The Bullet Journalist

All things Bullet Journal, Mindfulness, and Productivity

The Recentering Challenge

December 01, 2015


“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own. ” - Bruce Lee
The end of the year commonly inspires thinking about what we’d like to improve on or do differently in the new year. Similarly, it is a great opportunity to think about how the Bullet Journal works in our lives: the things that work, the things we want to leave behind, and the things we want to try out.As December rolls by, think about these things and create a collection to house your thoughts on how they function. Do these things help you get what’s important to you done or are they distractions? Revise your system to identify the components that help you keep track of the things that matter to you. Remember, the Bullet Journal is more than a task management system; it is also a life management system. Make sure that you’re using it in a way that helps you keep track of the things that matter to you. Photo by Kim Alvarez Doing this will enable you to adjust according to what works for you. Another great way to revise your Bullet Journal is by revisiting the videos to help you pick up on things you might have missed the first, or tenth time around. Sometimes it takes revisiting the basics to think about the framework of the system and reevaluate whether the additions you’ve added are conducive to helping you accomplish what you set out to. As the year comes to a close, think about ways you can tune up your system to become an even more well-oiled machine. When you’re ready to migrate consider the following: - Things that work. - Things to leave behind. - Things to try out. How to join the challenge: - Share a photo and description on social media with the hashtag #bulletjournalchallenge to share how you’re closing down the year with the the above questions as a guiding point for the challenge. Here is the brand new Facebook #BulletJournalChallenge group.


November 01, 2015


I’m thrilled to announce our first interview in an ongoing series of interesting people using analog tools. Author and designer Mike Rohde joins us to talk about Sketchnotes, a very popular and creative note taking method that he’s developed. It’s often been described as “notebooking for visual thinkers.” R.C.: Can you tell us a little bit about Sketchnotes? M.R.: Sure thing! Sketchnotes are a visual note-taking approach that extend text-only notes to make use of drawings, icons, lettering and other visual elements to capture and share ideas. Sketchnotes are a way to use our natural visual skills to capture ideas. As an example, rather than scolding and steering students away from doodling, teachers can encourage students to doodle as a visual way to think through and process ideas. For me they started as a solution to problem I was facing with note-taking, and have since turned into a solution for many people around the world. I’m most proud of that. R.C.: What challenge(s) were you trying to overcome with traditional note-taking that led you to develop sketchnotes? M.R.: I had somehow gotten to the place where I was writing detailed, verbatim notes of meetings, but losing the spirit of what I was processing. It was unsustainable. I’d come to the point of using large lined notebooks with a pencil so I could capture everything I heard, but it was a burden to put that pressure on myself. I needed a solution. As a designer I’m faced with limits of all kinds: deadlines, limited screen real estate, limited colors, etc. I decided to try placing limits on myself around note-taking, to see if I might be able to figure out a way out of my jam. Limiting myself worked. I approached note taking from a different perspective: instead of a large, lined notebook, I switched to a small Moleskine sketchbook, and instead of a pencil, I began using a gel pen. This combination led me to slow down, and not worry about capturing everything I heard. Instead, I focused on key ideas that I could apply to my life at conferences and in meetings and captured those with both words and images. It's changed my life.
R.C.: How did sketchnoting change the way you related to your notes? M.R.: I’ve become so more engaged with my notes. Because sketchnotes are fun to create and not a burden, I’m excited about taking them. Each time I sketchnote I have an opportunity to experiment with visual elements and words — it’s fun! More importantly, because my sketchnotes are compact, It’s easier to review them, so I do. And because I enjoy the work, it’s really fun to share some of them with others. Ultimately, sketchnoting led to writing two books about the techniques and process so others could learn and use them. R.C.: Sketchnotes has been described as ideal for the "visual thinker". When do you prefer images over words? M.R.: It really depends on the situation I’m in. I’m a word person as much as an image person, so sometimes a word will pop into my head and other times, an image will.

