An overview of how I follow the Bullet Journal system, including a video walking you through my December bullet journal! (Plus a list of the supplies I use and love).
Happy New Year, friends!
I am so excited to share this video and blog post with you today because I know that with the new year, so many of us have “get organized, once and for all” on our master 2016 goals list! A few days ago on Snapchat (I’m dineanddish there), I shared a walk through video of my Bullet Journal – and I don’t think I’ve ever received so many snaps back in return. Everyone wanted to know more about this planning/goal setting/memory keeping/ list making system I’ve been using to organize my busy life. Because of all the requests, I decided to do a more in depth video and blog post for you all. Click below to watch the video, then after that, you can see my visual walk through with pictures and a little explanation (but most of the explanation is actually in the video). I’m also sharing at the bottom of this post all the tools I use (although the list isn’t long…it’s a super simple and flexible system). I am so excited that I’ve finally found PLANNER PEACE!! Finally!
I’ve admitted many times before that I have a bit of a notebook / planner addiction. I just love pens and paper and lists. My problem was that I was spending all of this money on multiple planners each year, and liked many of them a lot, but never found a planner that met ALL of my needs. As a mom, business owner, wife, house cleaner, cook, gift buyer, reader, photographer, memory maker, memory keeper, friend… you get the idea… there wasn’t a planner out there that easily encompassed everything. What ended up happening is I would have 5 different planners and notebooks I was using at the same time, and the end result was chaos and confusion. The plan was NOT working.
I came across the Bullet Journal concept a few years ago, and began using the system in a way, but didn’t full adapt to the entire bullet journal system until this past fall. This blog post has a lot of information, but I wanted to just walk you through how I’m using the Bullet Journal system and how I finally found planner peace! For the most detail, watch the video. It’s long but in depth!
My notebook of choice is the Leuchtturm 1917 (A5) Dot Grid notebook. I’ve only been able to find it on Amazon (you can buy it here). I’ve tried Midori Traveler’s Notebooks as well as a simple Moleskine Notebook but love the Leuchtturm notebook the best. I found the Traveler’s Notebooks to not have enough pages (so I’d have to switch out notebooks too often). I love that the Leuchtturm has the index and the pages are already numbered. The paper is the perfect weight and the archival quality of the book is important to me.
(Note I’ve been told the Leuchtturm 1917 (A5) Dot Grid Notebooks have a really delayed shipping time right now (February). There are several on Ebay here if you don’t want to wait!
Please note though… with the Bullet Journal system, ANY notebook will do! There’s no need to go out and spend money on fancy notebooks. The best notebook is the one you like that works best for your needs.
The Key I use is from the Bullet Journal site – and is the one I’ve used for quite some time. The symbols in the key are used to mark the status of your to-do list items. Pretty plain and simple, right? The symbols remind me a lot of what I’ve used for the past 20 years from the Franklin Covey system. I’ve used similar symbols for at least that long and it has always worked really well for me. This is the part of bullet journaling I was and have been doing. The rest is new to me as of this past fall.
For me, bullet journaling is part daily tasks, part goal setting and planning, and part memory keeping…and in addition, a great place to keep collections of lists and notes that are important to you. Here are a few of my December pages.
I keep our family calendar and my work calendar in a Google Calendar. With an active family of 6 and a busy business, there are some things I have to keep electronic so that my husband and assistant can have access to. My monthly at a glance page is just a general overview of the big events happening in the month. It is referenced in the index as well, so easy to find if needed.
Each month, I create a page for my short term goals. This is a copy of my December 2015 goals (also indexed for easy to find access). (In the next day or so I’ll go into my goal list and evaluate how I did.)
This is my December Tracker. I completely and totally copied the idea from an amazing Bullet Journal blog I’ve referenced before, Boho Berry. I absolutely love and adore this blog, for the Bullet Journal posts and more (go visit)! So here’s the deal with the habit tracker… I LOVE this concept. However, I sucked at keeping it updated. I’m going to give it a try in January and will hopefully stick to it, but if I don’t, then I’m not going to migrate the concept over to February.
