I had the same questions when I first heard about bullet journals: What is a bullet journal? And how do you start a bullet journal? It wasn’t until I had one for a few months did I finally see the full potential of a bullet journal thanks to Pinterest.
When I first heard about a bullet journal it was from another blogger and she shared how she used hers for planning out her blog and scheduling her time. Nothing too fancy. I gave it a try and really I wasn’t having any luck.
Then I realized that there was such a thing as a digital version of the bullet journal. That’s when all the flood gates opened up for me on how to use a bullet journal!
Pin this to your Bullet Journal Board on Pinterest
What is a bullet journal?
First, let’s cover what is a bullet journal. It is a journal (not necessarily a notebook but more of a blank journal) with dotted pages (bullets). Each page has small light-colored dots on them to serve as guides while you are creating each page. In this picture, you can barely see the dots on the page but they are there and act as perfect guides to create this awesome layout.
Each of these is so pretty and they are really just the tip of the iceberg of all the different designs you can do with your bullet journal.
How to Get Started?
To get started with your very own journal you would first need to purchase one. I got mine off of Amazon. There are several to choose from so here are some of the ones listed on Amazon. They range around $8 for a journal.
There are tons of supplies you can purchase also to decorate your journal. Things like stickers, pens, markers, and even fun designed washi tape! Or you can just grab a bundle deal like this one.
Now here is where I want to stop you for just a sec. As I mentioned above I came across digital bullet journals. I want to share those with you real quick so you can move forward in the direction you choose.
What is a digital bullet journal?
A digital bullet journal is just like it sounds. It is a digital version of a bullet journal that you can use on your iPad, tablet, or even your phone. It comes as a PDF so you just need a program that will allow you to edit or write on the PDF for it to work.
For example, there are note-taking apps that allow you to write on a PDF such as GoodNotes, Adobe, Notability, and OneNote. It just depends on your device and your style on which one works for you.
To learn all about how awesome digital bullet journals are (and why I feel like they are actually the better option) check out my post here. Or to see how you can use your Notes app on your iPhone as a bullet journal, read this post here.
Or if you’re sold and you want to give digital bullet journals a test run for yourself you can grab a copy of my free digital bullet journal here!
Once you have chosen your bullet journal format (physical or digital) people will often get stuck on how to use them. Use these 5 quick steps to help you get started.
1. Ask yourself why you got a bullet journal to begin with?
Was it just for fun because you love all things office supply related? (That is literally half the reason I got one myself) or was it because you are trying to get your life organized and running smoothly? (that’s the second reason I got one)
2. Now elaborate on your answer even more.
If it was just because it looked cool then you are free to draw on each page to your heart’s content! Or if it was to become more organize then think about what part of your life needs the most help. Do you need help tracking your tasks, do you need help tracking how much water you drink or what you eat, or do you need help with all of your daily activities?
Really think about why you got the bullet journal to begin with so you can then find the best way to utilize it to help you!
3. Search ideas on Pinterest.
For an overload of inspiration on how you can use each page to track your habits, daily tasks, and more, you can research on Pinterest for more ideas. There are thousands of ideas on Pinterest to help get your creative juices flowing on how to best use your new bullet journal.
4. Go with your gut.
Then go with your gut. Pick the one that makes sense to you. If you see a beautiful design but you are confused about how that design helps you achieve your goal, then don’t go with that one. Some people love the over the top designs and some people are more cut and dry and to the point.
Pick the layout (or spread) that works for you. Find your inspiration and use it to create your own pages that fit your life!
5. Follow through daily.
This is probably the most important step of all. Work on your journal daily. If you got it to help you get more organized and stay on task then you have to look at it daily. You can’t design all these beautiful pages that have all your daily activities on them and then not look back at it again for a week or two later.
That is where everyone goes wrong. Just like how you check social media daily to find out what’s going on in the world, you need to check into your bujo (bullet journal) or planner daily too. Consistency is key.
If you stay consistent with using your bullet journal then you will consistently achieve the goals you set out to accomplish on why you got it to begin with!
Comment below with your spreads!
