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I can’t remember what I was actually looking for at the time I stumbled across the Bullet Journal. It was clearly fate, however. I do remember that it only took that first encounter to have me completely and utterly entranced. The idea of turning to a blank page each day and having the ability to make it whatever I needed it to be at that moment was fascinating to me. At that time, I was failing every attempt with all of the other pretty, preprinted planners.

Of course, I started with Ryder Carroll’s YouTube video (which I recommend everyone to do first) on what the system actually was and how to use it. The core of the system made so much sense to me! Functional and flexible. Simple and productive. I spent countless hours watching flip-through videos and swimming through Instagram accounts. I watched and learned for about 3 months before I started sharing my journey. At that time (2015), if you can imagine, accounts such as Kara @ bohoberryKim @tinyrayofsunshine and Dee @decadethirty each only had a couple hundred to a couple thousand followers on Instagram! The seed had just been planted and I am so lucky to be able to say that I’ve been around to watch it grow. It has developed into something that has blessed the lives of so many in more ways than one can imagine. It has given structure, functionality, purpose and positivity to each person that has decided to make a go of it!

#WHYIBUJO

(One of my heavily used hashtags).

One reason I use the Bullet Journal system is for the flexibility it provides. I like not being boxed in or feeling like I’ve failed at the end of the week when I haven’t filled in all of those pre-printed boxes! If I skip a week or even an entire month (which has happened) I get to just turn the page and keep going without all of the wasted pages haunting me!

Unlike most planner addicts, I am not a huge planner. Although planning is kind of the first purpose of  Bullet Journaling, I rely heavily on the “journaling” aspect. Not just getting a journal entry in, but keeping things written down for memories. I have said for quite some time now that I think I must have early onset dementia! If I do not write it down and go over it frequently, it simply does not happen. I either forget to do it or I forget that I have already done it! That being said, I incorporate quick thoughts, journal entries and running task lists as they come to me. I even go back at the end of the day and note things that happened that were not planned/scheduled. Creating my own layouts provides me the space I need to do so!

Walkthrough

Last year I started yearly intentions rather than resolutions. Intentions have mercy, resolutions just stare me down and threaten me. No thanks. This is a few pages in, just after my Index and year-at-a-glance. You can see my Calendex on the left page. I thought I’d try it out for my future log, but since most of that is kept in my phone, it is being used pretty infrequently. I am using it to track my headaches which is working out nicely!

Nicole's Intentions in her Bullet Journal

Monthly

I stick with the original layout presented by Ryder. This vertical glance actually works really well for me visually, which I am grateful for because I don’t like to take the time to draw calendars out each month. I split the page into 4 sections. The first three are just dividing the day into morning, afternoon and evening hours. The section on the far right is for work. I usually log my mileage there. The page on the left is open for inspirational quotes. In prior months I have chosen one person to focus on and to pull from, but this January it’s like a party over there.

Nicole's Bullet Journal Monthly Log
Nicole's Bullet Journal Monthly Log

Weekly Layout

Weekly layouts are my go to over dailies. I like to see everything for the week in one place. If I do have a day that is packed with tasks and activities, I will just plop a Post It on the page for additional space. Inside my weeklies I allow enough room for scheduling, tasks, journaling, the next week’s running tasks as they come and inspirational thoughts or quotes, be it my own or ones I run across. There are even a few little daily reminders squeezed in under the headers.
Nicole's Bullet Journal Weekly LogNicole's Weekly Log in her Bullet Journal

Collections and Extras

I am huge fan of self care. In addition to doing physical things to care for myself, I feel that it makes a pretty big impact when I take the time to see the happiness, the positivity, the blessings, the silver linings and the light in my life. I really try hard to write down my gratitude, affirmations, happy thoughts and fun moments as they come so that I can look back and remember that there is far more good than bad if I choose to see it. I am an optimist by nature and hope that it translates on paper with what I choose to write down.

Gratitude

I do not put a date or time stamp on my gratitude spreads. Whether it is one word at a time or I run on for half a page, I just write until the page is full.

Nicole's Gratitude Log in her Bullet Journal
Nicole's Gratitude Log in her Bullet Journal

Inspiration

Anything that catches my eye and my heart, I put it down on paper. This first picture is from my first Bullet Journal in 2015 and the second picture is from 2017. Can you see that my handwriting has improved … just a little?! That is another reason to love Bullet Journaling, happy handwriting! Because you want to be able to look back in these journals, you tend to put a little extra effort and time into the way you write things out. So handwriting naturally improves!

Nicole's Inspiration in her Bullet Journal

Trackers

I actually do not track much. I tend to forget about ticking those boxes! One tracker that worked really well for me when I first started, however, was my savings tracker. I made an envelope system and each time I deposited a specific amount, I would color in a box. It was super cute and worked really well!

Nicole's Savings Tracker in her Bullet Journal
Nicole's Savings Tracker in her Bullet Journal

Behind the Scenes

This is is a very important page that I cannot do without. In the back of every journal, there is this mess.

Behind the Scenes of Nicole's Bullet Journal
Behind the scenes of Nicole's Bullet Journal

My Current Planning Tools

  • Midori MD softcover square grid notebook
  • Sakura Pigma Micron felt tip pens
  • A ruler … sometimes

I do have more pens and markers and notebooks and washi tape and all that jazz, though tend to only carry and use the above mentioned items 99% of the time. I am minimal at heart as well as on paper.

Wrapping Up

I have never been an organized person and I still am only barely one. I have, however, always obsessed about being organized! With the Bullet Journal system I have found my own structure and style that is pleasing to me. It is what works for me. So for those of you just starting out or those who are still searching for what fits you, don’t quit searching! Watch flip-throughs and follow people that inspire you. Ask questions and steal layouts and continually tweak things until you start to feel like it is coming together for you. There is no right. There is no wrong. The entire purpose of this system is to be functional in a way that gives you the ability to be productive. If you are feeling stressed in trying to keep up or compete with those elaborate layouts, maybe take it back a notch. Minimal gets the job done too!

You can find more of my pages on Instagram @written.intentions.

About the Author

Nicole Doane is the creator of the pages you’ll find on Instagram @written.intentions She is a mom of one striving to teach her daughter about the simple things. She lives in Las Vegas, but steers clear of the strip, so she’s not your go to for what’s happening down there. She works to live rather than lives to work. Nicole thrives on genuine smiles, deep conversation and good pizza.

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