My bullet journey journal sprang from one of my obsessions and the need to up level the organization in my business. Benefiting from it as a mindfulness practice was an unexpected bonus.
Continuing the blog series on the must-haves for my business, for this last one, let’s talk about organization. If you missed the previous two, you can catch up here:
Now let’s dive into organization and mindfulness via the bullet journal.
life before bullet journal
In the business world, I’m considered both a micro-business and creative entrepreneur.
As a micro biz owner, it’s just me, which means the overhead and paperwork remain low. (Yay!) It also means I’m responsible for all the moving parts of my business. By myself. (Boo!)
Not a big deal twenty years ago. Back then, I only wore three hats: yoga teacher, customer service rep, and bookkeeper.
Thanks to the internet, the amount of hats I’m required to wear has tripled. Now there’s social media manager, content planner, curriculum developer, graphic artist, videographer, website maintenance, email marketing, and blog writer.
About the same time I realized I had more parts to track, my brain become more swiss cheese-like.
Can anyone else relate to my struggles?
Let’s talk about another one of my obsessions (besides cookies).
I love blank notebooks, from the silk covered beauties to the dollar store composition books. Take a tour of my office and bedroom and you’ll find at least ten. There’s one for business notes, random ideas, my to-do lists, stream-of-conscious writing before I meditate…
The list goes on.
And that’s where my frustration finally hit its high point. I needed a way to organize these different lists and random notes into a single system.
Look, I hear you.
There are great online organizational systems out there and I tried many of them. I have accounts with Trello, Asana, Evernote, Quickbooks, and Google, and probably even more I’ve forgotten about.
Yet even with so many free and paid options for digitally organizing my business, my brain could never stick with it. I usually found my way back to pen and paper–or notebooks in my case.
(I blame it on the creative part of being a creative entrepreneur.)
That’s when I researched bullet journals.
what is a bullet journal
A bullet journal is a way of keeping track of everything you need to do in one place. But what really got my wheels turning in excitement was the definition from BulletJournal.com:
“The bullet journal is a mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system.”
As a yoga and mindfulness instructor, I appreciate any activity that allows me to be more present and live intentionally. PLUS. . .
Instead of several notebooks doing a single job, one bullet journal to do multiple jobs sounded like a win-win plan to me.
(One ring 💍 to rule them all….)
After several days in the rabbit hole of Pinterest, and getting over the “OMG, I can’t draw” fear, I thought a bullet journal might be the answer to my notebook addiction and organizational deficit.
- To learn more about the bullet journal and its developer Ryder Carroll, here’s the link.
- Looking for inspiration for your own bullet journal? Here’s a link to all the goodies I curated on my journaling/bullet journal Pinterest board.
picking a bullet journal and supplies
After the initial research, the next chunk of my time went to selecting the actual journal. Y’all…there are 1000s to choose from and having never BuJo’d (short for Bullet Journal) before, I had analysis paralysis.
Blank pages, dotted, squares (like on graph paper), cream colored pages, white pages, thin pages, thick pages, numbered, unnumbered. And that was just the inside. Next came figuring out the size and type of cover.
I eventually settled on the Dingbats Purple Hippo. It was a mid-size (A5) journal with thick-ish (100GSM) paper, bookmark, pen holder, back cover pocket, and elastic closure.
Plus, purple cover.
Next came the supplies. I tried to keep my first order small since I was testing it out.
- Zebra Midliner Dual Markers for adding color or for highlighting
- Uni Pin 6 Pen Drawing Set for line drawing and doodling
- Metal Stencil Bookmark that also doubles as a ruler
- Washi tape with printed month, days of week (I knew I didn’t want to draw monthly calendars over and over)
- Most recently I added Crayola Fine Line Markers
bullet journal layouts
Once I had my journal and supplies, I went back to Pinterest to search “what to include in my bullet journal.”
Not only did I look at layouts, lists, and trackers, I also thought about business needs to include as well. There were so many brilliant and beautiful ideas, but I didn’t want to waste pages on elements I might never use.
My initial pages and layouts:
- Cover page
- Key page
- Calendar system
- Gratitude pages
- Habit tracker
Using sticky notes, I tagged pages in my journal on what I might need and where it could go. Then I sat with the order and organization. After several days of musical sticky notes, I was ready to make some marks in my bullet journal.
👉 Most BuJo experts suggest starting with an index and key page. The index records all your sections with page number locations. A key page has all the symbols you might use for tracking.
👉 The second major tip I appreciated was the recommendation to sketch the layouts in light pencil first to determine placement before going over it with the (permanent!) black drawing pen.
👉 Try out your line pens and markers first. Some users make a “test” page to show color, line thickness, etc.
when to start your bullet journal
You can start a bullet journal any time of the year. For me, I happened to start mid-year, and many like to start a fresh journal at the beginning of the year.
With all that’s being going on, now seemed like the perfect time to dig in.
I would have six months to experiment and decide on what worked and what didn’t. Then come the new year, I could hang up by newb status and move up to the yellow belt of bullet journaling.
