My name is Kim but I also answer to Zoot which is a derivative of a childhood nickname. I have been a planner addict my entire adult life. I never made it through an entire year without at least 2 different planners because I never really found a system that worked for me. Then I […]
First, and foremost: Bullet Journaling is not for Everyone. I love it, it has changed my life, but it’s not a system that would work for everyone. BUT! If you’re a chronic list maker or if you’ve ever had a planner obsession, then this could possibly be the system for you. Now…let me show you […]
I do not have the prettiest handwriting, nor do am I very patient, so I often make printables to use in my bullet journal and if I think others might find them useful – I’ll offer it for a free download here! I usually post blog posts to go along with them which you can […]
Obviously with the #PlanDocumentCreate motto I love those three main things about bullet journaling: I can plan, I can draw, I can preserver. Movie tickets, vacation plans, zendoodles…these things represent the most common pages in my bullet journal.
However, the other thing I love about the Bullet Journal system is the ability to combine all of the random lists I keep in my life into one notebook. I used to flag shows and movies on my “watch list” on Amazon and I’d put books on my To Read shelf at Goodreads. I’d email myself links with “Article To Read” in the subject heading. I’d mark recipes as “favorites” on my favorite plant-based websites. I’d subscribe to RSS feeds in my chosen feed reader.
And did I ever consult any of these? Rarely to Never. Mostly Never.
But now! Now I have a bullet journal where I can keep lists with me at all times. And they are lists I usually copy and re-copy to each volume so they’ll move along with me through time. Movies to watch, Books to read, Daily blogs, Articles to read (usually preserved by website and article title. But honestly? I still email myself the links.) and Recipes to try.
What are the random lists you keep in your Bullet Journal? Do they move with you from volume to volume?
Since I only have the current week and current month in my bullet journal active at one time, future planning became a challenge. I compensated for this by printing up a month’s worth of monthly pages and keeping them clipped to the back of my notebook. I call these the “scratch” pages because – as you can see – the events are barely legible and no where near ready for practical use.
When I start feeling like I’m adding more stuff to the upcoming month than the current month, I create that month’s page in my bullet journal. Usually that’s about 10 days away from the end of the current month, which is where I found myself yesterday when it was time to get ready for July. First, I had to decide if I wanted a portrait or landscape style page.
And then – I had to decide – DO I WANT TO SKIP THE NEXT 12 MONTHS ALL TOGETHER?
Do you see why? Because when I took this photo I didn’t notice a problem. I even put it on instagram. And then I started to fill it out and I noticed I had a race on a weird day and that’s unusual so I went to check my scratch page and…hmm…it’s on a Saturday there. What is going on?
OH. I SEE. I PRINTED UP 2017 INSTEAD.
I immediately rushed and deleted the photo from instagram (SO EMBARASSED!) and tried again. This was the photo that ended up on instagram and STAYED.
But. As I was working on my monthly spread I reconsidered something. Why do I start my monthly calendar page with a Sunday when I do my Weekly Spreads starting on a Monday? So. I made my THIRD attempt at a Monthly Page and quickly put together a Monday-Start variation of the July Monthly Page.
I’m not sure why this has never occurred to me before. I know for sure that – for my weekly spreads – I prefer a Monday start. To me, Monday is the start of my week. It never crossed my mind that my monthly printables looked different. I’m not sure if it matters since most monthly calendars do use Sunday as the start of the week.
Either way – something about it bugged me so I’m trying something new. I’ll let this month be the test. If I find I like it better, I’ll offer both varieties on my printable page. What are your thoughts?
Before I started using the bullet journal system three years ago, I would carry around as many as 4 notebooks/calendars with me at one given time. A small pocket calendar for my purse. A large planner for my work bag. A large journal/sketchbook. A small notebook. But the wonderful thing about the bullet journal is I can do everything I need to do in ONE notebook that fits in my purse. GONE are the days of second mortgages on houses to pay for 14 planners or calendars a year (because no ONE planner or calendar ever fit the bill completely) and 72 notebooks. Nope! One notebook! All the time!
This is very hard to admit. But I have decided the bullet journal doesn’t work perfectly for everything.
