For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a planner. My mother still tells stories about third-grade me getting protective over my standard, school-distributed agenda, hating when teachers and assistants would mark up all my carefully laid-out tasks. Everything from pen colors, stickers, and post-its were carefully chosen for perfect organization. Over the years, my planning style has evolved and become more and more customized. Last year, I took the plunge and started a Bullet Journal: a totally customizable, format-as-you go, minimalist notebook to plan out everything in my life.
Starting a Bullet Journal can be daunting at first. There are so many ways to set up your planner, and there are no right or wrong ways to do so. It can be tough for a perfectionist like myself! I can’t tell you the number of times I wrote down a date wrong or had my hand slip right as I put my pen to paper. The best advice I found, going into it, was to let go of your mistakes and imperfections and start every page like it’s a brand new start. It also helped to work with an old notebook I had lying around for a week or so until I had my daily and weekly entries down.
When I first open my Bullet Journal, I have my year at a glance, some general goals, and six months of calendars like these. I find that visualizing long-term due dates and important events like this helps me plan ahead much easier than the traditional future long that some bullet journalists use. As I begin to plan further and further ahead, I add more monthly calendars into my book and put their location in my index.
Here’s a look at what my daily and weekly entries usually looked like. I switch up my dividers and headers often because I always get inspired by all the different ways Bullet Journalists have theirs done! The only constant I have is a small section for assignments and deadlines for my classes and different organizations. Having them all in one place every week helps me stay on task and assign them to different days based on priority.
Although I’m usually very good about keeping up with daily entries, there are times when I have a few days off or am sick and neglect my poor planner. Whenever there’s a gap, I like to fill space with my favorite quotes, doodles, and other bits. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is my favorite novel and makes a few appearances when I get into these ruts.
One of my favorite parts of Bullet Journaling is the ability to add in lists, charts, and logs whenever you need them. I’ve used social media trackers for my job and memory and gratitude logs just to help me reflect throughout the year. Sometimes I fall out of it, like in July when I was busy traveling abroad, but I love being able to look back and remember the little things that stood out to me every day.
I usually will give myself a couple lines for every day, just to note down the most important parts of my day or what I was most grateful for. I could never keep a proper diary growing up, as writing felt more like a chore than anything. Two lines a day is manageable, and easy to do when I’m waiting for a meeting or class to start as I always have my journal with me.
Some months I decide to focus more on gratitude, especially if I know I’ll be busy and in need of some positivity. October was so hectic with exams, recruiting, and meetings every day. I really appreciated the chance to sit down and think about the best things in my life once a day.
Now that December has come around and the new year is right around the corner, I’ve begun transferring my running lists and tasks into my 2017 Bullet Journal. I have decided to use it not only as an agenda but as a journal for recording everything and collecting memories throughout the year. I plan to keep my weekly tasks and basic black ink the same but introduce more illustrations and reflective entries. I may even throw in some washi tape to save tickets and other little mementos — crazy, right?
If you’re curious which notebook I like to use, it’s the Leuchtturm1917 Medium Dotted Hardcover notebook. It’s nice quality and has a nice, subtle, dotted grid that makes creating straight lines and connecting lines a breeze. I also keep a little postcard in the back pocket for whenever I want a straight edge. The multiple bookmarks are perfect for my monthly calendar and memories log. I was so happy with it that I bought the army green one for 2017!
Here’s to another fun year of being the dorky girl with the planner!
How do you like to plan out your week?