Fighting Bullet Journal Insecurities

Fighting Bullet Journal Insecurities

I’ve been bullet journaling for almost 4 years now. I first started writing about it on my personal blog and got enough traffic about it that I started this site over here so I wouldn’t confuse any people there for information about bullet journaling when I started to write about boob sweat and politics.

(If you read my personal blog, this is an inside joke. I write a lot about boob sweat and politics.)

My point is? I’ve been using this bullet journal method consistently since 2013 and I’ve got an instagram account and a website and yet…YET…I have lately started to feel very intimidated by the bullet journaling world.

At least once a week someone sends me an article they found on Martha or Oprah or some sort of lifestyle website about bullet journaling and EVERY SINGLE TIME the article is full of these gorgeous spreads and layouts and they are simply works of ART and I think…Um…that’s not quite what I do.

I mean…don’t get me wrong…it’s definitely a system I swear by and promote to anyone who is a chronic list-maker but…I don’t know. I just start to feel insecure that my lettering is kinda boring. Hell, I jazzed up my days just so I could feel more like a real bullet journaler. AND THAT IS THE DUMBEST THING IN THE WORLD.

(Although I do really like the day headings in pretty letters.)

I don’t have time to draw the weather for each day and I’m not talented/artistic enough to have fourteen different gorgeous lettering styles to act as headers and I’m not patient enough to decorate every chart and…AND…AND.

So that’s why I’ve been kinda silent. I felt like I didn’t really match the other bullet journalers I was seeing in these “Must Follow On Instagram!” lists. I wondered why I even bothered keeping up this site when my spreads are just nothing compared to the beautiful ones I see on other instagram accounts.

BUT THEN! Then a friend said to me, “Eh…I’m not artistic enough to be a bullet journaler.” And then, a few days later, I met someone who said, “I don’t have the patience to bullet journal.”

And I realized: WAIT. NO. THERE ARE PLENTY OF PEOPLE OUT THERE LIKE ME! Who are not artistic or patient!

So I’m going to keep talking about my simple/non-artistic layouts. I’m going to keep sharing my pages-with-no art. I’m going to keep offering printables to fill in those voids because I can do prettier things digitally than manually. And I’ll get back to posting more on my instagram.

And here’s another moment recently that reminded me why I do this. See, my “thing” is that I use my bullet journal to #PlanDocumentCreate. Here’s a story that shows the “Document” side of my method, and exactly why bullet journaling doesn’t have to be perfect or beautiful.

My aunt sent me a VHS tape of Pretty Woman for my birthday a few years ago with a note attached saying she remembered I used to sing every song from the sound track. I didn’t have a VCR so I cut up the case and attached the note in my bullet journal. It was very special as I loved her dearly and it cracked me up that my aunt – A NUN – send me that movie.

Well, three weeks ago that same beloved aunt passed away. After time sent with family and saying goodbye, I pulled out that bullet journal from two years ago and smiled thinking about her gift. And then I took all of the items from her memorial services and gave her another spread as my final tribute.

And now that page will be another I look back on with fondness.

I may not have the prettiest spreads, they may not be the most artistic, but for my life? They all fit the bill.

Mindful March

Mindful March

Life has been crazy in my world and my only goal for this month is to really be mindful. I tend to have so many items on my “To Do” list every day that I franctically zig and zag through my days without really ever taking a moment to breathe. So, I’m not setting any diet or fitness goals…I’m not trying to read more books or write more letters…I’m not going to try new things or conquer fears.

No, for this month, I’m simply going to try to be mindful. So I’ve made a coloring page for a standard A5 Leuchtturm1917 to share with you. It should work in a standard Moleskine as well. Happy March!

Mindful March Printable

The Year I Try Time Blocking

The Year I Try Time Blocking

I am trying to get a handle on the choas in my life right now. I don’t feel like it’s permanent chaos (a lot of it is related to a potential move or other temporary projects) or else I’d make some changes to remove some of it. Instead, I’m just trying to figure out how to adjust so that I can keep all of the balls in the air without dropping any of them or losing my sanity during this temporary time when chaos is reigning.

I went to a work retreat recently where I heard a speech referencing Time Blocking. This is the idea that you should block out certain times/days to do specific things so you don’t get

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I was in the middle of that sentence there ^ and I thought, I have to pee. So I went upstairs and I thought While I’m up here, I should bring down that stuff that needs to go to the street since it’s garbage day. And while I was carrying that stuff to the street I saw the recycle bins from yesterday and thought I need to put those in the back of the house. And while I was back there I thought I need to wheel this one bin to the street too. I did that and then came inside to finish the sentence.
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distracted or lose focus.

