How to Bullet Journal (Because It's Awesome)
I confess, I'm totally a bullet journal junkie you guys. I was skeptical at first. Actually, I was kind of terrified at first. I'd been interested in it for a while, but I always thought the idea sounded incredibly tedious. And I had no idea why such an elaborate tedious system was necessary to keep you organized. Isn't that what premade planners are for?
But after talking to a pal and reading up on bullet journaling, I took the plunge. I bought a journal and some pretty pens and went to work. Now, five months or so later and I'm totally hooked. I absolutely love bullet journaling and I've never found a better way to keep all of my shit together.
So here’s how to bullet journal. Because it's totally awesome you guys. Though I should specify that this is how I bullet journal. You can tweak your system however you like - that's the beauty of it.
First things first, here is the journal I use and here are the pens. I bought them after reading a blog (I can't remember which one) that recommended both. The journal has dotted pages which make it super easy for drawing lines, boxes, and what have you. And the pens don't bleed or run and they have multiple colors.
The bullet journal website has a ton of useful info. When I first read it. I was a little intimidated because there's lots of fancy words and things. But it's a good start. And keep in mind that you don't have to copy the system perfectly.
Here's a walk through of my bullet journal. My pages aren't as pretty as some because I go for function. And it's pretty to me because SCHEDULES and ORGANIZATION. So obviously you can doodle and stuff. I've also become kind of obsessed with planner stickers lately, so you can use those too.
The first few pages are the table of contents. The journal I have already has a table of contents so I didn't have to save any pages for that. If yours doesn’t, you should reserve space. This will definitely be something you'll refer to later.
My first page is my key. I don't use it a ton anymore because I know what things mean, but it's super useful and you'll definitely want it.
Speaking of which, you'll want to number your pages. My journal already has number pages so I saved a step there.
The next couple of pages are my future log. I will admit, I don't use it. Ever. At all. I actually forgot about it until this post. But, it may be useful for you. The future log is basically just a few pages in which you put important things for the year.
The next 10 pages or so are various lists I have and some blank pages for other lists I might want to make. I have lists of things I want to watch, inspiration and quotes, recipes I want to try. Workflows, and so on. I believe this is what the website refers to as collections.
Then we go into my monthly and weekly planning. I started out making a monthly calendar, but I found that didn't work. Then I tried the traditional bullet journal format, but I found I didn't really use that either. Because I have various calendars for Holl & Lane, home, Mr. T, etc. I found that I need to use a digital calendar or it's total chaos. So I basically just take the stuff from my digital calendar and use it to fill in my week.
The only thing I did keep for my month is a chart for habits and moods and then a page for my moods journal. I really love this because one of my goals this year was to get a better handle on my mental health and it's really helping me to be more aware and have a better perspective. It's also helping me to be much better about developing better habits.
The weekly planning is really where I fall in love with the bullet journal. I tried it a few different ways and this is where other planners have always fallen short. I always think a a certain format will work so well when I buy the planner, but then when I actually start doing my planning I find it doesn't work at all and I get frustrated. You can't really make a planner different because, well. a planner is a planner. But a blank notebook is a whole other thing.
Here's how I plan each week:
Each week gets two pages -- On the left page I make a little mini calendar for the week and on the right page I put all of my goals.
I break my week into groups, based on the things in my life that need focus. I started doing this because I found that I would often only focus on one or two things and then something else would suffer. I find that by breaking it down like this it makes me think about each group and then I'm able to devote time to it. Not always as much time as I want, but still.
Then I use the goals to fill up my days with tasks along with other appointments.
I use Trello and my Google calendar to help me with goals and tasks.
I also meal plan for each day.
Appointments get a little circle bullet and are in blue.
Meals get a triangle and they're in blue.
Tasks get a little box and are in black. Then I fill the box in green when it's done and use red for things I didn't do or need to move.
I try to do all of my planning on Sunday and then I check off my tasks, fill in my moods, etc. each night.
I don't always spend a ton of time on my bullet journal and sometimes I spend a ton of time on it.
Sometimes I break away from my traditional weekly plan. Like the week before Christmas when literally all I was doing was cleaning and prepping for company so I just made one large to-do list.
And that's the thing that I like the most about the bullet journal - it can be whatever I want or need it to be. Because the pages are blank I can do whatever I need to for that week, day, moment, etc. I for sure recommend having some organization though.
I also like that I don't really lose track of info. In other planners I found that I would always forget where I put things because it would always be in a random place. I found it so hard to develop a system and so hard to really keep myself organized. And half of the time I didn't even use most of the planner other than the calendar.
Chaos is a huge trigger for me. It's what makes me stressful and crabby. Using the bullet journal kind of calms the chaos in my life. It simplifies things for me, keeps me organized, and helps me to know where everything is.
And, if you're a fan of checking things off and filling the bubbles and color coordinating things, the bullet journal is totally awesome for that too.
The only thing that I don't like about it is that sometimes I don't feel like setting it all up. And sometimes I miss having a really pretty planner like all of the cool kids.
I know it sounds a little complicated, but if you're interested or think you might be, I recommend just grabbing a notebook and trying it. That's actually how I started. I didn't want to invest the money in another planner I wasn't going to use. I did it for a couple of weeks and really liked it so I bought the notebook and went to town.
It did take me some time to tweak my system and I find I still do sometimes, but seriously bullet journaling is awesome, you guys. And I can't picture myself going back to a traditional planner.