Over the last couple of years, life has gotten very busy. I’ve found myself struggling to find time to do the things I love and failing at remembering to do the things I have to do! I’ve been trying different organizational and planning systems over the past year, but nothing has stuck. Nothing has really given me everything I needed. Since my free time is so limited, I really wanted a system that would solve multiple problems at once.
- I need to stay organized, focused, on track, and accountable. All too often, I get busy and forget important tasks (I know we all feel that way!).
- I need a place to jot down tasks, ideas, thoughts, etc.
- I need a system that is flexible because I get bored easily.
- I need a daily creative outlet.
- I want to be able to track, graph, and analyze my routine and tasks. I am a scientist after all 😉
For me, there have been a lot of crafts, hobbies, habits, etc. that have come and gone. But some things have always been a regular part of my life: paper crafts, pens (You should see my pen collection, it’s almost embarrassingly large!), stationary, journaling, and planning. It seems like no matter what new thing I try, I always come back to these. So, what about combining them all into one?
In pops the bullet journal! I’m not going to spend time on giving a detailed overview of what bullet journaling is, because there are so many amazing resources already out there. Here is a list of my current favorites.
- For the original and the basics of what it is all about, go visit Ryder Carroll and the Bullet Journal main website. He is the founder of the system.
- Kara of Boho Berry is amazing! She has been an enormous inspiration for me! I’ve spent hours pouring over her website, videos, and Instagram. You will see a lot of her ideas in my bullet journal.
- Jessica of Pretty Prints and Paper has wonderful information on bullet journaling and hand lettering. Her calligraphy is super fun and colorful!
- Kim of Tiny Ray of Sunshine has wonderful resources for beginners on the bullet journaling system and how to make it work for you.
- Dee of Decade Thirty has fantastic resources for bullet journaling, sketching, and handwriting improvement.
I decided to start my bullet journal in a proven notebook. I know from my own experiences that Moleskine notebooks always disappoint me with my fountain pens and thicker lined pens and markers. So I went with the Leuchtturm Medium Hardcover Dots Lemon after watching and reading tons of reviews. So far, I love it! It holds up well to my favorite Sakura Micron-01 Pen. I’ve used these Micron pens for years, I even have some some that are 10 years old and they still write! No joke! Anyway, I’ll do a post on pens soon and show how my Leuchtturm holds up to various ones.
I wanted to start pretty simple in my first bullet journal because I didn’t want to get overwhelmed or discouraged. I began with a basic calendar page for 2016 for easy referral. This was inked with a black Staedtler Triplus Fineliner and I now find that I like the thinner Micron 01 line better. But, I dearly love the Staedtlers for color!
I’m thinking of going in the calendar and circling holidays and birthdays, but I haven’t done it yet. As you can see, the thick lines from the black Staedtler ghost through pretty bad. This doesn’t bother a lot of people, but it’s not my favorite, I would rather it look a little cleaner which I why I’m switching to the Micron 01 for everything except color.
The next page is my Future Log. At first, I didn’t really understand the point of a future log, but once I starting practicing in a small notebook I realized that I needed a space to write down appointments and important things happening in the months to come. Right now it’s pretty empty, but it will start filling up as time goes on.
You can also see that halfway through making this page I completely changed my mind on the layout! I was originally going to do 6 months, but after drawing it out it was too much space. So, I put a line down the center of each block and made it a 12 month spread. Unfortunately, I had already written the months on the sides. I think this is a good example of going with the flow and making it better next time. One of my resolutions is to not take less than perfection as failure! To fix it, I just made a bunch of decorative lines and put the months at the top. It’s noticeable, but I’m able to ignore it.
Now comes the fun part! The actual planning part! For February, I used a spin-off version of Kara’s monthly spread. I don’t have as many appointments as she does so having all day, morning, and evening was overkill for me. But, I really wanted a space to write weekly and monthly tasks. Please excuse my messed up cursive for February!
I put a strip of wash tape folded over the edge of the left page for easy locating and split the three columns into All Day, Events, and Weekly Tasks. On the right are my Monthly Goals and a quick Weekly Habit Tracker. I love the idea of a Habit Tracker and I wanted something to remind me that every week I need to balance the checkbook, do laundry, water the plants, etc. Instead of marking it off in a daily Habit Tracker, this one is just for the 5 weeks of the month. Any extra tasks for the week will go in the task column.
I also have a space at the top for what I want to focus on for the month. In February, it’s all about being present. What I wrote to inspire and remind myself is “Stay present as much as possible. Savor the life I have now. Aim towards improvement but don’t dwell on the imperfections.”
At the end of the month, I’ll do a review, let you know how it worked, and show any changes I’ll be making for March.