Anyone who truly knows me knows that I love to plan and organize my life. It makes me feel like I have everything under control, and as a type A person, I definitely enjoy that feeling.
I used to switch between planners so often that I started to mentally hurt one of my best friends, Jessie, every time she saw me with a new one open on my desk. She would ask “Sierra, didn’t you just say how much you loved that other planner? What are you doing to yourself?” I don’t know! I couldn’t help it! I was out of control! I loved the aesthetic of some planners more than others, but then I would think that the setup of one planner was more geared towards my lifestyle than the pretty one I just bought. I had a serious problem.
But then I discovered the solution to every planner problem I previously had: the bullet journal. A bullet journal allows you to set up your planning in whatever style you choose – because you create each page. Below, you’ll see the picture of my bullet journal cover.
Most bullet journals are housed in dot-grid or graph-paper notebooks, but I didn’t have the money to spend on one of those. So, with the help of my future mother-in-law, I crafted my own packet of dot-grid pages. I just found a dot-grid picture on Google and copied it into Microsoft Word to change the layout and sizing. Then we printed out a bunch of double-sided copies of the page, cut them in half, and used my ARC hole puncher to make the pages suitable for my ARC system cover. Now, I have this beautiful bullet journal (with pages that I can customize and move around within the book however I please!).
The first few pages of my bullet journal are what are called my “collections” – pages of annual stuff I need to remember, different shows I want to watch, restaurants I want to try, etc. These are helpful for when I want to brain-dump all of that kind of information in a place where I won’t forget it but where I can also look back on it all and see which ones I’ve actually followed up on.
After the collections pages, we get to the real meat and potatoes of the journal – the monthly/weekly/daily pages.
My monthly setup for May has changed quite a bit from those of March and April. I used to draw out the month’s calendar on two pages so that I could write in every event I had that month in each square of the calendar. But there weren’t enough events to fill up the whole calendar, and it ended up using a lot of unnecessary space. Now, I have the calendar drawn smaller with a space underneath where I can write out my events and color-code them. I write out what few events I have that month and then draw in the appropriately colored circle in that square of the calendar. (I’m realizing now how crazy this all sounds, but what can I say? I’m an organization freak.)
Next, we have the daily pages. I used to plan out my days for the entire week (using a week-on-two-pages spread). But that wasn’t giving me enough space to write out each task I had to do that day. So for the month of May, I’ve been using daily pages so that I have as much space as I need. I actually set up my daily pages with a schedule at the top (split up by time – morning, afternoon, evening/night), a space for my tasks and to-dos underneath, and my meal and water trackers underneath that.
Here’s how I set up today, Friday, May 12.
I know that not everyone is into organizing their life this way. And quite frankly, it did take a lot of time to set up all of my pages – pretty cover pages, collections, monthly, weekly, etc. But now that I’m in the swing of bullet journaling, it takes me five minutes to get the layout of the page ready, and then I just write down what I have going on that day. All in all, the process takes 10-15 minutes a day. And I don’t always use my bullet journal. Sometimes I go back to my digital planner (calendar and reminder apps on my Mac and iPhone). I can write a separate post about my digital planning some other time.
I need to have a plan for each day. That’s just the way I am. And now that I’ve been using the bullet journal system for three months, I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ll ever switch back to the other types of on-paper planners I used in the past. I have finally found a space where I can customize my day the way I want to.