I most definitely want to see the new spreads you have created with your new bullet journal! Please comment below so we can all enjoy it!
How I went from an always late procrastinator to an on-time organized planner!
How do you schedule out your days? Do you wing it and go off of memory or do you have a calendar or planner? I have a planner that I use to keep track of my life. I used to be in the wing it category but since switching and organizing my time it has really helped me! Especially using the block schedule method. I went from always being late and behind to always being ahead of schedule and prepared!
There are a hundred different planners and different ways to manage your time but I think most everyone can agree that blocking out your schedule is one of the best ways.
When I first went back to work after having my daughter I was a young wife and mother trying to fit everything in. I worked as an independent insurance agent so I was able to manage my own time. My boss was very organized and he walked me through how to organize my days by blocking time frames for certain tasks.
As I have gotten older and wiser, I have learned how to really plan things out and leave room for travel, traffic, breaks, etc. For example, I know that if I block off time for me the clean the house I need to follow that with time for me to get cleaned up before our dinner date and allow time to travel through rush hour traffic.
I am originally from Kansas and we didn’t have traffic to worry about so those are things I had to adjust to when we moved to Georgia. So you will always be adapting and learning new tricks as you go.
Always Late Procrastinator
Block scheduling is for you if you find that you are always running out of time or always putting things off. If you feel like you are behind, running late, rushing out the door forgetting things, and stressed with your time management, then I truly think block scheduling is perfect for you.
I used to be that way. I think it is a hard habit to break being a procrastinator because sometimes you can pull some awesome things off last minute. But I can tell you that it isn’t worth the stress and the anger you have at yourself of waiting until the last minute.
Because truth be told, I believe you (like myself) procrastinate, to begin with, because you aren’t sure what the next step is to do. So you end up stalling until you can’t anymore and you are forced to figure it out.
If you were to stop and map everything out then it all comes so much easier! No more procrastinating or stressing!
What is Block Scheduling?
Block scheduling is when you map out your day or week into time frames (blocks). Or as I read once it is combining your to-do list with your calendar. Which I really like that description because it is exactly like that.
How to Get Started with Block Scheduling?
If you want you can have your calendar go horizontal or vertical. I prefer vertical. I like to see Monday through Sunday from 6am to 10pm. Then I can map out my week. I have seen other layouts that are horizontal and it has each day laid out horizontally for you to add your tasks to each block. See the examples below.
Write down all your unavoidable tasks
Start with a blank calendar of the week or day and write down all the unavoidable tasks first like getting the kids to and from school.
Write out a list of things that have to get done no matter what and the time frames
Next, on a separate piece of paper write out a list of things that have to get done no matter what and the time frames it takes to do those things. Let’s say you have to write a blog post and it takes you 2 hours to do it and you need to do the laundry and it takes two 15 minute blocks to do that. 15 minutes to load and 15 to unload.
Once you have a list of all of the tasks that need to be done and time frames now you can start entering them into your calendar. Of course, if you have appointments then block of not just the appointment time but include the time it takes to travel there and back.
I work from home and we live outside of town so if I have an appointment and I will be away from the house I block out that whole time that appointment is going to cost me.
I can’t work or do anything while driving so I need to include that time as used up for that appointment. Of course, you can use that driving time to catch up on phones calls but let’s be real you should be focusing on driving and not messing with your phone. It can wait.
Fill empty spots
Now that you have the must-dos in your planner or calendar you can see where the wholes are that you can fill with other blocks(tasks). I like to color coordinate mine so I know which tasks are unavoidables that I can not miss or move, which ones are for me, which are for the family, which are for my daughter’s school, etc.
This helps me have a bird’s eye view of my week and see where I have open time to do certain tasks.
Just start filling in your empty spots based off of the time frames you set for each task and fill up your calendar!
Stick to the time frame
Make sure you stick to that time frame you set for that task so you don’t get behind on all the other tasks you have planned out. Now you will obviously use your own judgment on which is more important to get done but my point is don’t let yourself get too caught up in one task that you don’t get anything else done.
I will sometimes set a timer for my tasks to keep me motivated to get done. It is even better when you get done ahead of time and you get to move on to the next task sooner!
