Hello, everyone! Susan here. You might know me as @susiebjournal on Instagram. First off, a huge thanks to Kim, from @tinyrayofsunshine, and Ryder Carroll for giving me this opportunity. Bullet journaling has been a game changer for me, and I am so excited to share my experience and the way I use my bullet journal with you.

My Bullet Journal Story

I often joke that I love the idea of organization and productivity; the lists, the systems, the color coding, the purchasing of items specifically for that purpose . . . it really gets me fired up, but when it comes time for implementation, things always come to a screeching halt. 

No matter how I tried, I hadn’t found a way to get organized in a manner that fit with my nonlinear way of thinking. My mind doesn’t always go from Step 1 to Step 2 and so on.  Often it’s jumping around from Step 1 to “Oh I need to start some laundry,” to Step 2, to Step 3, to “I need to write down the name of that book I wanted to read,” to “I need to find a recipe for fried rice,” to “wait…what was step 3 again?” I have tried a myriad of things to help my productivity, from Franklin Planners to the millions (well, it seems like it) of “to-do lists” and “reminder” apps I have down loaded on my phone.  I have always started with the best intentions but inevitably within a month or so the romance has died and I am struggling to remember why we got together in the first place.

Then, late one night in January of 2016, while deep into a binge of internet scrolling, I came across an article about the Bullet Journal. Suddenly images of us running together in slow motion through a field of wildflowers flooded my mind. Ok, ok, that didn’t really happen, but it did feel like a whole new world was opened up to me. Here was a system that could change and morph into exactly what I needed it to be at a moment’s notice. I headed to the local bookstore, bought myself a Moleskin notebook, grabbed a few pens, and was off and running.

Walkthrough

Before we start my walkthrough, I wanted to say that I hope this encourages people who want to start a bullet journal but feel they aren’t “artistic” enough, that they can do this! I love seeing all the beautiful layouts with doodles and calligraphy, but just because you don’t have that in your bullet journal doesn’t make it any less valuable. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in drawing and painting, and I only occasionally bother to draw in my bullet journal. It’s fine; it’s not a requirement. Anyone can do this.

Index

I use my index for things that I know I will reference repeatedly.  I don’t, for example, list pages that contain rapid logging or my monthly logs, since those items either won’t be looked at again once completed or they will just be moved to another page the next month. Also, if something spans a few consecutive pages, I only list the first page number.  I just think it makes it look cleaner.

Susiebjournal's Bullet Journal Index

Future Planning

At the moment I am using a Calendex to schedule future task and appointments.  I have used the original future planning layout and I have also simply skipped making a layout for this and have just used the calendar app on my phone.  All of these work equally as well for me, it just depends on what suites my fancy that go-round.

Susiebjournal's Bullet Journal Calendex

For things I would like to do in the future that don’t have a set date, I have my “In the Near Future” page.  Things that were rapid logged but don’t need to be done right away usually get migrated to this page as well when a new month begins.

Susiebjournal's Bullet Journal Near Future Collection

Monthly Log

I keep my monthly log pretty simple using the original bullet journal method.  On the left I have the days of the month listed vertically with the day of the week listed to the right. Date specific appointments and tasks are listed here.  On the right are the tasks that I need to or want to accomplish this month with the top priority items signified with an asterisk.

Susiebjournal's Bullet Journal Monthly Log

Rapid Logging

I’ve gone back and forth between using dailies and weeklies but never really felt like I was using either to my best advantage. I still use a time-ladder every once and a while to organize particularly busy days, but have since returned to simply rapid-logging things that come into my mind. This allows me to enter things quickly without having to flip to a particular page or collection. I find that my mind is less cluttered this way, which is great since as a stay at home mom with two kids, my mind is often pulled in several different directions at one time.

Susiebjournal's Bullet Journal Rapid-Logging

Bullet Journaling for Parenting

As a parent, I use my bullet journal all the time when it comes to my family. A few ways I use it are:

Notes from parenting books.

Susiebjournal's Bullet Journal Parenting Notes Collection

Homework schedules.

Susiebjournal's Bullet Journal Homework Collection

I also write down funny things my kids say or do. I love having little snippets of them in my notebook.  It’s fun to flip back every once and a while and read about their silly antics!

Another thing I do, which I have heard people gasp in shock at, is let my kids draw and write in my notebook.  We play games, practice writing, whatever keeps them entertained if needed. For me, it is also another great memory.  I love seeing the changes in their handwriting or little pictures they draw.

Susiebjournal's kid's drawings in her Bullet JournalSusiebjournal's kid's drawings in her Bullet Journal

The thing that I really want to convey is that the complete lack of a need to be systematic or orderly is what makes the bullet journal method so great.  My pages will at time have rapid logging, a recipe, phone call notes, and an entry for the #rockyourhandwriting challenge all on the same page.

Susiebjournal's Bullet Journal

This is the kind of flexibility that speaks to me and has made this the most successful method of productivity that I have ever used.

My supplies

I keep things pretty simple.  I use a Moleskine Large Squared notebook, Pilot Razor Point pens in red, black, and blue, and a small triangle that I stole borrowed from my kids’ art supplies.  Occasionally a bit of whiteout tape shows up too, for those inevitable mistakes. Meh, what can you do?

