Thursday, August 17, 2017

how i use my bullet journal

I'm a forgetful person, and my brain is a mess of things I could and should do. If there are too many things in there, I get overwhelmed and do nothing. Oh, and I really like office supplies.

That's why bullet journaling is my new favorite thing.

 I took pics with my new pencil bag and used my dinosaur succulent planter as a prop... such a good blogger, right?

When I first heard about bullet journals, I heard about things like keys and collections and future logs. It all sounded really complicated. Plus, who has the time to sit there and draw a grid for a calendar? So I ignored it until I spent an afternoon at Michael's with Bre and she told me all the fun things I could buy if only I started a bullet journal. After going down the rabbit hole of #bujo on instagram and finding a ruler and notebook I already had, I was ready to get started. All you need is that and some pens to see if this system will work for you.

Sections in my bullet journal

The beauty of this is that there's no right way to do it. I don't use a key. Collections is a fancy name for lists of things and a future log is just things that you're going to do... in the future. There are no #bujo graders or checkers so you really can do anything. That was really overwhelming for me, so I just thought more about what I wanted from a planner:

1) A monthly outlook so I could see at a glance what the month was like (basically, a calendar page)
2) Weekly spreads to write in to-dos, appointments, details for upcoming events, and track things like workouts or little accomplishments like chores I give myself
3) A place to keep lists of things I want to remember, by category
4) Somewhere to write what's happening in the far, far future (for example, we are going on vacation in the spring but I need to write down the dates)

The more I looked at other people's journals, the more that creating my own clicked for me.

Planning for the Future

When I realized this was something I wanted to keep up with, I bought a Leuchtturm dotted journal since blank pages make straight lines difficult and lined pages were too distracting. It has two bookmarks, numbered pages, and an index page at the front so I can log what I have on each page rather than flipping through the whole journal.

Yearly outlook on the left (it continues on the next page, and then there's a birthday page) and my year in pixels, so far. Looks like I have had a good amount of good days!

The first thing I created was my future log for the next year. It's a small calendar of the next twelve months with a space to write down any upcoming events. As I make my monthly spreads, I can make sure to document important dates there. I also made a page for birthdays - maybe now I will finally get around to sending cards on time.

I also have a Year in Pixels tracker in the front of my journal. I have a grid that has the next 12 months and a spot for each day as well as a color-coded key. Each day, I give my day a label and color in the corresponding color so at a glance, I can tell how things are going for me. I can likely compare the colors to other things in my journal and get a pretty good idea of what puts me in a good mood vs. a bad one. It will be interesting at the end of the year to see how I rate the majority of my days.

Then, I started on the monthly spreads. I prefer to use two pages so I have plenty of room to write on any date I need to. These can look any way you want. Don't forget that a calendar page should have five weeks on it since there are 30-31 days in most months. Not 28. My first spread was very, very bad.

Unlike my July spread, this one has the right number of weeks. Note the sticker where I wrote something down wrong. The yellow is for blog posts and slightly easier to read in person.

I also added a two-page spread at the beginning of each month where I can write down memories for the month. I have written down something someone said to me that I want to remember, what I did, or how I felt. It's just a sentence or two to document anything worth remembering.

Planning my week

I went a little washi crazy with the spread on the left but it helped to cover a mistake! The one on the right is for the current week, photos taken Tuesday morning.

Every Sunday night, I sit down and work on my spread for the following Monday - Sunday. I like to see the weekend as one full unit and I see Monday as a new start. I like doing them one week at a time because if I don't like the way a layout works, I only have to look at it for a week. I can also adjust my layout depending on what I have happening that week. For example, when I knew I was taking two vacation days last week, my layout was less structured since I didn't think I would be writing many things down. I get all of my weekly spread inspiration from Instagram and then do my own thing with it.

I love color and using pens and washi tape. I am working on brush lettering since this is a good chance to do it. I try to make sure that every spread will still look good if I use a black pen and then an accent color pen and I keep those on my journal's pen loop. If I worked that hard to make my page pretty, I don't want a clashing pen to ruin it! There are all kinds of task managers in bullet journaling, but I don't really use them. I like making a square for any kind of action item and then checking it off when it's done. Some days, I don't have anything to put in for the day so I will use the space as a log of what I did, even if it's just a show I watched or the workout I completed. Again, if I have gone to all of this effort, I might as well use it for something, right?

