In my post with tips on choosing the right planner, I mentioned that I switched to a bullet journal. Here’s the story of why.
At the beginning of October I did a my big yearly post about my Erin Condren planner. I loved it! However, I was also taking Mystie Winckler’s course Work the Plan and in it she talked a lot about the bullet journal. The journal/ planner was created by Ryder Carroll as…
“A customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.”
Imagine it as a catch all for numerous post it, lists, notes and ideas floating around in your world.
It sounded intriguing so I watched Ryder’s video and visited his website BulletJournal.com.
It was super impressive but I wasn’t convinced to switch. It sounded slightly complicated and it was so black and white… and plain. You know me, I need color and a little pizzazz in my planner or I lose interest.
It was back to my Erin Condren and Mystie’s course. I loved making goals and smaller workable tasks towards those goals but I realized the course was set up a heck of a lot like Ryder’s bullet journal. I started to see how the bullet journal could really work in my life right now. I also loved the idea of having everything in one place because it was bugging me that I had so many different notebooks, journals and pages of random notes that were all over. The appeal of having everything in one convenient spot was winning me over.
I started searching Pinterest for Bullet Journal inspiration and I realized that the BuJo (nickname for the bullet journal) doesn’t have to strictly follow the system that worked for Ryder. You can adapt it and make it your own. This was best exemplified by blogger Kara of BohoBerry.com. Looking though her beautiful artistic pages, I realized that the BuJo could be a great source of life organization AND an expression of creativity. Frankly, she sold me. I decided to give the bullet journal a two month trial. From Nov 1 – Dec 31 I would use the bullet journal. If I liked it, it would be my 2016 system. If I didn’t like it, I would pull my EC planner back out.
Setting Up My Bullet Journal
A bullet journal can easily be done in an inexpensive notebook, although the most popular notebooks are either a Moleskin or Leuchtturm 1917. Kara has a great comparison post about the Moleskine vs Leuchtturm. Although I have no idea how to pronounce it, The Leuchtturm was my choice for these reasons:
- Hard colorful cover
- Choice of lined, graphed or dotted pages
- Acid-free paper that was slightly thicker than the Moleskin
- Numbered pages (love that!)
- 3 pages for an Index/ Table of Contents
- An elastic closure
- A book marker (some say 2 book markers but mine only has 1)
I love my Leuchtturm.
Next I wrote out my yearly goals.
During my Interval, I have 2-3 Projects I want to accomplish. Since it is the holiday season, my projects were things that would help me prepare for our annual Thanksgiving trip to visit family and Disneyland and to prepare for Advent and Christmas.
In the bullet journal the monthly view is supposed to look something like this:
But I really don’t like the layout. My mind needs to see a traditional calendar in order to quickly process what is on the page. So I “cheated” and drew my own calendar. However, that is the beauty of the BuJo. It’s not really cheating because you can adapt it to suit your needs.
Some one asked me what the “12.2.3” represents each weekday. It is simply the school pickup times for my kids. Between the four of them, they are on three different schedules. (I spend a lot of time driving back and forth.) 😉
Daily Pages/ Nightly Review
Some people like to do their planner review in the morning before the day starts. Since I’m not a morning person, all my energy in the morning is focused on simply getting myself out of bed, ready and my four kids fed and off to school by 7:40 AM. Yeah, a morning planner review if not happening. For me, an evening review after all the kids are tucked in bed and kissed good night, the dishes are done and the next day’s lunches are made…this is my me time to unwind.
For the last couple of months I’ve been trying to spend about 5-10 minutes in prayer and make an examination of conscience. I think about the things I want to improve and thank God for the blessings of the day, often adding 3 things I’m grateful for each night in my bullet journal. (During Advent I have a separate prayer journal for my nightly exams and prayers of thanks. After Advent it will go back into my BuJo.) Ending the day with gratitude really helps me keep things in proper perspective.
Usually by now it is 9 PM and Brian joins me on the couch. He usually reads a little while I work on my planner then we relax to watch a favorite show.
