Creative Planning – The Bullet Journal

Welcome back to a new year at Stephanelli Designs!  I hope the holiday season was suitably pleasant and relaxing!  With the New Year and attempting to regain control of my house I completely forgot about writing blog posts last week, but you’ll forgive me right?  This is also comes from a new mindset that it doesn’t matter if I don’t publish content every week.  Over the last year I’ve really been working on getting my mind back in a better place using mindfulness practises, and one of the things I’ve come to realise is that ultimately I’d rather be happy with what I did accomplish, than stressed out because of the one or two things that I didn’t accomplish.  So, while I intend to blog every week still, I’m not going to berate myself if I don’t always manage it.

This leads me on to this weeks post!  It’s a slightly different post to normal, I’m not going to teach you how to do anything or show you any exciting knitting projects, but its an ongoing creative and mindful way to approaching organisation and planning.  I’ve actually been on the fence as to whether to write this post or not, so I hope you enjoy it.  I may come back to this topic in future weeks, but I may not.

Enter – The Bullet Journal.

If you’ve been anywhere near Pinterest you will have almost certainly come across it.  I’ve been using one for about 6 months and it definitely works for me.  I’ll say that it doesn’t work for everyone, I’ve had to customise the basic method to work for me, but I can safely say I’ve finally settled into a method that I like.  But the best thing about Bullet Journals is that if I get bored in a month or two’s time, I can just try out a new method.  Sure it won’t look perfect and neat, but if it works for planning and organising my life – who cares!?

Before I jump in, I just wanted to say that on Pinterest and the internet you can find so many beautifully coloured and illustrated Bullet Journals.  I tried that, and sadly for me, it made it much harder work and I wasn’t enjoying it.  So I took out all the fanciness and took it right down to basics and its working so much better.

If this post inspires you to start your own, then first, head over to http://bulletjournal.com/ where the basics are explained much better than I could!

Basic Pages In The Original Bullet Journal
(Note: I don’t use all of these!)

  • The Index – this is used to keep track of everything that you put in the journal.  Do something on a page.  Put it in the index.  Helps to number your pages before you start!
  • The Future Log – used to store items that you want to schedule months in advance or just want to get round to some day but don’t care when
  • The Monthly Log – basically a calendar and a task list for the month
  • The Daily Log – for day-to-day use!  Throughout the day/previous evening, log the tasks and events (using the rapid logging technique explained on the above website) you want to get done and cross them off when you’re done.  You can also store notes and anything else short in the daily logs too.

This is the basics of the original bullet journal…now I’ve written them out, I realise I only actually use one of those pages nowadays!  I did start off with this system, but it wasn’t practical, so with some inspiration from some wonderful and talented bullet journalists I’ve adapted it to fit my needs.  I definitely use the rapid logging and migration techniques – I recommend you look at the original website for details on that though!

How I Use The Bullet Journal

A quick note on the pictures: most of the pictures are taken from my current journal which I only started on the 2nd January so it might look a little empty.  There are a few from my previous journal which is very full and rather messy now – a well-loved journal!

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My journalling supplies – my current journal, pen, pencil, ruler.

The Index
I do use the index.  It means that I can actually find things in my journal – incredibly useful.  I keep two pages aside for my index.  For certain entries there are multiple page numbers (e.g. January Weeklies) so that I can find everything relating to that title.

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Goals Page
I like to have some goals to work towards.  It gives me a purpose.  I’ve not photographed this page because I don’t think you need to see my list of goals, but it’s there in my journal, right near the beginning where I can see it.

Year At A Glance
If I were to start my journal again, I’d put this before the goals page, but never mind, it’s still easily spotable!  This is literally a calendar for 2017.  I’ve coloured in the days where there is a birthday or anniversary that I want to remember, but mostly its just an easy reference for me to use.

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Weekly Pages
This is where my system differs from the original!  Instead a future log, monthly log and a daily log, I prefer to use a weekly log.  I keep all my important things on a digital calendar that I share with my husband and I use that to schedule things months in advance.  Each week I set up my weekly spread and fill in everything from the calendar.  It’s also a great way for me to mindfully look over what’s going on in the week ahead!  This is also the bulk of my journal so I’m going to talk you through my method.

