Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Bullet Journaling (Part 2)

Picture of My Planner

Happy Wednesday, everyone! So last week, I wrote a post about what a bullet journal (bujo) is. If you missed out on that post, you can find it here. This week, I am going to share with you how I am using my bullet journal/creative planner to keep my life more organized.

My Introduction to Bullet Journaling
Before I do that though, I want to walk you through my process of choosing how to get started and dive right in. As I said in my last post, I really didn't know much about bullet journals until I happened upon them while searching up creative lettering in Pinterest. As I came across pin, after pin, after pin of fabulous ideas, I really wanted to give it a tiny little try.

Well, I just so happened to come across one of my kids' drawing pads on the kitchen table and I was feeling very fatigued (and quite frankly, also trying to avoid working on the mountains of laundry I had to do). So I slid the drawing pad over and began to sketch. I started out very simply...writing words in fancy fonts with borders around the page and a few doodle elements. I had to keep my Pinterest app open on my phone so that I could search up ideas. Here are my first few doodles:

creative lettering familycreative lettering friends

sketch of word love

And here is the sketch that unmasks the truth:

sketch of word laundry

Instead of doing the laundry, I just drew it! Hahaha!

After a few simpler sketches, I decided to try something a tad more challenging and intricate, so this is what I drew:

sketch in bullet journal

Sketch in Bullet Journal

As you can see, my sketches and ideas became more complex...and that is mostly because I kept coming across more bullet journal tips and ideas.  At this point, I knew I wanted to try out bullet journaling.  I loved the whole idea of it! 

Finding the Right Bullet Journal or Planner
In what little spare time I had, I started searching for the right type of journal that would work best for me. I read other bloggers' reviews and recommendations.  Here are some of the most highly recommended journals:

After reading what experienced bullet journalists liked using, I checked out reviews on Amazon and craft store sites, and finally, I headed to the stores to look at what they had to offer.  At each store, I found different types of journals and planners.  I had to really think it through and consider it an investment (they ain't cheap!).  I began to develop a list of criteria in my head for what I wanted to be able to do in my journal/planner and this is what I had decided it needed to have:

  • Visually attractive...if I'm going to be using it all day, every day, I certainly want to enjoy the experience! :)
  • Blank pages for creating collections (like lists...bucket lists, book lists, movie lists, etc.), journaling, and sketching.
  • A pen/pencil holder.
  • A monthly calendar already made and printed out for an at-a-glance look at the month's appointments and events. I am a fan of making life easier for myself and although I simply adore what other people are able to create graphically, I would prefer to not have to recreate the wheel (or calendar) each month.  I think many other busy moms are in the same situation... trying to take extra time out frequently to draw calendars is just something I am not willing to invest the time in. Besides, I think this is one of the things that felt overwhelming to me about creating a bullet journal...it's labor intensive, so I took it off my to-do list and found a pre-printed calendar where all I had to do was fill the dates in.
  • A weekly calendar...again, pre-printed.
  • A notepad to take notes on whenever I need to...especially for handling all of the tasks involved in caring for Miracle Man...phone calls to doctors, questions to ask any of the professionals involved in his growth, education, and care.
  • Pockets for storing receipts, papers, supplies for my journaling
  • Rings and a hole puncher...this was particularly important to me because I wanted to be able to create my own bullet journal printables and be able to put them into the journal easily. I also wanted to be able to hole punch any piece of paper that I wanted to keep track of and put that in my binder.  It was important to me to be able to move papers around, as well.
  • Large enough to keep tons of notes!!!  I wanted to be able to put all of my to-do lists, shopping lists, schedules, calendars, all in one place.
  • Meal planner--I have only used this a couple of times so far, but I do intend to use it more frequently as I get into more of a habit of tracking everything!
  • Inserts for putting pictures in.
  • Dividers so I didn't have to make my own for all categories
It took a few weeks to finally track down the perfect journal/planner.  And, really, it wasn't perfect as-is. But I am super happy with my choice. I did have to purchase additional supplies in order to customize the planner to my specifications, but I finally feel like it has everything I need. 

Here is the planner I purchased and the hole puncher that goes with it:

So, in the end, I had decided to go with more of a planner type of style, but I still wanted to incorporate the bullet journal ideas like the collections and lists, as well as the creative aspects.

How I Set Up My Journal
I consider my journal to be a hybrid journal because it's not set up exactly like a bullet journal, but it's definitely more than a planner. Many of the features that came with the planner are typical of the ones found in the creative planners you can purchase on the market.  I will show you some of the cool ones below, as well as some of the features I added to my planner to make it better suit my needs. So without further ado, here is how I set it up.

Keep in mind, that I only recently started this process, so I'm really a newbie and have a ways to go before I am utilizing more of the possibilities.

      Inside of Journal

Inside Front Cover
Inside of Front Cover...Has Pockets For Papers

The first thing I see when I open up my planner is this plastic divider. I had it laying around the house from my old DayRunner that I used to use in graduate school. The pre-punched holes didn't quite fit in my new planner, so I had to hole-punch it to get it to work. Then I glued on these sticky notes so that they would be right in my journal, ready to use at a moments notice. I like that they are the first thing I see when I open up my binder because I can highlight my most important to-do tasks and shopping lists and see them immediately each time I open up my bullet journal. I found the sticky notes at Michael's, and I love them! The little flags in varying shades of turquoise I use to highlight specific pages that I need to keep track of in my journal. They are a little bit flimsy for the purpose I am using them for, so I will have to find something else to use in their place. But aren't they just adorable?!

