lifestyle

Bullet Journaling

Have you guys heard about Bullet Journaling before? It’s a journaling system created by Ryder Carroll, and it has a cult following. I’ve considered it from time to time but would watch a video and get overwhelmed. One of my friends texted me saying she was going to start one and I fell back down the rabbit hole of trying to figure it out.

It was good timing for me as I was nearing the end of my current notebook. If I needed an excuse to bite the bullet (haha), this was as good as ever.

Let me give you a quick debriefing on what my system is now. I can’t do paper planners. I love all agendas, but it’s just not functional for me as I schedule things constantly on the go. All appointments, meetings, travel information, etc. goes into my Google Calendar. It’s my primary source of organization, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. My email inbox is also a big component of my organization as it serves as a pretty big to-do list for me– daily, weekly, and monthly. (In this post, I go into detail on how I stay on top of my inbox if you’re curious about that.)

With my calendar and my inbox, there’s still a good chunk of my organization that ends up getting left out. And that’s where things get crazy. I have a notebook where I essentially have a running mess of to-dos and notes. Anything and everything is in there, but there’s no rhyme or reason to it.

After that notebook, I have various Google docs filled with half notes, and I track some things on a white board, but they eventually get erased.

While my system works, it could be a lot better.

Bullet Journaling for Beginners

And that’s where I thought the Bullet Journal comes in. For most people, the Bullet Journal is the planner and to-do lists, and notes, and everything in between. For me, I just needed a good system for keeping track of certain things (healthy habits, goals, blog post ideas, campaign to-dos, income, etc.) in addition to my daily to-dos.

In full disclosure, I literally just started my Bullet Journal (or BuJo as the loyalists say). I’m writing about it today to hold myself accountable to sticking to it and because I’d love to hear if any of you have tips/tricks.

For the first few months, I plan on sticking with the general set up of the original BuJo, but I think I’m going to be tweaking eventually to fit what I like or need.

My initial thoughts:

– I freaking love how customizable it is. That is probably what makes the system so popular. Everyone who does it can make it exactly how they need it to be. You’re not limited by anything!!! You can skip a week or a month and pick right back off. You can start mid-May and not feel like you’re missing half a planner. Bam.

– It’s REALLY overwhelming to start. So there’s kind of a bell curve of understanding/confusion as you get to know the journaling system more. I found that as I watched more and more Youtube videos and read more and more blog posts about people’s individual BuJos, the more confused I became. And then, miraculously it seemed, I watched a few more and started to “get it.” (The confusion level started to go back down.) Unfortunately, the only way to know how it’s going to work out for you is to start. The blank journal, while a huge benefit in the long run, feels intimidating at first.

– There are great resources out there. Start with the original Bullet Journal website to get acquainted with the system. Take some time to watch some videos on Youtube (search “bullet journaling for beginners”) and to read some blog posts (“bullet journal layouts”). It takes a deep dive of researching to see all the different ways the system can work for you. I took notes as I researched marking what I thought would be helpful for me.

– Look past the “cuteness” of what you see online. If you look at the original Bullet Journal, it’s a super simple, low-maintenance system. People have turned it into a full-blown hobby and, frankly, it looks like they have too much time on their hands ha. There are stickers, washi tapes, stamps, elaborate drawings! I’m sticking to simple black ink and highlighter as necessary. I don’t have the time or the energy or the desire to make mine look pretty! I also know that trying to make mine perfect would probably cause me to give it up. (Mine already has some mistakes and chicken scratch. YOLO.)

– Two mistakes I made: make sure your notebook has enough lines (i.e. at least 31, aka the days of the month) and make sure the paper is thick enough if you plan on using dark pens. I had to start over once I realized that 😒 This is the notebook that most BuJo people swear by– I’m using a classic hardback Moleskine right now.

