Over the past several years I have gone through so many methods of trying to keep all my planning and list-making under control and nothing has really seemed to work…until now.
About four or five months ago I started researching bullet journaling. People seemed to be losing their minds over how effective it was and how they were ditching their trusty planners to exclusively bullet journal. I thought, Holy cow! This may be the answer to all my problems! But the more I looked into it, the more it seemed like there was a whole lot of effort involved (a lot of writing out your own calendar, rewriting things every day, or week, or month, on a new page, etc.). I thought, Holy cow! Ain’t nobody got time for all that! And I decided using a bullet journal as a planning system was not for me.
However, I did see how it could be a valuable tool to use in conjunction with my beloved day planner. See, in the past, I had my trusty planner and then I had about eleventy-billion folded up pieces of paper and post-it notes containing all the things I needed to do, whether it be that day, week, month, or in my lifetime (yeah, I’m that girl). It was slightly ridiculous and I really wanted to find a way to consolidate all my lists into one master list. When I stumbled upon bullet journaling, I realized that I could use that method to create a to-do bullet journal. I’ve been using this system for about 4 months now and I have to say I LOVE it!
The Day Planner
I have been through so many types of planners, it’s not even funny. For years I would just buy the best planner I could find at my local office supply store (I shudder just thinking about those planners now).
Then, about five years ago I discovered the Erin Condren LifePlanner and my life was forever changed. I used the LifePlanner for three years and then I started to desire something a little more sophisticated, more simple, but still highly effective.
Enter the Simplified Planner by Emily Ley. I bought this planner last year and fell in love. Emily is a busy mom of three and she knew exactly what moms like her really needed in a planner. I love the elegant simplicity of her design and the functionality of the planner pages. It was just what I was looking for…until a few months ago. When I ordered the Simplified Planner, I got the weekly version (each week has a two-page spread). This worked fine for me for a while, but as Aislin got older and our schedules got a little more packed, I realized I was going to need a daily version (each day has it’s own page). Emily Ley does make a daily version of her Simplified Planner and it looks amazing, but I wanted to use this opportunity to try something new (I told you I have a planner problem).
Since I had to order a new planner (oh, darn!) I decided to try another brand that I have heard very good things about: The Day Designer by Whitney English. I ordered the classic black and white stripes in the daily version and, oh my goodness, I love it. It is so functional, not to mention so pretty to look at. At the beginning of each month (which has it’s own tab), there is a big calendar, much like any other planner. But the daily pages are what I love. I love how the left side of each page has the day broken down into hourly increments from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., while the right side of the page has a generous to-do list. I also love how the inside cover has a pocket where you can put a small notebook. This is where my bullet journal comes in.
The To-Do Bullet Journal
I bought a pack of gorgeous little notebooks from Rifle Paper Co. (I found them at Anthropologie) and I’m using one of them as my bullet journal. On the inside cover, I have my little legend of symbols. Then each month I make a list of all the things I can think of that need to get done. It doesn’t matter how big or small, I just write it down.
When the month is over, I use the next clean page to start making a new list for the current month. I don’t re-write things that didn’t get done in the previous month; I just look back and check off things as they get done, no matter which month I wrote them in. This helps me in two ways: one, I think it’s a waste of time to re-write stuff, and two, it helps me keep track of how long it’s taking me to do certain things (queen of procrastination, right here). I keep this beautiful little notebook in the pocket of my Day Designer.
Putting Them Together
On Sundays I sit down and plan the week ahead. I write all my recurring events (Mother’s Day Out, MOPS meetings) or important one time events (doctor’s appointment, hair appointment, blog post that’s due) on the big, monthly calendar. Then on the daily pages I will record the nitty-gritty details of my day (gym, naps, groceries, laundry, prep dinner, etc.). I will also write down the important events that are happening for that day (like a doctor’s appointment at 2:00). Then, in the to-do list column, I take my handy little bullet journal notebook and I pick out a handful of the things on my master list and I sprinkle them throughout my week. This way, I not only have the satisfaction of checking things off my daily to-do list, but also my master to-do list! It’s like heaven for list nerds.
So far, I love this way of doing things. Using the planner and the bullet journal together has been rocking my socks. I feel much more organized and having all of my brain dump stuff in one (pretty) place just makes me feel calm and happy. And I really feel like it is making me far more motivated to get things done, which is a huge bonus for this consummate procrastinator!
(Oh, and if you’re wondering what the little multi-colored striped notebook in the first photo is used for, that’s my blog/writing brainstorming notebook. I keep it by my bed or on my desk and jot down ideas I have for future blog posts or guest writing jobs.)
Do you have a favorite planner? Have you tried bullet journaling? What are your thoughts on it?