When I was asked to write a blog post for the Bullet Journal Blog, I instantly said yes. The idea of being able to contribute to a product & style of organization that has given me so much in my own life seemed like a wonderful opportunity to repay the favor. July was the 1 year anniversary of my first public post on Instagram with my Bullet Journal® work. Though I started actually using the system in late 2015, it wasn’t until last July (2016) that I felt comfortable showing others what I was using to stay organized. Since that first post, I’ve found community among fellow journalers, battled with depression and anxiety, and used my journal to help me navigate my journey post-college graduation. I’ve learned a lot in the last year, and reflecting on it for this post reminded me of a few key layouts that have stood out to me for various reasons. I hope that as you move through your own Bullet Journal journey you will be able to take something away from this post that aides you, whether or not you use any of these ideas 🙂

Daily Spreads:

I’ve changed my style numerous times throughout my year-long journey. Something that has always remained consistent has been the importance of having a small flip-style notebook by my side. With anxiety as a constant factor in my life, sometimes taking the time to write out a weekly planning layout is a daunting task. When this anxiety creeps into my system, I use my smaller notebook to write out my daily lists. Here are two styles I use, both minimalist:

To-Do List with Bottom-Page Timeline:

Alec's To Do List in his Bullet Journal

This type of layout allows for quick notes about daily tasks, while also providing a visual reminder of how much time can be spent on each task throughout the day. You can decide whether or not to include time stamps on the bottom timeline – some days I do, some days I do not.

Daily Timeline with Daily Goals:

Alec's Timeline in his Bullet Journal

This spread is predominantly focused on the timeline as a visual cue – the daily goals are provided at the bottom of the page, but the main portion is dedicated to the timeline. I like to use this spread when I’m feeling the need to be a little more artsy, but still have a time crunch.

The Habit Tracker:

Alec's Habit Tracker in his Bullet Journal

I’m the type of person who needs to check off boxes when I finish a task to feel accomplished. Without that finishing touch, the task or goal doesn’t feel complete. With the habit tracker spread, I can fill in a box for every habit I either complete or avoid. Everything is fair game here; making your bed, drinking water, reading book, avoiding junk food, taking a 30 minute walk. If you can make it into a habit, you can include it in this spread.

I usually do a month-long layout, so I can look back each month to see my progress (or, sometimes… lack of progress). Use whichever colors work best for you – I prefer rainbow, but I’ve seen some blue tone or primary color spreads that have worked for folks over the last year.

Mood Tracker:

Alec's Year in Pixels in his Bullet Journal

Created by Camille of @passioncarnets, this tracker has helped me SO much in the last 6 months that I’ve been using it. My version is a little different from the original than Camille’s, but still retains the basic goal: to track your emotions throughout the year. I use two columns, one for morning emotions, one for evening emotions. For the months that have less than 31 days, I color the “missing” days black.

I’ve found that this spread has helped me effectively recognize when I need to ask for help from friends and family, especially if I find myself stuck in a period of “sadness” or “frustration”. Having depression and anxiety is tough, but by being able to track when I’m in a rut, or am feeling down on myself, I am able to reach out and get support that I need.

If you want a cool way to track your emotions, are struggling with mental health and want a way to look back in a year to see your progress, and/or are looking for an interesting way to show yourself how you show up depending on the time of day or time of year, I would 10/10 recommend this layout.

Fun Spreads:

Alec's fun spread in his Bullet Journal

The best thing about journaling and using the Bullet Journal system is that there are exponential ways for you to adapt your own preferences, style, and interests into your own journal. Have fun with it! If there’s an idea you want to try, go for it! Need to track something? Perfect – put it into your Bullet Journal 🙂

Materials:

Just in case you were curious, I use the following materials in the majority of my spreads:

-Stabilo Point 88 FineLiners

-Moleskine Notebooks

-Rhodia Notebooks

-Zebra Pen writing supplies

-Regular 12” Ruler

Thank You!

Thank you for spending some time among the spreads I’ve used over the last year! Hopefully you can use these as inspiration for your own journey. If you want to see more spread ideas, you can join me on Instagram: @FischrJournals

All the best,

Alec

About Alec Fischer

Alec Fischer is an award-winning director, social justice advocate, and member of the Bullet Journaling community. Based in Minneapolis, he uses his journaling work to discuss how expressing creativity and writing can help combat issues with mental health.
  • Taylor Cochran

    I like your timeline idea! I used a similar style on a weekly spread when I was busy. Now that I have a schedule that is more free than before I haven’t found reason to use anything like it. This however makes me want to incorporate it into a daily log set up of some kind. Thank you!

  • Susan White

    Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed the peek into your journal.

  • Beachgirl

    Thank you for sharing! I use a second journal as well, I refer to it as my ‘scratch journal.’ I write anything in it, in any order, style, etc. Some pages are full of random post-its when I couldn’t get to my journal. I transfer to my Bullet Journal what is needed. I love your timeline! Yours is the first that makes sense to my mind!

  • Jennifer Wagner

    LOVE this. Thank you for sharing. Blessings to you.

  • As a person with depression and anxiety, the bullet journal has already helped me so much just in being able to focus on what needs to get done and to know that I’m not going to forget things. It gives me brain space to worry about other things and to study and to work rather than be concerned about keeping lists in my head or on a bunch of messy bits of paper scattered about.
    I am SO pleased, then, that you’ve mentioned anxiety and depression here, and that you’ve discussed a bit of how this method of record keeping is useful for those, because I entirely agree. Thank you <3.

  • jugarboo

    Very excited to try that mood tracker. Great post!

  • Suzanne Casamento

    Thank you Alec for sharing your ideas. I stumbled across a friends’ Facebook post mentioning Bullet Journaling, googled it and went directly out to purchase a Bullet Journal. After watching Boho Berry on Youtube for some tips on getting started and now watching your getting started, I have begun my set up and am excited about wrangling the many moving parts of my life into submission. Also, thanks for sharing about your anxiety and depression. It’s brave to put that out into the world and you are supporting so many you can not see with your admission and giving them solutions. Hope. Well done!
    -Suz