Once you finish all your tasks for the day it takes the pressure off because you have already allotted time for the other tasks tomorrow so you can relax guilt-free!
Batch Work vs Daily Tasks
Some people will batch their work and do everything all at once so they don’t have to worry about it the rest of the month. Others, like myself, prefer to do daily tasks. To learn more about which one is right for you, check out this post on batch work vs daily tasks!
Pro of Block Scheduling
Blocks help keep you on task for that time frame and to push you to finish that task within that time frame.
You can even set a time to tell you when to move on to the next task.
Mapping out your day helps you find the time…instead of always thinking “where did the time go?”
It is flexible and easy to move tasks around or to the next day.
It helps you find more time in your day.
Gives you peace of mind when you see a plan of action.
It helps you stay on task and moving productively forward.
It helps break up the day so it doesn’t get boring or overwhelming.
You will be less stressed by seeing your day laid out with realistic goals.
It gives you a bird’s eye view of your day and week.
By seeing your day mapped out it is motivating because you know you need to finish each task in that time frame.
You can organize each task with color coordination.
Your block schedule can be horizontal or vertical depending on your preference.
There are so many benefits to block scheduling and it has truly helped me make my days and goals attainable in ensuring I get all of my tasks done throughout the week!
Ready to get started?
If you are ready to try the block schedule method then here is a template to get you started! You can choose which one works best for you! Bonus! You can even use these as digital planners!
Is it better to batch all of your work or have daily tasks? Personally, I believe it depends on the person. Batching work is like doing a month’s worth of work in one day. For example, some bloggers will write a month’s worth of blog posts all in one day. Then they don’t have to worry about doing one each week. It sounds great in theory but I feel like it depends on who you are and how you work if this method is right for you.
Batch Work Pros
Here are the pros of doing batch work.
It is all done at once and you can check it off the list for the whole month.
It only takes one or two days to complete a month’s worth of content which is a major time saver.
You are able to brain dump and get all of those ideas out and things flow into the next easily.
You can get more done in the month if each day you batched everything.
As you can see there are great pros to this method. You are able to check big things off your list. A month’s work of work can be done in one week. If you batched all of your blog posts one day, your images the next, your social media posts next, your emails the next, and so on!
In the first week of each month you could have all your major work done and would still have three more weeks to work on everything else!
However to me, as great as it sounds it also has some cons that come along with it such as these.
Batch Work Cons
It can be overwhelming.
What if you have a foggy brain day that day.
What if something comes up that day and you can’t reschedule so now your behind.
If you go too long in between working you may feel disconnected.
If you dedicate one whole day to one thing then other things may not get done.
To me, the process seems overwhelming. I love the idea of it all getting done in one day and to schedule one day a month to finish a month’s worth of work sounds great! But at the same time, there are so many daily tasks that I do each day that it kind of feels overwhelming because I would get backed up on those.
Then if I were to write 4 blog posts in one day and then not write any more until the next month I worry I would be disconnected and lost. I would have to go back through what I wrote before to get myself back into the flow.
Also, a lot of bloggers are growing their blogs on the side with only 30 minutes a day to spare. They don’t have this option to batch all of their work. Or maybe this method is perfect so they only have to work a few full days out of the whole month.
This is where I again feel like it depends on the person as to which method fits into their lives. Let’s look at the pros of doing daily tasks.
Daily Task Pros
You are able to check things off daily.
Smaller “bit-sized tasks” are less overwhelming.
You stay involved daily and fresh in your business.
You have the option to move things around or change things.
More things get done each day.
I love checking things off of my list and even if I only put three major things on there a day that makes me feel like I made progress. Then if I have to roll something over to the next day I can do that. With batch work I don’t feel like that would work. Then you would have pushed a large project over onto another day full of another large project.
Life is too unpredictable and I feel like with daily tasks I can knock out a few small projects and feel like I have gotten something done.
Also, this helps me be able to choose which small project I can put into each time frame I have blocked off!
Of course, there are also cons that come with doing daily tasks.
Daily Task Cons
May take up more time than batching per each project.
