Why I Am Trying A Bullet Journal

Two years ago this month, I got my first Passion Planner, and the planner has been with me literally every day since then. Each morning, when I get to work, I pull out my Passion Planner and spend a few moments going through my plans for the day. I find that working with my planner, rather than diving right in to emails and help tickets, centers me for the day ahead.

However, over the last few months, I have noticed that I seem to use my Passion Planner less and less. I still take it out each morning to plan my day, but I have found that the layout doesn’t seem to be working for me any more. This is by no means the fault of the planner. I just find that my work and life don’t really seem to fit within the planner anymore.

So this year, when it came time to purchase a new planner, I hesitated. Was the Passion Planner really meeting my needs? I took a moment to consider, then made a list of what I liked and disliked about the planner. Again, this is no reflection on the planner, only on how I use it. I am by no means bashing the Passion Planner, which I have loved and used faithfully for two years.

  • Even though the Passion Planner comes in a smaller version, I chose the larger size as it is easier for me to write in. However, the trade-off is that it, well, larger and therfeore takes up more space in my backpack.

  • I find that I never use the monthly layouts. At all. In fact, in January, I realized that I hadn’t even filled in the names of the months on the monthly pages since September. I do all my monthly planning and keep all my appointments in my Google calendars (more on that in a bit).

  • Though the Passion Planner has a weekly area for priorities and errands, I find that I generally need more space than is provided. I also find that I really need a daily to-do list area.

  • The Passion Planner provides a time line for each day, for scheduling meetings, appointments, etc. However, most of my to-dos don’t fall at a particular time of day. As previously mentioned, I keep all my personnel appointments and events in my Google calendars. That way, I can share them with family, and receive reminder notifications on my cell phone. I find that most days I only schedule my morning work meetings in the Passion Planner, then use the rest of the daily area to write out a to-do list, ignoring the time labels.

  • I have a lot of repeatable items that I would like to track each day, but the Passion Planner doesn’t provide a designated space for this. I generally just write them at the bottom of the daily area, but would like a dedicated area for this.

  • The Passion Planner has a monthly wrap-up and reflection area. I really like this area, as it allows me to think about what went well, what didn’t work, what I am thankful for, and record my best memories from the month.

  • The planner promotes ordered thinking and project planning. It allows you to break down a project into digestible pieces so that you can actually get things done.

  • Most importantly, the Passion Planner has gotten me into the habit a taking a moment every day to prepare for the day ahead.

After reviewing my list, I determined that a change was in order. So this year, I have decided to try a bullet journal. I have been wanting to journal for a while. But ever time that I try keeping a diary, I find that I never keep up with it. I usually do some planning and goal setting at the beginning, but don’t have a good way to mark the update pages to really keep track of my progress.

I also think, for some reason, that I am supposed to record my deepest thoughts and feelings in a diary. This makes me uncomfortable. I mean, what if it gets mixed up with some books that my dad donates and then Davy Jones stumbles upon it and finds that I have a huge crush on him? (Brady Bunch reference, what?)

So like any good 21st century computer nerd, I turned to the internet and googled “bullet journal”. Wow! Almost 20,000,000 results! It seems that people have gone crazy for bullet journaling. My first stop was the original source, Bullet Journal. This site by the creator of the bullet journal system explains what bullet journaling is and how to get started. I watched the video and thought, “That seems like that might work.” Then, I did a YouTube search, and discovered a whole world of beautiful, artistic bullet journals. Then I thought, “That looks like a lot of work.” But I finally stumbled across one video in which the presenter explained that the bullet journal doesn’t have to be perfect or a gorgeous art project. You can make it as simple or as complicated as you want.

So I decided to dive in. I purchased a Leuchtturm 1917 hardcover notebook, in the medium A5 size, with dotted pages. I also purchased a couple of black pigment pens, some colored pigment pens to give it some variety and for color-coding, and some washi tape for marking pages and for decoration. Then I hit YouTube and Pinterest to research various layouts for pages. I settled on some fairly simple layouts, or “spreads” as they are called in bullet journaling, so that I don’t overcomplicate the process right out of the gate.

Yesterday, my journal arrive and I set up my “key” and “future log” areas. It took a lot longer than it should have because I kept waffling between designs and trying out different lettering and pen colors. Today, I will set up my monthly spreads for February. I want to include a small calendar for the month, task list, habit tracker, mood and energy tracker, memories area, and gratitude log. And if any of these don’t work, I can try a different spread next month!

For February, I will continue to use my Passion Planner while I get used to my new bullet journal. If, after a few months, I find that a bullet journal is not for me, I can always go back to using the Passion Planner. But I really like the creativity and flexibility of the bullet journal idea. It can be whatever you need. And I like that a lot.

References:
Bullet Journal
How to Start a Bullet Journal
The Best Bullet Journal Spreads
Boho Berry’s Bullet Journal Flip Through
Boho Berry’s YouTube Channel

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