Bullet Journaling is both art and science. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, but before I go into how I bullet journal, you’ll do well to understand the basics by visiting BulletJournal.com.
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Blending pretty planning and bullet journaling
I started my planner journey with just monthly and weekly spreads. Several months ago, I realized that a two page weekly layout didn’t contain enough room for all the little tasks I needed to track on a daily basis. That’s when I began to add bullet journal pages in between my weekly spreads. Every page, even the bullet journal pages, can be made aesthetically pleasing, but bullet journaling allows you to dig into the details that pretty planning just doesn’t have room for.
That’s why I ditched the pre-printed planner pages about a year ago. I created my own two-page vertical weekly layout, and I print both the left and right side of my weekly pages with a dot grid on the opposite side. The one behind the right side of the week flips to Monday’s dot grid page. The dot grid page for the weekend flips to reveal the left half of the following weekly spread.
The Parable of the Bucket
So, my explanation of how I plan doesn’t work unless you understand the parable of the bucket. The short version is that you have three stacks of different sized rocks – Big, Medium and Small. You also have bags of pebbles and sand. And you have a bucket. You have to fit all of the rocks, pebbles and sand in the bucket. The bucket is your life, and if you fill it with sand (busy work) first, you’ll never have room for the Big Rocks (the things that you value most).
No matter how you sift and dig through the sand, and try to shove it this way and that, you’ll never be able to fit more than one Big Rock in the bucket that is your life. That’s why you add the Big Rocks first.
Applying the parable to my bullet journal
My big, annual plans are kept in a tab labeled My Goals. These are my resolutions, big things I want to try to accomplish that will take a year or more. These are my Big Rocks.
Each month, I add monthly goals to my two-page monthly spread. I base them on those big, over-arching objectives in My Goals. I also add date-specific things like birthdays, anniversaries, deadlines, etc. Some of these are Big Rocks, some are Medium Rocks.
When I start planning each week, I add weekly goals to my weekly spread based on my monthly goals in my monthly spread. Plus, I add in birthdays and deadlines that showed-up on my monthly view, but I have more room to add more information. In my weekly spread, I’ll have Big Rocks, Medium Rocks, and Small Rocks.
Each day’s bullet journal page contains the minutiae of my plans. In my bullet journal pages, that’s where you’ll find the Pebbles (and Big Rocks, Medium Rocks and Small Rocks).
The layout of my bullet journal pages
This is subject to change, but my layout generally contains the following sections:
The day of the week, date, and anything that showed-up on my monthly view, like birthdays and deadlines, doctor’s appointments, and meetings. Anything that is time-specific (even if it’s all day), I usually place it in the header. If I’m feeling frisky, I’ll add the forecast for the day, or something like that.
I usually label this section Important or Priorities. The idea is to give myself a place to look to keep my eyes on the big objectives.
This is my to-do list. Some of it will be pulled from my objectives – the little tasks that I need to do in order to accomplish that bigger objective. Most of it, however, comes up in the middle of the day. Someone stops in my office and asks for a report, or I get a call from a vendor asking about an invoice and I need to track down the invoice. My tasks section is by far the biggest section of the bullet journal page.
I’m always trying to make better habits. With that in mind, I frequently devote the bottom section of my bullet journal page to a variety of trackers. If I’m trying to do more of something, or less of something, I’ve probably got a tracker for it on my bullet journal page.
Change is the only constant…
No one is married to their bullet journal layout, least of all me. I recently went through a job change. I expect that’s going to have an effect on how I use my bullet journal. In fact, just last weak I posted my February bullet journal pages.
Do you bullet journal? How has your bullet journal layout changed over time? Tell me about it in the comments.