I've been doing this bullet journal thing for a while now so I thought I'd share an update of how it's working for me. By the way, a bullet journal isn't much different from a planner - it just has more pages and a few more 'random' things/thoughts/notes dispersed throughout your book.
First off, I have to say that I love this concept; I've always been an organized person but this takes organizing to a new level. Planning in general gives me a sense of calm; when I know things are organized, scheduled and structured, I'm able to function better, I'm happier and my days are much smoother. Over the last few weeks, I've experimented with several formats and layouts, changed things that didn't work for me and abandoned some all together. After several trials, I've landed on a system that works for me.
I use my A5 Kikki K planner because it's bigger which means more space for me to write. Mine is a hybrid of sorts - a mix of regular planner things and a bullet journaly things and this is what works for me. The beauty of starting (or evolving to) a bullet journal is that it's an organic process - your bullet journal (or planner hybrid) grows or shrinks according to your life/needs.
A few things if you're thinking of starting one:
1/ there isn't a wrong way to journal. This is the best part of a bullet journal - it's totally up to you. You don't have to be creative or artistic. You don't have to have amazing, completely-filled spreads/pages. Add as much doodling/drawings/washi tape/stickers as you want or leave it plain. Bullet journals are all about writing down what's important for/to you, on any page you want. You can use the pages in order or randomly; have an index or don't (I don't have an index/key as suggested because I know I would never remember them anyway). Add in new things to track or have specific weekly pages. Take things out. This is a system that will help you stay organized and you set it up however you like. Over time, you'll find a system that works for you.
My journal/planner is a mix of planner inserts and blank pages with my notes/thoughts and that works for me. I much prefer structured calendar inserts created via Word or Excel instead of me free-handing it because I know they'll look like shit and I can't handle crooked lines.
2/ log what's important for/to you. Finances (bills to pay, RRSP contributions etc) are important for me to track. Even though I know what these payments are and when they're due, I like writing them down and crossing them off. I have to check the "paid" box but also cross them right off the list because I need to visually see that they've been paid.
3/ you don't need fancy supplies. You don't have to get an expensive or super fancy planner or notebook to do this, although having supplies you love does motivate you to be consistent.
While it's good to have quality supplies, I find the paper quality to be more important because if you're like me, I can't stand it when pens bleed through the page. When I decided to do my own inserts, I selected a 28lbs paper weight which is thick enough that my felt-tip pens don't soak through.
When it comes to the actual book that will become your bullet journal, you can go fancy or low-key; it's totally up to you. Some people just use a plain ol' $5 spiral notebook, some people swear by Moleskin or Midori and crazy bitches like me will dole out cash for binder systems. Whatever your fancy, be sure that you like the supplies you have so that you have fun while doing this.
For me, I'm into colorful pens, washi tape, stickers and smooth, heavy paper. I get all of my washi tape from my friend's store, Paper Plus Cloth. She has the best selection of washi tape (among other amazing stationary/craft supplies); many are imported from Asia (Japan/Taiwan) so you know they're legit #shamelessplug.
My pens of choice are Sakura Micron, Bic Velocity and most recently, Staedtler Triplus Fineliner. Both the Micron and Staedler pens can be found at Michaels (use the 50% coupon because they're damn expensive!), the Bics can be found at Walmart or Office Max.
4/ don't get discouraged by what you see on the internet/Pinterest boards. You do you! Some people spend a lot of time dressing theirs up to the tits and some do nothing but write stuff down. I've seen gorgeous spreads with amazing art but I can't do that shit and when I compare mine to what I see on the internet, mine looks like someone shat on the page. I have a system that works for me so I stick to it, no matter how ugly it looks.
5/ give yourself time to learn and mess up. For those who've expressed concern with screwing up/not having perfect pages, that's ok - that's what this journal is all about. It doesn't have to be perfect and if you don't like it, just tear out the page and start again. Another reason why I like the binder system - you can just stick in new pages whenever you need to and remove the ones you don't like/need. This is about finding what works for you and your journal will change many times over as things in your life change.
My Planner/Bullet Journal - What I do.
Here are things that I need to stay on top of on a regular basis:
- expenses/finances/investments because obviously.
- events - daily/weekly/future events (swimming, birthday parties, get togethers etc).
- work meetings - since I don't have my phone connected to my work email/calendar because fuck that.
- "to do" things that don't have a specific date but need to get done within a specific month
I will never get rid of my monthly or weekly layouts; it's what I use on a regular basis when I need to track certain things. I like flipping to the monthly view for a quick check of what's going on in the month so I can plan accordingly (read: say no to certain invitations).
My weekly layouts is where real life happens - stuff that must be done/reminders/bills to pay etc. I use these pages the most. If you notice, it's jam packed with stuff, post its, reminders, scribbles etc. It's nothing like those neat and perfect IG posts or Pinterest pins because life is messy, y'all.
Monthly bill tracker. Last year when my bank and mobile company screwed up and didn't send me my ebill, I missed the payment due dates and got charged interest. RAGE. Since then, I always record every single bill that I have to pay, the amount and the due date. I refer to this page nearly every day to check and double check that I'm on top of the bills #OCDmuch.
Monthly "To Do" pages. Also called a "future log", this is basically a list of things that I need to do during a specific month but isn't necessarily tied to a specific date. For me, I like to do this by month. These tasks remain on this page until I decide they need to get done by/on a specific day, after which they get moved to my daily page/task list.
Savings/finance list. I'm all about saving and I have a bunch of high interest savings accounts dedicated to things for which I want to save. I'm always thinking of doing something new (kitchen reno was my newest idea since we came home from PEC), vacation places I want to go, general savings etc. This is a page that reminds me to be mindful of my money so when I want to buy stupidness, this gives me a good dose of reality.
"Brain Dump" pages. I like this page a lot. I tend to jot down my thoughts on this page before bed; it really helps to clear my mind so that I can go to sleep knowing that I won't forget anything. A lot of it is just random whatevers - things I thought about during the day, things I need to do/start or just things.
TBR list. I really like jotting down the books I want to read. Even though I track them on Goodreads, having this in my journal also reminds me to continuously check my library to see if they're available and for some weird reason, it reminds me to read more instead of watching TV.
Gift lists. Whenever I, Marius or Kayla want something or say "hey, this is really nice!" I take a mental note and then jot it down so when it comes time to buy birthday or Christmas gifts, I have options to choose from (instead of scrambling for last minute ideas). I used to do this on random pieces of paper (that would get lost) or on my phone but have since transitioned this to my planner. This also serves as a list to distribute to family members when they ask "what does Kayla want for Christmas / her birthday?".
Food/exercise tracker. When I decided to support my friend who's in the tournament by dropping down to the same weight category, I needed something to keep me 100% on track. I actually don't need this but I like writing things down and seeing progress so why not put this as part of my bullet journal?
All of these (new) pages combined with my daily/weekly and monthly layouts really helps me keep on top of things. There were many times I'd think of something only to forget it the next day or I'd have to search for that paper which I wrote it on but keeping everything in one area keeps me organized (and sane).
Overall, I love the bullet journal concept. Even though my pages aren't fancy and artistic like what you see on IG or Pinterest, like this systems is efficient and most importantly, works for me.
Do you have a bullet journal? planner? hybrid of sorts?