Let’s all pause for a minute to consider the beautiful timing of that series of events. LITERALLY, all of that happened RIGHT AS I WAS ABOUT TO TYPE THE WORD “distracted.” It suddenly became very meta around here. Obviously, I need help avoiding distractions.

ANYWAY. My point? I feel like there’s too much constantly needing to be done in my life and I’m not always focusing efficiently on those things. My To Do lists are there every day but I’m not always efficient in how much time I’m giving certain tasks. I stay caught up on some and get woefully behind on others.

So! I’m thought I’d try to start blocking some time. This seemed an easy idea at first. I just sat down and scheduled/mapped out the “ideal” weekday thinking I’d have time leftover to play around with.

HALF OF AN HOUR IS ALL I HAD LEFTOVER. THIRTY MINUTES! And then – after staring at that for a bit I realized – Um. I put NO time to write on that schedule. And I like at least an hour of every weekday set aside for just writing. So, OBVIOUSLY just jumping in and blocking out time was not the place to start. I put the cart in front of the horse in terms of Time Blocking. I realized I needed to wrap my head around my life a little more before actually trying to block things out.

So I thought I’d start with listing out the “categories” or so of time that I need make sure gets scheduled.

These are the categories I started with. I’m leaving the list open because – even as I’ve been writing this – I’ve thought of other “categories” I’d like to include in my days. Things like “communications.” I want to be more disciplined about setting aside time to touch base with people with personal texts/emails/messages. Or responding to emails and blog comments.

I also want to give myself time to “get ready” in the morning. I know it sounds silly, but that is SUCH a low priority in my life and I think it shouldn’t be. I think I should take time to look at myself and dress/style in a way that makes me feel good about myself and not just in a rush to get to the next thing. My appearance is often proof that I prioritize myself very last on the List Of People Who Need Care in my life. On the days I take time to put on jewelry or mascara I just feel so much better about myself! So I want that to be a “category” too. I called it “Self Esteem” time.

I think I’ll leave the list open for another day or two to REALLY get a feel on the “categories” in my life. I’m also going to try to log my time to see how long it takes me to do things like grocery shop and meal prep.

AND THEN…THEN…armed with categories and time logs I should be able to build a time blocking schedule that makes sense. I’ll report back and we’ll give this time blocking thing ANOTHER chance with hopefully a little more understanding of my own personal chaos.

Have you tried time blocking? Any tips or hints you can share?

Tools I Use:
Notebook: Leuchtturm 1917 A5 Hardcover Dotted
Cover: Custom cover with trail marker from my favorite local race. Made by Makers South
Pens: Currently loving the Paper Mate Inkjoy Gel Pens, Fine Point


2017 Monthly Printables

2017 Monthly Printables

I know I haven’t posted much here lately, but please know I’m still a daily bullet journaler! I’ve just been incredibly busy, as I’m sure you all have been. So, since I know we’re all gearing up to prepare our 2017 Bullet Journals, I wanted to remind you that I have free printables available for download. I’ve pulled the 2017 pages out to post here to remind you guys that they exist! I hope to be back more often in the next few weeks as I wrap up 2016 and prepare for 2017.

2017 MONTHLY PAGES

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(MONDAY START) Landscape Style

January 2017
February 2017
March 2017
April 2017
May 2017
June 2017
July 2017
August 2017
September 2017
October 2017
November 2017
December 2017

(MONDAY START) Portrait Style

January 2017
February 2017
March 2017
April 2017
May 2017
June 2017
July 2017
August 2017
September 2017
October 2017
November 2017
December 2017

(SUNDAY START) Landscape Style

January 2017
February 2017
March 2017
April 2017
May 2017
June 2017
July 2017
August 2017
September 2017
October 2017
November 2017
December 2017

(SUNDAY START) Portrait Style

January 2017
February 2017
March 2017
April 2017
May 2017
June 2017
July 2017
August 2017
September 2017
October 2017
November 2017
December 2017



Tools I Use:
Notebook: Leuchtturm 1917 A5 Hardcover Dotted
Cover: Custom cover with trail marker from my favorite local race. Made by Makers South
Pens: Currently loving the Paper Mate Inkjoy Gel Pens, Fine Point


The Evolution Of My Daily Pages

The Evolution Of My Daily Pages

One of the photos I included yesterday was a shot of one of my first daily pages.

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I was basically just making “to do” lists and decorating them with washi tape and stickers. And those were good days when I did that. A lot of days I just sloppily scratched lists not recognizing the therapeutic effect of hand-lettering and lines. Eventually, I did discover how meditative the lettering and lining of pages could be. I do still work full time and have 3 kids (one at college) and hold two volunteer board positions and train for the periodic marathon, so I don’t have the time to make each day a work of art, but I did start playing around with it more.