I look over my bullet journal and review my day. I mark off what I have done and decide if the unfinished tasks should be moved to another day or deleted. I add any other notes of the day (such as online purchases). I also check the notes app on my iPhone for any notes I jotted down while on the run and transfer them to my planner.
On Mondays I have the week’s meals listed. If I don’t assign a day, I at least write six meals that I can make that week.
Many evenings I also enjoy participating in the ListersGottaList.com daily challenge. Saturday’s prompt was – What were your favorite Christmas gifts? I used to keep these lists in a traveler’s notebook but now they are kept here.
On Sunday evenings I do a weekly brain dump. I jot down everything that has been floating around in my head. Once that is done I go over the list and assign specific days to do that item. Some tasks don’t need to be done on a specific day so I add an arrow and fit them in on days when I have a little more free time to tackle them.
Once I review my current day, I make the label for the upcoming day. I write the day’s schedule, household tasks if I’m going to be home that day and any blog tasks I need to work on. I also write any tasks from that week’s brain dump assigned to that day and any other things I need to do or remember.
One of the great things about the bullet journal is it’s flexibility. Last week I was sick on Wednesday and Thursday and did not do an evening review. So Friday morning (after the kids were in school) I added the dates and noted that I was sick and anything else significant I wanted to remember, including a quote from my morning devotion. Some days take a full page and some days only 1/2. It doesn’t matter and I love that.
Other Random Pages
The bullet journal is the perfect spot to keep lists – books I wan to read, movies I want to see, recipes to try, blogs/websites to visit, local places I’d like to see during a staycation, etc. I also keep notes on podcasts or periscopes that are especially helpful.
The things you can add to your bullet journal are endless!
The one thing I missed about my Erin Condren is having calendars of the entire year. I liked having visuals in a traditional calendar format of upcoming events. This was especially helpful at school meetings when we needed to quickly review over upcoming events.
To make up for this, I made simple calendars that I cut out and washi taped to the last pages of my BuJo. As the months pass I can remove the paper calendar easily with the washi and still use the blank page for writing.
If you’d like to print out a PDF copy of the calendar, I placed them in a file on Google Drive. Enjoy. 🙂
Everyone has their favorite pens. The Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens are a favorite of mine but when I am using my bullet journal I really need the ability to erase. I used to only use pencil in my planners until I found Pilot Frixion pens! At first I bought the smaller Pilot Frixion Colors Erasable Marker – 12 Color set because they were less expensive and I wasn’t sure if I would like them or not. I kept envisioning those erasable ball point pens that were popular when I was in grade school – the were smudgy and made a mess. However, these Frixion pens did not smudge at all. The only way they erases is with the special eraser at the top of the pen or you could purchase an extra eraser separately.
I loved the pens but I didn’t check the size and they wrote a little thick. (See sample 1.) I went back to Amazon and purchased the Pilot Frixion Erasable Gel Ink Pens, 0.7mm, Assorted Colors, 24/Pack. Although it was more expensive I knew it would be worth it because they were exactly what I was looking for. (See sample 2.)
For on the go writing, I use the Pilot Frixion Ball Knock 4-Color Gel Ink Multi-Pen and hook onto the elastic band of m bullet journal.
UPDATE (12/22/15): I want to add a note about the Frixion Pens. One of the sweet ladies from the FB group Bullet Journal Junkies just warned me that the ink can disappear in extreme heat. (The heat caused by the friction of the eraser is what removes the ink.) Supposedly it can be brought back if placed in the freezer. Sooo while I still love my pens and it doesn’t get very hot where I live, I may or may not switch back to the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens. Sigh. #firstworldproblems
UPDATE: (1/10/16): I didn’t want to fill my instagram feed with bullet journal posts so I started a second IG account just for that. You can find me @bobbis_bujo.
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Well, I think that is plenty to share for now. Hopefully it gave you an overview and maybe a little inspiration. 🙂
Do you use a bullet journal? What kind of things do you keep in it? Any tips for a newbie? 🙂
UPDATE – My new bullet journal post is here: How I Use My Bullet Journal – Spring 2016 Update
Blessings to you!
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