I first created my bullet journal back in April after I realized that my current planner wasn’t working for me in the way that I wanted to. This was also about the time when I discovered the many, many creative Bullet Journal layouts that are all over Pinterest. In the nearly 6 months I have used my Bullet Journal, I have experimented with both artistically creative and functional layouts. As you can imagine, the layout of my Journal has changed drastically and today I’m going to explain why it has changed so much. I will also be showcasing the layouts that work for me, I enjoy and keep track of things I find useful and/or fun.
In case this is the first you’ve ever heard of a Bullet Journal and bullet journaling in general, I’m going to direct you to the website of the man who started it all. In essence, it’s a succinct, clean way to keep track of, schedule and prioritize tasks. While I never bonded with the traditional way of organizing tasks, I appreciated the customization possibilities that were available with this form of planner/journal.
Why a bullet journal? Isn’t a pre-made planner easier and less of a hassle to use?
My answer is both yes and no. Yes, pre-made planners are easy to use in that the hard work has been done for you. You don’t have to come up with the layout, style or format of what your planner looks like. However, if your needs change, there’s a good chance that your planner will remain blank as you seek a better form of organization for your new needs. That’s why I chose to bullet journal.
Initially, I tried making both cute and functional layouts. While I generally liked the look of these layouts, they didn’t lend themselves to cancelled or added plans. I did enjoy the drawing and coloring part of these layouts. As you’ll see later on, I have brought back the coloring into my current preferred layout in a way that is incredibly functional for my purposes.
Some things I kept track of in these preliminary layouts, I quickly sought to change – like meal planning. While I love meal planning and still do it, the way I was scheduling what we were having for dinner didn’t accommodate impromptu pizza nights or a change in the menu. I am still working out the best way for me to keep track of dinner ideas and am very open to suggestions if you have found a way to do so that works for you. Other layouts that kept track of other details I loved, like my bookshelf. My bookshelf keeps track of all of the books I’ve read since having the journal. I drew a bookshelf and filled it with title-less books and knick knacks. Every time I begin a new book, I fill in the title in one of the empty book rinds and color it in once I’ve completed the book. While I’m keep track of my book progress on Goodreads, I enjoy seeing all of the books I’ve read in the last six-ish months in one place.
In contrast to my main journal layout that was a week-at-a-glance, my current preferred layout is one giant to-do list. As you can see from the photo, one page contains a key that designates what color each type of task is. Below that is my list of tasks that must be done every day – those also get marked as ‘complete’ with a designated color. On the opposite page is my giant to-do list. I leave a small square before the actual task to designate on which day I want to complete each task. I’ve found that writing out my tasks this way is much easier for me to see what still needs to be completed. This is because I color in each task with the corresponding color once it’s complete. For example, after I wrote this post and scheduled Facebook and Twitter posts for it, I colored in the entire area with the red-orange colored pencil to show that it’s been completed. It is much easier for me to see what needs to get done in this layout with the stark contrast in complete vs. non-complete task because of the difference in color. I also like how this list allows me to write down tasks that I know I want to complete at some point without overloading any one day with tasks.
(More on the blog: How to Save on Office Supplies)
My Advice For Starting a Bullet Journal
Start with functional layouts and gradually add in more artistic elements. At the beginning, I was so focused on feeling like I was creating cute layouts. Those didn’t end up being really functional for me and it took 6 months to find out what was. Whether you use a giant list like I do or prefer the traditional bullet journal layouts, use the first few weeks or months to figure that out. The whole point of creating a bullet journal is having a means of organization that is completely customized to you.
How do you keep yourself organized? Are you open to starting a bullet journal?