THIS IS THE ONE TOOL I USE TO BALANCE MY DAY JOB, FREELANCING AND MY BLOG
A few months ago, I stumbled across the blog of Boho Berry. It was like no other blog I’d ever seen before. Kara is a productivity whizz and I soon spent a decent chunk of time reading all her posts.
Then I came across a collection of her posts on something called a Bullet Journal. I was instantly intrigued. At first, it looked complicated. I thought, there’s no way I could do that. But the more I read about it, the more I realised how suited to me it was.
So I researched, pinned things I liked and watched videos, all with the aim of trying to create the perfect bullet journal for me.
My first go was way too complicated - I wanted to include #allthethings. But recently, I’ve cut back and found a method that really works.
Something I pride myself on is my productivity and motivation. I’ve always been a driven person - but my problem has been trying to keep on top of everything I want to do. That was until I started bullet journaling, and now I’m achieving more than I thought possible.
I’ve shared some images of my bullet journal on my Instagram and talked about it on Twitter - so this post is for everyone who asked me share an insight into how I use it. I want to do a video at some point too, so let me know if you want to see that. For now though, let’s get into it!
What even is a bullet journal?
The way I’d describe a bullet journal is that it has everything in one place. It was originally created by a guy called Ryder, and it’s basically a notebook system where you can organise yourself. You can include lists, plans, goals, your diary - basically anything you want.
There’s a very thin line as to how much you include. I used to struggle to use mine effectively because I was including too much information. But after refining how I wanted the bullet journal to work for me, it started solving all my problems.
I’m definitely no expert, so if you want to know more about how the bullet journal works, watch this video.
WHAT EVEN IS A BULLET JOURNAL?
Ryder does actually sell journals you can purchase, but I also know a lot of people who purchase this one on Amazon.
You don’t need any extra special tools for this - I use a notebook that I bought from Sainsburys, because all my stationery has to be extra pretty 😉
Don’t pick a notebook just because everyone else is - pick one that’s right for you. When it comes to size, A5 is the most popular choice and I haven’t seen any bigger or smaller than that. This size means it’s easy to carry round with you, you can use it whenever you want and you don’t need to squint to see your writing.
In terms of pages, I’ve been used the lined style, but I’m leaning towards going for the dotted look next time. Something you’ve got to remember about the bullet journal is that you can listen to lots of advice - but it’s all about personal preference.
ALRIGHT, I'M INTERESTED - WHAT DO YOU PUT IN IT?
Anything. That’s the beauty of the bullet journal.
This is where you need to do some research. But set yourself a time limit, because the tunnel of bullet journal inspiration is never ending.
Some people use their bullet journal for everything. Some people have different bullet journals for different areas of their life. Some people store memories, goals and wishlists in them. Some just use them as a day to day planner. It’s completely up to you.
In the future, I want to incorporate some other spreads, but for now I’m happy with what I’ve got. I even got rid of some ideas, because I just felt that it was becoming too complicated. It’s all about trial and error. Trial one month, then adapt, make some changes and go into the second month.
This is what’s so great about it. The idea is the same - but no two bullet journals will ever be identical. You can decorate it how you want, style it how you want and do with it what you want. And once you get your own system down, it’s the best feeling ever.
AN EXCLUSIVE LOOK INSIDE MY BULLET JOURNAL
At the moment, I use mine as a diary/planner, with some other lifestyle type spreads in there as well. I’ll start off with my monthly spreads first and work from there.
My monthly calendar is great because it lets me see everything at a glance. I know exactly what’s happening when it’s happening, and I colour code it to make it even easier.
In my monthly log, I also include a list of tasks. These are separate from my daily checklists, and ones that I need to add into the month at some point.
I’ve also started adding my freelance deadlines to my monthly spread. This lets me know how much work I’ve got to get done and how much time I’ve got to do it in - perfect for knowing whether or not I can take on more clients.
Next up is my editorial calendar for ABOH. This has taken me a long time to refine, but I’m finally settled with my method. I colour code each category (career: pink, productivity: green, motivation: yellow, blogging: blue and social media: orange). Then I include the topic of each post in it’s own box, under the day of the week it’s due to be published.
Two things I definitely wanted to include were a gratitude and happy list. Before I started bullet journaling I used to write these lists separately and found I always forgot to add to them. Now, every evening, I always go through my bullet journal and prepare my tasks for the next day. So I never forget to add to these lists now.
I take my bullet journal everywhere with me, so if I’m ever having a bad day or not feeling positive, they’re great to glance over and make me smile again. Plus, they act as a mini diary and are really fun to look back over at the end of a month.
My daily spreads have also taken a while to get comfortable with, but this is the style I love the most. I never plan the whole week - I just work on a day-to-day basis. Every evening, I’ll review the day. This involves ticking tasks off, migrating some to other days of the week and adding new ones to complete. This also gives me enough room to work with and I can customise my dailies to the time I’ve got available each day.
If there’s a task I need to add but don’t know where to put yet, I write it on a sticky note, put it in my journal and add it to my list when I’m reviewing the day.
I also like to include a weather graphic as an interesting element to my daily spreads 😊
Now onto the other elements of my bullet journal!
You’ll probably find an index in any bullet journal you look at. It basically acts as an introduction and is an easy way for you to find all your pages when you’re looking for something in particular. Although I always forget to update mine!
A future log is another popular element of the bullet journal. For me, this allows me to mark any upcoming events or tasks for the year and I can easily refer back to it when I’m creating my monthly spreads.
Next up are my ongoing tasks lists for my blog and freelance business - I have one page for each. When I think of a task I need to do, but I can’t add it into my daily spread, I keep an ongoing list instead. This way, when I’m planning my week (in my other planner) I can refer to this list and see what’s a priority, and what I can fit in.
Another handy spread I wanted to include when researching was a list of Twitter chats. I always forget to join in with them (and I can never keep up with an online calendar!) Listing them in here seemed like a great solution and works well for when I’m planning my week.
A couple of other lifestyle spreads I wanted to include were Books to Read and Go-to Recipes. I had a list of books I wanted to read just on a piece of paper in my drawer so when I got my bullet journal, I made a point of transferring them into it.
I have a lot of evening work that starts up this month with my day job, which is where the recipe spread comes in. When I’m planning my week and know I need a quick meal, this list is what I refer to.
IDEAS FOR THE FUTURE
There are a few spread ideas for my bullet journal that I want to include in the future, so I thought I’d share them with you now:
- Monthly expenses log. Tom and I are house hunting at the moment and when we get somewhere, it’s going to be our first time of really dealing with money together. We’ve got lots of plans for our future, so this tracker will help us keep an eye of what we’re spending and how much we want to save too.
- Meal plan and shopping list. I love planning our meals and I think putting a spread like this in my bullet journal is going to be the best way to handle it. I already have the plan - down the left side will be all the meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks), then down the right will be all the ingredients we need, plus other essentials.
- Journal prompts. I do journal, but I’ve wanted to get into writing by prompts for a long time. I figured having a spread with prompts on for the month will be a great way for me to get started with this.
- A to-do list. But not a list of things I need to do - things I want to do. I’m sure there’ll be ideas for these everywhere, so I’ll have to have a good think of what I want to include!
And that’s what my bullet journal looks like so far! If you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look let me know, and I’ll be sure to write more posts like this.
Do you use a bullet journal? What other ideas do you include? If you’ve not got one, have you thought about using this system?