I am not turning this into a bullet journaling blog, there are so many great ones already out there to choose from! However, since this is a current interest of mine, I thought I would update you on how it is working out for me. I’ll probably begin posting about bullet journaling monthly to show you what is working, what isn’t working, and how it has helped me stay on track with some of my planning goals.
Thoughts on Materials
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When I first decided to start with this planning method, I didn’t want to spend big bucks until I knew that this was something I would actually use. I got a $10 notebook from Northbooks having not read the materials lists for some of the more popular bujo activists. I also got some fun pens, but mostly because I knew I would use them whether I kept up the planner or not.
I chose Staedtler pens because as an artist I’m familiar with the brand (my go to for pencils) and didn’t feel like spending the extra money on Microns (my usual go to for pens). The pens work great and saved me a few bucks, plus they have vibrant colors and a smooth feel. The notebook was another story. It has 96 non-numbered pages and the binding is weak (as expressed in the reviews, so not a shocker). After playing around with this notebook and thinking about all of the lists and tasks I’d like to keep track of, I knew that it didn’t have enough pages to last more then a couple of months. Plus the pages bleed through to the other side! If I write in pen, then the next page is compromised, so I was limited to using pencil, which makes smearing and permanence a problem for me. If you are thinking you will only use the notebook with pencil, or want a place to plan out your potential layouts, then this notebook is a decent cheap choice, but if you are looking for a daily, permanent solution then you should probably look elsewhere.
Since I was already hooked after playing around for a couple of days, I read some blogs, looked over recommendations and splurged on a Leuchtturm1917, the common favorite for bullet journaling. It’s triple the price, more then double the pre-numbered pages, the binding lays flat, it comes with two bookmarks and a little pocket in the back for any small scraps of paper you might have lying around. The most important part, the pages don’t bleed. However, the pages are very thin and so depending on how much color and line work you are putting on them, it may not be a good choice for you (you’ll be able to see through the page in some images below).
Thoughts on Layout
Before switching over to the new journal (and while impatiently awaiting its arrival in the mail), I thought I’d test out a potential layout in the Northbook. Seeing as I started out towards the end of the year, month, and week, I backfilled in some information for the last month so that I could see what it might look like.
I started out with a fairly rigid layout, typical calendar grids and small, predefined daily blocks. Immediately it was clear that this would not work out for me. I wasn’t giving myself enough space to think, be creative, or add extra events and appointments for particularly busy days or weeks. It was good practice in seeing how the book could be used, but ultimately to stiff for me.
While I knew that the two pages a week wouldn’t come close to working out for me, I did like the idea of predefined daily spaces so that I could graph out my spaces for the week ahead of time. I prefer to plan my week on Monday mornings and would rather set up my days all at once instead of every night like a number of journalists do. I was happy with the monthly habit tracker (a fairly typical set up). But I didn’t end up liking the monthly typical calendar grid as it didn’t allow a lot of space to write out appointments and I wanted to try something a little closer to the original bullet journaling monthly set up (notice, closer not the same). The year at a glance I wanted to squish down until it was only two facing pages as I knew this wasn’t the main way I wanted to plan future events. For that I had discovered a couple of great ideas from other bullet journaling blogs.
So drumroll for the unveiling:
Even though the year is close to being over, I still wanted to start off right, so I identified a few key (8 to be exact) areas that could use some clear goals and set up 3 goals for each area. So far I haven’t done much other then review this list weekly and add to my to-do lists things to help me accomplish them. Being 8 weeks away from my due date, I think that some of them will have to wait for a little while to become priorities.
I ‘m an avid reader and so of course I would want a way to track the books I’m reading. I cataloged all the ones that I remember reading this year (there are plenty more that I just don’t remember). I feel that I could very easily fill these shelves if I actually started at the beginning of the year. I know that finances is a huge area where both Jared and I would like to get better at so I created a savings goals page. So far our extra has gone towards baby stuff, but we plan on starting on these goals as soon as she is born and our medical bills from the birth clear.
As desired, I squished the year at a glance into one page of small monthly calendars and the adjoining page of holidays, birthdays, and other important dates that happen every year (at the bottom).
These pages house my actual future planning solutions, both of which come from this post by BohoBerry on some alternative future planning methods. With only 4 months left this year, I knew I wanted to create a Calendex (calendar/index) for the rest of the year and I ended up liking the space that 4 months takes up instead of the more common 6 month layout. I also wanted a place to begin scheduling major events for the next year, so enter the Alastair method for the next year.
Next we come to the monthly layout. A twist on the original bullet journaling monthly layout, I wanted to make sure there was space to morning, afternoon, and evening appointments since my life is currently ruled by various doctors visits and birthing classes. A small space for some of the tasks that really need to get done this month is followed by a small priorities box with my two main priorities for the month. After that I’ll do weight and measurement tracking, but for now I’m only tracking my weight for optimal baby health (not focused on loosing weight).
I saw others share ‘memories’ pages where they take fun or significant events from the month and create some little doodles to represent them. This seems like a nice thing to have if you plan to journal for a long time as a mini time capsule of each month. The habit tracker didn’t really change, I just divided everything up into some categories: health, home, money, education, and blog.
For the dailies, I determined that a half page per day would be adequate space (this may change once I start back to school and need more space to track assignments). It was really important for me to have specific spaces to fill in for meals and water intake as I’m far more likely to pay attention to what I eat and police myself if I’m writing it down daily. I wanted to have the time tracker that I had seen on many others journals, but I did my own take on it by having the morning hours running along the top and the afternoon and evening along the side. Plus I ended up having a little space at the top to track the weather.
Even though I just started out I wanted to include some images of my ‘collections’ or lists. With the baby coming so near Christmas holidays, I figured I should start planning for gifts early (this is actually a little late for me as I typically start around July). In a couple of weeks, Jared and I are taking a Babymoon to Victoria, BC by ferry and doing a mini tour of the islands and land masses around Seattle since we haven’t been hardly anywhere in Washington since we moved here. Since our schedule for the long weekend is quite packed with ferry trips and time spent in the car together (some of our favorite times) I thought I should make sure to keep the information for schedules somewhere easy to get to. Plus I wanted to start seeing what things we might do in the different places and find any restaurants that were of particular interest for the trip. For us vacation is about spending time together, not on our phones trying to decide where to eat or what to do, so the more of that done ahead of time, the better.
So that is my bullet journal! My favorite part about it so far is that I’m actually excited to plan out my life, and having a plan makes me feel in control and more productive.