Productivity

Take a peek inside my Bullet Journal

From the first moment my friend showed me her bullet journal, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’ve used day planners since high school, but none of them fit my exact needs, and I was always on the lookout for a better one. I needed the planner to have a monthly page for my special plans, but I also needed pages that broke my days down into 30 minute increments so I could plan my life to the minute. Then, I saw that I didn’t need to wait around for someone to make one that met my lengthy qualifications – I could create my own.

The people who conceptualized Bullet Journals have created lots of helpful videos to show the best ways to use this resource. This is where I started with bullet journaling, and then, like most people, I customized this practice into my own form of planning that worked best for me.

I use my own version of my bullet journal mostly as a planner. I don’t follow all of the same processes that are suggested in Bullet Journal’s videos, but I assume that if I’m making my own planner, I might as well use it in a way that’s best for me.

It honestly took me over 6 months to get to where I am now with my bullet journal. I tried multiple types of weekly spreads, gratitude lists, and activity trackers. Now I finally feel like it’s exactly what I need to help me wrap my head around my plans.

 

Color Coding

I follow a very simple color coding process when I’m planning: orange for class-related events, green for work-related events, blue for events that have to do with my husband, Matt, purple for Goal Getter plans, and pink for exercise. Any other type of event is just written in with a black pen with no highlighting. I’ve found that if I add too many more colors, things get confusing.

 

Planning

Monthly Spread

This is a high-level overview of my month. I use my color coding and only mark down items that either differ from my normal schedule, or are important for me to note. This is fantastic way to visualize the biggest events in my life one month at at time.

 

Weekly Spread

My most frequently used sections are the weekly spreads, where I can see the layout of each and every day.

Each waking hour of the day is shown so that I can really see what my day will look like. Here I’ll include anything with a time that is set in stone. These could be things like meetings, class, workouts, phone calls, etc. Below my daily schedule, I include a section for daily “To Do” Lists. Here, I’ll include things that must be done, but don’t have a time assigned to them. I include GoalGetter plans, reports, or tasks that I don’t want to forget about in this section.

 

Goal Setting

Yearly Goal Booklet

At the end of each year, Matt and I write out what our goals will be for the upcoming year. We set seven different categories of goals:

  1. Spiritual
  2. Physical
  3. Intellectual
  4. Social
  5. Financial
  6. Family
  7. Career

We make sure that these goals are trackable so that we can work to achieve them all year long. This year I wrote down my goals and put them into the form of a printable booklet. I keep this booklet with my bullet journal, and use my journal to help track if I’m meeting my goals.

 

Activity Tracker

This section of my bullet journal is so key to working toward my goals. Every month I include activities I want to track. I chose most of these activities because they help meet me meet my annual goals, but I also chose some of them because I think they’ll help me become a better person in general.

 

Gratitude List

This may be my favorite part of my bullet journal. My gratitude list is my space to write what I’m grateful for every day of the month. I love doing this before I start my day to help get my head in the right place. If you’re looking for a quick, easy way to make a drastic change in your perspective, I highly recommend starting a gratitude list. Writing down what you’re grateful for really makes you consider the amazing blessings that are present in your life. Nothing kills a bad mood like forcing yourself to think about the things for which you are grateful.

 

Extras

Because of the way I lay my weekly spreads out, sometimes I have some blank pages in my bullet journal. Since bullet journals can change as often as you want them to, you can use these blank pages as opportunities to try out new layouts, or include some add-ins that can make bullet journaling more fun and customized to your needs.

 

Wishlist

I saw this on pinterest, and absolutely loved the design. I wanted to create this page to help me remember the items I’m saving up for. If an item costs a lot of money, I like to wait a while before I buy it. Looking at this page stops me from buying little things with my money so that I can save up for more expensive items that I really want.

 

Brain-Dumping

It took me a long time to finally brain-dump. I’ve seen it everywhere with Bullet-Journaling, but it never seemed to be something that would work for me. I prefer organization to chaos, and brain-dumping always seemed like useless chaos.

Until I tried it.

My first attempt at brain-dumping is actually how I came up with this blog name. I had been planning this blog for months and typing up some preliminary blog posts. I knew my target audience, the writing style, how often I’d be posting, and had planned over 30 ideas for upcoming posts to write. I knew everything about the blog except what I was going to call it. I kept coming up with titles that were too long, or weren’t very catchy. I was frustrated, and wanted to nail down this very important part of my blog’s identity.

Finally, I thought “why not try a brain-dump? It couldn’t hurt.”

I started by writing out 4 pillars that I want to help define my blog:

  • Organization- I am naturally very organized, and I want to help others organize their lives
  • Productivity- The ultimate goal of this blog is to help others to do more to add value with their limited time on earth
  • Professional-  Most of my focus is on giving tips on how to act in a professional context
  • Entry-Level Audience-  While my blog will hopefully be understandable and enjoyed by many people, I’m targeting young, professional women.

From there, I just used word-association techniques to write words that relate to my 4 pillars. For example, when I think of “organization,” I think of “structure,” “simple,” and “clean.” When I think of “productivity,” i automatically think of “achievement” and being “active”. Thinking about being “professional” reminded me of having a strong “work-ethic,” and being a “servant” to my colleagues.

I started thinking about being a productive, professional. At the time, I was really frustrated with people who complained about how busy they were, but never accomplished anything, so I wrote down “goal-oriented, not busy.” I don’t know where it came from, but all of a sudden the phrase “Go-getter” popped into my head. Then I looked at what I’d written, and thought, “what about “GOAL-getter”?

And this nameless blog finally had a name.

 

Bullet Journaling – In Summary

The whole point of Bullet Journaling is making it your own. What works for me may seem insane to you. I just hope that this helps to provide you with a little insight into how my brain works, and how I organize my life. Find what works for you. I highly encourage that you try this. I personally think it’s fun, easy to do, and it helps me get my head wrapped around my upcoming schedule.

Do you think you’ll try out bullet-journaling, or do you use a planner regularly? If you are in the camp that uses planners, what brand do you enjoy using?

4 thoughts on “Take a peek inside my Bullet Journal”

  1. I use an ink + volt journal, because I like the occasional prompts it provides as I fill out my week and months. However, I love your idea of the gratitude list and the “extra” pages because there are blank pages in my journal and I could definitely incorporate some of those extras. Great post!

    1. I’ve heard great things about the ink & volt journals!
      And yes, I thing the “extra” pages are what make the Bullet Journal concept so special to me. I can really customize it to my needs.

  2. A lot of people struggle with starting a Bullet Journal. The short answer is: just do it. You will make mistakes at first, but eventually you will find something that fits you.

    Now for the long answer. The first step is to buy a notebook. I really recommend a dotgrid, because this allows you to make nice, clean layouts and helps you with writing and drawing. Grap a random ballpoint pen you still have laying around somewhere and start Bullet Journaling.

    1. Yes! I love the fact that with bullet journaling, if you mess up a page or don’t like a layout, you can just tear the page out and try again on the next one. Like I mentioned in my video, it took me over 6 months before I finally found something that works for me, and the process of learning what worked was so much fun!

      I agree with you on the dotgrid recommendation. I use a moleskine with a dotgrid now, but my first two bullet journals had lines. The dotgrid allows for a much cleaner appearance, and it’s easier for my eyes to see the layouts, wheres the lined paper was often overwhelming.

      Do you have any favorite pens that you use? Mine are Papermate branded – they have a great color payoff, but don’t smear!

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