • I can review everything I invested my time in over the last year.
  • More importantly, notes of fond moments and special experiences with my wife and kids bring those memories back.
  • Tracking efforts, habits, and tasks revealed several times when parts of my life went off-course.
  • I invested positive energy into my journal, which fueled me later when I needed it.

Cons: Anything I tried beyond the basics fell apart over time through neglect.

  • For the first half of 2017, I used a bunch of artsy spreads and habit trackers I’d seen online. That turned into more work than it was worth for me.
  • Looking back, I find several pages half-filled with material on particular projects or areas of interest. I didn’t go back to those and put them to use like I thought I would.
  • I had a great many lofty ideas which never came to fruition. “I’m going to read all these books… I’m going to write these other books… I’m going to document my daily word count… I’m going to fill up this list with songs recorded and posted on my Facebook page…”
  • If I wasn’t working at the office, it was easy to ignore the Bullet Journal. My holiday weekends are often blank gaps in my daily entries.

As you might guess from the above lists, the pros far outweigh the cons. In fact, part of the benefit of a journal or tracker system like this is seeing where efforts go half-finished or forgotten, and deciding if those efforts are worth continued investment. I could argue that some of my cons are the system showing me exactly what it’s supposed to about my actual commitments and priorities.

All told, my Bullet Journal experience has been positive. It’s a beneficial tool I will continue using for years to come.

Want information on how to set one up or adapt the system to your needs? Give yourself a Christmas present of better organization and time management. Start here.