You’ve purchased your bullet journal supplies and you’re ready to go. What’s next?
Take 15 minutes to brainstorm what you want out of this journal. My brainstorming list included keeping track of books I want to read, restaurants I want to try, inspiring quotes, a way to keep track of what needs to be done not only today but also during the week, a gratitude journal, and a way to keep track of my progress on habits I’m trying to keep (and also those I’m trying to break!). Other ideas include financial goals, school or work deadlines, or your bucket list. The options are limitless- this is YOUR journal. And don’t worry, if you think of something else you want to keep in your journal, you can always put it on the next available page. You don’t have to plan it all out at once. Just make sure you add your pages to your Table of Contents so that you can refer back to them easily.
Long Term Lists
I have a million ideas for future projects floating in my head, and I’m always forgetting them. The long term list lets me dump them in the journal and then forget them until it’s time to remember them. My long term lists include Books, Writing Goals, Birthdays, Restaurants, Gift Ideas, and Quotes. Now, when I’m reading through the New York Times Book Review, I can jot down books that seem interesting. One month later, when I’m working on filling out my library hold list, I have a handy list of books waiting for me. And I didn’t have to remember the name or author of the book.
This might be my favorite part of my journal. Every month, I take 10 minutes to draw up a little chart where I can track habits like alcohol, exercise, blog posting, and flossing. This chart speaks to the “numbers” side of me- I LOVE seeing my progress and it’s always satisfying to mark off another day. You can track habits like sugar consumption or meditating. Trying to break a chip eating habit? Here’s a great way to keep yourself accountable.
I love a good to-do list- particularly the part where you get to check off an item. I also like knowing what I have to get done in a week so that I can parcel out items over the days. This is also where I keep my weekly grocery shopping lists.
After I’ve gotten the kids off to school and the day is stretched out in front of me, I take 2 minutes to jot down what needs to be done during the day. Appointments, household tasks, shopping- you name it, it’s there. This gives me a quick look on the day. I will often take a look back at the weekly to-do list to see what items from there can be done today. And I will also look at the day before to see if there’s anything that was supposed to get done and didn’t. I can easily roll those into today’s list. Additionally, I keep a little chart with a dinner list as a reference for when I get stuck for what to make for dinner.
Gratitude and Journal
I’ve always loved the idea of keeping a daily journal as a way to remember what’s happening in my life. But I’ve never been able to keep that habit. By keeping a gratitude list with my daily to-dos, it’s super easy and quick to remember something about the day for which I’m grateful. Someone’s smile, a clean sink, etc. Additionally, if I skip a week of bullet journaling (say for vacation), then I take a minute when I get back to write a few sentences about that missed week.
- Is this more of a time suck instead of a time saver?
How much time do you need to put into all of this? The short and long answer is: As much or little as you want. In the beginning, you will want to take the time to brainstorm and then set up your lists. I think it took me about 30 minutes to do this part (it helps that I’m not into making it look too fancy). After that, it’s about 10 minutes on Sunday jotting down your weekly to-do list and then a couple of minutes each morning writing out your daily to-do list.
2. What if I can’t draw?
You can see my journal is pretty basic and bare bones. My focus is more on functionality than drawings. For me, the simple text in regular pen and pencil is actually quite beautiful. BUT, if you’re the artistic type and that brings you joy, by all means create away!
3. Do you have any recommendations for other bullet journal sites?
My little blog here is always a resource, and if you have any questions, post them below. If you type Bullet Journal into Pinterest, you’ll get plenty of ideas. I also like bohoberry – she’s FULL of ideas.
What layout ideas have you come up with that I need to put into my journal? Let me know in the comments!
Check out Part 1 of my Bullet Journal series where I talk about supplies and set up right here.