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I’m a technology girl. I love that Andrew and I can sync up our calendars and keep our little train on the tracks with all of our devices. I love that we can rearrange appointments with the flick of a finger and set reminders so we don’t forget to take the girls to ballet. But I’m also a “leave a thousand sticky notes around the place and never be able to find the one I need” kind of girl – someone who is ripe for a Bullet Journal.

There’s nothing like a handwritten Note-to-Self to keep my head clear. So when Bullet Journaling became a “thing” on Pinterest and the internet, I wanted to dive in, but I didn’t want to abandon the system we already had in place.

Plus, I had to approach Bullet Journaling with a realistic “this has to work for me, not just be pretty pages.” Because I’m a busy girl. And I have kids who think any piece of paper is theirs for the drawing…

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I was irritated with her for about thirty seconds and then I remembered that some day, that drawing will be my favorite part of this journal. So I had her sign and date it. Scrapbooking? Check.

Consequently, my Bullet Journal is very functional. I don’t stress about color coding, pretty drawings (stick figures are my level of drawing ability), or making a thousand lists I don’t really need. (I fail to see the point of a flowery list of books I want to read that takes me longer to draw than it would to just read the dang books.)

But I do think my Bullet Journal gives me a place to write down my week, write down my tasks, and write the things I’m thinking through in a way that provokes thoughtfulness. There’s something about scratching a pen across the paper that slows me down just enough to really soak in the words, something that a piece of technology, no matter how shiny, can never really duplicate.

I like this bullet journal with the dots for the flexibility it gives me directionally, but also because it keeps me from wobbling all over the page as I am prone to do. I also love that it comes with page numbers. Time saved!

I’m basically using my bullet journal in two sections. In the back (I started from the very last page and am working my way backwards) are my notes and special lists section. This includes things like Birthday Ideas for Kids, notes from meetings I sit through, and lists I make as I plan for school or other projects. Sometimes the pages are tidy:

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Sometimes they aren’t:

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There’s an index at the front that lets me put down page numbers so I don’t lose a specific note way back there in the back of the book. I also use something called “threading” which is essentially drawing an arrow to remind myself where I flipped to when I ran out of room on the current page. It’s the “to be continued” of the Bullet Journal world and keeps me from stressing about skipping pages.

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Then there’s the daily stuff. I started with one page per day, because I write big and sloppy and I wanted room to jot notes out to the side.

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I loved having my lists with me, I loved the discipline and closure of shutting it down for the night and making the next day’s list. Unfortunately, I was moving through my book at a good clip. I also sometimes needed to make a note to myself for a few days ahead and if that day wasn’t made yet, I had nowhere to write it.

Furthermore, while I appreciate the point of having to rewrite a task each day you don’t do it until you either git ‘er done or decide it’s probably not worth doing, but, honestly, this is a bit onerous for a busy mama. I played with a few weekly options before landing on one that lets me see the whole week in a glance but also gives me room to bleed across the page.

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Here’s how it works day in and day out:

On Sunday, I set up the week using my electronic calendar and any unfinished items from last week:

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Sunday night

I fill in all the appointments and things that require me to leave the house. It could feel redundant copying this from my electronic calendar, but honestly, it helps me really zoom into the coming week and realize where we have scheduling conflicts. Sometimes, it’s also a wake-up call that “this week is a humdinger” and I should install my big girl panties post-haste.

Then I add in the meal plan and remind myself to thaw meat, etc.

Finally, I make Monday’s list, which can be overwhelming.

bullet journal weekly view

Monday morning

Now here’s the beauty of the weekly view: If I don’t finish everything on Monday (and I won’t), the unfinished items are still on my list. I just leave them unchecked and they are automatically included in the To-Do for the next day. No recopying. Just glancing down the page to find empty boxes.

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Monday night

As the week moves forward, my list grows and changes with it. But I can keep track of what I didn’t do in previous days and keep adding for days ahead. I’m also steadily filling in those little boxes, which feels fantastic. Anything left unfinished on Sunday gets carried over to the next week, so hopefully I don’t drop the ball on something.

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Thursday Afternoon

A few more random tips:

  • I’d love to color code with pens, but realistically, it’s all about the pen that is handy. Buy an attachable pen holder if you never want to be without.
  • I carry everything, pens and bullet journal, in one easy case. It’s easy to carry all the pieces wherever I roam. It comes in and out of my purse easily and ensures I’ve also got a few sticky notes and sticky tabs for any place-keeping emergencies.
  • I love the way the Sharpie Ultra Fine Points write and all the bright colors, but they bleed. So for daily writing, I reach for the Papermates and save the Sharpies for drawing lines each week.
  • I try to remember to fill in a few notes about special things that happened during the week. I write if we got sick, if we had company, if yet another sister got married. Some day my ancestors will dig this up and be relieved to discover I did more than ALL THE TASKS with my everyday.

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Perhaps that’s really the point. All of this journaling is so that I can do the Living. It has to work for me, the life that we lead, and the time I can invest in it. I’m grateful for every day God gives me and always so surprised at the way He fills our pages.

Do you bullet journal? How do you make it fit your Living?

 

For more details and a basic introduction for how to Bullet Journal, read this article or check out my Pinterest board.

 

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