I have always loved putting pen to paper. The tactile feel of it really appeals to me and I like to plan out my goals and write my to-do lists in a way that I can see and touch. The trouble is, it is a huge pain in the patootie to lug around a big planner! I have done it and no matter how great it is to get to write stuff down and plan, it never fails that when I need to book a hair appointment, I’m standing at the counter with my phone and my wallet, but no big planner!
A few years ago I started using a digital calendar. I used google calendar and had it on my iphone so I can schedule appointment and keep track of important dates. It worked great… but remember I said I loved paper planners?
My love of the paper planner made me try and do the impossible. I’d take my paper planner and Id try to ‘sync’ them. Which totally doesn’t work. (I know, you are thinking, of course not!) I was so confused and if something changed, I couldn’t remember which planner was right!
My search for the perfect paper planner continued, but I could never find something that really ‘fit’ what I needed. I think what I needed from my planner changed more often then the new year did! So my search continued. I tried them all! I used Franklin Covey for years ( Back when it was Franklin Planner, y’all that was like 20 years ago!), I used planners from office max, staples, I ordered fancy planners that were pretty and I picked up planners at Target. I tried the Passion Planner, which is amazing but still not what I was looking for.
My last purchase of the most perfect beautiful planner was this summer. It really is a thing of beauty, with gold metal corners and a preppy hard cover, I was in heaven. Seventy dollars and one week later I realized it wasn’t going to work….. I realized really….. I like the digital calendar. Its fast and easy and travels with me so it’s perfect. Plus I was sick of this ‘synching’ ritual that was taking away parts of my life I could never get back! And that’s what it hit me…. I like to PLAN….. and track…. and make to-do lists. It’s not that I love the calendar part of the planners. I liked the planning part of the planners!
It totally does not matter how long it takes you to catch on…. right? As long as you do?
I had seen some things on Pinterest about Bullet journals and my long standing fascination with colored pens and paper intrigued me, but I had no idea what I would use it for. Then I saw this video…
This made a ton of sense to me, and I liked how I could customize it so it fit everything I needed (without the calendar!)… so off I went to create my perfect bullet journal.
Here’s what I did!
- I opted not to buy the one from Bullet Journal website, although it looks cool. I wanted to have full access to change and make it exactly how I wanted. Lord knows I’ve spent enough money buying other things that didn’t work! I liked that this was big enough to plan in, but small enough to carry with me if I needed to. (But remember, my actual calendar is digital)
- I got a Moleskin because I liked all the different color options they had and I like Moleskins a lot because they lay flat when you open them, no matter what page you are on. They have a handy little pocket in the back, which I have yet to use but it makes me happy knowing it’s there! I got the version that is grid paper, here is the exact one I got on Amazon. I love the grid option so everything is super uniform and clean looking. Plus it works perfect for my ‘Don’t break the chain‘ that I’ll explain later! But you can get them totally blank or with lines too.
Okay so I opted for the purple moleskin for my bullet journal. (Which is so not like me, by the way, Usually I would get white. or black. I was feeling creative. That’s my point.)
Just like the video shows, I made the first two pages the index:
Then I made a list of things I’d like my bullet journal to contain. Some things I decided on:
** Daily to do lists
** Quotes or things I find that are inspiring
**Goals (which I now call commitments, but for this project we will call them commitments so you know what I’m talking about! Look for that blog post next week!)
** List of books I hear about that I want to read
** Places I want to travel. This is huge for me, it’s an inspiring place I can go to reignite myself into action. I really love to travel but, like most of us, I don’t get to do it as often as I’d like. One of the reasons I was excited about my new job is because I can travel a bit, but also because we can make travel a priority for us again. Craig and I used to take lots of fun long weekend trips and that is something I really miss. This list is one that has been on my white board the past few years and its time to make it permanent and start checking things off!
I knew I would add to the bullet journal as I found other things I wanted to track and keep in the same place, but that is how I got started.
Building it out!
- After I had the index entered, and had my list of things I wanted to include, I followed the bullet journal format for the Future Log (which I love!) and the the Daily Log.
- To start my month, one page has a whole month dates down the side and then, just like the video, I put daily pages after that. This is where I put my to-do list. I put 3 dates per page as that size worked for me.
