Inside My Bullet Journal

I’ve been using a bullet journal for a number of years now. Folks often ask me what my bujo looks like and how it functions. I don’t mind sharing, but I figured it would be easier and kinder to point to this article and give people something they can reference if they’re seriously interested.

A bullet journal is a planning tool. It’s very flexible in its setup and what that means is you can tailor it to your unique needs and style. It can also change right along with you as your needs change.

If you are interested in trying a bullet journal I would encourage you to start by watching Ryder Carroll’s video (he’s the guy who created bujos)

Additionally, I would encourage you to read his book – The Bullet Journal Method. I was getting off track and my bullet journal was less and less effective. Reading his book got me back to the basics and a much more functional bullet journal.

so this is what mine looks like

Over the years my bullet journal has morphed and changed. I dropped the Pinterest look (more on that later) and created an order and style that works for my brain and my life. I don’t adhere to some of what is suggested, but I’ve found the basic ideas to be very helpful. Here’s what my bujo looks like.

It’s important to put your name somewhere so you can get your bujo back if you should lose it. I prefer email so I just simply wrote this on the first page.

front page

monthly calendar section

Next, I have a calendar section. It has a tab so I can turn quickly to the current month.

This is a little different than the standard bujo setup. I tried the recommended way (numbers down the side of a page worked into the bujo as you go along), but I’m a visual kind of gal and I need to see an actual calendar. Having a separate section for calendar planning works for my brain. I add anything that is a set activity so I don’t accidentally double up appointments. I can tell at a glance what time is available and when.

monthly calendar

Most of the time I have three months of calendar available and then I have a “future log” of a few of the following months and a larger page for events or appointments for further down the road.

future log

Since I’m working on September’s calendar, I’ll make some time shortly to draw up the October, November, and December calendar pages. I have removable pages in my binder (I use a classic size Happy Notes planner) so I can just replace the small box future log with actual calendar pages and create a new future log for January, February, and March.

I take all past monthly and weekly calendar pages and tuck them in a folder at my desk. At the end of the year, I gather and file the entire year for future reference.

weekly/daily calendar section

After my monthly calendar section, I have a tab for weekly/daily planning. I think about time in terms of my week.

I’ll sit down most Saturdays and look over the past week and create a new weekly setup for the coming week. I’ll look at my monthly calendar for appointments. I’ll look over what didn’t get done this past week and decide if it’s worth doing and, if so, move it into the new week. I’ll look through my planning/working section and add a few project steps (I tend to write current projects under “This Week” in the right column).

weekly calendar

Here’s where my symbols (bullets) come into play. As I start writing out my daily to-do’s, I keep track of what needs to be done and what I’m actually doing.

     x   means it’s done.
     .    means it’s waiting to be done.
     >   means I moved it to a future date.
     –   is a notation for a thought or a bit of info.
     (I just cross out anything that get canceled or I decide not to do.)

You can see in this mockup that I thought about calling Leslie for coffee on Sunday (> call Leslie, coffee?), it got moved to Tuesday when I actually called her (x call Leslie, coffee?), and our coffee date got written on my monthly calendar on the 17th. When I get around to creating a calendar page for that week, I’ll look at my monthly calendar and move it to the weekly calendar so I don’t miss coffee with my friend.

The one thing I did wrong with my bullet journal was trying to create the same amount of space for each of my daily to-do lists (Pinterest has all these lovely daily page ideas that fit your to-do’s neatly onto one page or in a box the size of a quarter). Life doesn’t happen in neat little boxes. Now I give myself all the room I need and continue my daily lists onto the next page or two as necessary.

weekly calendar (cont.)

I also have a sticky note that moves with me for things I need to buy (that growing grandson needs new jeans and I need some clips to fashion winter cages for the rabbits). When we approach a shopping day, I can just hand the sticky to my husband and it gets added to the shopping list (my sweetie and I live out past the boonies and we shop together “in the big city” every few weeks).

Another Pinterest warning: Most of what you see on Pinterest is so very pretty. That’s great if you have the time and talent, but what ends up happening is you create an art journal (that’s not terribly functional) rather than a super useful bullet journal. (I actually had a friend tell me she didn’t have the time to use a bullet journal. What that really meant was she didn’t have time to make it pretty ala Pinterest.) Please understand, I like Pinterest, but most of what you find there for bullet journaling isn’t going to be too useful.

planning/working section

After my monthly and weekly/daily sections, I have a tab that takes me to what is more like the standard bullet journal. There is an index with all the different projects and concepts I am exploring (with numbered pages following).

planning/working section

If I have an idea or a project to explore, I just open to the next blank page and start writing. When I’m done, I go to the index and add what I’ve done and the page(s). I can find my way back by going to the index and looking it up.

Notice the page numbers for “TGW blog improvements 3, 7.” What this means is I started writing on page 3. Later I needed more pages, but I’d already filled up 4-6. So I just continued my writing about improvements on page 7.

And here is what my working pages might look like.

sample working pages

Basically, I do all my brainstorming and planning in the numbered pages and then I take any actions and fit them into my calendar pages.

Well, that’s it. If you have any questions, just contact me.

Pinterest picture for bullet journal page

woman writing in journal – image credit © StockSnap /