It started because I wanted to start logging my food as my running/training has changed and I need to readjust my calorie intake so I don’t gain 50lbs because I’m still eating like an ultra runner. Well, two pages into the food log in my bullet journal and I was thinking: Why am I wasting pages on this? To Do lists at least give me a later snapshot of my life. But my food/calorie log? This is a terrible waste of space.
So, I bought a 3-pack of small notebooks. And I started writing down my food/calories one of them. Now it didn’t feel like a silly waste of pages in my bullet journal where one whole week of planning took up one 2-page spread but 7 days of food logging took up 3 times that. Instead? I just log in this guy which can be disposed of without any guilt.
But I also realized it works for the long grocery lists too. I keep a section on my weekly spread “TO BUY” to note when we run out of things or when weird stuff pops up I need throughout a week, but when I sit down and put my meals in my daily spread I need to write down the associated foods needed and I don’t really want to waste a full page on my bullet journal for that either. And since I have this tiny notebook already floating around my purse, I’ve started doing grocery lists in that.
This makes it easier for my daughter to help me too, because she likes to be in charge of marking off the list as we go throughout the store. It’s harder for her to do that carrying around my bullet journal.
But I feel like I have to justify myself TO MY BULLET JOURNAL.
Dear Bu Jo, You are still the top in my world, but you’re so important I don’t want to waste pages in you with things that are not necessary for the whole #PlanDocumentCreate motto. Please forgive me.
Right before school let out for the summer, I decided I needed to map out our summer in terms of camps and daycares so I could A) budget childcare cost appropriately since my husband and I both work full time so childcare becomes more expensive during summer and B) make sure I chose camps for the kids that didn’t overlap with each other since dropoff would be tricky on those days. I made this spread and shared it to instagram. I thought I would basically use this spread until the summer was mapped out, and then never again.
Little did I know it has now become the page I turn to the MOST. Because the different kids being in different places on different days has caused more chaos than I realized. Even if there are no special day-camps on the schedule for the week (There are lots of fun full-day camps around town in everything from robotics to engineering to bugs and wildlife.) it’s crazy. My kids both attend the same daycare but one of them only goes 3 days because she kinda hates it, and she just comes to work with me the other two days. But if there is a day-camp going on (this week my son is going to a camp about bugs/critters) then they’re at two different places which makes the time I go to work and leave from work different than a normal week.
SO! I’m constantly looking at this page to remember who goes where on what day. It has been a wonderful tool for the management of the summer and we’re only on week 2. Sometimes you create a spread for a page or an idea or a tracker that you never use again. (Remember that time I tried a habit tracker? That lasted about 3 days.) Other times you create a spread that becomes THE THING THAT SAVES YOUR LIFE AND KEEPS YOU AFLOAT. This is one of those things.
I’m crossing out the weeks as we go and I’m already learning a lesson for next summer. Try to avoid so many back-to-back special camp weeks. Last week was exhausting and this week is not any easier. On a special camp week I have to get the kids to/from two different places AND I can’t go into work as early as I usually do so I have to work later which means every day feels cramped. AND NEXT WEEK ISN’T ANY EASIER. But those are the types of lessons we learn the hard way, right?
What spread/list/tracker have you made that has been surprisingly useful? This one I thought would only be used for the PLANNING part of the summer, I didn’t think I’d need it once summer started. Now I know! It will be a requirement every summer from here on out!
Ideally, I find quiet time on Sunday to plan the upcoming week, but I’m inherently a Morning person and am most “clear” when I first wake up so most weeks I end up doing my planning on Monday morning. This morning I woke around 3:15am and got to work. This is the basic 2-page weekly spread I’ve settled on and I really like it.
I have enough room on my daily pages to do my task lists and daily appointments. If something doesn’t get done, I just leave it unchecked and I still see it for the next day. No need to rewrite or migrate uncompleted tasks until the end of the week. I also create a “Love List” section which is my secular version of a Prayer List. People I want to think about throughout the week, people I want to send love to in some way, even if it’s in quiet meditation when I glance at their name. I also have a mindfulness section where I write mantras or notes or reminders for the week to help keep my anxiety at bay. I have a “buy” section to jot down things we run out of for my next grocery trip, and I have a miscellaneous section for the random notes, reminders that I don’t know where else to put.