Here are the spreads that I’m starting with for now:

INDEX (a table of contents)

YEARLY OVERVIEW (mini calendars for May-January)

FUTURE LOG (mini calendars with important dates/birthdays and to-dos to remember)

BLOG POST IDEAS (a running list of ideas I want to write about eventually)

BOOKS READ (a running list of books I’ve read for the year)

YEARLY INCOME (broken down to campaigns/events, commission by month, and total + goals)

MONTHLY OVERVIEW (classic BuJo month spread)

MAY BLOG POSTS (list of dates and corresponding post + tracker for social shares)

SLEEP LOG (I saw this one on Pinterest and loved the idea)

HEALTH TRACKER (tracking vitamins, meditation, workouts, sleep, water intake, and daily reading)

CAMPAIGNS (tracking of campaigns and my responsibilities for the month)

DAILY LOGS (just like my old notebook, this is where I keep track of what I need to do every day)

The idea, I hope, is that my daily logs will continue throughout the month and then I’ll start with June’s Monthly Overview followed by June’s individuals (i.e. June Blog Posts – June’s Daily Logs).

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, trust me, I get it… I was too. But oddly the second I finished writing out “Daily Log” on the top of my page, I could feel it all coming together.

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25 Comments

Evelina

I started a bullet journal this year along with my Mom Agenda. I use the Mom Agenda to keep track of all things that are appointments and dates to remember (along with each of my boys having a section for their important info – school events, sports, etc) – I’m a paper person! My bullet journal is very simple. Every Friday I set it up for the following week – one page has my “to do” list with the week’s dates above (if it didn’t get done the previous week, I rewrite it) and the next page I separate into 7 sections and plan my day around what appointments I have scheduled on those days from my planner. Super easy and its a lifesaver to have a specific place to write down everything on my to do list in one place! I’ll also take notes on phone calls or other info on the following page(s). Then, start fresh for the following week. Make it your own for what works for you!

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Elizabeth

I LOVE the idea of the yearly overviews and carrying unaccomplished tasks from one list to another so they don’t get forgotten (procrastinator)! I’ve tried bullet journaling but I sort of gave up, I agree that I tried to make it too pretty and it wasn’t so I gave up! So glad I’m not alone! Maybe I’ll give it a shot again soon!! Can’t wait to see what you think!

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Jessica E. Johnson

I just started doing planner decorating using an Erin Condren Life Planner. I’m an obsessive list maker and now it’s able to be really pretty! I was wondering if this was something you were interested in as well so it’s funny that this was the top post on your website!

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Sofia

I’m a total bullet journal convert! I’ve tried a lot of different styles over the past year or so and have a system down that works for the blog life! I keep everything in it (appts., meetings, birthdays, event, posts, etc.) I’m also a pretty big minimalist; I don’t do the washi tape and stickers and everything because it takes waaay too much time (and I honestly don’t care to make it *that* pretty haha!). I will doodle because it’s de-stressing.

The way I have mine set up is yearly overview (the mini calendars) through Dec. 2018, a log of every month on a line-by-line basis to write in birthdays/events/appts., a big monthly calendar for said month that I write the main event of the day down in with a column to the left has my monthly goals/major projects.

Then, I have my week pre-cursor, which has a column for weekly goals, weekly tasks, a column for my grocery list and column next to for the meals of the week. On the page next to it, it is completely open for notes (doodles/new post ideas/scribble of thoughts).

Then, on the next two pages, I have my week days in columns (Mon. – Sun.). Under the date at the top, I’ll have little drawn icons to signify when I’ve completely a daily habit (water intake, exercise, blog post, reading, etc.). I’ll also use a little pink dot and a little blue to mark the days I’m on period and ovulating, respectively. In the main column, I have an hour-by-hour break down starting at 5 am and ending at 8 pm. Below that, I have my “Top 3 Tasks” to complete for the day. And, then, below that, I have a little box to write down what I’m grateful for that day. Sat. and Sun. share a column that’s just blank so I can customize them (or not) depending on what I have going on that weekend!