On the first page I’ve got the Planner section where everything from the calendar goes into and any other tasks I’d like to assign to a specific day go.  I’ve also got the housework section because I like to plan what I’m doing round the house each day – it encourages me to keep a tidy house (which I definitely approve of).  The housework section actually used to be a habit tracker, but I’ve found a digital tracker works much better for me.  At the bottom is a section from Upcoming Events Of Importance that I need to know about before the week it arrives.  An example is birthdays I might need to make cards for so I put in the upcoming section a week before.

Then I fold a page in half and use it to create a diary section.  Here I write down some memorable parts of my day, something I’m grateful for, or anything relating to my day that takes my fancy.  I keep this bit folded in so I can see across to the next page.  (This is known as a Dutch door system in the Bullet Journalling world).

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On the final page of my weekly spread, I’ve got a column that is often hidden by the diary section so I don’t use it for anything I want to look at quickly.  Instead I put an inspirational quote for the week – when I wrote and scheduled this post I hadn’t gotten round to deciding on this weeks quote!  The final column is a tasks list for the weeks – tasks I’d like to get done this week, but don’t mind when it gets done.  If there are any undone at the end of the week they get migrated across to the top of the next week’s list.  If this keeps happening I ask myself if the task is important and if it isn’t I’ll just cross it off and not worry about it!

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The weeklies are the foundation of my system, and what it all works on!

Collections
Finally, I have collections.  Some of these are short-term, some long-term.  They can be absolutely anything you want to put in your journal.  Short-term collections are things that I won’t need to return to after a month (or so).  For example I have a yoga tracker for the current program I’m following; some notes I took from a meeting I went to; packing lists; doodle pages; brainstorming pages; pages from when I couldn’t sleep so jotted things down randomly; and so on.  I put these in my journal on the next available page.

Here are a few examples of my short-term collections:

Long-term collections are things I want to use or refer to for longer than a month.  Personally, I like to keep these in the back of my journal so they are easily accessible and not hidden somewhere in the middle!  For example I have page for the books I read this year; a list of teas I’ve drunk (and my thoughts on them); some trackers for Colin (my pet mouse) such as his weight, notes from any vet visits, a little profile, the vets contact details, medication logs (etc.); a plant tracker for the seeds I plan to sow and grow this year; and so on!

A few examples of my long-term collections:

This completes the overview of my Bullet Journal!  While mine is fairly plain and minimalist, you can get so creative!  You can do a doodle for each day, colour and draw as much as you like, practise your best handwriting – whatever you want!

Why It Helps Me

Before I go and leave you to enjoy the rest of your day, I thought I’d summarise why using this system helps me and then leave you with some links to other blogs I follow of some truly inspirational bullet journalists.  You might not get on with it, and that’s fine, but if you’re looking for a change from the conventional calendar and diary then it might be worth considering!

This system:

  • allows me to be mindful of what I have going on during the week and plan my days accordingly
  • gives me a creative outlet that doesn’t require anything complicated
  • gives me space to write out any bad feelings and how to get round them
  • keep my life in one condensed place
  • will be great to look back over in years to come
  • is incredibly flexible for when I get bored with my current system (this happens fairly often I find)

Some inspiration links (be warned, some of them are incredibly beautiful):

  • The Original Bullet Journal Website – for all the basic information
  • Boho Berry – The writer does some beautiful pages and spreads that really inspired me when I first started (but I quickly realised that I just wasn’t going to be able to sustain such beautiful pages like she can!) and is one of my go-to inspirations for new ideas
  • Tiny Ray Of Sunshine – I love this blog for the simplicity of the journals – definitely something I had the inclination to manage!
  • Pinterest – I’ve fairly recently discovered the fully joy of Pinterest and I would thoroughly recommend having a look on there for inspiration!

I hope you’ve found this an interesting post, I haven’t yet decided what I’ll be posting about next week, but hopefully I’ll see you then!  Have a good week!

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