Practically speaking, I default to words with images added, unless I’ve intentionally set out to be more visual. For example, in the case of idea generation I would use drawings as the primary way of capturing an idea, with words to annotate my concepts.

In the case of say a board meeting, I might lean heavilly on text and simply use icons or small drawings here and there to illustrate my thinking.

I like to think of the visual/verbal balance as a slider—you can slide the control to the left for more words or to the right for more images as needed. That way you aren’t locked into a certain pattern, and can adapt your sketchnotes to your context.

R.C.: Do you have to be good at drawing to sketchnote? M.R.: Not at all! One of my mantras is “Ideas, not art” because I think art, as much as I love it, carries baggage with it. Art in the traditional sense has a performance hook in it that can make people feel they can’t draw like Leonardo or Van Gogh. But I think drawing can also be used to communicate ideas simply, without the experienced skill a famous artist might add. Not only do I believe that, I see it all the time in workshops and online with people drawing simply as part of their path into sketchnoting. Once drawing is broken down to its simplest pieces and the baggage of measuring up to great artists is shed, regular people embrace drawing and sketchnoting. My goal with all of the education, books, Sketchnote Army and so on is an effort to separate the performance of art away from the idea of communication with simple drawing. R.C.: Your website focuses a lot on the sketchnote community. What are some of your favorite developments that have been generated by that community? M.R.: I’m most excited by the initiative of the community. Dr. Makayla Lewis has started a Sketchnote Chat for other community members using Google Hangouts to organize themselves. My colleague Mauro Toselli is creating an interesting workshop using 53’s Paper app. People all around the world are teaching sketchnoting in schools and in conferences. It’s really cool to see the community taking ownership. R.C.: was launched in 2009. How is the practice different today than it was then? M.R.: I think sketchnoting has become more mature while at the same time reaches new people every day. I’ve seen applications for sketchnoting spread to capturing experiences like travel and food, sporting events, scientific talks and more. It’s really growing up. R.C.: Being a UX/UI designer, you spend a lot of time in the digital space. What does paper afford you as a medium that apps do not? M.R.: I think the most important reason I use paper is the immediacy. In seconds I can open my book, grab a pen and draw. There’s friction with electronic devices (as great as they are for many purposes). You have to turn them on, find your app, open it up and draw. If you haven’t charged, you have limited time. If the device dies, maybe you lose all of your work. I definitely make use of tech for my work, but I balance it with analog tools like books and pens. I find the camera especially useful for capturing my work and saving it to Dropbox and from there exporting to Flickr, Instagram, Twitter and others. I think it’s important to use the right tools for the right jobs and most times for me, that’s a blend of paper, pen and technology.
R.C.: You’re headed to a conference for the weekend, what tools are in your bag? M.R.: Here’s my minimal carry: RC: What are your three top pieces of advice for those looking to get started with sketchnoting? M.R.:
  1. Give yourself grace as you begin. You’re not trying to be a famous artist, you’re just trying to capture ideas simply.
  2. Take it slowly. First add icons and drawings to your text notes, then experiment with more and more imagery in your sketchnotes. It’s a process, so take your time!
  3. Have fun and explore sketchnoting. Find ways that work for you and try different approaches. Play with various books, paper, pens or pencils. The beauty of sketchnoting is the freedom to adapt it to your own needs, so adapt away!
RC: What’s next for sketchnoting? M.R.: Right now I’m thinking about a new step-by-step book and an online workshop. I don’t have more to share just yet, but if you're interested in hearing about new things first, sign up for my Rohdesign Dispatch, where I share updates and handy links every two weeks:

Sketchnotes + Bullet Journal

Sketchnotes can fit seamlessly into your Bullet Journal. Simply title your Sketchnote session and number the pages as you go. When the session is over, just add it your Index like you would any other collection. Now you’ll be able to access your Sketchnotes at any time.  

Learn more about Mike Rohde and Sketchnotes:

Website: Twitter: Instagram: Get the books:  

Show & Tell 3

November 01, 2015


Before we dive in, I’d like to thank Ryder for developing this amazing system over the years and sharing it with the world. I am honored to be sharing a glimpse into my Bullet Journal with you today and so grateful for the opportunity to share how I have made it my own.

