This is the fourth post in a series about the Bullet Journal system of planning and organizing life. The first discusses how I planned before the BuJo system; the second lists reasons I like the BuJo system; the third gives some of my adaptations to the basic system. You can read more about the original Bullet Journal concept by following this link.
The BuJo system operates on a concept of “migration.” That is, moving incomplete tasks to future days and months; moving some information to new notebooks. Migration happens at three distinct times: the start of a new year/notebook, the end of the month, and the end of the day.
Some people choose to incorporate weekly spreads into their journals. I find the monthly and daily lists sufficient.
I will go through each phase of migration in detail below. This will serve as a sort of “how to use a Bullet Journal,” in my own way, of course.
My current BuJo is set up through the end of the year. I intend to begin a new notebook then, even if this one is not full. This style of planner is highly variable. Some people will fill a small notebook like this in 2-3 months. Others may find it sufficient for an entire year.
Every notebook begins with a key of bullets/markers, index pages, and a future log. This is when I can evaluate my list of bullets, alter any that aren’t working for me, add new ones, or remove ones that I never use. My future log has 2 months per page. For this notebook, I only needed two pages to get through the end of the year. My future log is very simple — month number and name, then events/tasks (dated if necessary) below.
Now is a great time to talk about “collections.” In my index, there are entries for “cleaning,” “meals,” “recipes,” and more note pages. These are referred to in the BuJo community as “collections,” which allow similar pages of notes to be indexed together. For example, the entry “weekly meal lists” can contain all meal lists, instead of having a new entry in the index each time.
Note pages are what make the Bullet Journal system shine. I love having everything in one place. My cleaning routines,hobby-related notes, even recipes. Some note pages will be migrated to new notebooks. My cleaning routines and presidential biographies list are two examples. Recipes will probably not be migrated, unless they still need testing — although, I hope to have tested these recipes by then! If I find myself re-writing some pages in every notebook, I could make a printable version that could easily be printed and taped into any new notebooks.
At the end of the month, I prepare the monthly overview spread for the next month. My monthly spreads are on two facing pages:I use the month name as the topic. Then, I list the date numbers down the left side of the page at the start of the line. To the left of the numbers, I write the first letter of the day name. I also extend the ruled lines to the left to visually separate the date list into weekly chunks. Dated events and some tasks are written on these lines. Other tasks for the month are written in the empty space on the right hand page.
First, I look at my future log and transfer all events and tasks to the monthly spread.
Then, I migrate tasks from the previous month. If they go into the new month, I mark them with a forward arrow (>) and write them into the new monthly spread. If they need to be moved more than one month ahead, then I called them “forwarded,” mark them with a double backward arrow (<<), and write them in the new month in the future log.
I also take this time to make plans or write down tasks for the month. I might add the task to look up a craft idea for Sprout or plan our daddy date for the month.
At the end of the day (or morning of the next…), I set up a new daily log.I write the date in MMDD format, then the day name in the next sizable space — either below the previous date or a new page. Tasks and events are concise; I only write as much information as I need.
Then, more migration. 🙂 First, I migrate tasks from the previous day and mark off completed tasks. If a tasks needs to migrate further in the same month, I write it on the monthly spread. If it needs to migrate even further than that, I write it in the future log for the appropriate month. Most daily tasks move either to the next day or within the same month.
I look back at the monthly spread and find tasks/events for the day. This is how things are scheduled. I can pick off tasks from the monthly spread that seem feasible for the day — I don’t have to plan specific things so far in advance.
As I complete tasks (or at the end of the day), I mark them off with an X. Tasks that were begun but not completed only get one slash (\). For example, on 1013 in the photo above, I planned to fold clothes out of the dryer and wash diapers. I folded the clothes but did not put them away, and I washed the diapers but did not fold them or put them away. So those tasks, in my mind, were “incomplete” and marked appropriately. The dusting was migrated along with “wash couch cushion covers.” I did print pictures and update the kids’ baby books, though, so the day wasn’t entirely wasted. 🙂
Notes can be entered as short one-liners in the daily log or on a new page. Most often, I write notes on new pages because they fit into collections like recipes. I prefer not to have recipes interspersed with all my daily logs. The BuJo can be used as a notebook anywhere from doctor appointments to educational lectures. Those notes can then be transcribed into a more suitable location after the fact, which is a great way to refresh anyway.
This style of planner lends itself excellently to diary-keeping. I have experimented with keeping a one-sentence daily diary and also short diary-style entries at the bottom of each daily log. I have not been diligent with either of those (I am not, naturally, a diary keeper.), but I like the ideas. Diary entries could be given their own pages and “collected” in the index.
I am not artistic. I may draw a doodle now and again on a monthly spread or daily log page. Occasionally, I copy an interesting quote into a blank space. Overall, my BuJo is plain, and I like it that way.
That wraps up my series on the Bullet Journal system for life planning, organization, and management.