New Directions

August Challenge: 31 Days of Lists for Dreaming and Organizing

For the last two months, I’ve really enjoyed having these monthly challenges to give my creative mojo direction. But alas, tomorrow is the first day of August–and we all know what that means. Even though the calendar claims the new year begins in January, it really begins when school starts again.

For me, as a professor, that means mid-August. And that’s why August always seems like the right time of year for creating plans, getting organized, and at least making an effort to start off on the right foot.

This month’s challenge is a combination of creativity and practicality. I’m a compulsive list-maker; using that format feels very natural to me, but it also taps into the creativity of bullet journaling. A bullet journal is basically just a compendium of lists, decorated and embellished in whatever way the journal-keeper prefers.

For this month’s challenge, you need only two things: paper and a writing utensil. (You can, of course, keep your month’s worth of lists on your phone, but that will seriously cramp your creative style.)  I have a journal fetish–I’m always buying them when I see them on sale, or when I see one that’s just too pretty to resist–so my only challenge here will be choosing which one to use. You can buy a new journal, use a notebook you have on hand, continue a bullet journal you’ve already begun–or, for that matter, use scrap paper and keep all the scraps together however you like.

Some of the lists on our challenge are purely creative, like the final one: a list of possibilities. If there were no limitations in your life, what would you do today? That’s actually a more difficult question than it appears to be. As I was writing the list of prompts, I got to that one and thought I’d get on a plane and fly away to London. But then I thought about it. Would I, really? I like staying home. Maybe, instead, I’d start doing research on the many home improvement projects I’d like to undertake. Maybe I’d start looking for a new house, or a parcel of land to buy. I really don’t know what I’d do. I’d have to think about it for a while.

And that’s precisely the purpose of those creative list topics–to make you turn your thoughts in new directions. Those kinds of lists are balanced out by the purely practical: the shopping list, upcoming events, weekend plans, etc.–because when the mundane details of our lives are in order, there’s a lot more mental energy available for the fun stuff. Most important is that we keep those things in balance. I know I’m prone to getting obsessive and letting small details take over my brain.

What you do with these lists, and how you put them together, is entirely up to you. Perhaps you’ll follow each one with a short journal entry or meditation. You might want to do some kind of art inspired by the topic of the list, making yours a combination art journal and bullet journal. Or maybe you’d rather just make these running lists, crossing out items and keeping them going. But even then, you can write your lists in different colors or use different shapes for the bullet points on those lists–flowers, gems, boxes, etc..

Whatever you do, I’d suggest putting each list on its own page (or piece of paper), to leave room for continuing your thought process and to help you stay organized. I’ll share pictures of my journal-in-progress this month on the She Dwells Facebook page and Instagram page–I hope you’ll feel free to do the same. Mark your posts with the hashtag #AugustListChallenge so I’m sure to see them!

Download the 31 Day List Challenge!

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