The planner came with the month dividers and spreads, as well as the weekly spreads.  Each of the monthly dividers is made of a clear plastic and decorated with a floral design. As you can see, I added some of my own tabs.  I found these at Wal-Mart, in the office supplies section.  I like that they are colorful and can stick right to the page that I want them to. Here is what they look like up close:

In hindsight, I wish I had taken more time to write on these tabs and make them look prettier.  I think I was just feeling so incredibly overwhelmed at the time about setting up the whole planner that I kind of rushed through it.  Regardless of how lackluster they look, they work and so for now, I will just leave them be.

This customizable page is the first page of each new month.  It came with the planner. I like having a space to plan my goals for the month and writing down a favorite quote.  It helps keep me focused and mindful/intentional throughout the month. 

Here is the monthly spread that comes with the planner.  I love not having to create a monthly spread each month because just filling in the dates, appointments, events, etc., and highlighting important moments with my stamps is time-consuming enough for this busy Momma! Speaking of the stamps, I do plan on creating a Key so that I can be consistent with the meanings of each stamp and color, but I haven't had the time to do that yet. 

I love the blank spaces around the month where I can write some notes about what needs to be done or remembered during the month. Since we are only at the beginning of this month, there isn't that much scheduled yet.  But there will be! By the end of the month, there won't hardly be any space left on these pages!!

Next come the weekly spreads.  Again, I have to add in the dates (which I don't really mind, because I actually like that these weekly spreads are so flexible because they are not dated).  I try to add my appointments in the monthly and weekly spreads immediately.  Sometimes, though, I do have to remember to sit down and sync all of the calendars just to make sure I don't forget anything.  This is where I typically write my most important to-do's for each day.  I love how much space I have to write everything down!

At the end of each month, there is a note page.  It's really not enough room for me to take all of the notes that I need to on a regular basis, so I ended up adding a whole Notes section.  Above, you saw that one of the tabs that I added was this Notes section.  I couldn't find a notepad that was pre-punched for this brand and size planner.  But, in the clearance section of Michaels, I did find a notepad that coordinates with my planner.  I had to rip off each of the pages individually and hole punch them to put them in the binder.  I'm not entirely pleased with the notepad in the end, though, because it isn't just a straight notepad.  Each page is different and some of the pages have round, oval, square, or rectangle shaped spaces that are pre-labeled. They're mostly made for journaling.  I may use some of the pages to journal, but at the moment, I am really focused on note-taking, so they don't really work for me.  However, it does give me a space to write! I will be on the lookout for a replacement that suits my needs better. I'm also creating printable bujo pages that I can fit in my planner and if I don't find a notepad that works, I will just print out the one that I made on my computer (after I buy more ink for my printer, that is!!!).

Do either of these Zentangle drawings look familiar?!  I posted the pic on the left in this post. And the one on the right I posted on Twitter a while back.  Side note:  The butterfly is the adopted symbol of fibromyalgia sufferers (like me). Anyway, I slid them into some sheet protectors I purchased for the planner to use as dividers for different sections.  It's kind of nice to see my artwork daily, instead of having it in the drawing notebook, tucked away somewhere. The package of sheet protectors came with different sheet set-ups so that you can use them to put in photos of different sizes, notecards, business cards, etc.  There were several of each type included.  These sheet protectors weren't made by the same company as my bujo, so they didn't have the proper holes punched in them.  But, they were the right size to fit in my planner, so I just hole punched them! 

The next part of my planner is filled with my own sections.  I have my general notes section, a section for Miracle Man (to keep track of anything I need to for his care), and my Collections section.  I created an Index (similar to the typical bujo Index) for the Collections to help me keep track of them.  Then I added the collections that I made prior to having a bujo.  Gotta love that hole-puncher!!!  I also tore off the remaining blank pages of my sketch book and hole-punched them to add here for more collections.  I LOVE this section!!!!  This is where I do more of my journaling and creating. Below you can see some of the ones I have done so far.

After my personalized tabs, there are a few more tabs that came with the planner. There is a Family Life tab, where I can keep track of my family's activities, a Goals tab, where I can set goals and write up my plans for how to achieve those goals, and a Bucket List tab.  I love that these tabs are already created and set up with the lines and features that are very user-friendly. Here are some pics I took to give you an idea of what these tabs are like:

The last two sections I have in my planner so far are my fitness tracker (which I have to sheepishly admit that I haven't used just yet), and my meal tracker...with shopping list.  These are two tabs I really wanted in my planner, but which didn't come in the planner I purchased.  I could have created my own spreads by hand, but I think you can guess by now how I would feel about that!  I would rather put my creative time into super-fun collections! 

So anyway, I found these two trackers at Joann Fabric's, and like several of the other features I added, they weren't made by the same company as my planner. And as such, they did not have the correct holes. So, yup!  I hole-punched them!  I want to point out here, too, that many of these things that I added to my planner I had to purchase on the same day as when I got my planner so that I could match up the paper sizes. Of course, you could always just bring a set of measurements with you to the store if you didn't do it all in one day...but that would mean another trip to the store.   
Notice the blank pages?!?! I've gotta get my butt in gear!!

I have used this a few times, but not regularly yet.  Take a look below at my favorite feature of this section!!

Ohhhhh, yeah!!  That's right!  That is a scored and perforated tear-off-able shopping list!!  Yippeeee!!!  I heart it!! And did you happen to notice the pencil holder loop on the planner?!  Essential, in my opinion!!
Okay, so that's a wrap.  My planner/bujo is complete!  Well...almost!  I have some other ideas that I would like to add to it over time.  For the most part, though, I'm pretty pleased with it.  How'd I do as a newbie? Do any experienced bullet journalists/creative planners have any additional tips for me?

Yours in bujo obsession,
Marathon Momma

P.S.  My next post will be all about how I keep my fun supplies organized!!  It took me a few weeks to come up with the best system, but I've got it now!!   

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