- On my daily page area, I also put my planned meal for the day and my affirmation for the day so I see it and it’s top of mind during the day. (My affirmation is from my Five Minute Journal entry from the morning.)
After I got this much set up, I went to work on making the bullet journal a tool to help me live out my dreams! I focused on my goals and things I want to achieve.
Now, I am showing you some of my pages, but not all of them because I feel like it’s a little window to my soul (I know! I’m so dramatic!) but in many ways it’s like a diary so I can’t share all my secrets!
I separated my goals into ‘Gardens’* that contained a series of things I was working on:
- Relationships: My relationship with Craig and Olive are most important to me, so I wanted to be sure I focused on it and how to make it better each month.
- Finances: plans for saving and building and being debt free (including my house!)
- Spiritual Contributions. I am soul searching right now about how typical ‘religion’ fits into my life but have a spiritual contribution is super important to me and so monthly I try to have an impact somewhere, on someone else. It’s a thought out event, that sometimes includes a friend and sometimes a stranger, but I want to have a quiet little impact on someone else in a meaningful way.
- Heath/workouts: This is where I set my lifting goals and other things Id like to be able to do.
- Business: How to help people and build my little piece of something! I spent a lot of time when I started this bullet journal figuring out my mission statement for my life – sort of what are my guiding principals and at the end of what I hope is a very long life, what do I want to be laying in the bed thinking about what I’ve done here? What will I wish I had done differently and can I do something to change that path right now? I also work on my goals for my full time job. At the end of the year, what do I want to be able to say I did? What will I be really disappointed that I didn’t accomplish? <—-This question is important because it changes the tasks I set for the day!
- Lifestyle/adventure: What can I do to add some adventure to my life? It can be connected to another one of my ‘gardens’, like maybe its an adventure with Olive that strengthens my relationship with her. Maybe it’s a health adventure: competing in the Pan Ams; for example. Adventures make life more fun and I decided I needed more of those.
Okay… Got your gardens of goals? 🙂
Looking at each of my gardens, and the goals I set up there, I go back to my future log and noted what I would need to do during that month to move me forward.
For example: If my goal was to snatch 100 pounds by Christmas, what do I need to do to make that happen? Ideas would be: meet with a coach weekly for help. Find a specific trainer (lifting plan) to follow. Find my weakness and try and strengthen that aspect of my lifting. Get a new workout outfit. (come on, you know it helps!). All these things can’t be done all at once, so I go into the appropriate month in my future log, and place the task or mini-goal that I will be working on that month so I am reminded to stay on track.
When a new month is starting, I look at all the things on my future log and I break them down, adding them as tasks into my daily to-do lists.
Pretty cool, right?
I also add what I’ve got planned for dinner into my to-do list (it has it’s own icon in the legend) and this way, as I plan my week, I can figure out my plan, put it in the right date for to-do and add the ingredients to a shopping list. Super simple and fast. Plus everyone gets fed. (Its never ending, by the way. The demand to be fed daily! Exhausting!)
Once I have my Index, Future log, monthly (I just do one month at a time) and daily pages, I added my gardens of goals, then I just started adding other things as I thought of things I wanted to track.
I also added a Don’t Break The Chain list. Simply, this is where I put a specific goal and give myself a big X in the square if I met the goal for that day, and a big O for the day if I did not. At the end of the week, if I wonder why I’m not closer to my goal, I can quickly scan and see XXOXOOX and know that I missed too many days to be successful! Plus trying to not ‘Break the Chain’ keeps me motivated to push forward on days I don’t want to get going!
Before I started my bullet journal, I did track with a Break the Chain printable you can download here.
As I’ve gone along, I’ve put loads of other things listed in there, but you will find the things that work for you and your goals and lifestyle. I put things like:
- Blog ideas
- Ideas for Marketing
- Ideas to make it easier for my nutrition clients and fun things I can do with them
Each time I add something, I number the page at the bottom, and add it into my Index. So when I am looking for something, its easily found! I like to use lots of flags and fun paperclips too. It’s the tactile learner in me. 🙂
My little purple moleskin is part of my Miracle Morning time, part of my daily workday with task and ideas and part of my evening breakdown as I plan for the next day.
Hope these ideas where helpful and you can develop a system that helps you as much as this system has helped me!
I use it for everything… but I still need to figure out what use that back pocket for!