I delved back in to the Bullet Journal system of planning at the start of June, and I’m thrilled to report that I’m still completely obsessed. I really think I’ve found the ultimate solution to my split personality desire to maintain a uniform system, and having a short attention span and wanting to try something new. My Leuchtterm Bullet Journal 100% achieves both of these desires – I have the uniform Leuchtterm notebook that fits within my ever-growing collection (currently two filled, and three in progress – more on that later), in multiple colours for trying something new, in multiple page formats – lined, dot grid and blank, for trying something new, and each page being a delightful combination of lists, dreams, journalling, drawings, colour, monochrome, daily layouts, weekly layouts, weight trackers, monthly overviews – suiting every random whim that comes into mind.
I spend a lot of time trawling Pinterest for inspiration on all different facets of the bullet journal – colour, layouts, collections to include, trackers to incorporate and pens to try. I feel like this system truly is every evolving and ever changing, and I’m excited that it can be constantly modified to suit my needs.
The key constant in all of this is the Leuchtterm notebook. I really think this is the premium of all notebooks in terms of paper quality. While what I want to scrawl on every page changes from day to day (or minute to minute), the desire to open up this notebook for all my scrawling purposes never goes away.
I thought it would be useful to look at some of the layouts and lists I’ve incorporated into my bullet journal in my first two months of use, and let you know what I found worked and didn’t work.
I trialled this for June and July. While I loved the concept, and it was kind of fun to draw up at the start of the month in anticipation of all the great things I had ahead, I found I never really referred to it. For these kinds of events and appointments, I prefer to rely on my digital calendar (which is a whole different post!). I’m abandoning it for August, but I think it is a page that will come in and out of my bullet journal, depending on the nature of the month ahead. I’ve also seen some pretty fun monthly layouts I’d love to trial, even just to fill out at the end of the month as a reflection exercise of all the great things that have happened…I’ll keep you posted.
I love having a habit tracker in my bullet journal, and I find this page to be an absolute must for me. Although you can see from the pictures I only stuck it out in June (and ‘stuck it out’ is strong, considering most habits barely registered in June!), I was on holiday for the bulk of July and lived the blissful life. I’ve incorporated the habit tracker for August, and am already finding it to be a great source of inspiration and motivation to stay on track with the small life goals, while also acting as an informative record of what I actually do.
The Gratitude Log is another winner in the Bullet Journal page family in my eyes. I’ve always loved journalling, but I often find myself not bothering for months at a time because I’ve got too much to write – kind of like when you have so much to clean so you sit on the couch and watch Netflix – or just rambling on about the little things like wanting to be skinny, instead of taking stock to reflect on the important things. The gratitude log has been a really effective avenue to reflect daily on one or two little things that I’m grateful for, and keep a more focussed journal. I’ve also found that filling out the gratitude log will prompt me to want to write something more long-form in my various journals. So a total win-win.
You can see that I’ve trialled a double-page spread and a single-page. I tend to favour the single page spreads in my Bullet Journal (probably as a reflection of my lack of ability to focus on one thing at a time). I have a few new lay-outs for the gratitude log that I’m going to trial over the coming months – again, I’ll keep you posted!
I’ve trialled a few different weekly lay-outs. I go back and forth on whether they’re necessary – I really think it depends on the week you have planned as to what lay-out is right for you, and whether you need one at all. I rely heavily on Outlook for work, and as a result also schedule most appointments in on Outlook as it syncs to my phone (and new calendar app), so sometimes I find writing out my appointments for the week in my bullet journal to be just a lot of double-handling, and not achieving too much. As a result, I’ve started just writing in my non-work to-dos, the exercise I plan to do each day and any major events that I need to do prep for, such as my first market stall.
I’m really loving how unique this particular lay-out is that I’ve trialled for the first week of August. Most of my lay-outs have been more generic, since I thought I’d prefer lots of open space for lists and scribbling. I was surprised to find out how much fun I had filling in this lay-out once it was all drawn up. Maybe it was because of throwing some colour in for a change, or the fact it was more of a jot-your-thoughts situation than a formal planner per se – but I really found it fun, and I’m going to trial more of these fill-in-the-blank spreads.
