I’ve heard about bullet journaling a number of times in the last few years, but somehow I’ve never started one. I love writing lists and keeping track of things, so I’m not really sure why I never picked up on it, but I didn’t. The other day, though, I read a post about bullet journaling on The Path Less Taken and I was finally inspired to give it a try. In this post, I want to talk about how you can use bullet journaling to keep you motivated and organized, as an unschooler or otherwise. I’ll also share some added benefits for me of this system. I don’t want to go to much into depth about the way a bullet journal works (this is a video of the creator explaining it, if you want more information), but the basic idea is one notebook to put anything from your calendar to your diary, a quote wall to to-do list, a packing list to a bucket list. Basically any piece of writing or list. Generally, you set the beginning up like this: Index, Yearly Spread (space to write things in each month), Monthly Spread (most simply a list of days in the month), and Weekly Spread (with space to write each day and often other addition). I’m including pictures of mine in this post even though my bullet journal is not an art piece. I’m choosing to do this both because I think it may help you visualize it and also to remind you that not all bullet journals have to be beautiful. I think part of the reason it took me so long to pick up was that everyone else’s looked so nice and I knew I wouldn’t be able to replicate it.
One way that it’s helped me stay on task is the ability to plan things out in advance. Because I have an easily accessible, easily readable “calendar” (mine really is only a list of days), I can plan out a whole month if I wanted. So far, I’ve used this for blog posts, so that I could see when a new one should be published and thus assume that I should have the post done a day or two in advance. From there I can work backward and add different deadlines, either in my monthly spread or my weekly spread.
Another way I’m staying more on top of myself and my plans is with my weekly spread. It might seem as though a new format for your to-do list or planner wouldn’t be too helpful (and that could certainly be true for you, I can only speak from my own perspective), but I found it to make a world of difference for me. First of all, having each day laid out for me in advance allows me to plan things out based on the full. I can put things down on various days, knowing when I’ll be busy and when I’ll have time to get done what I need and want to get done. I used to keep a running to-do list, but that meant I had to put things on it that I knew I wouldn’t be able to get done yet, but I knew I’d have to soon. Now I’m able to add those items to a day I can do it. This allows me to feel better about what I’ve accomplished each day. I’m also more likely to add what I’m hoping to get done because the day is already written down and the page is ready for my words. Writing my plans down helps me work to carry them out.
Starting a bullet journal is also helping me plan and remember bigger or more long-term goals and projects. I have a page for plans and constraints for the whole year. Different than my yearly spread, this merely notes things I have to be around for, plus different trips and ideas I’m planning or just dreaming about. It doesn’t have dates, only spaces for the months and I like it because I can better visualize how the coming year might look. I’ve also started a Spring Bucket List page. This list is nice because it can encompass both seasonal stuff (going to a garden show, having a picnic, etc.) and that that you are hoping to do/finish in the next few months, regardless of what month that is.
That last hole my bullet journal has filled is a place to put lists to spark my creativity and to just get me out of a rut. Lists for when I can’t think of anything I’d like to do, or I want to write but don’t know what to write about. I’d like to write a whole post with ideas for this kind of list, but for now, I’ll just highlight two that I’m doing. One list is called Things I’m Curious About. This one includes anything I come across that seems interesting, a topic I might like to research more. I love having one place to store this kind of thing, plus just reading though it makes me want to get going on something, seeing as there is so much to learn about, so much to explore. The other one I particularly love is a list of thing to do when I’m bored. On this list are simple ideas, not big projects: do a sudoku puzzle, stretch, bake something, take a walk, etc. The sort of activity that will hopefully wake up my senses enough to perhaps want to buckle down and do one of the bigger projects I’m working on. Notice also that all the things on that list are away from a screen because I know that personally staring at a screen for too long makes me bored and grouchy.
Hopefully, this will give you some ideas about bullet journaling. I’m really excited about the topic right now, so there may be more related posts coming soon. I’d love to know if any of you bullet journal, and if so, what you love about it.