Here’s the thing about planning (and sometimes what you’ll find in the bullet journal community)… we spend so much time planning, and making things pretty, that we fail to actually execute. The joy of bullet journaling is if it doesn’t work for you this time, you have complete flexibility to change it up the next month, day or year! It is 100% customizable to what works for you!
The real “meat” of my bullet journal are the “dailies“. The daily to do lists are where I write down what I need to get done each day. In addition, I’ve been keeping a section of one thing I’m thankful for as well as just a quick highlight of memories from the day. I love that since I am the one making the notebook layout, each day can have as much or as little space as I need. (You can find out about my routine for filling these out in the video).
My daughter received this awesome Polaroid Zip Printer for Christmas, and I just ordered one for myself because I love it so much. I take so many pictures that just stay on my phone, so now I’ve been printing them to add to my daily memories. Not every day has a photo, but if it does, I just stick it in the day it corresponds to! I’m so excited about this 🙂 (The printer prints small photos that you can use like a normal photo or peel off the back and it becomes a sticker!).
In the Bullet Journal world, what you are seeing above are “Collections”. These are the random things that you want to keep track of, but in a traditional planner you may not have room for so you’d have to use a separate notebook. These are a few examples of the collections I have in my current notebook. These are all indexed in the front of the notebook, and are just intermittently placed throughout.
The first picture is of a 2016 reading challenge I’m doing and it’s based on book genre. I’m using this collection to keep track of books I might read as I come across them.
If you follow me on Snapchat (I’m dineanddish there) I do an almost daily coffee talk each morning. This is where I keep the random ideas for what to talk about as they pop into my head.
Next, I have a 2 page spread of gift ideas for my family (and myself).This notebook will be with me long past the holidays, so it’s a way I can keep track of ideas all year long, in one notebook!
Each month I do a spread of the highlights from that month. This picture is of my December highlights (it was a GREAT month!).
And finally, the start of 2016 page…with a quote I loved and my 2016 word of the year.
Collections are basically whatever you want them to be. Again, this system is so flexible!
And finally, so many of you have asked what supplies I use. Again, your bullet journal does not have to be fancy, at all! I’m using it as a bit of a creative outlet for hand lettering and doodling, but it’s not necessary at all. The point of the Bullet Journal is to help get your life on task and your thoughts down in one, centralized place. Everyone’s bullet journal is different!
My Favorite Bullet Journal Supplies:
Leuchtturm 1917 Dot Grid Notebook A5
Studio Calico Monthly Planner Embellishment Kits (so fun if you want stamps, stickers, etc)
There are so many great examples of fabulous Bullet Journals on the web. Search You Tube, Instagram, Pinterest (follow this board specifically for Bullet Journaling), and more… you are sure to find plenty of ideas and inspiration!
So, what do you think? I know this was long but hopefully it answers all your questions! I’d love to chat bullet journaling with you. Leave a comment and let me know what you think of bullet journaling and any questions, thoughts, ideas you have.
Thanks and happy planning!
Disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Kate @ Framed Cooks says
Kristen, I love this SO MUCH!! I just started bullet journaling last month, and have been all over the web looking for exactly this kind of walk through. So, thank you thank you!! And happy new year! xo
Absolutely – BohoBerry.com has a great video walk through of hers too…which will lead you down a rabbit hole of all kinds of other cook bullet journaling things!
Happy new year to you too!
Michelle Rittler @ Taste As You Go says
This is the kind of planner system I dream about because it doesn’t just include lists of lists. I love that you add doodles and photos and things that inspire you to make the system yours. One day, I’ll get there… Just not with a crawling/curious/drooling/needy baby underfoot. 🙂
Note that the Bullet Journal can be as complicated and ellaborate or as simple as you want it to be. It’s all about meeting YOUR needs! Don’t let the baby stop you… 🙂
Terri H says
Thanks for taking the time to put this all together, Kristen. Your blog post and video make the concept easier for me to understand. Do you carry your book with you, or just leave it at home?
