Step one to actually getting anything accomplished for me is planning. I am planner obsessed, but I have never found one that fit my needs perfectly. I am truly the most forgetful person I know. If it is not written down, it just isn’t going to happen. I have purchased countless types of planners, printed PDFs to create planning binders, and implemented anything I could find to help me stay organized. All these options available, and I still never found a perfect system that I would actually use. Thanks to Pinterest I have discovered the bullet journal, a way to have all of my planning needs in one place.
What’s a bullet journal?
They are called bullet journals because they are usually journal-style notebooks with dotted or bulleted grids. The journal exterior usually takes more wear and tear over long-term use, and the dots allow the user to easily create layouts while keeping everything straight, similar to graph paper. My bujo, short for bullet journal, has made me a much more productive person. Just because it is called a bullet journal doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be in a dotted notebook, it is completely custom to you! Some people love and prefer that style, but when getting started I would recommend using any notebook you have. Once you decide how you would like your planner set up you can always buy a dotted journal if you think you would prefer one.
What bullet journal should I use?
I currently use a Minimalism Art dotted notebook from Amazon. I love the outer cover and the pages are just thick enough that I don’t get a lot of ink showing through onto the next page, also known as ghosting. It has an attached bookmark and comes in a variety of colors. I ordered Tombow Dual Brush Pens from Amazon as well, and I love the subtle color in the pastel set. I am not very artistic in my planner, but I imagine these pens would work well for coloring and doodling. My previous bujo was a simple $4 Pen + Gear lay flat notebook from Walmart. I would highly recommend this one if you are just getting started due to the sturdy spine and thick pages. The only thing I did not like about this journal was the lack of grids. I used a sharpie pen in this notebook and it worked great. I just want to remind you that you can use ANY paper and pen that you have available to you. Do not let a lack of materials keep you from getting yourself organized.
There are a few very popular bullet journals on the market that I am sure are highly functional, but I have not tried. Leuchtturm1917 and Moleskin are two of the most popular that I have seen.
I use my bujo for…
Daily, weekly, monthly, doesn’t matter. You can have one or all three, whatever will make you the most productive. I bounce around and sometimes use multiple versions based on what is going on in my life at the time. Play with different styles to see what works best for you. The planner portion can be used to keep track of appointments, due dates, and any upcoming events.
Habit trackers are by far my favorite part of bullet journaling. You can track literally anything from how often you are killing those goals to simply keep up with the daily tasks of life like if you took your vitamin.
If you create a daily planner layout, you can track and improve your time management skills as well. If you feel like you are never getting anything done this could be a great tool for you. Make a planner page broken down into hourly, 30 minute or 15 minute intervals, and plan your ideal day, listing everything that you need to accomplish in the time slots. Alongside your plan, create an identical page to track your actual actions throughout the day. This will allow you to see where you are getting off track. I think this is a great tool to hold yourself accountable. It also lets you be reasonable about what can be accomplished in a day. Too often we are loading ourselves down with unrealistic expectations and then feeling like we did not accomplish enough. Planning out to do’s in advance can help.
Financial security is one of the most important aspects of life, but if you have trouble keeping up with financial goals or even where your money is going, making a bujo can help. I use my planner to keep up with income vs expenses and track bills to make sure everything has been paid. You can also take control of your budget by making and monitoring savings goals and debts.
I made the wonderful decision to start eating healthy, however deciding to eat better and actually making that happen are two entirely different things. I personally cannot decide what I am going to eat every day in advance, but I can plan the options that I will give myself for the week. Planning ahead helps me make sure I get everything I will need from the grocery store in one trip. It can also help if you’re shopping on a budget. Coming up with seven days of meals and snacks allows you to know what is available throughout the week. I suggest making a list somewhere in your bullet journal where you write down all of your favorite meals and/or new meals to try. This makes it much easier when you are trying to meal plan for the week.
Keeping up with fitness easily becomes second nature when you plan it your way! There are so many bullet journal options to help you get fit such as trackers, challenges, workout plans, goals pages, logs, and more. Trackers can simply be a chart to show what day you exercised, or it can be broken down further into what workout you did each day. I have seen people make goal pages where they color their way through small increments of their weight loss journey until they reach the final goal. That style page helps show how far they have come and continues motivation. You can create challenge pages or plan your workout step by step, whatever works for you!
When it comes to cleaning I stay pretty on top of everything, but I always wonder to myself “When’s the last time I did XYZ?”. Creating an ideal cleaning schedule whether daily, weekly, or monthly and then tracking when you actually complete each task will help avoid forgetting uncommon things such as changing the air filters.
Having an effective planner is a step towards becoming a more productive person and reaching your goals. I have found bullet journals are a great way to keep up with anything and everything that is important to you. If you need the inspiration to get started check out #bulletjournal and #bujo on Instagram, do a quick search on Pinterest, or follow a Facebook group. I personally follow Bullet Journal Beginners, but there are so many options out there.