My Bullet Journal Story

Before the Bullet Journal system came into my life, I was one of those people with countless old planners laying around half-used and full of blank pages. I never truly found a system that worked for me until now. I have always been a list-maker and I love to put pen to paper. If you had looked at my desk a few months ago, you would have found piles of loose papers, notebooks, calendars, and post-it notes. I knew that there had to be a way to wrangle them all into a manageable system. I went on a massive Pinterest search and discovered the beautiful Bullet Journal pictures and blog posts that abound there. I was hooked.

What I Love About My Bullet Journal

My absolute favorite thing about my Bullet Journal is it’s flexibility. In the past, I would feel incredibly guilty for leaving blank pages in my planners and would inevitably just stop using them. I now have the freedom to use as much or as little space as I need on any given day. Each page is a new blank canvass ready to absorb whatever thoughts, notes, tasks, doodles, or musings come to me that day.



I am a traditionalist when it comes to my key. I love the simplicity of the bullet points to signify my tasks each day. Putting an “x” or arrow through those bullet points is incredibly satisfying to me. Key  


The index is the back-bone to my system and the one thing that has made my Bullet Journal the perfect system for me. I finally have a way to keep all of my notes organized within one notebook instead of multiple sheets of paper on my desk. Bohoberry Bullet Journal Index In addition to the front index, I developed a color-coding system on the last page of my notebook. At a glance, I can easily flip to pages related to key areas of my life: Blog, Travel, Projects, Finances, Food, Health & Goals. Bohoberry Bullet Journal Color index Bohoberry Bullet Journal index 2  

Monthly Spread

I used Ryder’s original monthly log layout at first, but quickly discovered that I was running out of room to list all of my appointments, particularly on busy days. I switched this up in October and developed a layout with morning/afternoon/evening sections and a smaller column for my monthly goals. This is also one of the only ways that I color code my Bullet Journal. Bohoberry Bullet Journal Monthly Spread

Future Planning

My future planning spread is basically just a way for me to track important dates like birthdays and holidays. For more detailed events like appointments and travel plans I keep a shared iCal calendar with my husband so that we always know each others’ schedules. At the beginning of each month I reference our shared calendars and fill in the details. Bohoberry Bullet Journal

Daily Log

The daily pages are the heart and soul of my Bullet Journal. I do not necessarily migrate uncompleted tasks each and every day. As long as the open tasks are all on my current spread, I leave them there. I look at my entire current spread as one giant to-do list. Once I flip over to a new page, I go back and either migrate or cross off tasks that have become irrelevant. Bohoberry Bullet Journal daily pages


One of my favorite parts of bullet journaling is the ability to add in lists and collections. Sometimes it is a simple list like “books to read” or notes on a project I’m working on. Other times I get very creative with doodles and hand-lettered quotes to make the page really stand out. Bohoberry Collections Page Bohoberry Collections Page Bohoberry Collections Page 3

Habit Tracking

My monthly habit tracker is one of the most visited pages in my Bullet Journal. I developed this tracker as a way to eliminate writing repetitive tasks on my daily pages. I love to look back on this tracker at the end of every month. It’s a great tool for self assessment and reflection. Bohoberry Bullet Journal Habit Tracker

How to Bullet Journal Like Kara

When: Daily planning is a big part of my night-time routine. About 30 minutes before bed, all of the electronics go off and I spend some quiet time with my Bullet Journal.
  • Sometimes I will journal a short blurb about my day or write down a few things that I am grateful for.
  •  I turn to my habit tracker and fill in everything that I accomplished that day.
  •  I write out the following day’s header on the next available line.
  •  I carefully look over any open tasks and decide if they are still worth my time. If they are, I migrate them to the following day. If not, I cross them out or move them to forward planning.
  • I glance at my monthly spread and fill in the next day’s appointments/events.
  • In the morning, I review the tasks that I need to get done and come up with a plan for my day.
  • Throughout the day I record any notes, conversations, to-do’s, or new lists as they come up. I also schedule in a mega-planning day near the end of each month. This planning day includes reflection on the previous month and goal setting for the month ahead.

