I'm a list maker. I make a list everyday. I like to cross things off, to add things in, sometimes to add things in just to then cross them off.
But lists get lost, they get full, new lists need to be made. I'm also a note taker. But where to keep these notes? How to find them?
Even with my notes and lists, I'm not so great at self motivating for well, myself. Give me a job, at work, I'm all over it. But me telling myself I need to do some laundry, or complete a project, or any number of tasks I'm doing for myself, just isn't the same.
When I realized that I would be working less, and being home more, I knew I needed a real system.
Bullet Journalling is an analog way to keep your to-dos, appointments, lists, events, personal notes, calendars, habit tracking, reminders, etc.... in one place and away from the internet/phone. It really appealed to me bc it's physical, simple, and easy.
The idea behind BuJo is simple, keep every thing you need in one place, a single notebook. But the possibilities and variations are endless.
You can find everything you need for the basic set up in the Bullet Journal video. I really love that you don't need any special supplies, you only need a note book and a pen (of course, there is a special BuJo notebook you can buy if you want to).
Bullet Journal suggests you set up 4 basic things in the journal: An index (where you keep track of everything in the journal), a six month over view or Future Log (where you keep track of large events, holidays, birthdays, etc...), a monthly calendar with checklist (which you make at the beginning of every month and where you keep an overview of that moths events and tasks), and a daily log (which you make day of or a day or two in advance and contains tasks, notes, etc... that pertain to each day). There is a set of symbols to use for each item on any list: a dot for task (to be crossed out when finished), a circle for events, and a dash for notes. It suggests covering these with a forward arrow to move to the next day or month, and a backward arrow to go far in advance (onto the six month overview).
In addition to the basics, you can take notes (classes, meetings, etc...), make lists (movies to watch, books to read, shopping, and so on), track your habits (water intake, exercise, whatever!), set goals, track social media, log expenses, make charts, graphs, note the weather, draw, practice your calligraphy, and pretty up your journal however you want, to name a few.
Many people fancy up their journals, making them sketchbook, inspiration book, note book, calendar, appointment book, scrap book, and diary all in one. They use washi tape, markers, fancy headers, stickers, mantras, and anything thing else one can think of. There are tons of site and videos to watch for inspiration and ideas. Some creators have reached near guru status.
Most people seem to use either a Moleskien or the Leuchtturm 1917 journal but I just rummaged around until I found a blank book with graph paper that I already had. I use a black pen (either a uni-ball, or paper-mate). I don't make any attempt to make it pretty, I really use my Bullet Journal in a utilitarian way.
Here's what I have in my Journal so far:
The Index - My index is a mess! I wasn't really sure how I wanted to set this up so the first page is ugly. That's OK! One of the great things about BuJo is when you "mess up" you can just move on, keep going, and not worry about it. I changed the way I made my index from the first to second page, and I will most likely change the whole thing when I start a new journal
The Future Log - Since I started this journal in April, I made mine until the end of the year. I keep birthdays, holidays, and major events here. It's nice to reference back to when I'm like "when is Calvin's christening?" or "what month are we seeing the Violent Femmes?"
Monthly Calendars - I started this book in mid April and used that month as a test for how I would set up my monthly calendars. So far, I'm making them just the way BuJo suggests; I list the dates of the month, what days the dates fall on, and fill them in with events, appointments, and birthdays. I reference back to this when I need to see only one month, not my entire Future Log.
Monthly Tasks - Next to each month, I put a list of larger tasks that I want or need to accomplish that month. These are mostly items that do not have a specific date to get done. I refer back to this list to see what I've finished without realizing it (cleaning the microwave) or to add to a daily list if I think I can.
Daily Log - I use one page for each day of the week (except Sat/Sun, they share a page) to list the tasks I need to or want to get done each day. These can be as mundane as doing the dishes or laundry, cleaning the cat boxes, etc... I use this space for my work schedule, events for the day, and keeping track of getting work at home done. I use the bottom of each page for making notes about that day. I like to keep track of when I took a nap, when interesting things happen, or anything I think I might want to reference back to like "won at cards with Al and Sienna" or "opened all the windows today" etc... My Daily Log is by far my most used and most helpful pages. When the day is over, I make sure to move things forward and cross things off.
Habit Tracker - This is where I keep track of things that I want to get done or things that I do on a very regular basis, or that I want to keep track of how often I actually do them. I list things like exercise, quilting, drawing, juicing, watering the plants, and other things for each day of the week there. When I have completed it, I fill in the little box for the appropriate day and item. I have been doing a weekly habit tracker this month, but for May I'm moving to a monthly one. A nice thing about BuJo is that it's very easy to try new methods of keeping track. You can find what works for you. I think a monthly tracker will give me a better overview of which of these tasks I get done and when I do. If I see I'm not doing something on the regular, I can add it to my Daily Logs.
Expenses/Earnings - I keep a weekly record of everything that I spend and everything that I earn. I divide one page in three parts, at the top I put my expenses and the date they were purchased, and in the middle I put my earnings for the week (from work, web sales, etc...). At the bottom of this page, I make any note I want to look back on. I'm working on a monthly overview for this as well, to see what I made, spent, and saved, what went to bills, eating out, etc... I haven't worked out how to best log this yet. Any ideas?
Lists and Notes - I keep a few running lists (my yard wish list, things I need my husband to help me with, long term goals...) and a few reoccurring lists (groceries, food that needs to be eaten, dinners for the week...). I keep some notes on budgeting (expenses and time), future projects, and other things. I add to these whenever necessary.
These are the symbols I use:
Dot ( • ) - I use the dot for an and all tasks.
Circle - I use this for events such as "work (10am - 3pm)", "drinks with Mike", "rummage sale".
Dash - I use this for notes in my daily logs, expenses, lists, etc...
X - I X out all finished tasks and events. If I do a task twice, I add an additional X next to it (say washing the dishes twice in one day).
Forward Arrow - I use this when I'm "migrating" a task, when I move a task from one day to the next, or one month to the next if it's a monthly task. I use a double forward arrow when I'm moving something far in the future (more than a day or two).
Box - I use boxes for habits. I also use them on daily tasks when the task was halfway completed. I fill in boxes as I go.
Eyeball - I use the eyeball for a research task. Bc I might not need to get this done in a specific time frame, or bc it's easier than writing " • research how to make a bullet point with the keyboard".
I've only been Bullet Journalling for about three weeks now, but I'm pretty sold. I'm excited to have a small, simple space for all my planning, and to add to it in the future. I can see it being becoming an essential tool in my lifestyle journey. And I can see improving on how I use it to an almost infinite degree. I like it as a day to day tool, but I also like seeing my progress, process and evolution in work and home life I can't wait to see that on a larger scale as weeks and months go by.
Who out there uses a bullet journal? Share your experiences and links to pics in the comments!