A warning: if you’re not, like, totally super into planning, organization, or productivity talk, this post will be pretty boring for you, so, you know, make your choice.
After reading Miss Zoot extoll the virtues of bullet journaling for some time now, I finally decided to try it myself, back in November. If you haven’t yet heard of this approach to planning and to-do lists, check out Zoot’s comprehensive post on it (and then see her entire category for even more info), or watch this short video.
For the past two years, I had been using expensive planners from Erin Condren, which I really liked, but which were really big and fat and also lacked some flexibility in terms of the pages. And oh, yeah, they cost $50. So I was looking for an alternative as the year’s end was approaching. I figured I’d try the bullet journal approach for November and December and see how it worked.
Long story short: I loved it. I’m still loving it, and still finding new ways to make it more useful for me all the time.
With a regular-sized Moleskine, I avoided the problem of the big, fat planners I’d been using before. A Moleskine will fit easily into even most of my small purses. In my school bag, it leaves plenty of room for books. But of course, the beauty of this strategy is that you can use any notebook you have — so just choose one you like.
I certainly don’t have many tips to add beyond what you can find on Zoot’s site or on the bullet journal site, but I thought I’d show you how I’ve been using the method so you can see how it works for me:
I use a basic index in the front of the book to keep track of all my frequently-referenced lists. I also make a lot of use of the monthly calendar + list (seen above) and several special-topic pages, such as my half marathon training plan, a page where I wrote about my focus for 2015, a list of books I want to read, etc.
On my monthly spread, I like to tape in a traditional calendar on the left (to help me visualize things) and I keep a running list of dates with notes on the right. As the month goes by, I’ll add appointments or events to the list so I remember to plan for them and to move them to my daily lists when I’m ready to make those. I snapped this photo several days ago and I’ve already added several more things to the month since.
Each day, I also create a list of things that need to be done that day, and I can mark them off as either completed or deferred. Here’s an example of some daily lists (selectively blurred for privacy) and a menu plan for this week.
This is the page I’ll use most during the day, adding items to my list as needed and filling in the squares beside completed tasks. If I defer something, I mark it with an arrow. Bullet points with a dot (like the Ducks game item seen above) are for appointments, events, or other notes.
My half marathon training plan, seen above, is a page I’ll keep returning to even day for nine weeks, so I tabbed it with some tape to make it easy to find. I mapped out my workouts and left a blank line below them to check them off (for simple things like cross training or PT) or to add details (like the total number of miles a workout wound up being). My target training paces and race goals are on the left side.
I don’t often write on the left page because there’s a (small) amount of bleed through, which makes it just not look as nice. However, if the front side of the page happens to be an old daily task page, one I’ll never need to use again, I don’t mind doing it. So in the example above, the front side of my training paces page was an old, completed task page I didn’t need again, so I went ahead and wrote on the back. The right side page, with the complete training plan, is an important page, so I won’t write on the back of it because I don’t want any bleed through making the numbers hard to read later on.
ARE YOU FASCINATED YET?
I thought so.
At any rate, I am really enjoying this method of planning — not only because it’s helping me stay organized and costs much less than a fancy planner, but also because I can have some fun decorating the pages. I’ll be honest, this is a great excuse to buy myself more colored pens and washi tape, right?