First of all a bit of background. I heard about bullet journaling from Amanda at The Zen Leaf and promptly checked out the original Bullet Journal site and videos. I couldn’t wait to get started and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to another journal and planner system.
Before using the bullet journal system I had a journal for writing down thoughts and reflections, a planner (I never found one I loved and would alternate between big and small planners), a notepad of work notes, a blog binder, a spare notebook with various lists (Christmas gifts or books to buy for example) and index cards or scraps of paper for quick “to-do” lists. Not a very effective way to plan. With the bullet journal I have all of this in one portable notebook. ALL OF IT. Okay, I don’t put my grocery list in there, but that’s about all I leave out.
In my bullet journal I…
- do daily, monthly, and longterm planning (for myself and the family)
- track meal plans and favorite recipes
- note goals and progress made towards goals
- track bills, spending, and debt
- keep tabs on current projects and ones I want to try
- focus my TBR pile, but also track challenges and future book goals
- schedule and jot down blog posts and calendars
- write down outfits and makeup details for future clothing and make-up purchases (price, what I like, need more of, etc…)
- monitor my sleep and medication, which helps keep the Bipolar II in check
- write down details about my kids and Sam
- journal my day roughly five times a week
- track letters sent and received
- paste in receipts, stickers, drawings from the kids, and other memorable items
- keep letters received in the back pocket
As you can see it functions as a catch all for everything. It is organized, easy to use, and I get to have fun with office supplies. WIN!
I spent November and December refining my method and was super stoked to start with January. I’m sharing a few of my pages today, but I’m planning on making a separate bullet journal for work sometime next week.
First off, tools. My journal is a Leuchtturm 1917, hardcover, lined volume. The paper is a glorious weight and it has a back pocket, bookmark and band for keeping it closed. I like to use fine tipped sharpies for most of my planning, tabs for monthly dividers and to mark other pages I turn to often, and fun tape and stickers for jazzing things up.
My key notes what various symbols mean (more on that at another time) and my index is handy for keeping track of my months and collections (aka lists). When I do an individual journal or writing prompt I simply write down the date.
This next page is modified from the original BuJo method. I have a yearly calendar for quick planning. Next I have next three months (not my current month) for bills, school dates, and doctor appointments. These things I have dates for months in advance and needed a place to write evertything down. I also have a column for the rest of the year for other dates. This is essentially my “future” log.
Next I go into my monthly spread. I have each day in January on the far lefthand side. All day events include things like birthdays or my work schedule. Then I have a space to record morning, afternoon, and evening activities. If it doesn’t fit on the line then I don’t have time for it. I’m bad about over-scheduling myself and this helps me keep things manageable. I do put important work meetings on this calendar so I can avoid scheduling kid appointments when I have work meetings.
The right hand page also contains my key tasks for the month (super important for keeping me on track when I’m not feeling well), my portion of the bills, our “cash” envelope system, creative projects I’m working on, and my monthly To Be Read pile.
There are a few other pages after my monthly calendar that I don’t have toally figured out to my liking. I’ll skip over to my daily page. I usually set up a week at a time as far as writing things out and looking over what I accomplished the previous week. I have my “must do” list that contains daily chores and essential items, the middle contains secondary tasks (i.e. stuff I need to do, but may be able to wait), and the third column is filled with stuff I want to do (reading, blogging, knitting…). The health column is also important as it helps me stay healthy and balanced.
At the end of each night I take about 10 minutes to journal about the day. If I don’t have anything to write I may put a quotation or a memorable event from the past. I also like to think about what I can do to improve the next day. I do write longer journal pages, but the brief end of the day summary helps me to stay mindful.
This last collection is one for my book nerd friends! I’m keeping track of all my reading challenges in my BuJo and I think it will help me stay engaged and aware and not drop off the reading challenge wagon. I’ll let you know if it works.
Let me know if you BuJo or have another system or if you have anything else you’d like to know about the process. I’m planning on featuring my journal every few weeks with more details on specific pages.