My Experience Using a Bullet Journal

Since discovering the Franklin Covey planning system as a college student, I've always been slightly obsessed with having a paper planner. Starting a new year with a fresh planner (or fresh refill pages, in the case of my beloved purple compact FC binder) is something that I still look forward to each year.

Over the past several years I've tried different kinds of planners (Plum Paper, Erin Condren Life Planner, Day Designer) but never felt like I had one that was perfect for me. Last year I started hearing a lot of buzz about bullet journals and wanted to give it a try.

Since January, I've been using a bullet journal and it's been working well for me. Inspired by Alexandra's reviews of the Erin Condren Life Planner, I thought I'd share my thoughts on bullet journaling. I'll share how I use my bullet journal: what I record, what tools I use, and what I like and dislike about it. This is far from a comprehensive guide, so if you'd like to know how to get started I recommend this post on the Lazy Genius Collective if you want to dive right in, or this post on Modern Mrs. Darcy if you just want to dip your toes.

{tools I use for my bullet journal}

{what I record in my bullet journal}

  • Future Log: a list of all upcoming dates and events to remember. I look at that list when I'm making my monthly calendar. 

  • Calendar: a calendar to show birthdays and other important dates for the whole year.

  • Monthly calendar: a list format of the dates of the month marked with important dates. Next to that list I write down my monthly goals. 

  • Daily list. This is what makes the bullet journal like a planner for me. Each day I write my to do list of things I want to get done, but I also include other things I'd like to remember about the day, like what we had for dinner or a funny thing that Jona said. 

  • Book logs. I keep track of the books I read and the books I read to Jona. For me, I include the date I finish the book and the star rating (out of 5), and for Jona I include the month and either a smiley face or a heart. I don't write down the books he doesn't like because we don't end up reading them much. 

  • Other standalone items. I also include notes from vacation, quotes or Bible verses I like, my personal happiness commandments and other various items that I want to remember.

{what I like about my bullet journal}

  • It is completely customizable. I love that I can include exactly what I want and not worry about running out of space, or alternatively, having unnecessary space. For me it is the perfect blend of planner, journal, tracker, and log book. 
  • It is adaptable. Because there's an index of everything I include in my bullet journal, it's okay to start something on one page and then pick it up again several pages later. As long as I record it in the index I'm able to find everything easily. 
  • It's portable. My bullet journal is smaller than most planners I've had in the past, which makes it easier to carry around. 

{what I don't like}

  • It doesn't work well for me as a calendar. I still use Google Calendar for family appointments, blog post planning, and recurring events like when to give Ellie her flea/tick medication. I can make weekly and monthly goals or task lists, but if I want to look ahead for the next month it's a little challenging (unless I have a specific date to look for in my future log). I'm sure there is a way to make my bullet journal work better for me, but I haven't quite figured it out. 
  • Sometimes I miss the ease of a planner that just lays it all out there for you. I'm not sure I'd trade that for all the ways I've tailored my bullet journal to fit my needs, though. 
Do you use a paper planner or anything similar? I'd love to hear about what your planning and tracking methods are. 

Linking with Shooting Stars Mag for the Planner Hop. 

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