I answered this on Facebook but wanted to answer here too in case anyone else had the same questions.
I carry it with me most of the time, but not everywhere. So it just depends. (Helpful, right?)
Since I work from home and am home most of the time, it’s at home with me! When I know I have some downtime in the car or someplace, I’ll carry it with me to work on. It’s a hobby as well as a task management resource for me. I really enjoy working in it!
Karen @ The Food Charlatan says
Thank you so much for sharing Kristen! I am not a planner person, but my life has morphed into something that requires a planner so I broke down and bought a day designer just yesterday. I’m excited for it but wish I had seen this first. That printer is SO cool and I would love to have some kind of journal/planner combo one day that has pictures. I bought the mini so I don’t know how much room there will be. But thanks for all your amazing ideas! Oh and ps, I love seeing all your hand lettering, it’s beautiful.
You can always use the bullet journal system in the Day Designer… it doesn’t have to be elaborate at all 🙂 Maybe you can incorporate little pieces of what interests you into it. (I love the Day Designer, by the way… great choice of a planner).
And thanks about the hand lettering! I don’t feel like I’m very good at it, but really do enjoy learning it!
I love this! What a great concept. I have done a multi-subject journal before but have never included the daily calendar. Thanks for sharing!
Absolutely – thanks for reading it! 🙂 Happy new year, friend!
I LOVE the idea of adding photos! Your bullet journal is so creative – very inspiring!
Thank you so much, Melissa! I need to get my photos off my phone/hard drive and out into my world. This was the best way I could think to do that. Seems like it fits in naturally!
Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) says
Thanks for writing and sharing this Kristen!!!! I’ve loved checking out your Bullet Journal on Snapchat and think it could be REALLY beneficial for me in 2016 – I have a Day Designer, but I feel like using both could be really useful in different ways.
Also, I really want that polaroid printer!!!
Definitely – and you can incorporate the bullet journal concepts into a Day Designer, easily!
And the printer is so awesome… I had no idea I’d like it so much!
Aida Mollenkamp says
Wow, Kristen, this is seriously impressive. Thanks for sharing it all and Happy 2016!
Awww thank you so much, Aida! I hope I get to see you again in 2016 🙂 Happy new year!
I love that this is custom. Every one has a cute and clever planner out there, but this is flexible and I like that it can be made for the needs of its author. That would be you! Thank you for sharing it. You are so generous.
I am the queen of collecting planners, and was just telling a friend today that I have so many expensive planners from past years that have set untouched, because they didn’t have everything I needed in them.
Bullet Journaling works for me, because I’m in charge of the layout and what goes in it. I love it so much!
Thanks for your comment 🙂
Oh my goodness, there are no words. Your journal is so pretty, so organized to the nth degree, so neatly written. I wouldn’t be able to get anything else done if I kept a journal like that.
I buy small spiral notebooks at Target for daily to-do lists and I have the workflowy app on my laptop and phone for keeping track of all my website to-do’s. Workflowy is kind of like a giant, but gently organized brain dump for me.
Thanks for sharing. I’m such a voyeur so it’s really fun to see what other people have written 🙂
Hahaha – it honestly doesn’t take me that long to update. And honestly, it’s kind of a hobby for me as well… I enjoy working on making it pretty, but the point of bullet journaling is practical. If you go to the BulletJournal.com website you’ll see the creator of the system has a very neat, yet basic and practical planner.
I wish I could use app’s and things, but I think (ok I know) I have a bit of a problem with self control. If I’m on my phone and on an app, I tend to get too distracted by other things and hours pass and I still haven’t done anything.
(And I love seeing other people’s lists and things too 🙂 ).
