This is part two of a post that started here. We need ways to implement the changes we are learning in all of these self-improvement books we read. One method is using Trello workflow charts. Another method I use regularly is a bullet journal.
What is a bullet journal?
If you are unfamiliar with bullet journaling, you can watch a short video here that explains the concept. It’s basically a date book that is infinitely adaptable to your needs. I need a two page spread for each week so that’s what I create for myself.
If you search for bullet journal spreads on Pinterest, you will find beautiful and artistic pages with perfect calligraphy. I’m not one of those people. I have no artistic talent at all. I’m a writer, not an artist. My journal is very basic and minimal, but it does exactly what I need it to do. And to top it off, I’m about to show you my pages with no drawings and scribbled writing. It’s OK though. I’m a little embarrassed, but this is the workhorse of my life. As ugly as it may be, it deserves a lot of credit for helping me stay organized and getting things done.
I use two facing pages for every week. I can leave plenty of space on each day for appointments, practices, chores and my dinner plan. I also have space for to-do lists that I break into categories (work, home, blog, etc.). If I need to have a new blog post every Tuesday, it’s written on my calendar. If I need to remember to call to make a doctor’s appointment, it goes on the home to-do list.
I’ve started giving myself the gift of time every weekend. I have claimed an hour every Sunday as my planning time for the week. I set up my calendar with appropriate appointments and practices. I also go through everything I need to accomplish that week and create my to-do lists, including the things that didn’t get done the previous week.
I try to just put my top priorities on these lists. As moms, we could have to-do lists that run pages long. I have a general plan for cleaning (Monday is changing sheets. Thursday I clean the kitchen). If there is something I want to organize or deep clean, it can go on the to-do list. Important things to keep the house running, things the kids need to have or work tasks that are on a deadline all have to go here.
But I know there is a limit to what I can accomplish in one week. I try to limit myself to one “wishful thinking” item per week. This is something I’d love to mark off, but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t. I’d like to finish the photo book from our last vacation, but it can be put off another week if I don’t find the time.
Goal Setting with a Bullet Journal
I’ve found one of the most useful things I do with my bullet journal is creating goals and a monthly goals or habit tracker page. At the beginning of each month, I choose a few things I want to work on doing daily. Things like exercise, spending one-on-one time with the kids, making progress in an online class and in-depth cleaning tasks have all made appearances on this chart. Anything that I want to be sure to do every day, I put here.
Every evening, I mark the appropriate box if I did it. It’s a quick way to see if I’m making progress on my goals. If I just took a guess, I would always think I’m doing better than I actually am. I can’t escape the lack of filled in boxes on a page. And it only takes a minute to keep myself accountable for making progress.
Some goals only need 30 days and they are accomplished (like finishing a class). Some I’m constantly working toward and trying to improve (like exercising or meditation). A month seems to be a perfect amount of time for a lot of goals so I like using this page daily. Even big goals can be divided into month-sized chunks. If I have a big goal for the year, I can set one smaller goal for each month that will ensure I can accomplish the goal in 365 days.
I’ve broken goals down even further in my bullet journal as well. If I want to drink six glasses of water a day, I make sure I have six spots per day to fill in blanks.Or I can make a chart of how many hours I’ve slept. The beauty of a bullet journal is it is infinitely adaptable. The layout can change weekly or monthly to accommodate different goals and lifestyle changes.
Get Started with a Bullet Journal
Most commonly, bullet journals have grid or dotted pages, but they could be anything from a speciality leather-bound journal to a spiral notebook. Whatever you can afford and will remember to keep within reach is what is perfect.
If you start researching bullet journaling, it’s easy to get sucked into the specific markings, layouts and design. Just like so many other things, the internet is both a great source of information and a horrible pit of overload and decision fatigue. It took me awhile to find a layout I love and I’m still regularly trying new ones. Most important is giving it a chance. Find a method that works for you.
Even my pages are just suggestions on where to start. As you use a bullet journal, you’ll find what is easiest and most useful for you personally. Opt in to my newsletter to receive a free template of a basic monthly goal page. Decorate it or leave it plain, but fill in your goals to track your progress and serve as a reminder of what you want to improve.
Just putting your goal in writing makes you accountable for it. Checking the page daily will keep you accountable, even if just to yourself. At the end of each month, evaluate your progress and either keep working on your goal or pat yourself on the back for a month of hard work and choose a new objective.
Here are some of my favorite bullet journal items: