When I heard about bullet journaling I think I shouted out loud, ‘it IS a thing!?’ Because I had been doing it for years without realizing it. You probably have to.
Here is how you know if you are a bullet journaler in hiding:
Do you keep lists? Or are you, as I like to call it, ‘Notey By Nature’ (even if #captaininternet scoffs at my 90s R&B references). Maybe you are even in so deep you add doodles, and charts and lists about your lists.
If this is true for you, then welcome to ‘the thing’ called Bullet Journalling.
So, what is a bullet journal?
Simply put it is a planner and a place for all your to-lists, lists and notes about stuff and did I mention lists?
BUT there is kinda of a ‘way’ people like to do it with legends and arrows and numbered pages. Check out this video. However, I say, play around and see what you like best. The beautiful thing about a bullet journal is that it is customized to you.
HOT TIP: Online it is also called BUJO (of course it is).
Why you will love it:
- There is no right or wrong way to do it. You just take your time over the months to find the calendar layouts you love the best (an off the shelf planner doesn’t do that!)
- The act of writing things down makes you more likely to do them (science said so)
- You are more accountable to yourself when you track things, especially when washi tape is involved!
- There are tons of ideas online on how to use the BUJO and some sites even have printables you can print off and glue into your book
- You might be organized enough to get things done, but taking the time to have a little planning session in the morning will make you more organized in a proactive way. Take it from me, children have stripped my abilities to use a calendar but I am still getting life done at a reasonable(ish) pace (most days).
- It is one place for everything. If you are like me you have a collection of notebooks for different topics (below). Now it is all in one place. Keep it in your purse, keep it on your counter, let it be your sidekick.
What you need:
A notebook (people will recommend certain brands, but really, anything with sturdy pages is great), some colourful pens, some washi tape. You can even add in some stickers or stencils down the road.
What to put in it:
Write out the lists you want to keep in here (hmmm mmm! A list of lists! This lady nerd is running free through a field of lists and loving it!) and write that down in the back. (if you need some pinspiration, here is a mega list of lists)
Here is the thing, don’t feel rushed to fill up your notebook with all this ‘stuff’, just let it happen as things come up. Add your lists in slowly and methodically. It is wonderful that you can be creative and artistic with the bullet journal, but it needs to be about function before it’s about form.
If your book has numbered pages you can keep an index of your lists (I don’t do this and I should)
Some people use a legend to keep track of their to-do lists (I just cross things off or star them)
Set up your calendar:
The core of the BUJO is the calendar. Here is where you can keep track of life. There are endless ways you can plot out your calendar. I like to write out my week on a page and add in things like:
- my to-dos for each day
- some brain dumps for different categories in my life
- some quotes I like, scriptures I want to remember, things I’m thankful for
- one thing to focus on that week (I try to pick something that is urgent or something that lines up with the goals I set this year)
- a habit tracker to check off each day I do my #onesmallhabit
Other things in my bullet journal:
- our meal ideas (that I add into the big meal ideas book)
- a graph of how often I did the #onesmallhabit I set each month (note, I know it looks unimpressive but I’m all good with less than 100% the point for me is progress not perfection)
- the list of habits I’ve been working on this year
- a book I’ve read each month
- a master calendar (some call it a monthly log)
- some banking notes and tracking our finances each month
- notes on social media posts I want to write, blog calendars, etc.
Just go for it:
I wanted to Bullet Journal so I just bought the stuff and started. BUT the first time I put sharpie to notebook I felt like every page had to be Instagram worthy. I wanted it to be full of bright colours, delicate doodles and lovely letters. Instead, some pages are great, some pages are scribbles, failed doodles (sorry sad squatting bunny-dog…bog?…dunny?) and plain jane lettering. That is real life, that is me, it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful and useful. So I urge the same to you. Don’t worry about the aesthetic, just start doing.
Why it has changed my whole life:
I have never been successful at using a planner and hated the idea of making goals. In fact, I’ve been defiant about to-do lists, goals, deadlines, and schedules altogether. But as I reflect on my Type Nine ways, I see the flaring results of floundering through my days and, therefore, reactive in my lifestyle. My 30s have become about taking control and making things happen on purpose. Buuut, turns out you can’t just write some big goals, slap them on your wall and think you will wake up a year from now healthier, happier and further along. Who knew? (Not pre-30s Shawna!).
I see now, the life-changing bit happens in the day-changing bit. When you can write things each day you develop a bird’s eye view of your life. If I can take some time each morn and write out some things I could do today that would make me one step closer to where my goals, then I am living on purpose. It might be something simple for parenting, like what craft to do, or an outing. Or it might be an errand I need to run. Maybe it is seeing that I haven’t done my ‘ten sit-ups’ at all this week and making that a priority between waffles and park dates. Perhaps it is needing to spend time with someone special in my life and making a point to find a place for that. Sometimes I look at my dinner list and think…maybe we should have a salad today. Or I’ll check out the big calendar and think we need to schedule in a beach day with the kids.
Each morning I glance at the bullet journal and start my day with these notes in my mind. And having a ‘weekly focus’ takes the pressure of getting all the things done in one day and just chipping away at something for a week. It’s more realistic and therefore, more likely to happen.
The other thing I didn’t expect about bullet journaling was that it reminded me that there is this creative side in me that I had put to sleep. Because I’m not great at it, but I DO want to doodle and colour and practice forming letters that I think are cool looking. You don’t have to be a hand letterer or an artist to enjoy these things, you can just do them because it’s something you like.
I’ve also really loved writing on paper, flipping through the pages to remind myself about the important notes I have in there. I’ve found it much more reliable than using my phone because the phone was becoming very ‘snooze the reminders/outta sight/outta mind’. I love seeing the kids get their little notebooks out and scribbling along with me. Though they often will add their ‘notes’ into my bullet journal, but that is ok, it is kind of a time capsule in a way.
So that is my Notey By Nature love song to you fellow mamas. If you are bullet journalling, then hop on over to the Facebook page and tell me all about it!
Thanks for reading.
Love Shawna, Your Nerdy Girlfriends who is about to go make a list in her bullet journal of ’90s R&B songs turned puns’ I can use in everyday life.