First of all, can I just say how OBSESSED I am with planners?!
And I have been for a long time. I can remember spending all my allowance when I was a little girl on notebooks and journals and pens and markers and stickers and rulers and hole punches and all the glorious accoutrements that came with it all! I even got a job at Staples as a teenager but soon had to quite because all my income was going towards all the beautiful things I thought I needed to build the world’s most badass school notebook. I would piece together my own version of a planner to plan out my tediously un-busy life. Or I’d create this uber fancy journal that I’d write in for a mere week.
But see, it’s not about what goes IN the planner.
Nowadays, yes, I need the planner to be functional because I actually do have a busy life now with a to-do list that’s entirely too long. I am naturally drawn to organization and order so I need a planner that can also be my personal administrative assistant. But oh, the designs! The layouts! The binding! The colors! I’ve tried so many different kinds of planners: Erin Condren, Day Planner, At-A-Glance, Mead, The Passion Planner, the list goes on and on and on. Each time I’d try a new planner, it was always in search for the perfect layout that fit my life for the season if life I was in at that moment.
The search for the perfect layout is still ongoing.
I thought I had hit it close with Erin Condren. First I tried the vertical layout, then the horizontal. Each had their pros, but there were also cons. The redeeming factor was the gorgeous interchangeable covers and the colorful layouts (you can check out more of their amazing planners and notebooks here. This is a referral link, just FYI). There was just too much room for scheduling and not enough room for to-dos and lists, two things my life needs to be organized right now.
That’s when I stumbled upon Bullet Journaling.
I was searching for a more minimalistic way to plan and organize my life using paper when I found www.bulletjournal.com. This is THE truly minimalistic way to plan your life. No layouts, only lists that use a bullet system to indicate to-do, scheduled, and completed tasks and events. Everything is written out using the least amount of words possible and is tracked in a simple graph or dot grid journal. This led me down a rabbit hole into this sub-culture of BuJo. Some people actual follow the orthodox method of bullet journaling outlined at www.bulletjournal.com. Others take it to a whole new level with intricate drawings, calligraphy, stickers, and in-depth weekly and daily layouts. One thing I have learned is that there is no one “right way” to bullet journal. There are plenty of arguments against the fancy bujos from the more orthodox bujos, but just like everyone has their own religion that works for them, everyone has their own bullet journal methodology.
At first, I thought, “This looks like a ton of work. Why not just buy a planner? Why not go digital?”
First off, I work in technology. I’m exposed to it everyday. I know the best calendars, to-do list apps and project tracking boards out there. I have tried them. And I do not like them. There is just something about having everything down on paper and being able to nimbly switch back and forth between pages or having everything laid out for me on a page the way I want to see it.
Second, you know how some people can zen out in an adult coloring book? And they say it’s an excellent way to de-stress and calm yourself? Yeah, I can’t. Why? I can’t see it as productive. Others see it as productive. I don’t. Oh, but bullet journaling. Give me an hour of setting up my next week’s layout and I have found my flow. I can lose myself and just bliss out in the straight lines, organized days and healthy to-do lists. It’s marvelous!
And lastly, bullet journaling gives me a level of flexibility and agility that I can’t find in any other planner. No longer am I committed to one layout for an entire year. If I get tired of my layout one week, I can change it up the next. I can try out new layouts I stumble across to see if I like them better. If I want to start tracking something new from week to week or month to month, I can build that into my layout. And I finally have a place to keep my planner and my lists (or collections), all in the same place!
Now that I love it, this is how I do it!
To get started, I ordered an Erin Condren dot grid notebook. I chose Erin Condren because I could still switch out covers as I saw fit and use all of the dividers and bookmarks to mark important pages in my journal. They sent me a lined journal by mistake, gave me a coupon for a free replacement, and told me to keep the one they sent by mistake (#winning). When the dot grid finally arrived, I combined the two onto one coil with some binder clips and needle nose pliers. It’s not complicated; you can find an instructional video on how to do so here: https://youtu.be/Eywu3XwiQMI
My weapons of choice are a ruler (that also doubles as a snap-in bookmark for my journal), a pencil, a blue pen, a black pen, and a black fine tip permanent marker. I’m simple like that. Some people go crazy with all kinds of colors and markers and pens and colored pencils and their layouts are BEAUTIFUL!! I just don’t have that kind of time and I am definitely NOT that artistic.
For my days of the week, I make a grid that’s 2 x 4. I use a ruler to measure out the lines and a pencil to mark them out. I then use the ruler and my black pen to draw them. Hint: Wipe the ruler and pen on a towel or napkin after each line. This way you won’t get globbing on your pen or trace pen marks on your ruler that could transfer to your page inadvertently.
In the lower right box, I create a grid for my Miracle Morning S.A.V.E.R.S to track everyday. If you want to know more about the Miracle Morning, you can check more out here: http://www.bohoberry.com/miracle-morning/ You could track anything in this 8th box though: exercise, food, meal plan, habits, whatever!
Erin Condren likes to send stickers in each of the planners and notebooks, so I have these flag stickers that just beg to be used in this layout. Disclaimer: YOU DO NOT NEED STICKERS!!! This is about as crazy as I get with stickers. I only use them to highlight or label things. That’s about it! I use my permanent marker to write on them though since the black pen doesn’t like to dry quickly.
Once I have my layout complete I add in the actual information I care about:
- Scheduled events like doctor’s appointments, parties, girls night out, vacations, birthdays, days the day care is closed, hair appointment, etc.
- Tasks that have specific due dates. I’m not talking about “oh, this needs to get done some time this week”. No, I’m talking about “This has to be done on this day in order for me to stay on track” or “This has to be done on this day or life as we know it will end”. Or somewhere in the middle of those two. This week is actually fairly light as all I have right now are my daily workouts and what I am studying for my personal trainer certification (what what! oh yes, that’s really happening!!!).
Now, what about that to-do list?
A lot of bujos contain daily layouts. I do not like daily layouts. As you can see, I don’t have a very intense schedule in my life right now. My Outlook calendar at work manages my meetings for me. Since those meetings shift and change so frequently, there’s no way I’d want to actually write them down in pen anywhere! And plus, 90% of my to-do list are things that need to be done “soon” or “this week”. This is why a weekly layout works out perfectly for me!
To start out, I go to the opposite page of my weekly date layout and separate it out into 5 sections. Just like before, I use my ruler, pencil and black pen.
Next, I add in my sticker labels for each of my 5 lists:
- Work: This list is for work specific items that need to be done this week.
- Home: These items are for things that are for more than just me like housework or things that specifically impact the family.
- Personal: These are the things that are specific to myself only or to my part-time business (blogging, dropping knowledge on social media, contacting my clients about my next online fitness group, etc.).
- Future: These are items that pop up throughout the week that need to go on the list for next week.
- Waiting On: These are items that I can’t move forward on until something else happens, such as relying on input or information from other people.
Here is an example of my to-do list from last week:
And that’s a wrap for Part 1 of my BuJo series! I’ll be covering my monthly and yearly layouts, collections, project tracking with to-dos, and how I “bullet” in future posts. Stay tuned!
How do you “bujo”? What is your favorite weekly layout? I’m always looking for new ideas to comment below with a description or a picture!