The week never looks too full when I finish my Monday morning planning session, but it does look more active.
My plan is to document this page Sunday night as well so you can see how the week fills out. Things always get sloppier, that’s for sure. I stop caring so much about order and just want to make sure THAT I DO NOT FORGET ANYTHING. So my writing gets more frantic as the week goes on.
I’m not deliberately trying to make my bullet journals last a certain amount of time…actually, quite the opposite. I like the freedom the bullet journal system gives me so that if I suddenly need 10 pages for notes on a project at work, or a volunteer obligation, I can use them! 10 pages right there! No problem. I love the flexibility of this system. I can use 15 pages in one day and then the next week not do anything beyond my weekly spread.
YET. Without fail. All of my volumes seem to last 3-4 months. Even when I was using a Moleskine which has fewer pages! And this is evidenced by the fact that I’m currently on volume 11 and will be celebrating 3 years with my bullet journal in August. And also? Here I am, halfway through volume 11 which I started the first of May, and what is it now? Almost the middle of June. So, without trying again, this one will probably fall in the 3-4 month window as well.
I wanted to show what my bullet journal looked like at the halfway point. The first page of the index is full, but luckily the Leuchtturm 1917 has a few built-in pages of index in case I wanted to index every page, which I don’t. I don’t index my weekly or daily pages. I do flag the weekly pages with a piece of wash page on the top, but they don’t go in the index. And I flag certain categories with different colors and locations of washi tape which I define on a back page. (I explained this method of marking category pages here.)
All in all in makes the whole thing kinda interesting, even when it’s closed.
I just love the personality of this system. I love that every volume looks different. I just started flagging pages with washi tape two volumes ago so the sides of my other volumes are nowhere near as fun. Volume 10 is when I started doing weekly pages along with my daily spreads but THIS volume I started doing both in one 2-page spread. They’re all different as I learn better tools or as I face new challenges. I was elected a board position for our local track club this year so the last two volumes have had pages dedicated to that whereas previous volumes have had a lot more zendoodles. So far, this one only has ONE and I’m no where close to done!
But here we are, halfway through volume 11. Looks like I’ll be celebrating my 3-year anniversary with the bullet journal system in volume 12, don’t think I’ll make it through August in this one!
I shared a cropped version of this photo to Instagram yesterday. I’m really enjoying my new weekly spreads, I really liked the lettering I did on my headings, and I’m having fun with some new pens (I found out my new faves also come in a fine point!). All of this meant that I looked at these pages and this photos yesterday morning and I thought, “DAMN. This is NICE. I love my bullet journal!”
Then I scrolled through my instagram feed after I uploaded it.
And I started to feel inferior in EVERY WAY. Holy crap, there are some amazing bullet journalers out there. Their lines are perfect, their headings are gorgeous and their handwriting is the stuff of LEGENDS. Not to mention they have fun clips and tabs and POTTED PLANTS in their photos which make everything look so fancy and cool and I BECOME IRRATIONALLY JEALOUS AND FEEL INCREDIBLY INFERIOR.
I know that’s dumb, but I swear I get twitchy every time I scroll through my IG feed and see gorgeous/perfect spread after gorgeous/perfect spread. I start to wonder WHY I’m doing this when NOTHING I ever do will be as beautiful.
But then I opened my bullet journal to this spread again, and I glanced down at my “mindfulness” section. This is the section I created to remind myself that there are other things to do in the day besides the things on my “to do” list. Things to keep my anxiety in check. So? I added two mantras.
I’ve been using this Bullet Journal system of Planning, Documenting, and Creating for almost three years now. Three years exactly at the end of August. It’s been the best system for me as I previously went through at least 3 different calendars/planners a year and TWICE that many notebooks and journals. THIS IS A GREAT SYSTEM AND IT IS PERFECT FOR ME. I’m going to keep writing about it and photographing it because it brings me joy, and I’m going to try to be roused to create by those beautiful spreads and not intimidated into inaction.