I also make a small grid tracker every week for habits I'm trying to adopt. There is something about checking off a box that motivates me and gives me a sense of accomplishment. This week, I'm tracking move (aka working out), talking to friends, going to bed by 11, reading, blog time, cleaning for 15 minutes a day, and doing the dishes. Nothing huge, but I feel bad when they aren't all checked off, so I will get up and do that little chore (or go to bed) just so I can check the box!


Try or Buy is for shows and products I hear about (many from the Add it to My List linkup!). The left side of the Blog Post Ideas page are one-time things (like Bullet Journaling) and the things on the right are linkups or posts I can do anytime (like If We Met for Coffee or Currently...). The wine page is the same set-up I use for my monthly memories pages.

I reserved approximately the last third of my journal for lists and notes. For me, this is anything I want to remember - dinner ideas we don't hate, blog post ideas, wines I have liked, things to try or buy, ideas for upcoming vacations, house plans, stuff like that. Some people track books or TV shows, or meal plan, or keep shopping lists in their journals. I prefer not to, but that's the great thing about the system. It's also great for doodling in, writing your goals, packing lists... anything you normally write on a spare receipt or keep in a note on your phone can go in your bullet journal. The lovely thing is that it's all in one place and organized in the way that you work, not in the way that planner makers think you should. I love going digital and having less clutter, but I retain things much better when I write them down.

I know it sounds like a weird instagram fad. I was a total skeptic at first too, but I love the flexibility. I use it more since I actually worked to make it look pretty. I love trips to Michael's to get things to put in it (did I buy stickers that say "gold star adult" over the weekend? Maybe.) and I love never feeling stuck with any part of it since I can always create something else. It also lets me feel a little bit crafty and creative without having to commit to a scrapbook or anything. I am toying with putting ticket stubs and things like that on my monthly memory pages, or getting one of those small, purse-sized printers to capture the things I'm writing about. There's always something new to want to try.


  1. It looks so pretty! I love seeing inside other people's planners. I also love bullet journals, but for other people, not for me. Mainly because my handwriting is atrocious, even when I try really hard, so mine would look like crap and I would just get frustrated. You don't have that problem, clearly!

  2. It's so pretty! I love your ideas how to organize and make it pretty yet very functional. I have a Leuchtturum that I use as a running journal and also a big Erin Condren planner for the rest of life but have been thinking about consolidating all to the Leuchtturum. Having to draw the weekly & monthly spreads has always seemed a little daunting. I'm not very artistic - Maybe washi tape and different colored pens and stickers is the answer to having it look pretty! Question - What pens do you use? My favorite pens show through to the other side of the page so I need to find something new.

  3. Like Steph, I love looking at other people's bujos but I have to be digital. I use a digital planning system for pretty much everything people use bujos for, and I just use a journal for more traditional journaling. I've had grand plans before for merging the two, but it's just not my bag. I do think they're so pretty and I love poking around to see how other people use theirs, so thanks for sharing!

  4. YES i've been waiting for this post so I can spy on your bullet journal. i love seeing how others do it. i can't do the actual layouts by hand since i'm way lazy but i do use bullet journal concepts in my planner - i use blank pages for notes and doodles and other things that i need to track so i insert those pages into my planner (kikki k). yours is so pretty!

  5. I loved looking inside your journal, I think the things you use yours for are much more closely aligned to what I would find useful than anything else I've seen. However, I think the whole thing just isn't for me - I am a much more digitally minded person. Plus I am terrible at drawing, hand lettering etc and it would bother me to have such a messy journal. I do like putting ticks in boxes though. I mostly just do stuff in spreadsheets, then as required print things off so I can start ticking them off :)

  6. you're so fancy! i love it. my weeks are just the day highlighted and then a section for TO DO and TO BUY with a strip of washi tape. but just taking the time to sit and to do something for myself is very very relaxing.
    i also convinced Gabby to start one and got her some bookmarkers and a roll of washi today.
    i need to find some blogger/writer stickers though. i don't want to have to buy a cricut.

  7. Everyone is so organized with their planners and bullet journals. Yours looks so pretty! I wish I could get my life together enough to do something like this!

  8. I have been bullet journaling for about a month & a half now! It's really nice once you figure out how to customize for yourself :)

  9. oh my gosh, yours is so pretty! i really love it. i have a normal-ish planner and mine is not pretty at all. i love your try or buy section! so smart. i have a pinterest board i use for the same thing, but i always forget about it. a real list on paper would be so much better!

  10. Your journal is beautiful.
    I could never do it. But yours looks good :)
    I have finally settled in and realized that an EC planner is the way to go for me, especially because it has extra pages I can use to keep track of things on.
    Customizing and tracking from scratch would stress me out.


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