Before I get into the details of how I set up each month of my journal, I should tell you that I do not consider myself anywhere near being artistic and that when it comes to my journal, it truly is my life and if I lost it, I would be screwed. There are no cloud back-ups, there are no copies of my thoughts and memories that I’ve jotted down. My journal houses my calendar, my to-do list, my kids' activities, reflections and so much more. I bring it with me almost everywhere so that I can keep track of my calendar or write something that I just know I will forget.
When I first started Bullet Journaling, I was enamoured with the journalers on Instagram who had beautiful doodles, used water color and created elaborate designs. I tried to emulate them only to quickly learn that, 1) I did not have the same artistic ability, 2) I really didn’t have the time and 3) trying to keep up with joneses actually made me use my journal less. When I started my first journal, I think I had about 15 different trackers from entering my mood each day, to books that I was reading, to my daily gratitude list, all of which actually made me feel tracker fatigue. It got to the point where I would suddenly realize at the end of the day that I had forgotten to enter the things that I was grateful for and I would literally sit there and think, “oh the sky was blue today, that’s a good thing to be grateful for!” and it just felt so inauthentic and I knew at that point that everything I was doing was defeating the purpose of Bullet Journaling.
Fast track several years forward and many iterations of Bullet Journal systems, I now have a few that I feel work the best for me – the beauty of the Bullet Journal is that it’s customizable to be anything that you want it to be so here’s how I set mine up.
The Index - I've been using the Medium A4 dotted Leuchtturm 1917 for several years as my go to journal. I like the paper quality and that it has a built in index and back pocket, so instead of creating my own index, I just use theirs.
The Key - My first key had 12 different symbols. It was definitely too many for me because I would forget which symbol was being used for what. As a part of my refinement process, my key has now been whittled down to 8 which I honestly feel, could probably be 7 since I never really use the “! Inspiration” symbol. Not because I don’t get inspired but more because I use the “- note” for most things that I need to return to or reflect on later. As you can see, I’m a purist for the most part so the majority of these are pretty true to what Ryder uses in his Bullet Journal.
The Future Log – I was inspired by the mini months that @journalspiration created. I created my own which is similar but uses no lines and aim to maximize my page space with space to write.
The Monthly Log – I like to have an overview of what each month looks like. Because I use this to put in all the recurring meetings and activities that the kids have, it gives me a good overview of how busy this month will be and ensures that I don’t forget to migrate events to my weekly log. I also use this because often times, events pop up later in the month so I have a place to enter them so they don’t get forgotten. I use the “/” as a separator if I have multiple appointments on a single day (between myself and both kids, there are usually 4-5 “/’s” used for each day).
The Weekly Log – Every week, I look at my monthly log to see what’s on for that week and migrate it over. I make pencil mark dashes to show where to start a new day. I count 9 spaces in between each day which gives me enough space to write. This system gives me a good overview of the week and enough space to write in any adhoc errands or meetings that may come up. I also find that my To-Do’s get migrated here so that they are not just lost in no man’s land and there is a designated day and time that I will do them to ensure they actually get completed. I usually set up my next week every Sunday night so that I’m ready for Monday.
The Daily Log – From my weekly log, I migrate each activity to my daily log. This gives me a good overview of my day and the priorities and how my time will need to be managed. This week, I'm writing letters to friends so I decided to use stickers from The Good Twin Mail sticker sheet to create my theme. As I said, I'm not artistic AT ALL, so I use stickers to show my creativity.
I also use a few other trackers to manage my weight loss progress and what I’m reading (see, I'm super minimal now) but I also have many many lists. This is one of the main reasons I actually started Bullet Journaling. I used to have lists on my phone, laptop, on Post-Its and they were everywhere and no where. I realized that I needed a place to consolidate and organize them so that I could refer back to them in a systematic way. For someone who works in tech, I am super analog when it comes to managing my life. By physically writing things down, I make space for other things that I need mental capacity to deal with and the Bullet Journal helps me do all that and more.