Here’s to being proud of our own work and inspired by others, right?
I have always had shaky hands. I blame it on being a smoker for 10 years (I know! I was young and in desperate need of “bad girl” status!) but I’m certain my 5 cups/day coffee habit doesn’t help either. I just do not – under any circumstances – have a steady hand.
But I like using the dotted pages of the LT1917 because – visually – I like MY lines being the only lines on the page. And the dots give me a basic guide to draw them myself. HOWEVER…even with the dots, my unsteady hand is far from perfect.
And most of the time I’m okay with this. BUT HOLY CRAP…there are some beautiful lines in bullet journals all over instagram. I know some who swear they don’t use a ruler/straight edge but many say they do and it’s required because they HAVE to have straight lines and I’m torn because their pages look SO VERY PRETTY! Do I want to be like that? Should I use a ruler?
I have some serious line-envy.
But here’s the thing about bullet journaling – perfection can be a hurdle to jump over and I had to learn early on that striving for perfection kept me from using the bullet journal. If I focused on perfect spreads and layouts, I didn’t pick it up as often…I didn’t use it as often. And I want it to be an extension of my brain, I want to use it often and not be shunned by an inability to be perfect.
So I decided to not start using a ruler. I know it would make my pages prettier, but it would then put me where I was focusing again on perfection and I like where I’m at now with my bullet journal. I do spend some time on some of spreads to make them pretty, but they’re never perfect. And I never spend too much time on them because then – if I’m too busy and don’t have time – I might not even use the journal.
This is a personal decision and everyone is different. Maybe you draw straight lines free-hand so it takes no extra time and your spreads are perfect. If that’s you? I’m staring at your instagram and kinda hating myself. Maybe you use a ruler because it’s one area of your life you can keep things in order and perfect and that brings you joy. And if that’s you? I’m staring at your instagram and kinda hating myself. BUT PLEASE KEEP DOING IT, because your photos and your spreads bring me so much joy, even though I’m irrationally envious of your lines and the beauty and perfection of your pages. THEY ARE SERIOUS WORKS OF ART and I love them.
But if you’re like me and shaky and squiggly and imperfect? Then you have a sister in me. Let’s be shaky together.
I like to explain that my bullet journal motto/approach can be summed up in the hashtag #PlanDocumentCreate. Most of my bullet journal goes to planning, but some of it also goes to Creating (like my ZenDoodle pages) and Documenting (movie tickets, kid’s art, birthday cards ect) things from my life. I had an interesting thing to document this week: A label from Crowler of a limited release beer from a local brewery.
1) Celebrating what the state of Alabama was calling “Growler Day” which was June 1st, and the day breweries could finally sell beer from the brewery itself for people to leave with thanks to the passing of the beer to-go law. Most of the time we have to either drink the beer there in the tap room (which is not always convenient) or buy bottled/canned releases from local stores (which is not an option for limited releases because the cost of bottling/canning would be too great). For beer lovers in Alabama this was a GREAT DAY!
2) Celebrating one local brewery’s response to the Gubernatorial scandal in the state. I’m a big fan of local business who can find silver lining in the tragedy that has become Alabama politics.
While I’m not normally a pale ale fan, this one wasn’t too bad as it did have a fruity flavor mixed in with the hoppy flavor I don’t usually like. I bought it, I drank it, and I stuck the label in my bullet journal to celebrate the occasion. This will be one of the many pages I look back on when I’m feeling reflective and will laugh over something I would probably normally have forgotten.
It’s like scrapbooking for the non-crafty beer drinker.
I know it’s a bit late, but I built a few Portrait-Style monthly printables to finish out 2016. I’ve always had the Landscape Style pages on my printable page, but a few have asked for more vertical style pages. These are designed to fit my Leuchtturm 1917. So, if you use a Moleskine, you might have to print at a reduced size as the pages in the Moleskine are a tad narrower. (FYI – the 2017 pages are already available on the printables page if you’re planning ahead.)
Keep in mind, these are simply free downloads, I don’t make any guarantees of quality. If you’re kind, I’ll do my best to fix errors that are found. But if you are demanding and rude I’m probably just going to ignore you.