I have been Bullet Journaling for a while now. Seven whole months! I want to share a secret with you that I could shout from the rooftops. I am in LOVE with Bullet Journaling! (If you have no idea what I am talking about, feel free to watch this short video.) It is everything I have ever wanted in the perfect planner because it is 100% customizable with WONDERFUL guidelines. The ability to create my own system with someone else's bare bones structure is the perfect fit for my organizing needs. A lot of people out there are talking about their Bullet Journals. I want to spend some time sharing a broad picture of my experience with you and I will probably talk a lot more about it in the future! If you have any specific questions or want me to expand on anything I talk about here, just ask!
Month 1: Everything is New
You know those people who were always excited about picking out their new school supplies? Yeah, I was one of those. So the first and best part of the Bullet Journal is choosing the perfect notebook. Since it is customizable, the options are slightly endless. My best friend and I have made adventures out of this stage by taking "Bullet Journal Shopping Trips" to Barnes and Noble. In the first month, I'm sure my husband heard me say things like this five hundred times: "I just looooove my new notebook! Isn't it so pretty? It fits in my purse! It stacks well with all of my books! It's so clean and fresh!" He graciously affirmed my adorations. As I was learning the ins and outs, I loved writing down the month myself. It is a great time to think through the upcoming month regarding how the days and weeks fall and continues to give me a perspective that I wouldn't have if I were using a pre-built calendar. The index was also a new concept to me and I adored the idea! "A place to track all of my pages so that I'm not incessantly searching through every page? Brilliant!" If you aren't familiar with the Bullet Journal, you should know that there is a system of suggested identifiers, such as bullets, stars, exclamation marks, circles, etc. that can be written beside line items to indicate tasks, notes, thoughts, important data, and more. I absolutely loved these and couldn't wait to use every single one of them.
Month 2: Down to Business
My second month of using the Bullet Journal fell in December and it was the perfect opportunity to test it out with all of the varying duties that the holiday season holds. I wrote pages and pages of daily lists, used some of the basic identifiers and absolutely fell in love with the migration system that is suggested. The migration system creates space at the end of each day to move a task forward a day or forward a month or two, to decide it doesn't need to be completed at all, and to cross unnecessary tasks off the list. This helped me daily value priorities and timelines efficiently. All of these together reduced my list upkeep time and also helped me almost eliminate sticky notes and random lists that seemed to consume my former pre-bullet journaling life.
Month 3: What other features exist?!
When January rolled around, with it's glories of goals and fresh starts, I realized that there were so many more features available to me in the vast world of Bullet Journaling than the Daily Lists that had been monopolizing my time in December. I had barely touched the month calendar or the idea of collections. January was the perfect time to use the idea of collections for goals, dreams, and new ideas. It was also a less overwhelming month to switch to using the new calendar.
Month 4: Hits Full Stride
In February, something amazing happened. I started waking up with less stress because my day was already in order. The routine structure of the Bullet Journal let me already have a general idea of what needed to be accomplished each day. I now had a rhythm down for my mornings and knew how to tackle each list making conundrum.
Month 5: Evaluate EVERYTHING
In March, I read Laura Vanderkam's Essays/mini e-books, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend, and What the Most Successful People Do at Work, which launched me into re-evaluating all of my time management systems. I tracked my hours and rethought all of my goals for reading, blogging, working out, and eating. I thought through each thing, how much time I wanted to spend in each area and what kind of a daily routine would work best for me each day. I was really surprised when I found the key to normalizing my schedule: creating a hair washing schedule. I know it's a little weird, but that was the wrench in my time management planning. What handy dandy tool do you think helped me write out and process through all of these things? That's right! My Bullet Journal!
Month 6: Customize & Trial and Error
March's deep thinking led me to processing the customization of my Bullet Journal. I started to ask myself questions about how to best structure my calendars and my daily lists in ways that would help me meet my goals. I made three big changes that stuck like super glue. The first, was creating a blogging and social media calendar. This helped me focus on goals for writing. The second, was creating a weekly page of goals. This helped me overview and plan what really needed to get done each week. Once I had an overview for the week, I could ask myself what items could get added in, and what should be pushed off for another week. This was such a helpful tool. The final customization was the doozy that has eliminated stress and introduced more rest into my life. I only let myself plan 8-12 tasks and events a day. Of course I still do extra things like unloading the dishwasher, and picking up that piece of fuzz on the floor, this is not an overly stringent rule. Four of those 8-12 tasks are always "read Bible, workout, shower, and read articles in RSS feed." If I don't plan for those four things to get done every day, I tend to rush them or run out of time for them altogether... which leads to grumpy, lazy, stinky, stressed Rebecca...which is not a good combination, I promise. 8-12 tasks may not seem like a lot to you, but it helped me to be reasonable with what I can actually accomplish each day. It has shaped the way that I say yes and no to people and has helped me to feel ok with turning down opportunities and letting others step into roles that need to be filled. I can't emphasize enough how beneficial this has been for me!
Month 7: Hits Stride Again
May was the best month yet of Bullet Journaling. I felt like I hit a second, more full stride with the processes, and this time around they were more succinct and tailored in a way that helped me structure my day and set healthy priorities. I was more consistent this month. I also had some pretty big last minute addtions to my schedule and I was able to handle them smoothly (except for the lunch date that I stood up the day that I forgot to open my Bullet Journal) because I had everything written down!
I am already loving my new notebook for the month of June and am excited about continuing for another six months!
Do you Bullet Journal? Do you have any tweaks that have helped you thrive? I would love to hear about them in the comments!