I was so excited to start my new bullet journal in October, and with the new freedom of a DIY format, and expecting Mon Amour at the end of October, I went ahead and mapped out my pages through the monthly view for December. As I have been filling pages, I have learned different ways that I want to format the journal and organize my calendar and daily snapshots. Below are six lessons I’ve learned while bullet journaling these past three months.
1. Plan just far enough ahead.
I was so, so, so excited to begin bullet journaling, that I planned for a few months in advance. Even though I didn’t change much, what I did change, changed drastically.
Layout options for calendar views aren’t numerous, which is totally okay. However, the weekly layout options as well as how I wanted to track and plan for my blog did end up evolving, and I could choose to either stick it out through the pages already designed, or get out the white-out and re-do the pages.
I picked my battles – weekly layouts I stuck with (too much re-doing there), however I did change the one page layout for blog planning, and that has helped my planning. As I began January, I mapped out my monthly pages, and then decided to do the weekly spreads, well…weekly.
A note on doing the layouts monthly – I did initially forget some of the monthly spreads – the kids’ milestones, and my daily gratitude, so I made a quick simple sticky to remind me of my monthly layouts and their order, and stuck that on the first monthly page for February.
Speaking of daily gratitudes, I love this idea, and yet I wanted to change it up for January. I felt like I was being a little too serious and wanted to lighten up and laugh and smile more. So for this month, my guiding quote is “A good laugh is sunshine in the house.” -William Makepeace Thackeray. Each day I try to note one mini event that made me laugh or smile.
2. Layouts matter.
Be mindful of your spacing. I am so glad I made a spacing key and counted and divided space for columns and rows in advance. This is absolutely a time saver.
I mentioned changing weekly layouts – I went from vertical columns for days to a horizontal day planner with a dedicated space for events, work schedules, three daily priority items, and a small memory I don’t want to forget (like when Chouchou gave me a spa day and said, “You deserve this.”).
I like having the dedicated space for particular information, because then I know exactly where to look when planning for the day and what sort of tasks I can try to accomplish, given work schedules and planned events.
3. Keep it simple.
I had started with a habit tracker…and decided that on top of trying to summarize milestones, memories, and gratitudes at the end of the day as well as lining up tomorrow’s tasks, the habit tracker was redundant. Additionally, with the new blog layout, I was tracking publishing dates for the blog and my Instagram, which was one of the “habits” I was already tracking.
Other habits? Read thirty minutes a day? with a newborn? HA! that was a habit I never started. Meditation? with a newborn? HA! I chose sleep.
I do still have layouts where sometimes I feel I struggle or they overlap: the daily gratitudes, MC and MA’s milestones, and daily memories. Sometimes I can’t think of something for each space, and after a few minutes of mentally rewinding through my day, if I can’t come up with a concrete memory for the day, I give myself the grace to just move on.
4. Take the time to reflect and grow.
It’s nice daily, to take a chunk of time, and instead of getting lost online, take a moment to think about what I did that day, what we as a family did that day. Taking this time to recap the day and focus on the positive helps me keep a positive, grateful mindset.
I think this is so important. Also, I am investing the time daily to write down daily milestones, so it makes sense to go back and read through and make a short summary. This will also be a huge time saver when we go to write their birthday letters and say what they did throughout the year.
Taking time to focus on a monthly goal and action steps as well as weekly affirmations will help keep me focused and stay positive as life happens week by week and month by month.
5. Color helps organize – (see number 3, though).
I keep my journal mainly in black ink. However, I have one color designated for work schedules, one for events, and one for birthdays. By choosing colors for each of these bits of information, I can simply write a name in green (it’s his/her birthday) or write a time in mauve (that’s Chouchou’s work shift). Event information (time/event) are jotted in purple.
The pops of color are nice and allow me to jot minimal information. I also like to use these same colors to make other information stand out – whether it be in an inspirational quote, or a note for one of my daily milestones, gratitudes, or memories.
6. Brain dumps are more effective than habit trackers.
Goodness gracious, habit trackers could be good for some people, I suppose. I have concluded they are not good for me, though. I forgot about them mostly in the first month, then struggled to catch up, then dropped it. They’re not for me, at least right now. I like to have a dedicated page where I can just literally “dump” my thoughts at the beginning of the month. Anyone else have a million thoughts swirling through their head right now? It’s nice to give them the space on the page, and create a little mental space to breathe.
After my first bullet journal post, I was pleasantly surprised to hear from others how they had been inspired to start their own journals. I was humbled and so excited to hear from you all!
I would love to hear from you: what lesson have you learned since starting your journal?