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And while I enjoyed this, I was also starting to discover the “weekly” spreads were useful but I didn’t want to have one weekly spread and then seven daily spreads so I started playing around with combining days to conserve space. This proved to be useful too since I tend to not accomplish all I need to so I could just look at the unchecked stuff on the SAME PAGE instead of re-writing it on the NEW page every day. I swear I wrote “Paint Eliah’s Bathroom” everyday for 3 weeks a couple of years ago.

But this wasn’t working out for me much either – so about 6 months or so ago or so I switched to the 2-page weekly spread. It took a lot to get over ghosting, I usually only rarely use the backs of pages as I don’t like seeing the other writing under it. But with good planning, I can avoid it a little bit. The 2-page weekly spread allows me to see my week at a glance which is super-useful when scheduling things, but it also still prevents me from re-writing tasks that carry over.

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This has especially proven to be a useful method for me in that it allows me to easily ply 2-3 weeks ahead which I’ve been finding I need more of lately. That’s a harder thing to do when you’re dealing with daily pages because if you have a busy Tuesday coming up and the individual things scheduled for that day are too much for your monthly page, you don’t want to have build a Tuesday page for 9 days from now when you haven’t built all of the pages in between. Once I start to get days too hectic for the monthly page (which we have a lot of when the monthly page is full of soccer games) I just quickly build the weekly spread for that week but I usually do leave a few blank pages in between for meeting notes or memory collection in the meantime.

How has your daily method changed since you started?


Tools I Use:
Notebook: Leuchtturm 1917 A5 Hardcover Dotted
Cover: Custom cover with trail marker from my favorite local race. Made by Makers South
Pens: Currently loving the Paper Mate Inkjoy Gel Pens, Fine Point


Happy 3-Year BuJoVersary To Me!

Happy 3-Year BuJoVersary To Me!

(Yes. I did just make up a word. Why do you ask?)

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Do you see that volume number right there? That’s 001. That’s my FIRST official bullet journal. I say “official” because I tested the system out for about a month with a $5 notebook from Target and immediately knew: THIS IS MY JAM. My Dad had a shelf of notebooks growing up that were basically done in the bullet journal system, he just didn’t have a cool name for them. I immediately envisioned my own shelf and decided to label the binding like he did his, prepping for a lifetime of journals. And do you see that date there? August 29, 2013. So do you know what that makes today?

MY 3- Year BuJoVERSARY!

Yep. The girl who used to buy 2-3 planners/calendars EVERY YEAR has been using the SAME system of planning consistently for THREE WHOLE YEARS.

For nostalgia’s sake, let’s look at one of my “daily” pages from that first volume.

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SO CUTE!

I plan on doing a lot of writing this week about what I’ve learned and modified in the last three years, but for now? This is a Bullet Journal Appreciation Post. I photographed my collection in several locations this weekend and I simply want to show them in all of their beauty. This is a lot of living right here. I’m so proud.

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And then one for the blooper reel:

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Tools I Use:
Notebook: Leuchtturm 1917 A5 Hardcover Dotted
Cover: Custom cover with trail marker from my favorite local race. Made by Makers South
Pens: Currently loving the Paper Mate Inkjoy Gel Pens, Fine Point


Transferring Information To The New Journal

Transferring Information To The New Journal

I’m two weeks away from starting another volume (#11!) in my bullet journal life – so it’s time to start transferring important information over to the next volume. I only transfer pages that I’ll need to reference regularly over the next three-four months. I’m not transferring my kid’s summer schedule because school has started, but I am transferring my “Books I’ve Read” list as I want to carry them out throughout the year. I don’t need several of my project pages for work, but I do need some notes from some recent meetings. You get the point!

In order to not get too overwhelmed – especially if I need to transfer a lot of data – I start about two weeks out by going through the index pages of my current volume and marking all of the pages I’ll move over. Sometimes there are pages I’ll reference again – but not often. Examples would be: Bucket List type pages. Those pages I’ll write at the bottom of the index pages on every volume. “Bucket List: Volume 3, page 72.” There are some “in between” pages that I might not ever need again, but most of those I know approximately when I made them so I can find them by searching through a few volumes. I recently was looking for notes on a past meeting and it only took me about 15 minutes to go through 5 volumes until I found it. No big deal! That’s why I like this system.

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So this week I’ve start transferring information over to the new journal. Since I started two weeks ahead, I only have to do a few at a time. That way, when it’s time to start the new volume, I can put this one on the shelf and not have to carry TWO around for a few weeks, which I’ve done before. Here is my new “run log” page in my new journal.

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I even took time to tape a coloring card onto the page opposite the run log. Since most of the races I do are done with friends, I figured this was an appropriate addition to this page.

How do you move stuff over to a new journal? Or do you even bother?