After the key page and index, I opted for a two-page vision board.
I love vision boards for their manifesting and mindfulness qualities, and with so much uncertainty in everyone’s lives right now, a smaller, mid-year vision board sounded like a solid idea.
(Plus it’s a great way to recycle those pretty magazines you have laying around.)
calendar and appointments layout
As part of my notebook addiction, I jumped on the Life Planner bandwagon (like Erin Condren and the Passion Planner). So pretty…but most of them came with too many moving parts.
My brain required simplicity.
In between the life planner stage and the bullet journal, I used a 12-month calendar for several years. Straight forward without a lot of extras. And honestly, I mostly used the monthly and weekly sections only.
So I included those in my bullet journal.
For now, the monthly view is a part of my intro page for each new month. Then the next pages are dedicated to my weekly layouts so I can view appointments and tasks with specific “due by” dates.
I opted for a one page weekly layout for a couple of reasons. The first, simplicity again, and the second, so I could use the right side for notes. A must-have for me!
Previous 12-month calendars started the week on Sunday, so I got used to that and continued it in the BuJo. However, after a few weeks, this no longer worked for me, so I switched the weeks to begin on Monday which coincided with my business week.
More on the business stuff next.
bullet journal for business
Where I loved the 12-month calendar for its easy at-a-glance monthly view and weekly space for appointments, it failed me completely in my growing piles of business notes dedicated to:
- Blog ideas
- Checklist for the blog
- Types of blogs
- Facebook post ideas
- Instagram post ideas
- Instagram hashtags
- SEO key words
- And the list goes on…
The bullet journal provided a way to have all these in one convenient place. However, in the hours-long searches, I didn’t find many ideas for business layouts beyond goal-setting or project completion.
Since bullet journaling is all about making it what you need, I created my own tracking pages for the above topics.
Then I realized I needed to search for blogging bullet journals. Bingo!
😱 Unfortunately, I only thought of adding these pages after I’d already gotten a month into the pages. When I’m ready to move to a new journal, I’ll place this business section at the beginning of my journal for easy reference.
Other business pages that have made their way into my bujo:
- 90 day goal sheet inserted at the beginning of each quarter
- Stats for Google analytics, social media platforms, and email marketing
- Password sheet
- Branding guidelines like hex-code color keys
- Courses I’ve enrolled in
I’ve also now added a page for content planning for each month (what to post and when). 👇
what else to track in your bujo
The beauty of a bullet journal is the ability to make it whatever you need it to be. Currently I lean toward a more minimalist style–simple to use, simple to track.
But perhaps you love doodling, drawing, and art. You could use your BuJo like an art journal. Maybe you like love lists. . .it’s all good.
Here’s a TINY list of the different logs, trackers, and layouts you could include your bullet journal:
- Health trackers like your water/sugar/caffeine intake, food diary, activity level, exercise, sleep log, eating fruits and veggies, monthly periods
- Self care like mood tracker, gratitude pages, personal development, morning routine
- Finance like budgeting, spending habits, bill due dates, expenses, savings, paying off debt
- Home tasks like cleaning schedule, chore list, meal plan, grocery lists, password sheet, family schedule, car maintenance
- Travel such as packing list, plans, places you wish to go, place you’ve been, memory keeper
- Entertainment like movies to watch, books to read, playlists, Netflix/Hulu shows, currently reading/watching, favorite websites or blogs
- Bucket list, brain dumps, mind maps, affirmations, mantras, quotes (it’s a pun and a quote 👇)
10 reasons i love my bullet journal
- Having one notebook that goes everywhere with me. Now I’m no longer in my office and need the password sheet I took the bedroom the night before.
- No more wasting time looking through all the different notebooks to find the one idea that sprouted two months ago.
- I’m no Van Gogh, but I do enjoy my rudimentary attempts at drawing and fonts. Pinterest again to the rescue with drawing tutorials.
- When I’m not feeling artsy, I can use stickers or print off graphics and glue them in as shown in some of the photos.
- The mindfulness quality to decorating pages, drawing lines, and coloring them in. I want to add some mandalas to my next journal and really up the relaxation quotient.
- The mental health benefits of journaling, recording my thoughts to clear out my head and reduce anxiety.
- Tapping into my creativity when picking themes, drawing, or sketching out the pages for the next week.
- Tracking my yoga and meditation as well as other mindfulness practices.
- There’s no right or wrong way to do it. It’s the ultimate in flexibility when it comes to planning and organizing.
- My brain appreciates the simplicity and being off the hook on remembering every single detail.
final tips on your bullet journal
After 90 days using my bullet journal, I hope to continue the practice for months and years to come. On Sundays, I enjoy the analog time prepping my pages for the next week. Then toward the end of the month, I have fun selecting a theme for the next one.
Let yourself make mistakes and embrace imperfection. Avoid overwhelm by starting with only a handful of layouts.
Remember getting comfortable with your bullet journal takes time, just like learning to teach yoga, or any other new endeavor you embark on. You’ll have to experiment for a while until you discover your groove.