With a bunch of little tasks, you may feel overwhelmed.
Things could get lost or forgotten on the to-do list.
The list feels like it gets longer and longer every day.
Daily tasks may feel overwhelming to some. Once more it just depends on the person. Seeing a long list full of little projects may be too much for someone. As another person may see small attainable goals.
It is all about your perspective and how you personally handle projects and to-do lists!
What should you do?
The best way to find out which one is right for you is to give each one of them a try! If you have a Saturday that is free then you could try dedicating that whole day to only batching one month’s worth of work. Then you will see if that worked for you or if it was a struggle.
Go through the list of pros and cons of each and get a feel for what you think you can handle.
Then (and this is actually what I think I am going to do) you could even try doing both! Pick the project that seems to be the hardest for you to get done and put that at the top of your list at the beginning of the month.
Batch that work and then you don’t have to procrastinate on getting that project done each week. It will already be done for the whole month!
Now you can focus the rest of the month to getting your daily tasks done!
I love journals, planners, pens, pencils, stickers, anything office supply related. And I know I am not alone! There is a whole community out there of people who are obsessed with office supplies too! I don’t even know why I want all these things but I do! One year for Valentine’s Day my husband got me office supplies and I was so excited! That’s why I can’t wait to share with you what I found that is even better than the bullet journal!
The bullet journal has taken over by storm. Every blogger I see is talking about this bullet journal and how awesome it is. I finally decided to get one for myself after seeing all the fun everyone was having with them!
I ended up getting this journal, this washi tape bundle, and these pens. But this bundle right here comes with that and much more so looking back I should have just got this bundle instead.
My sister told me about these gel pens that erase so I got those too and they are much more my style because I like to erase (I’m a perfectionist some times).
The big craze with the bullet journal is that each page is customizable. Every page just has dots to use as a guide to be able to create all kinds of beautiful pages. One page could be your grocery list, another your calendar, and the next your cleaning schedule. There is no limit to what you can do with each page and I do really enjoy that flexibility.
I just had one issue, I would always forget it. I don’t think to always have my journal with me. So even though I like to write things out and use the fun pretty colors and all that, I would never bring it with me. It was just one more thing I had to remember to lug around. (However, if you do love to carry that thing around and you are looking for more ideas on how to use your bullet journal, Suzi has an amazing post that you can check out!)
I tried to use apps and a Google Calendar instead to make it more digital and less inconvenient but it didn’t work. I like the fun bright colors and I did find one app that worked well enough to keep me on schedule however, I didn’t have the flexibility of each page being something different.
So I needed something that was a digital version of the bullet journal. The only thing I could find was the Notes app on my iPhone. I use it quite often to keep all of my important information all in one spot. I started that about a year or so again and that has been great! There is an option where you can write things out with my finger but then you couldn’t read any of it. So I was missing the fun artistic appeal the bullet journal has.
That is until I got my new iPad! I have been wanting to get a new iPad to be able to make my business more mobile. When school is out and I don’t want to lose work time and I don’t want to lose precious time with my daughter either. I thought if I could be more mobile then I could work on things while we are at the pool or the park. That’s when I decided to invest and get the new iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil and keyboard.
After I got it I started researching all of the ways to use my Apple Pencil with my iPad. That is when I came across digital planners. I fell in love with them! It was everything I was missing in a physical bullet journal! So I created a digital bullet journal that you can download for free to try out for yourself! Don’t worry you don’t have to be an Apple user to use this. Learn more about digital bullet journals and planners here.
Or here is why I love the Notes App on my iPhone and how it can be used to replace your bullet journal!
Notes App Features
You can add tabs and organize thoughts
There are options to Bold or Underline Text
You can have clickable links in it
It automatically saves new changes on any device
You can scan documents
Take Photo or Video
Mark Checklists that actually checkmark off for you
I like the option to add documents or photos to the note. I have actually taken pictures of notes and stored it in a note in the app instead of retyping it all in there just so I could throw the paper note away! As you can see I really do use this app a lot. All along the side are major categories in life and then there are folders under them to organize further down.