Tools I Use:
Notebook: Leuchtturm 1917 A5 Hardcover Dotted
Cover: Custom cover with trail marker from my favorite local race. Made by Makers South
Pens: Currently loving the Paper Mate Inkjoy Gel Pens, Fine Point


Free Monday Start Monthly Printables

Free Monday Start Monthly Printables

Remember back when we discussed which we prefer on our Monthly View – a Monday start or a Sunday start? Well I decided I prefer a Monday start and have made some new printables to carry us out the rest of the year. My other printables are on this page if you prefer a Sunday start, but for those of you who agree with me – here are your monthly printables! I’m pretty sure these will work both a large Moleskine and on a Leuchtturm 1917 A5, which is what I use. Remember, these are free downloads so if there’s a problem be kind as you point it out to me. I’m a sensitive flower and get my feelings hurt easily.

Landscape Style

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October, 2016

November, 2016

December, 2016

Portrait Style

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October, 2016

November, 2016

December, 2016


Tools I Use:
Notebook: Leuchtturm 1917 A5 Hardcover Dotted
Cover: Custom cover with trail marker from my favorite local race. Made by Makers South
Pens: Currently loving the Paper Mate Inkjoy Gel Pens, Fine Point


Scheduling Down Time

Scheduling Down Time

School started this week in my world. Soccer starts next week. On top of a full-time job and volunteer obligations, I found that my life got away from me last Autumn and we barely had time to breathe. To avoid that chaos and then anxiety it gives me, I’m trying something new this year. I’m scheduling actual down time. I’m blocking out entire evenings IN ADVANCE so that if something comes up, I have a reminder in my calendar about how important it is to just have some nights…simply at home. We’re trying to sell our house so sometimes those nights might be catching up on house work. Or maybe I’ll just veg out with the kids and watch our favorite superhero television. I’ll definitely cook a real meal on those nights since we do quick things like quesadillas or cereal on the other nights. It doesn’t matter what I do, what matters is that I am AT HOME and that I’m free to use that time how I best see fit.

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Ideally I’d have two nights a week where I can block out “HOME” on the calendar, but I want to at least mandate one night a week. We don’t have soccer practice schedules yet, so I don’t know if that will be a possibility, but I really hope I can make it a priority. I think the “Something Every Night” scheduling causes me more problems than most – or else no one else talks about it. But those weeks where I work all day and then do soccer/meetings every night really take a toll on my mental health and with two kids who have their own mental health needs, it’s important I make sure to put my oxygen mask on first, so to speak.

Do you have to schedule downtime to remind yourself how important it is? Or are you one of those superheroes that can Go! Go! Go! every night and not suffer ill side effects?


Tools I Use:
Notebook: Leuchtturm 1917 A5 Hardcover Dotted
Cover: Custom cover with trail marker from my favorite local race. Made by Makers South
Pens: Currently loving the Paper Mate Inkjoy Gel Pens, Fine Point


How My Bullet Journal Helps Me Run

How My Bullet Journal Helps Me Run

Last year I successfully completed running my first 100K with the help of my bullet journal. I have a bit of a chaotic life, so strict training plans have never suited me. So, I printed up a basic plan I found online and just tried to keep my weekly miles above the recommended goal. Beyond that? I would plan long runs first on Saturdays and Sundays based on the running schedules of my friends, and then I just filled in day to day whatever I could to try to meet my weekly goal. This is what my (ultimately successful) log looked like last year.

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I am not doing a 100K this year (my husband is trying is first 100-miler in November and that would be too much) but I am trying for the same combo of races in November as I did last year: A 50K trail race on Saturday, followed by a road Marathon on Sunday. I’ve already signed up for the 50K but the marathon is the Flying Monkey and it’s lottery only. I’ll find out if I’m in no later than August 15th. I’m trying to be optimistic though, and decided to build my run log and training plan around getting in.

Since I successfully did the back-to-backs last year, I just basically used my run log from last year as my “weekly total goal” for this year. I don’t take racing very seriously. I’m a “completer” not a “competer” – meaning my goal is only ever to cross the finish line before the cutoff. That means I don’t have to stress out about types of runs (speed days or hill days or whatever days) and I don’t have to stress out about speed or time. For me? It’s just about getting the miles in however I can.

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I’m coming off several complications in my running life so my base is not as strong as last year. (Most recently I had a bike wreck in Colorado which kept me off my feet for a couple of weeks.) But I’ve been trying to at least do 15-20 miles a week all summer, and am hoping a 30-mile week this week won’t be too much of a jump. Here’s to hoping this method of using my bullet journal to train will make me as successful this year as it did last year!


Tools I Use:
Notebook: Leuchtturm 1917 A5 Hardcover Dotted
Cover: Custom cover with trail marker from my favorite local race. Made by Makers South
Pens: Currently loving the Paper Mate Inkjoy Gel Pens, Fine Point