Kara’s Gear

- Leuchttturm1917 Notebook (Medium A5, Dot Grid) - Faber Castell PITT Artist Pen (Fine, 0.5mm) - Staedtler Triples Fineliners (0.3mm)

Reflection Challenge

November 01, 2015


“Focus is nothing more than eliminating distractions”- Tim Ferriss
We go about our days checking off tasks, reacting to incoming information, and generally swept away in the toil of everyday life. At times it can feel as though the daily grind is in control of us, rather than us in control of our days and actions. In order to gain control of the reigns, we must step back to reflect. Reflecting inspires a peaceful state of mind, nudging us gently to refocus our attention. Reflection in the Bullet Journal is handled by way of migration - the very component that makes the system brilliant. Intentional reflection invites us to think about whether what we’re doing is aligned with our current focus or not. The analog format of the Bullet Journal encourages reflection in a tangible way, unparalleled through other mediums. Migrating by hand is the essence of the Bullet Journal. It encourages deliberate consideration when deciding which tasks are absolutely essential. Figuring out whether a task is worth moving forward is an empowering sensation, it puts you in control of whether you will do the task. It’s the act of being present with your thoughts and the tasks that propels you to rediscover the words that may have become white noise over time. Reflecting can be the difference between being in control of your life and reacting to your life. This form of reflection can help remind you of your big rocks, bigger picture, and priorities. It can also ground you, making you present with what you're doing and what you’re trying to accomplish. Tasks can seem important, but taking a moment to reflect is essential to distinguish the seemingly important from that which truly is. You’ll know the difference if it's something that matters to you or if it's simply something that seems to be a good idea, but won’t actually do. Be honest with yourself. Gauge how you feel when you read the task; does it bring stress, elicit urgency, or inspire and motivate you? These are all emotions that can be attached to either important or non-important tasks. The trick is figuring out which are worth pursuing by pushing through the feelings versus those which are overloading you. Of those that aren't necessary, and you're able to say no to: just strike them out. Doing this will enable you to have the time for what you truly want to do. Another thing to consider when migrating is whether the task you keep migrating is actually a project. Take an ax to the task and look through the smaller shards to figure out whether you can accomplish a smaller component of it. Pick the ones that hold the biggest impact. Conversely, are you writing down too many action steps when you already know the steps to take? Pare down to make your list more manageable. Over time, your reflecting and migrating skills will become honed. You will become more focused, at peace, and in control of the flow of your days one day at a time as you become more attuned to what truly matters to you. Questions to help you reflect: - Is this worth my time? - Does it matter? - What will make me feel the most accomplished? - What can I do right now to get closer to my goal of _______ ? - What is the next step? - Is this task worth rewriting? - Do I even want to do this task or do I only have it written down because I think I should? How do you reflect? Photo by: Ales Krivec

