Planning 101

These are the first two pages I ever put in my bullet journal. It doesn't need to look pretty, it just needs to be functional!

These are the first two pages I ever put in my bullet journal. It doesn't need to look pretty, it just needs to be functional!

Why hello there!

 Are you new to the planning crazy? Heard some crazy words but kinda wanna know what they are? Look no further! I gotchu. First, the planner community is far and wide and everyone has their own thing. I can give some basic information about the stuff I know, but don't get frustrated until you find what helps. Google is fantastic that way! :)

I'm a bullet journalist, but the planner community in general shares a mutual love of trying to get ourselves organized and put together. This is by no means a cookie cutter situation, and it's almost never perfect... but that's part of the fun of having your life in a planner!

There are people that just have planners as you may think of them -- a manufactured journal that is usually bound but may be a 'binder' type situation with a specific organization for weeks, months, etc. Usually these types of planners come with your year all planned out for you. Then there is a huge variety of planners that are a spin off the original planner you remember from school. They're kept in a disc-bound or ring-bound format and inserts are sold all over the internet, and of course at craft stores and probably some stationery stores. I don't know too much about this type of planner because I've never had one. They're really cute and often have tons and tons of accessories and anything you can think of for them. Filofax, Traveler's Notebooks, etc. are brands or types of things to look out for. If you're looking for a fancy leather cover with little charms and stuff like that, this is generally where you should head.

Bullet journaling is an approach to journaling that can work with any type of notebook or planner. Traditionally, the bullet journal was intended for a bound notebook. It is a very flexible method of journaling and can be adjusted to work in pretty much anything. 

If you've decided you're going to start a bullet journal, I gotchu!

What you need to get started:

  • A journal
  • A pen
These are considered dailies. Basically the first 'spread' I ever did! As you can see, you don't need too much to get started.

These are considered dailies. Basically the first 'spread' I ever did! As you can see, you don't need too much to get started.

It's absolutely that simple! There's no need to fret if you're not artistic and you see lots of fancy pictures online. A bullet journal isn't to get you popular on social media; it's to help you get your shit together! The wonder of a bullet journal is the flexibility. You get to make it your own and it evolves as you do. Trying to finally eat right? Can't keep your kids' shit, your husband's shit, and your shit straight? Really bad with birthdays and appointments? 

My bullet journal came to be from my mental health issues. I was 6 months out from the biggest loss in my life and the grief was still pretty bad. I was constantly depressed and had no interest in anything. The house was a mess and caused me anxiety but I had no drive to do chores. In the beginning, my journal was just any other planner I've ever had except I made the pages myself. It has evolved since then and is everything I need. It goes with me everywhere. I always track how I spend my time, recurring chores, mood, sleep quality, productivity, and of course, I write. 

I can't imagine you'll be successful if you head into this with the idea of simply getting social media fame. The fundamentals of a bullet journal, and planning in general is to make your life better by getting your shit together. This isn't a popularity contest, it's your brain knowing what's going on. I suggest you go into this endeavor with knowing what you're trying to accomplish. As I said, for me, it was making my brain less mushy. For you, it might be keeping your family's schedule in one place. 

A journal and a pen? There has to be more!

If you're not artistic and you don't have time for all the frills and glam, that's really all you need. Maybe a ruler if you hate freehand lines and layouts, but your journal can just be calendars, lists, and journal entries and you're good. If you're interested in more ideas for bullet journaling minimally, I'd suggest heading over to pinterest and instagram and searching for minimalist bujo or bullet journal. There are hashtags on instagram that show beautiful minimalist layouts on instagram. 

If you're interested in it being more than minimalistic here's a few more things I'd suggest:

  • Some pretty pens, colored pencils, and/or markers
  • A ruler (I personally can't stand freehand drawn lines, I'm bad at them!)
  • Washi tape
  • Patience & acceptance
  • A journal with a dotted grid (ie. Leuchtturm 1917)

Although you should have the right mindset to make this a success, it also helps for this to be an enjoyable experience. There are tons of ways for artsy fartsy people to have a meditative relationship with their journal. Mandalas, zentangles, doodling, lettering, and challenges to name a few! 

My first weekly spread!

My first weekly spread!

My most recent, completed spread. I had a competition on Sunday and didn't bother with planning that day.

My most recent, completed spread. I had a competition on Sunday and didn't bother with planning that day.


What now?

Now you gotta decide what you want to put in your journal! There are tons of things to look at online and that can be super overwhelming. The basics of bullet journaling comes down to lists, logging, and customizable bullets. Want more information on this? Head over to Ryder Carroll's website. He explains his thought process behind the techniques and how to do everything. Instead of explaining the details of the terms and everything, I'll suggest some spreads/tricks that are very common and may be useful:

  • Index - The reason the Leuchtturm 1917 is suggested and widely used throughout the community is because it has page numbers and an index. Ryder Carroll has years and years worth of journals and sometimes has to go back and find something from one of those journals. Imagine if he never indexed them!
  • Future Log/Calendex - Essentially this is your year at a glance. There are many many ways to do this. I actually don't do this because my life is not planned in advance like that. Some people have one bullet journal for the year (this is not possible for how I journal), and they have their whole year in the front of their journal.
  • Birthdays/Anniversaries - Some people have a specific page or spread for these specific dates. It may also be useful to put them on your future log if you choose to have one.
  • Shows To Watch/Books to Read - These are examples of what Mr. Carroll would call, 'collections'. 
  • Monthly Spread - There are so many ways to do this as well. Any page(s) that has the days of the month and the dates of the month is generally considered a monthly. Many people put reminders, birthdays, anniversaries, appointments, specific to-dos, etc. in this spread. 
  • Weekly Spread - Generally this is a spread that is on two pages which has different aspects of the week that are important to you. The days of the week are always included for 'rapid logging' and/or to-do lists for the particular days. Often people include time tracking, reading tracking, water tracking, meal plans, step counts, mood/health tracking, homework, weather etc.
  • Daily Spread - Sometimes a weekly isn't enough and you need a page for a whole day, or you have a page for two days. This is often the case with people who put day-specific to-dos within that day, etc. Often people include time tracking, weather, journal entries, and to dos in these spreads.
  • Habit Tracker - I tend to do this on a weekly basis and a smaller scale than is widely used. Many people use one or two pages to make a grid-type layout to keep track of different habits they do throughout the month. This doesn't have to be a monthly spread, but often it is.
  • Challenge(s) - It is very popular to make a spread for specific social media (mainly instagram) monthly challenges. Sometimes this may be something as simple as two blank pages with days running down each side for each challenge. Sometimes this is boxes for specific doodles or zentangles.
  • Health/Measurements - This is not something I personally do, but I've seen people do a variety of spreads where they track weight loss from month to month, water intake, blood sugar, blood pressure, anything health related. 
  • Cleaning - I LOVE MY CLEANING SPREAD! I took the time to think out a schedule that makes sense to spread out chores to keep the house clean. There are tons of ways to do this and they're all awesome to look at!
  • Work Out/Marathon - It's really popular for people to keep track of running stats and marathon/triathlon prep. 

There are so many more, and you can scour the internet for ideas! What are some of your favorite spreads? Leave a comment below! I'd love to see your journals!