Jennifer Schall says
Thank you so much for sharing this, Kristen! As soon as I saw your post on Facebook the other day, I knew I had to give it a try. I’ve been through so many different planners, apps, etc. and nothing has stuck. But, juggling two kids plus life has gotten the best of me, and I desperately need to get myself organized. I’m only a few days into it, but I’m loving it. And, reading your blog post has given me a lot more great ideas!
I had to laugh about you struggling with having the to-do lists in between other things. That was already starting to stress me in my vast 3 day experience of bullet journaling. 🙂
Also, I love that little printer… Such a fun idea! I have to look into that!
We are so much alike! 🙂
And this printer would be so fantastic for your #imperfect365 🙂
I really love the way you set this up – thanks for sharing! starting my 1st on wednesday and will incorporate many of your ideas!
I love this post!!! I had no idea what bullet journalling was and you’ve opened up a whole new world to me. The best part is how flexible it is. I also suffer from perfectionism and I think this is a great way to try to get over my need to have everything be perfect because if it doesn’t work than just change it on the next page: new page, new way! Thanks for taking the time to post this and I love all the resources you shared. All the best for 2016!
Phi @ The Sweetphi Blog says
This is absolutely incredible and SOOOOO helpful Kristen, THANK YOU <– seriously!
I'm a huge planner, I love my planner but have always been searching for a better, more personalized way to do it. I got this one planner that was 'different' this year, but it is not for me, it's too structured and doesn't let me keep my business/blog/personal stuff all in the same place, so I am totally going to give this a try. THANK YOU again for this helpful post, you rock!!
I wanted to mention that I do a “habit tracker” each week, instead of the whole month (which I also could not seem to keep up with). So at the top or a special section of my weekly I write, for instance “run 2miles……….M T W T F S S” then X through each day that I actually do it. I love my bullet journal and the flexibility it gives me to change things monthly, weekly, or even each day if I need to.
Holly Waterfall says
I debated actually looking at this post because i knew i’d love it so much and then i’d have one more project to take on haha. But really, this is perfect! I am a planner/list/notebook junkie, and I truly think this is the perfect solution for me. Dang it, I think I may just have to bite the “bullet” – pun intended.
PS, i love looking at other peoples’ bullet journals… your is so inspiring and fun!
I really think you and I are a lot alike when it comes to planners and such. This is honestly the first and only thing I’ve ever found that has kept me from needing multiple notebooks, and because I customize it, everything works for ME, the way I want it to!
Urvashee (DessArts) says
Kristen, I am obsessed ever since seeing your posts on Bullet Journals. I hope this will work better for me than my attempts at trying to do everything digital. I am so much more of a pen and paper girl! Plus- it’s just much more fun writing and drawing in fun colors and fonts. Thanks for the inspiration.
Jennifer Carrington says
I found this post via Pinterest and it was exactly was I needed!!
I am currently a junior in college and graduation will be here in no time! I wanted to find a better way to stay organized, especially when I am in the “real world.” I cannot thank you enough for this! I have shared it with a handful of my friends as well!
I will totally be signing up for weekly emails!
Where has this wonderful idea been all my life?!?! While I am nowhere as busy as you are, things do get hectic and crazy and my house too, and I am a closet list writer and scrap booker. Well, there you go! I must start immediately!!! I’ need to make a list……
Have you started? I hope you are having fun with it!
I’m a relatively new blogger and finding it hard to keep track of all my ideas, things I need to do, etc. I think I can use some of your ideas. I seem to waver between keeping all my thoughts online versus writing them down. I don’t have a system I love yet. I love yours. And you keep it so pretty!! 🙂 I’m off to check out that printer through your link. Are paper and supplies expensive?
Bullet Journaling is the perfect option for you!
I love the printer and have found a seller on Amazon that sells the paper in bulk and it’s actually not that expensive. I love it!