Susiebjournal's Bullet Journal Supplies

About Susan Spransy

Susan is stay-at-home mom to two kids, 8 year old Oliver and 4 year old Margaret. She is also a freelance artist and graphic designer. You can see some of her work at www.studio8250.weebly.com.
  • Such a lovely article, Susie! I’ve always thought your Bullet Journal is super approachable and your handwriting is super unique 🙂

    • Susan

      Thank you, Kim! It’s really great to hear that I have encouraged people to try bullet journaling and that it doesn’t have to feel so intimidating.

  • southlundon

    I’ve only just started bullet journalling this week and my journal certainly looks more like yours does at the moment. Thank you for making me feel less like an underachiever!

    • Susan

      Yeah! I am so glad I could help 🙂

  • Debbie Beemer

    Very approachable, thank you Susan. I LOVE that you let your kids draw and write in your book. I’ll be visiting my 4 and 7 year old grandkids soon, and now I’m going to ASK them to draw in mine.

    • Susan

      Please do! It is something you will look back at and cherish for years and years!

  • Jaye Marsh

    I think I’ve found a tribe member! I’m a Mum of two boys, same ages as your two, and I’m shredded, not merely pulled, in a dozen different directions at any given time. 9am and I feel like I’ve been run over already. I’ve been known to still have my coat/boots/bag on and desperately needing to pee an hour after getting home because of the rampaging chaos that ensues when we get in the door after school. omg.

    I’m also a professional musician, editor, and entrepreneur. Until last night, I was drowning in post-it notes and missing my Quo Vadis agenda – the iGadget is just not cutting it. Google calendar is a lifesaver but it wasn’t enough.

    My journal is looking much like yours, and I’m glad you shared this with us! I love looking at all the doodles and pretty coloured boxes on Pinterest – but I’ve just decided today that the boxes bug me in my own pages. A lot.

    Your simplicity reassured me!

    Best to you…

    Jaye

    • Susan

      Hi Jaye! It’s so nice to meet another mom! I hope bullet journaling helps you to get your life reined in :). Here’s to crazy lives and crazy wonderful kids!

  • Sarah Rabb Creekmore

    I love this! Your methods gave me permission to change several things that I didn’t consciously realize weren’t working for me, so thank you very much. Streamline, streamline, streamline! 😀

  • Christina Thompson

    I’ve wanted to start a bullet journal but have felt intimidated by it until I saw yours today. Your approach seems very doable and not so overwhelming. Letting your kids draw in yours makes it seem fun and not so rigid. As a homeschooling mom of two boys, I need a flexible, easy way to keep track of everything that still allows me to be creative too. Thanks so much for sharing your bullet journal…it inspired me that I can do this!

  • Love it and feel so freed up to just be simple. I started my first BuJo nine months ago – really got into it, but never quite “got it” to the point of using it daily. I was faithful though in taking it with me to every ER visit with my son (Type 1 Diabetes) where I have a two-page spread with all the stats on his visits, meds, blood sugars, what was done, etc. I found ER doctors were much more helpful when they saw that I wanted all details and was staying on top of the staff to make sure his needs were being met. Having all that detail in one place has proven invaluable.

    My challenge was in actually USING it for productivity on a daily basis. I’ve started a brand new journal and am part of the #planwithmechallenge for March to get re-inspired. I think I’ve figured out a system that works for me and much of it is a mix of what I’ve learned from different people.

    The one thing I’ve learned is to keep it simple. I’m not artistic and crafty. I’m creative, but not in that way. I think I was overwhelming myself with trying to make it too attractive. In fact, I’m a bit shy to even show pictures on this challenge on Instagram of my pages because they are SO plain and yet, there may be others out there just like we are that want it simple and effective.

    Your post is SO refreshing! Thank you!

  • When we go out to a restaurant, I let my kids draw on the back inside cover and last handful of pages of my bullet journal!! I agree, it creates a sweet memory, and no one else has a bullet journal like mine!

  • Suzanne

    Love this! I tried being more artistic in my bullet journal, but I liked to keep it simple. I like the page for “In the near future”. I wish my daughter was still young enough to want to draw in my journal. Those will be precious memories!

  • Mario Pabón Andraca

    Your story is my story. You had me at: “My mind doesn’t always go from Step 1 to Step 2 and so on.” OMG I love this post so much. Thank you!

  • Chelsy Miller

    I love that you let your kids draw and write in your bullet journal! I have a 3 year old and a 2 month old and one of the reasons I decided to start bullet journaling was so I could write down milestones, funny things they say, and special memories. I never thought of letting my kids actually add to the journal with their own drawings and writings. Thank you for the inspiration!

  • cate polacek

    I love seeing the more minimalist and simple bullet journals. The functionality and usefulness you’ve developed here is fabulous!.

  • “The thing that I really want to convey is that the complete lack of a need to be systematic or orderly is what makes the bullet journal method so great.”

    I agree, completely. When I first encountered what people called Bullet Journals, they all involved copious amounts of stickers, stamps, pasted pictures, etc., in journals organized into sections, so they were just Daytimers with the additional steps of creating all the little boxes and tabs by hand. The real genius of the approach that led me to try it out was the freedom to log whatever I wanted and throw in collections wherever they fit with no organization beyond the ad hoc index.

  • Patty Gierloff

    great description of how to bullet journal for your life!! i too find it great to just have with me for my random “oh, i have to remember that” moments. i tried joining the 21st century & using my phone, but if i don’t write something down, it just doesn’t mean as much to me. thanks for sharing your style.

  • Rae Roberts

    Absolutely love this post! Thank you for sharing your very useful ideas and your inspiration for us busy parents. Really great ideas and usage.