Then lastly within each folder is individual notes as you see in the second column. This helps me break things down and everything is easy to find! Now with the new iPad Pro, I can use my Apple Pencil and write on the screen just like you see (sorry I have horrible handwriting).
I can change the color, the style of pen or pencil, and even the thickness of the stroke I am using. With a bullet journal, you can’t break down into categories or sections as easily as you can with this notes app. You would have to bookmark every new section in a bullet journal.
But wait it gets better, there are lines and grids!
You can add lines and grids to your note! Just like the bullet journal you now have guides to help you design your page. Also, you only need one pencil and you can change it to any color!
Before if I would remember my bullet journal I would want to bring all the pens so I had all the colors I wanted to use for each page! This way you only need one pencil and one device.
Now you don’t have to take your iPad with you everywhere you go (but let’s face it there is a better chance you bring that than your journal). Because if you need to refer to that note you created such as this one below… Then you can still do that from your iPhone and no one’s going to forget their phone! You can make all these changes from your iPhone too it just isn’t as easy using your finger but you can still access the same note.
So if you are at the grocery store you can still cross off your list as you get each item. The Add Sketch feature is pretty cool because it gives you a ruler to use as a guide that you can move around!
All This For Free
A lot of people are Apple users so if that is you then you have all this for free! If you have been on the fence about switching to Apple then here is a little insight into some of the features! I’m sure there is something similar on the Andriod phones too though.
It is just nice to know some of the ways you can utilize what you already have access too. If you have an iPhone then odds are you have an iPad and might have been in the market to upgrade to the new iPad Pro. So far it is amazing!
Not just because of this example but so many other reasons! But if you are like me and you want to be able to have all the fun colors and designs but are not good at using a bullet journal then I hope you learned something fun and new with this post! I know I was so excited when I realized it!
Thanks for reading!
Here is more information on the iPad and Accessories that I bought.
This is the exact iPad that I bought. I did go with the lower storage because I need to get a hard drive anyway so this way I can just get one of those and save money on buying the extra storage.
We looked into purchasing the iPad through our phone carrier to add data to it but that costs more also. Plus we found out that our T.V. provider has hotspots I can use when I am away from home. Just some things to think about!
I wanted the bigger screen so that was my main priority. I wasn’t as worried about storage because I have a bigger icloud storage plan and then again I plan to get an external hard drive to save all pictures and important documents on it.
Now I don’t pretend to be all tech-savvy, I know just enough to get by. I know that I am a busy mom and this all makes my life easier and more portable. I do want to say that it comes with a completely new charger.
Supposedly it is to be able to connect to your computer better or other techy stuff I don’t understand but my point is no more USB on one end and no more of the other normal end that all Apple products have.
The cord has the same end on each end. So either way, it connects to your converter to plug into the wall and then into the iPad to charge. Just a heads up.
Then since I got the bigger screen I had to get this keyboard that fits it. They are both 12.9 inches so that gives plenty of room for using your screen and typing on a good-sized keyboard, not a tiny one.
The iPad connects magnetically to the keyboard and there are three dots on the back of the iPad that connect it to the keyboard.
Then you can have it in two different positions to adjust it to your liking while typing. Then when you aren’t using the keyboard you can fold it over to close and you will hear the iPad lock. Also, you can flip it around and under the iPad to quickly use the iPad only.
There are no buttons, it looks and feels just like a regular pencil. It doesn’t erase like one although I think it should. I keep wanting to flip it around and erase with the pencil eraser like you normally would.
But it doesn’t work like that, to erase you just double-tap your finger on the pencil and double-tap again to go back to writing. Another fun feature of the Apple pencil is that it connects to the side of your iPad magnetically to charge.
This is great to keep track of the pencil and know that it is always charged up. No plugging it in or cords involved! Once you connect it to the iPad it will tell you what charge level the pencil is at as well.
I don’t know if that effects the double-tap feature to erase or I don’t know how the gripper effects it charging magnetically and staying safe on the side of the iPad. I worry that it might come off and I would lose it.
There you have it. Let me know if you have an iPad and use it for digital planning!