How I Use My Planner and Bullet Journal

I have always loved having a paper planner. Even the free school planners they gave out at my high school brought me a ridiculous amount of joy. I remember getting my first Franklin Covey binder with refillable planner pages when I was in college, and shortly after that discovering that there was a whole world of planning systems out there to explore.

In the past several years I've tried out many different versions, from the Erin Condren Life Planner to the Day Designer. I find myself always searching for a new planner each year, hoping to find the planner holy grail I suppose.

However, one system that has stuck around is the bullet journal. I started using a bullet journal in 2017, and have used one on and off for the past few years. A couple of years ago I experimented with using both a "regular" paper planner and using my bullet journal as a reading journal. This year I'm once again trying out a hybrid planner + bullet journal method.

It happened by accident. I bought the Cultivate What Matters PowerSheets Goal Planner for 2020 after a lot of planner research, only to discover that yes, it is a goal planner, but not a daily planner. Not having a daily planner for me is the equivalent of not having coffee, so I remedied the situation by purchasing a Leuchtturm notebook and starting my 2020 bullet journal.

{what I love about my PowerSheets Goal Planner}

  • The Cultivate What Matters method walks you through setting goals that truly matter to you. It is time-consuming to go through her brainstorming steps, but I found it to be time well spent.
  • You put in a lot of time in the planning process, but as a result carrying out your goals is a matter of putting things on the calendar and thoughtfully checking in on progress. 
  • Once you get to the point where you're ready to create goals, her system of breaking them down works well for me. You have mini-goals within a big goal, and smaller steps within those. From there I just assign dates to those and put them on the calendar! 
  • The monthly Tending List is a helpful one-page overview of what you want to accomplish during the month. You list bigger monthly goals, things you want to do weekly, and also daily habits you want to track. Currently I'm tracking yoga, prayer, and gratitude. 
  • There's also a page at the end of every month that helps you reflect. I am a very future-focused thinker, so refection does not come naturally to me. Having this built in, guiding me through monthly reflection, is extremely helpful. 
  • It's bright, colorful, and so pretty! Obviously this has nothing to do with its functionality, but aesthetics do matter, and this one suits me. 

{what I love about my bullet journal}

  • It is so flexible. I love being able to keep track of so many things in one place. 
  • It is the "just right" daily planner for me. Currently I do weekly spreads, which lets me plan out the week ahead, but still jot down to-do items for each day as they come up. It takes a bit of time on Sunday to create the next week's spread, but I find that to be fun and relaxing. 
  • It is a great way to track my books. I have bounced back and forth between different book tracking methods, and I'm back to my bullet journal. I still use Goodreads, but for some reason that is not nearly as satisfying as writing down my books. 
  • It's the perfect place to keep track of other things I want to remember, such as the funny things Jona and Violet say. 
  • Because I combined it with a more long-term planner, I don't have to worry about trying to keep a calendar in my bullet journal. That didn't work for me in the past, I found it too hard to do any long-range planning (beyond the current month) in my bullet journal. 
So far I am happy with this system of using both planning methods. Do you use a paper planner or bullet journal? I'd love to learn about your planning methods. 

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