On the last five pages, I have my book list of books to read (I color in the book with colored pencil once I’ve read it), a map of the US with places on my bucket list, and a map of the world with places on my bucket list.

Anyway, that’s a lot of info! I hope it helps 🙂

xo, Sofia
http://www.thecozie.co

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Alison

Bullet Journaling has literally changed the way I work and got me through my toughest semester of grad school! It is the perfect marriage between electronic calendars and email inboxes that won’t quit, and paper to do lists. I hope you like it!

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Meresu

Thank you for this post! I agree it can be overwhelming and a lot of examples I’ve seen look like you have to be an art major to accomplish. Thank you for breaking it down and reminding us all that we don’t have to be perfect to participate.

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Madeline

I heard about bullet journaling last year from one of my college professors. I love the huge following and since I use a Day Designer, I incorporate some of these methods into that. I also find myself using a digital calendar along with my paper calendar – hard to balance between the two!

Love your blog and honest opinions!
http://thelemon-jar.blogspot.com

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Taylor

I got into the bullet journal thing at the start of this year and I love it! It’s nice to figure out what works for you and customize the entire thing. I’m slowly trying to make mine more and more “artsy,” like the ones all over Instagram. I give myself a bit of a time limit on decorating it though, because it starts to be a bit counterproductive if you spend so long doodling instead of actually accomplishing the tasks on your to-do list!

Taylor | http://espressoandambition.com

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April Ward

So I totallycan relate to trusting your phone to keep your schedule but until its happened where your phone crashes you won’t realize how valuable a written hard copy of all you hold sacred is. Consider copying your contacts into a tangible non electronic list , passwords , accounts for travel reveards , frequent flyers etc … important dates and writing things down transfers them into a different portion of the brain making them come to recolllection with ease. I went from e based methods of organzation and scheduling which is crazy for me to writing it down in my own personal bullet journaling method abd it’s changed my life. Planners and pretty agendas are lovely but there’s something to be said for the process abd keepsake a bullet journal leaves you with at the end of its productive use. Great post

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Marianne

It is so amazing seeing more and more people use this system. I have been using it on and off for almost 2 years now. It’s good that you are starting with the plain BuJo approach – I totally agree that making it look “pretty” doesn’t necessarily add to the functionality of it.

what I love in my current BuJo is my weekly overview. I do have my appointments and everything in my phone but it helps me so much writing them out and actually seeing what is on the docket this week. There I also write down my weekly goals (in line with reaching my monthly goals).

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Joanna

Welcome to the BuJo world! I just started this year and it’s awesome. Being able to stop and pick it back up without creating a bunch of “wasted” space is my favorite part. Have you watched any of Boho Berry’s YouTube videos? She has a great a one month in my bullet journal series where she chronicled all of her planning for the month of February. It really help me figure out how I wanted to use my journal.

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Becky

I am an avid paper planner girl (supplemented with Google/Outlook calendars, of course), but I have found that creating bullet journals (yes, plural) for the different organizations I belong to, and for specific things in my life has been great for optimal organization. My planner keeps pretty much everything, like scheduled events, meeting dates, etc., to-do lists for the month and week, and some tracking items. I have separate “BuJo’s” for my Junior League stuff and League of Women Voters stuff. I also have a whole notebook for my “35 Things to do Before 35” list, and one more for moving to my new apartment, and all of the associated projects that comes with (i.e. packing lists, to-buy lists, floor planning, gallery wall layouts, and all that fun stuff). I love the basic idea of the BuJo, but find that the normal layouts are very time consuming to create (those tiny calendars take forever!), so I’m sticking with my planner and then these other notebooks to supplement.

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Kimmy

It’s indeed a rabbit hole. I’ve been watching videos and reading blogs…I’m hooked. I’m still gathering my info though before I start mine in June. I’m finishing up a notebook I started earlier this year. I’m also going to a Bullet Journal workshop today so I’m excited. XD

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Julia

Bullet Journaling is amazing! I started it last year and it’s so great for helping me keep track of all of my tasks.

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