I remember when my mom and I went to the Franklin Covey store in the mall around the early 2000s. She picked out a most professional, dignified, pre-organized planner a working woman of the ‘90s could buy. I mean… it was a planner brand that had their own store in the mall. The magnitude of planning is nothing new.
But as all things do, planners morphed over the years based on any number of factors from the market need for various functions (Hello, basic academic planners that start the year in July) to what kind of soul they exude. Do you prefer the sleek black exterior? The bright and big? The small but with a snarky or inspirational quote on the front, proclaiming your purpose?
I was wrapped up with a sleeping baby on my chest one night and stumbled on YouTube into the world of the bullet journal. Just search bullet journal junkies on Pinterest or Instagram. Go ahead, but make sure you have time. I saw videos of women taking apart pieces of different notebooks and binding together others, adding stickers and tabs, writing methodically and flipping pages to set up some more with rubber bands and clips and so on. It reminded me of the methodical process of a ballerina breaking in a new pair of pointe shoes.
First off, don’t get overwhelmed. The essence is the concept of the bullet—the rapid, concise documentation that is there to serve YOU. Basically you just need paper bound together and a writing utensil. As you use the journal, or through research, you may find you like lined, blank, dotted, or graph paper best. I’m a fan of lined and I have a small pack of graph paper with adhesive top that I add in on occasion. I write with whatever pen I have because I don’t do any design, but some people color code parts or all of their design.
Next, set up your journal. Again, there are all sorts of intricate descriptions of the journal. Most have a key (for what each of your bullet symbols mean), index (table of contents), numbered pages, and various logs (a.k.a. daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly calendars of various kinds). Personally, I purchased a $1, very thin calendar that I rubber-banded into the middle of my journal. It is all I need for the purpose of date-specific tracking. I then have pages set aside for daily and monthly to-do lists, goals, and wish lists. I review them daily, weekly, or monthly depending on the need and take with me to the next page what I still believe is worth my time. I have space for a monthly budget and family finances, and a grid to track some habits like working out, eating, alcohol intake, gratitude, sleep routine, and so on. I dabble in meal-planning.
The point is make the journal work for YOU, be a part of YOU, represent and encourage YOU. Brainstorm what YOU need to make your journal fit your needs. Start simple. Watch some videos, peruse Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration. Perhaps even do a practice run on loose-leaf paper or in an old journal before you invest time in a system—and know you can change along the way! That sort of flexibility is never a fad.
Lynette is a mom of three children from one year to age five. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.