Free Happiness

September 29, 2015


“If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice” ― Meister Eckhart
It’s easy to find the fault in things. All too often we dwell on the imperfections in others, in ourselves, and in our circumstances. This is especially true when things aren’t going our way. To “cure” the anger, sadness, or frustration we create theoretical scenarios that we believe will make us happy: “If only I had a better job I would be happy” or “if only I had more money I would be happy.” Maybe, but just as easily, maybe not. You’re guessing after all. If I asked you to name just one thing that recently made you happy (doesn't have to be Disney singing-birds, blooming flowers happy), you wouldn’t have to guess. Chances are you could name one moment that made you happy. Sadly, these moments come into focus for just an instant as we race by them doing 120 on the “if only” highway. These moments are often eclipsed by the promise of some mythical mega-happiness, the one we’ve been promised by TV and movies that will allow us to live “happily ever after.” By preoccupying ourselves with theories of what might make us happy, we don’t value the things that do make us happy. One simple way to avoid dwelling on the lousy things in life, is by cultivating a practice of gratitude. Gratitude training has been proven to have substantial benefits to our well being. Fortunately, it’s also very simple to get started. Every morning and evening, write down 1-3 things that you’re grateful for. No matter how long or painful your day may have been, take a few minutes to reflect. It could be a simple as: “I’m grateful that the 6 train’s a/c was working today.” It allows us spend just a little more time with the good things in our life. Don’t get me wrong, setting goals is critical. The issue is we’re increasingly becoming a culture that values accomplishment over appreciation. If you can’t appreciate what you accomplish, then what’s the point in pursuing it? By being more in touch with what does make you happy, you’re much more likely to set more meaningful goals. You can also better enjoy the ride. What are you grateful for?

More on Gratitude:

The Power of Gratitude Boost Your Health with Gratitude Image by: Josh Felise

Collection Challenge

September 29, 2015


Welcome to a new #bulletjournalchallenge! This month's challenge will be about collections. Collections are where the Bullet Journal’s versatility truly shines. They are extremely useful and allow for a great amount of freedom to add anything you want. Collections are pages dedicated to related ideas, can take any form you need them to, and are not just limited to lists. They can be projects, illustrations, basically any kind of related content that you want to live outside of your daily journaling. Collections are a soothing component because they allow you to think the way that you need to. Simply turning to the next available page and letting out what you need to is incredibly rewarding. They are a great way to think through ideas, reflect, organize, and achieve what you need to. They are comforting by allowing you to focus on only one theme of ideas at a time. They are where the notebook component of the Bullet Journal shines through by being able to use as many pages as needed, wherever they are needed. If your collection spans across various pages, consider threading. The index kicks into gear by organizing various collections of lists, ideas, mindmaps, thoughts, and more. An additional way to find collections easily is by using tabs. During your monthly migration, revisit each collection to see if any of them are still relevant and useful to you as a way to renew focus. When your notebook gets full, but you still need certain collections, migrate to the new notebook only the relevant tasks and add new ones as needed in a fresh collection. To help you get the most out of your collections, we have three suggestions:
  • Examples: Some examples are lists, notes, sketches, meeting details, ideas, food log, gratitude log, running tracker, quotes, mindmaps, and more.
  • Styles: If you need to, give them a specific structure that makes sense for the collection you have. For example, check out the food log .
  • Focus: Focus on what is going to go into each collection and focus while you’re working on the collection.
To participate in the challenge, simply take a photo of your progress, and add the hashtag #bulletjournalchallenge in Instagram. This will ensure that your photo is added to an ever-growing pool of Bullet Journal inspiration, full of photos from all kinds of wonderful people. The challenge is a great way to share your Bullet Journal journey, get ideas, and connect with others. Simply search #bulletjournalchallenge on Instagram. What collections do you keep?  

Last month's challenge:

The handwriting challenge was a great way to share our progress in improving our handwriting in the Bullet Journal. Many approaches were taken in order to improve it, here are some of the ones shared:

A photo posted by Nadia :)) (@nadiaa_sabeh) on

A photo posted by Kate Hodges (@kateshodges) on

A photo posted by @greenishthoughts on

It’s wonderful to see everyone’s progress and unique ways of working on their handwriting.

Image by: Jay Wennington

Show & Tell 2

September 29, 2015


First, I'd like to thank Ryder Carroll for creating and sharing this phenomenal system. It has changed the way that I process information and has increased my productivity. August 2015 marked my 1 year anniversary of using the bullet journal.