I have been trying to do something like this since forever and never follow through because I get so distracted easily and I’m also a very busy mom who can’t seem to find the time. You have sparked my interest once again, thank you for your time in making your video and showing me that there is always time. It’s just a matter of sitting down and taking time for myself.
It’s so easy to get distracted. Just start simple, until it’s a habit, then you can get into it even more. But yes… take time for yourself no matter what! You’ll be glad you did!
Wow, this is amazing! For most of my life I’ve had a vague idea of basically exactly this lingering in my mind, but I could never put it together. Finding this just re-inspired me! Now I don’t have to figure it out, it’s been done and by much more creative people than me. All the better! Thanks for the intro to Bullet Journaling. I’m so excited to get started!
Absolutely! I can’t wait to see what you come up with! Remember, just do the pieces that make you happy and make sense for you. You’ll love it even more when you can incorporate what brings you joy! There’s no perfect way to have this done.
I ran out and bought a moleskin yesterday! I’ve been home sick with pneumonia so this is a perfect project for me while I’m pretty limited in activity options. I’m also planning a move overseas later this year so this planner, goal-keeping, journaling method is just what I needed. Pintrest has a ton of sites to check out (of course) so I’ll read up a bit and get it started. Thanks again!
Oh no – I hope you feel better soon!
It’s lovely! Whenever do you find time to do this? You said before going to bed. I am so exhausted by bedtime that I can’t even think. Any suggestions?
Yes! So I recommend just starting super simple. If you do, it’ll only take about 10 minutes a day. Are mornings easier for you? Just take a few minutes to sit and plan your day…it doesn’t have to be anything fancy at all!
Then, pick one day a month (towards the end probably) to get your next month kind of outlined. That process takes me about an hour, but it’s a nice “me time” hour. I guess I look at it as less of a chore and something I look forward to doing, so I really try to make time for it.
With that being said, this month has been more full than typical, so I’ve missed a few days. That’s the GREAT thing about bullet journaling… it’s no big deal if you miss a day or two or 10. There aren’t any pre made, pre-printed empty pages staring back at you. You just throw perfection out the window and start back up where you left off!
Blossom Onunekwu says
Whenever I see colorful, pretty journals, I just want to make one my own and start an editorial calendar in it. But the difference between your journal and my journal is, my handwriting SUCKS. It’s so ugly, I stop using the journal lol Any tips ?
So have you read the Boho Berry Blog? She talks a lot about how her handwriting used to be awful and then she just really worked on it everyday and now she has gorgeous handwriting! Here’s a link to one of her posts. http://www.bohoberry.com/handwriting/ She also has or had a #RockYourHandwriting challenge which was a daily prompts thing to follow. I bet that could help too!
But I think the thing is, you just need to remember these journals aren’t meant to be perfect or look perfect… they are meant to function as a tool to help your life! So don’t stress about it, either way!
Hope that helps!
Alix @Special Learning House says
Hi! I absolutely love this post! Thank you for all of these fabulous ideas! I literally have 6 journals in use at the moment for different projects and ideas so I absolutely understand where you are coming from! Haha 🙂 I would love to create a version of your idea (with a linkback to your site of course!) for moms with special needs kids. I am an autism specialist and own a center for children with special needs in Paris. I also run a blog for special needs families called Special Learning House. I think this would be seriously helpful for moms (and dads!) keeping track of programs, materials and learning ideas for their little ones.. Thanks again!!!
Haley M. says
I was JUST saying to someone yesterday that I needed to find a video of someone’s bullet journal because while pictures of cool pages were helpful…I was getting frustrated with how they all fit together in order. I’m such a linear person (and a perfectionist, like you), that my trouble with bullet journaling is not being able to have room for everything. Since I DO write a daily journal, it’s hard for me to gauge how many pages I’ll need to do everything ahead of time. I think, when I get a new journal (I’m just using an old one that was already half full as an experiment), I will be able to plan it out a little better. This video certainly helps, thanks!