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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Istole borrowed from my kids’ art supplies. Occasionally a bit of whiteout tape shows up too, for those inevitable mistakes. Meh, what can you do?
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.