So I psyched myself out a little, once I went to take photos of my bullet journal, because it is not Pinterest worthy at all. But then I reminded myself that’s kind of the whole point of why I wanted to share it in the first place. I don’t want people to think bullet journaling has to be perfect and pretty. It so doesn’t.
If you’re new to bullet journaling, start here: BulletJournal.com. Here’s his video to give you the gist:
Here are my bullet journal rules:
- It does not have to be pretty.
- It does not have to be perfect.
- It just needs to work.
I bought a hard-cover green moleskine notebook from Amazon when I got started. I wasn’t sure if I would like the hard cover, but I do.
I do have kind of a code system, but it’s very basic. And I didn’t make one until I had used it a bit and knew what I would and wouldn’t really use. I use these consistently, though my exclamation points usually end up circled:
I made an index in the front which I seriously doubted I’d be able to keep up, but it turned out to be pretty helpful. One of the reasons the bullet journal works so well with me is because I can keep a daily to-do list, but interrupt the ‘layout’ so to speak, to jot down whatever is in my brain. And if those jots happen to be important jots that I don’t want to lose, I can stick them in the index so I can find them again. BRILLIANT, and the main reason bullet journals eradicated most of my sticky notes and miscellaneous slips of paper everywhere.
You can make an easy calendar for each month… but I stopped doing these after about March. I just didn’t reference them as much, and found I’d rather list important stuff in the main index. To the right below, you can see how you can also make a master task list for each month. This also stopped about mid-way through the year. I found it easier to just handle stuff on a day to day basis rather than flip back and forth between this master task list.
I wanted to show you the difference between a tidy example:
… and a rougher example:
Because they both work the same way, and it just shows you that your bullet journal does NOT have to be an artistic expression and/or crazy neat… unless you are into that, and then by all means, knock yourself out. I just know that for me, if I set the standards of something too high (hello, perfectionist here) as soon as I mess up, it’s over. The past-me would have wanted every single page to look magazine-perfect, but that past-me would have thrown the whole thing away the second I messed up one of the precious pages.
I had to lower the bar for myself in this regard, and in so doing, I’ve allowed myself to make something really, really useful.
Again, the beauty of a bullet journal is that the pages are created by you. When using a regular planner with printed pages, you can’t really interrupt the daily task lists and calendar layouts to jot down a silly memory from 6th grade (above: My neighbor Abby decreeing that we would begin 6th grade at our new school with silky bras… with cups. We were both flat as a board.) But with a bullet journal you can — you can just write down / doodle whatever you want, note the info in the index if it’s important, then get back to the to-dos on the next, clean page.
I LOVE this freedom. I finally have a place to put all the things rattling around in my brain! This is very freeing for an INTJ who regularly cannot get her brain to shut up and give her some peace and quiet.
(I must have been on the phone with Tracy above, I tend to doodle names or stuff I hear when I’m listening to a conversation.) See the ‘schedule’ to the right above? This is another of my favorite things about bullet journaling. I am not a schedule-oriented person. There is no possible way I can schedule in yoga every morning at 10am and have it happen on the regular. But I can, when I have a bunch of junk to fit in, make a loose plan for one day that will help guide me through one 24 hour period. This is great if I have specific things that need to get done that don’t normally need to get done (like an appointment) or if I’m juggling side jobs around a main gig.
I still frequently forget appointments and am perpetually late to almost everything, but this system has helped a lot. I juggle a gigantic task list at work and this little book is invaluable for my productivity levels and remembering to make sure I tend to real life stuff: doctor appointments, meds, making sure the kids don’t starve, etc.
Anyway, that’s it. If you’ve bounced around a bunch of different planner systems give this one a try. It’s cheap and easy and 100% customizable.