I’ve spent more time than is lady-like walking back and forth between rooms because I forgot what I was doing. I’ve worried so much about forgetting something that it was normal for me to lie awake in bed reminding myself of it on repeat, frantically typing it out in iPhone Notes, only to forget to look at my notes in the morning.
As a mother, entrepreneur, community activist and artist, the amount of random work and ideas I have to juggle can be detrimental to my projects, my loved ones, and my health. The stress levels get high when you have the short-term memory of a goldfish.
I’ve preached about it: the key to getting shit done is mindfulness. I can’t think of an instance where multitasking allowed quality, precise execution of a task or project. Yet, as all my fellow creatives know, it’s really difficult to remain in the moment and on-task when you I have a lot on the mind: ballet lessons, dirty sheets, crusty paint brushes, client contracts, etc.
My entire life I’ve had daily planners to help me organize my tasks; it helps to see obligations on paper. I’ve had routines, rhythms, and check-lists… but something has always been missing— my life spans further than dates and little to-do lists.
Enter the Bullet Journal– brain-child of Ryder Carroll. The Bullet Journal is quite simply any blank book, and you write your life in it. It not only encourages order and productivity, but it acts as a record. Many of us have likely used most of Ryder’s techniques in the past, but it’s unlikely that you’ve used them all in conjunction.
To get the basic gist of it check out Ryder’s Bullet Journal video:
If you are like me and don’t watch videos, here are the basics:
- Have one notebook for everything: your schedule, lists and notes. Use your favorite kind of notebook so that you really enjoy using it and carrying it around.
Three main sections: (there are more, explained here):
- Index: when you get a fresh new journal you reserve the first few pages for an index, then number each page thereafter. As you go along you add your different page topics to the index. Topics spanning several pages are indexed as such: “Topic Name: 7-12.” Your Index is an integral part because of the nature of the Bullet Journal: since you go page-by-page all your topics will be mixed up.
- Monthly Log: the Monthly Log is made at the start of each month, and consists of one spread– a calendar on the left and a task dump on the right. The calendar can either offer up space to plan out events and tasks, or act as an actually diary of sorts by only jotting things down after they’ve already happened. The task page is comprised of things you want to get to that month, or were carried over from the previous month. I’ve shared a sample of the Monthly in the photo above.
- Daily Log: the date is the name of your list, and your list will likely include tasks, events, and notes. Since you never know how much space you’ll need in a given day, don’t start the following day’s header (the date) until the previous day is complete.
- Collections: collections are topics that you’ll likely revisit and add to periodically, like that “Movies to Watch” page. Other ideas might be a wish list, helpful websites, or a brain-dump of creative concepts.
- Log quickly: put most of your thought into the title of the page (ie: Movies to Watch), and not a lot of thought into the short-sentence items in the list.
- Use a few bullets: Ryder’s bullets are as follows… Tasks are “•”, notes are “–”, and events/appointments are “o”. If you complete a task you “x” it out. Now… I’d really recommend watching the video to find out more about other symbols and signifiers.
Click here for more details on the process, Ryder’s way.
The Bullet Journal changed my life because it brought me to center. Whenever my brain needs dumped I have a place to let it spill out, and when I need to refer to it I don’t have to go searching for that old envelope I scribbled on. Everything is in one place. My one journal houses my household task list, my design concepts, my art timelines, my garden plans, my packing lists, my recipes, my million-dollar ideas and and and. Because it’s a blank book, it’s constantly morphing into whatever I need it to be, depending on how my day, week, or month is panning out. Not only has my productivity taken a lift-off, but I’ve found that the space within any tasks feels bigger, with more room to move and more air to breathe.
Here’s my set-up:
This is my main dashboard. It’s my game-plan for the week.
First off, I use boxes for tasks instead of dots because I feel better when I can fill them in.
At the top of my Weekly Spread I list four topics: Goals, Next Week, Dinners and Projects. These sections highlight my bigger ideas, so that in the sections below I can break them down into smaller tasks.
The four bottom columns include Work, PCSI (volunteer work), Home, and Other. These categories list tasks and appointments, although I mostly depend on my Apple Calendar to remind me of appointments and dates. I’ll put the first letter of the day of the week next to all appointments and task-items that have deadlines.
From here I will transfer items over to my daily pages as they come around, usually breaking the tasks down further into smaller items.
I draw out a timeline box and note the date down for my “dailies” either the night before or first thing in the morning, then dump my brain of all the things I should/want to do that day. Next I review my Weekly spread to see if I need to transfer anything over. As the day progresses I sometimes add notes about work, orders, communications I may have had, etc. with a dot as my “notes” bullet.
In the right-hand column I write down my meal plan(s) for the day, important reminders, and any notable things that happened that day.
After my mind is all cleared out I go back and assign a code to the left of the boxes if they correspond with a specific chunk of my day. For example, I’ll put a little “o” next to my Work & PCSI tasks, a “+” next to household tasks, and a triangle next to my errands. I then separate out my timeline at the top of my Daily entry into chunks of time using those icons.
I always create a timeline at the start of the day, even if I don’t really need one. It helps me either 1) stay productive, or 2) keep myself from working. Yep. I need help on the latter.
This timeline and coding system is one of the biggest things that has helped with encouraging mindful productivity in my life. It allows me to quickly see what items I should be focusing on without having to glance over any of the other notes.
I thought I’d just share some of my most useful collections. If these spreads look like they took a shit-ton of time, well, then they probably did. I’m not going to lie. I can get pretty crazy about my journal at times.
Some people in the [massive] Bullet Journal world have multiple journals for different areas of their lives. However, I’ve found that having one book keeps me more present-minded. My one bound book is like my coffee and my baby monitor— I don’t have to think about keeping it with me at all times, wherever I go. It takes me one to two months to use up a whole notebook, and then if I need to reference anything (anything at all) I can just pull out the notebook from that period of time… and then I giggle and smile to myself because my Bullet Journal system is awesome and everyone wishes they had one.
These are the supplies I use, or similar items (and I get a commission if you buy using these links):
- I use a black A5 softcover Leuchtturm1917 with dots
- Most Bullet Journalists use Hardcovered Leuchtterum1917s with Dots and they come in all sorts of fun colors.
- My favorite pens: Pilot Razor Point II Stick Pens, Super Fine Point, Black Ink, Dozen Box
- Tombow Dual Brush Pen Art Marker, N75 – Cool Gray 3-Pack
- White Redi-Tag Plastic Index Tabs
- 1/2″ Post-it colored tags (too expensive online, go to the grocery store or something)
- These pens are sha-weeet if you like colors: Triplus Fineliner Nature Colours
Here are a few of my favorite Instagram accounts. I forced myself to only list 3 so that there was a limit and people wouldn’t feel sad:
For more outside inspiration click here for Kim’s super resourceful page.
Lastly, but apparently not least, I’m going to share with you the link to my planner Instagram account, and please, if you’re going to laugh because I post photos daily of my journal and not my children or animals or food, call me up so that we can laugh about it together: Honeyrozes