My Bullet Journal story

I actually first tried out the bullet journal when Ryder shared it in August 2013; I heard about it from a Lifehacker article. But, after about a month, I couldn’t wrap my head around some of the concepts, so I went back to trying out different systems and apps. I searched and searched, until one day I was browsing Pinterest for ideas and I came across a link about the bullet journal that led to a post on the Google+ community. It was there that I was introduced to the many wonderful tweaks others were coming up with. I realized the true potential of the system and how I could modify it to work for me. That was a huge turning point for me. I spent a couple of weeks peering in awe, reading as many posts as I could find about the bullet journal all over the internet. I noticed a lot of people remarking about the Leuchtturm 1917 as their notebook of choice because it already has an index and numbered pages. The version most often recommended was the dotted grid. ‘Dotted grid?’ I thought. I’d never heard of such a thing and was immensely curious to try it out as alternative to graph grid, which I am not a fan of. I hightailed it to the nearby art supply shop that sold them, picked up one of the sample notebooks, opened it, and gingerly ran my fingers across the pages. It was love at first sight. I rewatched the video, reread the website, and dove into it that night. I’ve been using the bullet journal ever since. Before the bullet journal, I spent more time shuffling tasks between apps and systems than getting them done. I’m happy to report that that list of tasks has shrunk down considerably thanks to the bullet journal.


Over the past year I have tried out dozens of techniques and ideas as well as gone back and forth many times with the original bullet journal system in pursuit of the best way to manage it for me. It is a constant flux of adding and subtracting elements in order to reach the level of organization I need. I’ve set it up in such a way to have the level of detail I crave while making it simple enough that I’ll continue to use it. It’s a constant work in progress and that’s part of the fun. Along this journey I have kept principles of the framework such as the index, numbered pages, bullets, signifiers, and modified nearly everything else about it to make it my own. Over time I have more or less figured out what I like and what works for me. The gist is, I create simple, yet detailed, layouts to complement the bullet journal.

At first glance

At first blush, you’ll notice tabs . I place these on pages I frequent. Kim Alvarez Bullet Journal Cover  

Inside the front cover

This is a handy place to store sticky notes and information I reference. Some of my signifiers are ideas from others. 2 Front cover

Blank pages

I take advantage of the extra blank pages at the front of the notebook by placing big grid sticky notes I reference often. They’re handy because I can move these ongoing lists from notebook to notebook. 3 Blank pages


On the blank page there’s a sticky note with TV shows I’m currently watching with the name of the show on the left and notes on the right that includes what episode I’m on or when it airs again. I place a number next to the ones that are airing next in the order they are airing. I use pencil to update the notes. I split the index in half by collections and dated entries such as daily, weekly, or monthly pages. I didn’t used to index dated entries but I have since found out that it’s necessary when I’m looking for a specific day. The marks to the left of the indexed entries indicate: x = not using, ✓ = useful, - = notes and thoughts. These are signifiers exclusive to the index that help me when reviewing the notebook.
4 Index

Month overview

I tried out a grid month view for August and fell in love with having a month on one page with plenty of room for notes underneath. This is the only place I color-code with colorful Slicci pens. I’ve used the same color-coding scheme for calendars for over two years now, so it helps me to visualize my calendar in the same way as I have it in Google Cal. I enjoy the original month log as a way to write down snippets of what happened over the month so I can get a snapshot of what happened in more detail than the month grid allows me. On a separate spread, I keep a sleep and allergy log as well as tasks for the month. 5 Month6 Month tasks

Weekly overview

I set up a weekly overview according to what I want to accomplish that week. I also place tasks that I probably won’t be able to get to until some other time during the week. I experiment with this layout the most and I find that in general I like having day boxes with plenty of room across the top and a generous amount of room underneath for tasks. 7 Week


Daily log

This is the heart of the bullet journal in my opinion. This is where I spend the majority of my day and where the system really shines for me. I use the original bullets. I use a checkbox for tasks, open circle for events and appointments, and dot for notes. If it’s an event, I don’t place the time next to it; if it’s an appointment, I place the time next to it. This is my favorite part about the bullet journal because I can use as much or as little room as I need to each day without wasting any space or feeling cramped. Over time, I learned that placing too many tasks on my daily page leaves me feeling overwhelmed, guilty, and unproductive. I now place only the tasks I think I can realistically get done when I plan my day. As the day goes on and I think of more tasks, I take a moment to think about whether I can realistically get that task done today. If I can, I’ll place it on my daily page; if not, I’ll place it on my weekly or monthly spread. I place it on my weekly if I want to get to it sometime during the week; otherwise, I place it on the monthly to do at a later point. Now I have less tasks to migrate on a day-to-day basis and I feel happy with the things that I accomplish. I place a checkmark next to the page number to indicate that I have migrated all of the tasks from that page. This gives me some wiggle room in case I skip a day or two of migrating tasks and it saves me from having to flip back through all of the pages to check for open tasks. 8 Daily

Future planning

Something I struggled with for a long time was figuring out where to place something for tomorrow or some other time without adding it to the current page. So now I turn to one of three methods:
  • I grab a sticky note, write the date for tasks at the top, and write down the tasks. When that day rolls around, I place it on the page.
  • If it’s something happening this week or next, I flip to my weekly pages. If it’s for this week, I write it on one of the date blocks. If it’s for next week, I write it down in the next week block.
  • If it’s happening beyond the next couple of weeks, I flip to the monthly overview and write it down in the notes section.


Collections are one of my favorite components of the system. I experiment and add collections as I think of them. If the page turns out to be a dud, I place an X next to the page number to indicate it didn’t work out. I have collections that range from notes and blog post article ideas to detailed project action lists. Here are a few of my favorites:


The dinner log helps me keep track of dinners and encourages me to cook dinner more often with meal ideas on the side. This also makes meal planning easier by providing a place to see a few favorite meals and new recipes I’d like to try out.
9 Dinners

Food log

I use it to record food after the fact. It is based on the meal plan log devised by Ryder. The second spread includes a section to note any foods I suspect I may have a sensitivity to.

Gratitude log

Since I tend to be prone to bouts of depression and anxiety, this helps to keep me optimistic. Each night before bed, I reflect on good things about the day and write down 5 things I’m grateful for.

Waiting on

This page is beyond helpful. If I’m waiting for a response of any kind, I place it here. This page is not tabbed because it’s at the beginning of my bullet journal and it’s easy to flip to.
12 Waiting on

How to Bullet Journal like Kim

  • Either the night before or morning of, I ask myself, ‘What will make me feel the most accomplished?’ and jot down only a few that I think I can realistically get done. I also migrate tasks from the day before that I didn’t get done and want to do today.
  •  At the beginning of the day, I check my morning routine and log my sleep.
  • I check the month overview to see what’s going on and grab tasks I can realistically get done today.
  • I check the week overview to see what’s going on and grab tasks I can realistically get done today.
  • I check off tasks, events, and ideas throughout the day.
  • I jot down tasks, notes, and ideas as they arise throughout the day. If I can do the tasks today, I place them on today’s page, if I can’t I place them on the weekly or monthly overview.
  • As I think of new needs, I’ll sketch out a layout idea on a sticky note and flip to the next page to try it out. I tab it if I flip to it constantly. If the idea is a dud, I place an X next to the page number to indicate that it did not work out.
  • As the day goes on and I think of ideas I’d like to try out the following month, I place it on a sticky note on the current month’s overview.
  • If I feel anxious, I flip to the next available page and write out some thoughts.
  • At night, I update my food and gratitude logs. I also do my evening routine.
  • Each week, I reflect on the week before, create a new layout, migrate tasks, and cross out any irrelevant ones.
  • Each month, I review what went well, migrate tasks, and cross out irrelevant ones.
  • Repeat.