I absolutely swear by these. The only way I feel like I get anything done on a Sunday is to write down every single mundane thing I have to or want to do, and whenever I find myself at a loose end, consulting the list for the next item to jump out at me. Initially I was scribbling these in an old notebook that wasn’t quite filled – didn’t want to hurt my bullet journal! Then I realised how much calmer I felt keeping all of these lists in the same spot as my other brain dumps in my bullet journal. This helped not only from a minimising how much crap I had perspective, but from being able to carry across anything I didn’t get done (that was an actual task, e.g., pay bill) into some future to-do lists. I do not make these lists magical. Sometimes I write a nice header. More often than not, I write them in pink. I don’t know why, but I’m digging it, and these are the spreads that bring me the most peace.
Well…June was a big fail on this front! I realised that sometimes, life is just to hectic and you don’t feel like doing something. For me, that was tracking just how much $ I blew threw in June. July, I was on holiday. August – it’s working for me so far. I used to print off a page from the Mindful Budgeting program to regularly update, but as with the daily list situation, I found using too many forums for recording information was overwhelming and counter-productive. I think this tracker has potential to be a regular staple in my bullet journal from month to month, and I think that this simple lay-out is the right option for me.
This is a new one for me. There are hundreds of really clever weight tracker lay-outs on Pinterest, and I went for the most boring. However, I wanted to make it a page that acted as inspiration and motivation not only for the pounds I lost, but for a regular reminder of the reasons why I want to lose weight. It’s nothing special, but it’s mine, and I’m working on making it a priority to just flick to it every day for a little boost.
I have created so many collections. This is my number one favourite thing about the bullet journal – it’s like a permission to make lists about literally anything that comes into your head. I am a perfectionist worry-wart who thinks a thousand things at a thousand miles an hour, and getting all of those thousand things out of my head, no matter how huge, or pipe-dreamy, or mundane, or unnecessary, and onto a page, is like letting down an extremely heavy backpack at the end of a long hike. It makes the air feel clear and my shoulders drop down from around my ears. I swear by it. There’s no rules about what can and can’t be a collection, so you do you – get down what you need to get down. Dream wedding? Things to do on a Tuesday? Cafes to visit? New patterns to try? Shopping wish list? Things to Learn? Pen Pals to write to? Hilarious quotes? Your favourite toilet paper brands? Whatever needs to be out of your head, put it down.
And that’s not even all! I’ve trialled all kinds of weird and wonderful things in my bullet journal that I want to continue to share with you. At first I was scared about doing my bullet journal ‘wrong’ and putting down too many lists, or not enough lists, or not sticking to a monochromatic theme, or not knowing how to letter nicely. I have to remind myself constantly that my bullet journal does not exist for Instagram. It exists for me, and for my sanity and enjoyment.
These two months with the bullet journal have been really eye-opening. I employ the system in my personal life, and I also maintain a Leuchtterm for my work to dos. The work notebook is a literal shambles in terms of hand-writing, colour application and maintenance, but from the outside it looks professional, and I kind of love having a physical record of the type of work I’ve done while at the firm (aside from the actual recording of my time, which is a nightmare).
I definitely don’t see myself abandoning the system any time soon. I am a bit enamoured with The Simplified Planner, which I saw in a store in the USA and desperately want to buy for work next year (my personal life is far from busy or interesting enough to need a page per day!). But the flexibility and individuality of the bullet journal means that it can function independently, or alongside a more traditional-style planner. It really just does whatever you need it to do!
Okay, that’s the end of my (first of many) love affair rants about the bullet journal. But I’ll leave it with this thought: the main thing I love is that every bullet journal is different, and serves a different purpose, and inspiration can come from all avenues. I’m excited to have found some source of comfort and stability in planning processes, and I’m excited to share more about it with you all.