All things Bullet Journal, Mindfulness, and Productivity
Hello, everyone! Susan here. You might know me as @susiebjournal on Instagram. First off, a huge thanks to Kim, from @tinyrayofsunshine, and Ryder Carroll for giving me this opportunity. Bullet journaling has been a game changer for me, and I am so excited to share my experience and the way I use my bullet journal with you.
I often joke that I love the idea of organization and productivity; the lists, the systems, the color coding, the purchasing of items specifically for that purpose . . . it really gets me fired up, but when it comes time for implementation, things always come to a screeching halt.
No matter how I tried, I hadn’t found a way to get organized in a manner that fit with my nonlinear way of thinking. My mind doesn’t always go from Step 1 to Step 2 and so on. Often it’s jumping around from Step 1 to “Oh I need to start some laundry,” to Step 2, to Step 3, to “I need to write down the name of that book I wanted to read,” to “I need to find a recipe for fried rice,” to “wait...what was step 3 again?” I have tried a myriad of things to help my productivity, from Franklin Planners to the millions (well, it seems like it) of “to-do lists” and “reminder” apps I have down loaded on my phone. I have always started with the best intentions but inevitably within a month or so the romance has died and I am struggling to remember why we got together in the first place.
Then, late one night in January of 2016, while deep into a binge of internet scrolling, I came across an article about the Bullet Journal. Suddenly images of us running together in slow motion through a field of wildflowers flooded my mind. Ok, ok, that didn’t really happen, but it did feel like a whole new world was opened up to me. Here was a system that could change and morph into exactly what I needed it to be at a moment’s notice. I headed to the local bookstore, bought myself a Moleskin notebook, grabbed a few pens, and was off and running.
Before we start my walkthrough, I wanted to say that I hope this encourages people who want to start a bullet journal but feel they aren’t “artistic” enough, that they can do this! I love seeing all the beautiful layouts with doodles and calligraphy, but just because you don’t have that in your bullet journal doesn’t make it any less valuable. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in drawing and painting, and I only occasionally bother to draw in my bullet journal. It’s fine; it’s not a requirement. Anyone can do this.
I use my index for things that I know I will reference repeatedly. I don’t, for example, list pages that contain rapid logging or my monthly logs, since those items either won’t be looked at again once completed or they will just be moved to another page the next month. Also, if something spans a few consecutive pages, I only list the first page number. I just think it makes it look cleaner.
At the moment I am using a Calendex to schedule future task and appointments. I have used the original future planning layout and I have also simply skipped making a layout for this and have just used the calendar app on my phone. All of these work equally as well for me, it just depends on what suites my fancy that go-round.
For things I would like to do in the future that don’t have a set date, I have my “In the Near Future” page. Things that were rapid logged but don’t need to be done right away usually get migrated to this page as well when a new month begins.
I keep my monthly log pretty simple using the original bullet journal method. On the left I have the days of the month listed vertically with the day of the week listed to the right. Date specific appointments and tasks are listed here. On the right are the tasks that I need to or want to accomplish this month with the top priority items signified with an asterisk.
I’ve gone back and forth between using dailies and weeklies but never really felt like I was using either to my best advantage. I still use a time-ladder every once and a while to organize particularly busy days, but have since returned to simply rapid-logging things that come into my mind. This allows me to enter things quickly without having to flip to a particular page or collection. I find that my mind is less cluttered this way, which is great since as a stay at home mom with two kids, my mind is often pulled in several different directions at one time.
As a parent, I use my bullet journal all the time when it comes to my family. A few ways I use it are:
Notes from parenting books.
I also write down funny things my kids say or do. I love having little snippets of them in my notebook. It’s fun to flip back every once and a while and read about their silly antics!
Another thing I do, which I have heard people gasp in shock at, is let my kids draw and write in my notebook. We play games, practice writing, whatever keeps them entertained if needed. For me, it is also another great memory. I love seeing the changes in their handwriting or little pictures they draw.
The thing that I really want to convey is that the complete lack of a need to be systematic or orderly is what makes the bullet journal method so great. My pages will at time have rapid logging, a recipe, phone call notes, and an entry for the #rockyourhandwriting challenge all on the same page.
This is the kind of flexibility that speaks to me and has made this the most successful method of productivity that I have ever used.
I keep things pretty simple. I use a Moleskine Large Squared notebook, Pilot Razor Point pens in red, black, and blue, and a small triangle that I stole borrowed from my kids’ art supplies. Occasionally a bit of whiteout tape shows up too, for those inevitable mistakes. Meh, what can you do?
Ryder CarrollWith all 12 months If you want to have all 12 months at a glance, here's one way to go about it. If you need to see the months at a glance, draw out some mini calendar and rapid-log the events as usual.
Need to distinguish between events? Color-coding is a planner’s best friend. Add a simple key at the bottom to know what the colors represent. Bask in the glory of seeing all the occurrences of holidays, birthdays, meetings, and more with this simple visual cue. Similar to Ryder’s except it’s vertical in a list format. If you prefer to write down all the dates of the month at once and log in events later, you can easily do that. Who doesn’t love mini months? This is a simple way to see the month and the events directly underneath. Same as above but with the addition of mini months at the top. To jazz it up visually, you can also toss in some color-coding. If you can’t get enough of the mini months and love the idea of writing down events underneath them and want to see the whole year at a glance, this spread is for you. Or this spread, to see four months at a time.
Here’s the whole year with the events to the right done in a few different ways.
Alastair MethodA very clever column solution to make it easy to rapid-log events and see which month it falls under. Because color makes it easier to focus on what kind of event is happening when.
Unknown sourceAlastair and Mini Months Some handy columns to jot down events and highlight when the events occur. This makes it easy to see how busy your days are. A powerful solution to help you naturally write down information about an event on any page and then log that page according to the event day. For example, if you’re on page 93 and need to write down information about an appointment you have on the first of February, you can write down the number 93 on a block on the first of February as you can see below. When that day rolls around, you can flip over to page 93 to see the details about that event. Adding color and symbols to your Calendex can massively increase its effectiveness in your life. Adding color can help you see vacations, meetings, and more at a glance. An idea is to have the Calendex on one side and Ryder’s method on the other. Having these two formats may make sense depending on your needs. Here is December through March in the Calendex and April through July with Ryder’s method. You can use a hybrid of the Calendex and the Alastair into something like this. Here I placed the exact same months on the left and the right, in their respective formats. The Calendex will help you see what days you’re busy at a glance and the Alastair method will allow you to see the details of the events. Instead of writing down the page number (which you still could) in the Calendex, you would simply add an open circle or signifier (or color-code) for the event to indicate that you’re busy that day. This way you can easily glance at the Calendex to see when you’re busy and you can use the Alastair side to see the details for those events.
Alternatively, you could also place different months on each spread if you prefer a continuous approach and don't mind flipping pages to find the details for the Calendex portion.
The months laid all around in a quirky way.
Brainstormed Future Log.Bullet Journalists are full of creativity and innovativeness when it comes to their Bullet Journals and the Future Log is no exception. For more Future Log inspiration, please follow the official Bullet Journal Future Log board on Pinterest. Hope you enjoyed these ideas! How do you future plan in your Bullet Journal?