Over the years I’ve tried and failed at many different ways to get organized and to journal my life. I’ve always kept little notebooks with lists and I tried a planner last year, but I could never find a way to keep up that worked for me–or that I didn’t forget about in a few weeks.
About six months ago, I posted about my Big Fat To Do lists and several people mentioned Bullet Journaling in the comments. I looked up the Bullet Journal method and found myself incredibly overwhelmed. There were so many parts–and did I really need an index? I pushed the idea of bullet journaling into the back of my brain.
But at the beginning of 2016, Debi posted a picture of her Fauxbonochi/Bullet Journal and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. It was gorgeous and functional and suited my love of lists.
I started looking at Bullet Journals again and fell down the deep deep rabbit hole on the internet–blogs, YouTube, Instagram. These things are everywhere!
Five months later and I’m LOVING my Bullet Journal. This is the longest I’ve been able to keep up with a planner/journal and I don’t see the end anywhere near. I love that I can house all of my information in one little notebook–in the past I’ve kept a little journal with me at all times for lists (mostly blogging related) but kept separate to do lists. Now I have all my lists, including things I need to do, as well as an occasional diary of events all together.
Starting a Bullet Journal can be overwhelming, so I thought I’d share mine with you to see just how versatile this little gem can be.
Let’s back up first…
What is a Bullet Journal?!
According to the official Bullet Journal website, a Bullet Journal is an “analog system for the digital age.” In the most traditional sense, a bullet journal is a way to rapidly log events, to dos, and ideas. The example provided on the website shows a monthly list as well as daily tasks. The next component–where customization and personality really come through–is collections. Collections are essentially any kind of list you want to keep track of.
Because I’m mostly stay at home right now without a lot on my plate (snort), I really struggled with the best way to set up my bullet journal. Did I need a daily to do list? Would I even keep up with a daily to do? Did I need to see all of the days of the week listed out like a traditional planner? What is the difference between a Daily Spread and a Weekly Spread? I took some deep breaths and realized the following:
The best part about the Bullet Journal System is that customization is unlimited!
Turns out that with little modifications, I’ve been using the same set up since I started. I try to keep my set-ups simple–if you browse through bullet journals on Instagram, you’ll see that some get very artsy. Don’t get too bogged down in the aesthetics of the journal. Add a little bit here and there if you’re interested, but I always remind myself that my journal is for me.
How I set up my Bullet Journal
Ok ok, enough intro–now to the fun part to show you some of my Bullet Journal and how I’ve made this system work for me. You should be able to click on any of the images to enlarge.
The Annual Calendar is where I keep all of the main birthdays (mostly family) and important events for each month of the year. I reference this when making my individual calendars each month.
The monthly calendar is a quick snapshot of important appointments and dates like birthdays. I try to keep this spread simple which is why it only takes up one page. Yes I had to do some math to make sure my calendar fit the page. The first time I tried to make a calendar, I miscalculated and ended up with six days across instead of seven. Still trying to figure out what to do with that blank grid!
If our month starts looking busier, I will contemplate using a full two page spread for a calendar but for now this works.
(See above, right) My Brain Dump list is a quick list of all of the things that I would like to get done throughout the month. I don’t assign dates to these items and they generally don’t have strict deadlines. I add in future dates below the brain dump to remember things that don’t fit on my monthly calendar.
I’m still playing around with how to keep track of future appointments as this will start getting busier for us when Elle goes to Kindergarten in the fall. Some people have a “Future Log” but I haven’t had a huge need for this yet.
Last year I recorded all of our family meals on calendar print outs each month. Now I keep track of all of these in a list form each month. I use a sticky note on the page to plan for the upcoming week since our meals aren’t set in stone and tend to change quite frequently. Blue dots indicate eating dinner away from home or take-out.
I love the Daily/Habit Tracker idea that I first saw on BohoBerry. Some people use the tracker to log/create habits; I use mine to see how often I do something rather than a checklist of things I must do. I admit that sometimes I get behind in keeping track, so guess on some of the items, but it’s a fun snapshot (and I’m a sucker for color).
At the top of my weekly calendar, I list the events for the week. Below this I rapid log my to do list. These days I don’t have many strict deadlines, but once Elle is in Kindergarten I might have to amend my weekly spread to something that looks more like an actual planner with specific days outlined. We’ll see! For now, this very simple method works just fine for me and if I have empty space at the bottom I use this for quick journaling.
As per the Bullet Journal system, round bullets indicate an event and bullets indicate an action item. Once the action item is complete, I make an X. If I have to forward the task to the next week, I use an arrow.
In my various notebooks that I’ve had over the years, I’ve created all kinds of lists–the books that I’ve read/listened to each year, songs that I adore, blog posts to write, blog maintenance, things to pack for a trip. Sometimes these lists end up being blog posts–such as Musicals!
I didn’t want to include allllll of the lists I have in my notebook, but as an example, I have lists for my 2016 things, blog post ideas, Bloggiesta (blog maintenance), cleaning chart for deep cleaning days, craft projects in limbo, fitness goals/status, and more.
There are also a number of lists that I think about making–favorite family meals for a quick glance when I need inspiration, vacation/camping bucket list, things do with the girls around Dallas, household/honey-do list.
Below are some of my favorite go-to collections in my Bullet Journal.
I love seeing my progress–both in distance and in pace. Hopefully by the time I finish out this particular page I’ll be ready to move onto 10K training…as it’s one of my 2016 Things.
Reads of 2016
The columns: Pages | Paper, Audio, Ebook | Fiction, Nonfiction | Male, Female Author | Classic, Diverse, Graphic Novel, Library, Young Adult, Shelf (owned before 2016) | 1700, 1800, 1900, 2000, 2016 Publication (yes I took these pictures over a month ago!)
Currently/Because I Suck at Journaling
No really, I use the heading “Because I Suck at Journaling” most of the time and then rapidly log with bullet points things I want to remember (kind of like the short list on my daily log above). “Currently” is a list that I have periodically blogged here under the title “Right Now I Am…“.
Not including the “Currently” lists, I have journaled 11 times since I started this bullet journal. That’s 11 times more than I journaled last year! I find that keeping it really low key works for me.
Oh the Places We’ll Go
Slightly deceptive title as these are all of the states I’ve been to (did you see my debate about it on Instagram?). I’ve toyed with coloring starbursts in the parts of the states we’ve stayed, but who knows. I do need to include Alaska and Hawaii–I’ve been to both! How did I draw this? Printed off a map and traced it–so my New Jersey and Delaware are only as good as what I traced. Ha!
Sources of Inspiration
- Moleskin Dotted Notebook (5 x 8.25) – Size large, though it isn’t really large
- Pigma Micron Pens (I love 03 for regular writing and 05 for headers)
- Prismacolors Colored Pencils (purchased before I became an adult coloring drop-out)
- Good old fashioned plastic ruler for drawing lines
After I bought my Moleskin, I discovered that the Leuchtturm seems to be the preferred notebook, but I love my Moleskin and haven’t had any problems with it. I think the bonus to the Leuchtturm is that it has an index and numbered pages–neither of which I use at this point.
So, does this seem entirely insane? Or do you do something similar with your jouranling/planning? I’d love to hear what “Collections” you’d include if you were to start (or have started) a Bullet Journal.