Hello, everyone! My name is Liz (@bonjournal_) and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share my bullet journal with you. Many thanks to Kim for the invitation to write this post, and of course, to Ryder Carroll for sharing his system with the world!
Throughout my academic career, I have tried a number of organizational systems, including templated planners, writing lists on loose-leaf paper, and more recently, sticky notes. As I transitioned from graduate school (where I was working on a single, focused project and setting my own deadlines) into a professional position, I realized these systems could not cut it. In my new job, I was leading several projects with defined deadlines and attending meetings all day, every day! Further, my activities were no longer the same from one day to the next. I needed a change!
I came across the bullet journal system in early 2016 when doing a google search on how to plan and stay organized. I soon started following many wonderful bullet journalists on Instagram (@decadethirty, @penpapersoul, @tinyrayofsunshine!) and became hooked. I started journaling according to the traditional system outlined by Ryder, without many deviations. As I became more comfortable with the general concept, I started to really capitalize on the flexibility of the bullet journal system.
My bullet journal style is relatively minimalistic, although, as you’ll see, nothing brings me more joy than decorating my notebook with flowers and doodles.
I’ve never been a fan of the index, mostly because searching through a list of seemingly random entries was no better than just flipping through the pages of the journal. More recently, I have been organizing my index by entry type: monthly items (the meat of my journal), special trackers/collections, and tutorials. It makes it much easier to reference old pages.
My future log is fairly straightforward – I separate the pages into columns for the upcoming months. I list birthdays, appointments, deadlines, and events here. It usually doesn’t get too crowded, because most of my work appointments are kept electronically, so the future log is primarily personal items.
Monthly logs are my favorite to set up. They help me tremendously because I very easily get lost in day-to-day activities. It’s nice every four or five weeks to take a step back and think about what I need to get done in the following month. Here is my process: I migrate items from my future log as well as my electronic work calendar. One modification I’ve made is that I put my dates down the center of the page, instead of on the left. That way, I visually separate personal items (left) and work items (right). This is especially helpful now that my son is joining sports teams, working on projects, and going to parties! I could imagine this system being further modified to accommodate several activities (or people) by splitting the pages into as many columns as needed.
Although not part of the traditional bullet journal system, I incorporate a very simple weekly log, because I’ve found that it is imperative to maintaining productivity throughout the week. I list only my appointments/meetings in the daily slots (not tasks) as well as high-level goals for the week (finish manuscript, complete project X, etc.).
I look at my weekly log every night to help guide what goes into my daily tasks. At the end of every workday, I spend a few minutes migrating my appointments from my weekly log and use my high-level goals to break down into specific tasks.
On particularly busy days, I use a timeladder to schedule my taskts alongside my meetings. It helps keep me on track to get everything done! I also track a few things here: water intake, exercise, food, and whether or not I’ve taken my vitamins.
I use monthly trackers to follow my health and wellness as well as my household cleaning activities.
These two areas most often get “left behind” after I’ve spent a long day at work and then maximized my time with my family at night. My health tracker used to make me feel guilty. Now, I make the spread every month and only transfer my progress from my daily log every once and a while. It helps me assess my progress without making me feel bad about myself for skipping a day or two!
Every once and a while, I dedicate several pages to long-term project planning. The format of these collections changes each time, but I generally split up columns into quarters (3 months) and list some of my longer-term goals according to the projects/objectives that I have. I reference my project planning pages when I set up my monthly and weekly logs to make sure I stay on track.
My bullet journal obviously keeps my life organized, but the real joy comes from the art that I am able to incorporate. I have always drawn and painted, but usually in dedicated notebooks that I never carried around with me. The result was that I was drawing less and less. Now, when I have a few minutes of down time, I turn to a blank page and draw a flower or two. When I come to that page for planner activities, I simply design my spread around it. About once a week, I post a step-by-step process for how to draw flowers (Note from Kim: check out Liz’s floral tutorials on her Instagram! They’re beautiful!). The best part is watching people uncover a talent for art that they didn’t know they ever had!
Leuchtturm 1917 Dot Grid or Scribbles That Matter Dot Grid
Tombow Fudenosuke Hard-Tip Brush Pen
Stencil by InkbyJeng
Before I go, I’d like you to know that your bullet journal is your own. It is unique and lovely. It doesn’t have to be perfect, or contain beautiful art, or take up all of your time. My journal fulfills all of my needs – organizational to creative. How does your bullet journal serve you?