Kim's Gear

Time Ladder

August 31, 2015

Productivity   Tips  

When I need some hyper-organisation to my day, and a task list just doesn’t cut it, I’ve been using a "time ladder."  I didn’t coin the term ‘time ladder’ and this is an idea inspired by the likes of Bill Westerman and DIYFish. I use the next available page, rule two lines down the middle of the page, write the times in between the two lines, and then assign meetings, appointments, etc. to the right of the page, and tasks and notes to the left side of the page. For meetings/appointments, I block off using a dot along the time ladder and rule a line to the meeting/appointment entry. You’ll notice that there are notes assigned to a time on the ladder (i.e. the box with a ruled line to a dot on the ladder), and there are arrows from boxes to link tasks with notes (e.g. the task where I rescheduled a therapy (Rx) session).
At the bottom of the page, I mark an ‘X; to signify when I finish work for the day, then I list tasks on either side with “before next visit” and “to do next visit”. I found that as a visual person, this really lays out how I manage and assign my time. There is no exact science to this, and I’m always finding ways to capture bits of my day. Happy planning, everyone! – Dee Photo by: ahmadreza sajadi


August 01, 2015


The index is the backbone of the Bullet Journal. It keeps a record of plans made, notes taken, and ideas chewed over. As useful as the index is, when you have several pages that you're constantly flipping to it can slow you down a bit. Page tabs allow for a quick way to navigate your Bullet Journal and swiftly turn to the page of your choice without losing momentum. Similarly, dot stickers can help you group pages of the same type.
To set up the page tabs, simply write down a word or draw an image that captures the context of the page such as Monthly Log, Food Log, Projects, Ideas, Master Task List, etc. If you have several pages that follow a certain theme and need to be easily identifiable (e.g. meeting notes, class notes, previous week pages, etc.), but don't need tabs then dot stickers will come in handy. Simply add a dot sticker to the edge of the page. Group these types of pages by the color of the dot sticker or location on the edge of the page. The page tab is a nifty way to get to a page you refer to often while the dot sticker indicates a page in a series of similar pages. Unlike threading, which connects collections of ideas that play off each other on different pages, colored dot stickers group different categories of pages together. For example, the yellow dot sticker can be used for lecture notes and threading can be used to connect questions for the final that occur on different pages. Another example is, blue dot stickers can be used for home improvement ideas and threading can be used to connect ideas of a specific home improvement project. Tips: - Use colored tabs to color-code your entries. - Draw out icons to make these tabs stand out. - Get file folder tabs and cut them up to get smaller, custom-sized tabs. - Use a Sharpie ultra-fine point pen to write on the tabs. - Color-code your dot stickers. - Vary the location of the dot stickers on the edge of your page. - Make a key somewhere in your journal to help you remember what the colors represent when you're starting out. Kim Alvarez Tinyrayofsunshine
"Beware of the person of one book."–Thomas Aquinas
There’s something elegant and timeless about hardbound notebooks. It’s almost as if whatever you capture in them becomes more meaningful. Investing in one is like investing in your own story, and with a little love, they will be your companions for years. With the official Bullet Journal Notebooks now available, I wanted to share a quick technique to help greatly extend the life of your hardbound notebooks. In fact, this tip is great preventative care for any type of hardbound book.
The thing you want to avoid to open a new hardcover down the center. This literally is breaking the book’s spine. That’s just as bad as it sounds. The spine holds the book together, and putting a crease down the center puts a weak point right where the most amount of weight is carried. The trick is to distribute the wear across the spine evenly. To do this, set the book down on a table in front of you. With the book still closed,  stand it up so that the spine is on the desk. Now, take about ten pages from the front of the book and flatten them down onto the table. Run your hand along the inside of the book to flatten them down. Now take the last ten or so pages from the back of the book and do the same. When you’re done, take the next ten pages from the front and repeat. Keep alternating sides until you get to the center of the book. By working your way from the outside in and NOT the other way around, you’re distributing stress points evenly. In other words, you’re making the spine flexible so that it doesn’t snap. The added benefit is that it will help your notebook lay flat faster. I like to turn this process into a little ritual. While I’m flattening down pages, I think about the first things I want to log, about what I  want to carry over and what I don’t, but most importantly, I think about the story that I want to this notebook to tell. After all, each book is another volume in a library dedicated to your life. Do you have any rituals setting up your notebook? I would love to hear about them in the comments below. Image by: Glen Noble