I have always prided myself on being able to remember things without writing them down. It seems silly to create a daily task list when it is all easily accessible in my head.
Lately, however, my memory is not quite what it used to be. I blame five kids who are running in a hundred different directions, but sometimes things slide through the cracks because my mind cannot keep up with the increased demand.
Occasionally, I wake up in a panic, fearful of what I have forgotten, like when my child was the only one at his 100th day of school celebration who did not have 100 small items to share with his class. Ugh.
Perhaps I have early onset dementia, but I blame it on motherhood.
A few of my favorite bloggers have been talking about their bullet journals lately, which are flexible analog planners. The idea intrigued me based on my increasing brain lapses, so I decided to give it a try.
I do not enjoy planning and am not very good at it, so I was initially overwhelmed when I looked at the official bullet journal website and watched the video explaining how it worked. It seemed complicated and challenging to learn. Then I read this article and a few others that made it feel doable, so I jumped on board.
Although you can get started with any notebook, I wanted something a little nicer that a composition book. I ordered the Leuchtturm 1917 medium hardcover dotted notebook in lemon. The color is beautiful, the quality is good, and it fits nicely inside my purse. I also wanted some nice pens and, since I am a stickler for color, I decided on assorted Staedtler fineliner pens (which I LOVE).
I am only a week in, so I am no expert, but here is a quick lowdown:
The creators recommend that you incorporate several elements into your journal: a future log for events in the coming months, a monthly log, and a daily log, with accompanying task lists for each one. Then you migrate tasks between those lists until they are complete or no longer necessary.
You can also add pages for collections, which are lists of whatever you want to remember. I created one for books that I want to read, home repairs (those annoying little things just keep piling up), and blog post ideas. In the past, I wrote lists on whatever paper was handy and could never find them again. I love that all of my ideas are finally in one place.
I also appreciate that you can add pages in any order because the index keeps track of where everything is. (Another reason I love the Leuchtturm notebooks…they have an official index page.) When you add a page, simply write it in your index. Then you can use threading to tell you where to find the next relevant page.
For instance, my daily log starts on page 6 and jumps to page 16, where the next daily log resides. I know to go to page 16 when I see that little arrow on the bottom of the page, even if there are several unrelated pages between them.
Right now, I am keeping it super simple. I discovered within a couple of days that I prefer to use my digital calendar. I tried copying a monthly calendar into my bullet journal, and it felt redundant. Plus, the monthly calendar is constantly changing because my husband and kids also use it. It is easier for me to keep track of appointments and events there, so I am ditching the monthly log in my journal.
The future log is still blank, as well as the monthly task list. Planning tasks too far out (yes, even a month) feels overwhelming, so I am sticking to the daily log for now. I can always add in those long-term planning pages later if I feel so inclined.
Before I go to bed, I write down everything that I need to do the next day, transferring appointments from my digital calendar so I can see everything at a glance. It is usually not in any order because I just write things as I think of them.
I put a triangle next to appointments, a square next to tasks, a heart next to things I want to remember for sentimental reasons, and a dash next to thoughts, notes, observations, etc. (Maybe I should use a bullet instead since it is a bullet journal.)
When I finish something, I color the empty square or triangle next to that item. If I do not finish it, I either cross it out completely if it is no longer relevant or put a right arrow through it, signifying that I need to move that task to the next day.
I am still figuring this out, so you can see I made some mistakes, initially putting triangles on things like folding laundry and cleaning the bathroom when I should have used squares. I am learning to suppress my perfectionistic tendencies here because it doesn’t have to be perfect to be effective. Plus, I am the only one looking at it, so as long as I know what it means, all is well.
So far, I like this system because it is extremely flexible. Since it is a book full of blank pages, I can utilize it in the way that makes the most sense to me.
I still have much to learn, but my initial experience has been positive. This planner might just be the one that works for me. For how many different systems I have tried and failed MISERABLY to utilize effectively, that is saying something.
Here are a couple of resources that I found helpful if you are interested in learning more:
– How to Bullet Journal: The Absolute Ultimate Guide, The Lazy Genius
– How I Use My Bullet Journal, The Art of Simple
I would love to hear your thoughts on bullet journaling. Have you tried it? Does it work for you? If not, how do you stay organized?