How Does Maia Stay Together? Commitment Issues and System Hopping

May 3, 2024

I have a confession. Ever since I finished my latest book last February (a little over a year ago), I’ve been playing the field a bit with my Together Systems. As a longtime printed daily Outlook / Workflowy / Evernote combo lady, I’ve been experimenting with some new tools. My journey took me through 1) bullet journaling 2) an old-fashioned simple paper planner 3) a Moleskin notebook and 4) Ink & Volt’s dashboard system. Now, a year later, as I’ve settled back in, I have been reflecting on what was happening for me.

Bullet Journal Exploration – This one came straight after I finished the manuscript for The Together Teammate, and I was in desperate need for some creativity and a screen break after some intense Pomodoros while locked in a cabin in Pennysylvania and a hotel down the street (I will do whatever it takes to find focus!). I liked the act of carefully drawing the week, the flair pen fun, and the colors. It was a soothing way to reset my (nervous) system after the intensity of writing. Ultimately, it did not contain enough room for my daily To-Dos, so I paused and moved on to. . .

An Old-Fashioned Paper Planner Ana on our team uses this exact planner, and unbeknownst to me, I had ordered the exact same simple one (my teenage bonus daughter also uses this one). I love its monthly layout and the timed layout across a week. There was plenty of room to write, and I’m a sucker for grid lines. But then, after a few months of this, it started to feel too bulky for me, and too heavy to carry around on the go. So, I decided to lighten up and try. . .

A Moleskine dotted grid notebook – This is when my typical Togetherness patterns started to pop back into place. I used the thin soft-covered notebook simply to write out my daily time and tasks – extracted from Outlook and Workflowy. It doesn’t have a weekly view, but I get that from my Outlook calendar anyway. (Or you could always use Mike’s hack!) I also liked the slim notebook because it fit into my purse, and this Moleskin plus my phone made for a very portable combination. Additionally, there are often times I need a sheet of paper to jot something – and I could do this on the backs of these pages. But I still missed a weekly spread. Which led me to. . .

Ink & Volt’s Dashboard Admittedly, this company totally targeted me on Instagram, and I fell hard for a few reasons. While predominantly a digital-gal, I do like a piece of paper beside me during the day – and strangely, I have a strong preference for horizonal oriented planning tools (fun fact: I own a horizontally oriented clipboard!). I’m also quite distractable when working on something that feels hard, so having a paper tool at my fingertips is helpful for my ability to focus. I also like the act of planning out my week on paper, pulling from all of my digital sources, such as my Outlook calendar, my Workflowy tasks, and some documents in Google Drive and Google Calendar.

So, what can you take away from my journey?

  • Return to your roots. They are likely not to deviate TOO much over time. I KNOW I prefer digital tools, with a side of paper, and I only like paper that is coil-bound and gridded. And, in the end, that is what I returned to. What are some of your stay true preferences?
  • Seasons of Togetherness may vary. I knew coming out of book-writing madness that I needed a screen break, and I had a six-week period with fewer meetings and classes to teach. You may know in certain seasons that you require different kinds of Togetherness support. Can you anticipate any of them?
  • Variety is only sometimes the spice of Together Life. Playing the field can be inefficient, especially if it requires a large data transfer. That said, sometimes your system may no longer serve you and it can be refreshing to test out some new tools or processes. For example, The Together Team has a strong bias toward email, but we were over-tapped. We agreed to test Slack for a month (which I had long been opposed because it can interrupt flow) for knock-on-the-door issues, and it turns out, we all love it!

What about you? Have you ever played the field? What did you learn and where did you end up?