When I asked you all if you wanted me to do a post on how I set up my bullet journal, I got an overwhelming “yes”. The way I set up my bullet journal maximizes my time for my job. So, you’ll see things like “Post Ideas” or “Collaborations” or “Social Media Tracker”, which may not be applicable to you. I recommend replacing those areas with things that are something you can use, like a habit tracker, exercise tracker, water tracker, etc. I’ll leave some ideas at the bottom of this post for those who are in different walks of life (i.e. a student’s bullet journal is going to look very different from the bullet journal of a mother of four).
The thing about bullet journals is that they’re highly customizable. I always love seeing what other people’s look like to get new ideas and inspiration. I’ve used other planners in the past that we’re pre-structured. My biggest gripe is that I always felt like there were key components missing that would be the best for my time and my life. That’s why I adore bullet journals!
Pages you won’t see in this post (but still exist) are spreads of all the calendars for 2017 and 2018. I put these right at the beginning of the bullet journal for reference in my planning. I also track my TBR list in my bullet journal. I also have included pages (in past bullet journals) or plan to include pages for bucket list items, travel lists, holiday menus (i.e. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter), home cleaning schedules, and yearly goals.
Everyone has different preferences, but these are the best ones I’ve discovered over time!
- Bullet Journal: I’m currently using this one and it’s under $15. However, sometimes it’s not in-stock on Amazon. So, there’s this option or this option. Of course, you can go with this popular classic as well. I always get black because I find that if I go with a colorful one, I get tired of whatever color I pick after awhile.
- Highlighters: I’m using these. I’m partial to the pastel colors, which I use a lot. I also love the grey! I don’t use all of mine all the time. I like to keep my bullet journal simple, which means sticking to a basic color palette. But, I know lots of people who like to keep things colorful and lively.
- Watercolor pens: I actually lost my set while moving. These pens are extremely useful, not just for bullet journaling. Ever wonder how all those pretty calligraphists get the job done? Most of the time, they use something like these.
- Stencils: Okay, I will say that these are a must! I’m quite artsy and have been for awhile, but I cannot draw straight lines for the life of me. I was going nuts seeing how everyone else had these immaculate bullet journals until I realized they use stencils! This is the pack I got and it’s really all-inclusive for a great price. I also recommend getting letter stencils, like these, for something extra!
- Stickers: I’m a sticker addict, so I try not to go that route otherwise, I will sticker everything. However, I know some people swear by them. Washi tape is also popular. Stickers are great for seasonal things, too! (i.e. fall, Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc.). I also think these stickers that focus on birthdays, events, appointments, etc. are great additions since they won’t take up too much space on your monthly calendar.
- Sharpie pens: Not gel pens! I’ve made the mistake of using gel pens and it just smudges everywhere, which makes your bullet journal look like a mess. I’ve also used regular ballpoint, but I find they’re not dark enough. They don’t stand out so it plays with my eyes to see dots and light words. I recommend getting the super fine point.
I use my monthly layout the most at the beginning of the month when I need to set up and plan the days ahead! The “Monthly Goals” section helps me be sure that my weekly goals and daily tasks are leading up to something bigger.
- Month Name + Year: Always in the top left corner for me!
- Monthly Calendar: I use the space in these squares to write the blog post for that day, any appointments, birthdays, or events, and any deadlines. I typically use a different pen color for each of those topics so I can keep track.
- Monthly Goals: I typically keep these to my top 3-5 goals for the month. I’ll also section off an area if there are birthdays, appointments, or events that I can’t miss!
- Monthly Budget: I’m the financial person in the household, so I keep track of everything going in and going out. In this space, I make a more generalized list of income and expenses so I can get a good overview.
- Post Ideas: This space may seem small, but, as you will see if you keep reading, I have an area in the daily section for more ideas. This area is mainly for ideas that I’m thinking about executing during the current month or next month, but haven’t made official plans for.
- Collaborations: I just list the brands that I’m working with that month. There are some brands I work with consistently, others that are a one-time go, and others that are a pro-longed project that might have some overlap from month-to-month.
- Social Media Tracker: I track my social stats across the board at the beginning of the month so I can see where I’ve grown, where I’ve stayed the same, and where my engagement is the best.
It took a lot of trial and error for me to discover which weekly layout works best. I needed a “home-base” throughout the week to be sure that I’m covering all the major things that I need to accomplish that week. This is the part of my bullet journal that changes the most in structure as life changes!
- “Week of” Date Range: The date range I work with goes from Monday to Sunday.
- Weather Forecast: Again, this forecast goes from Monday to Sunday. It’s also helpful to have this tracker so I know what to expect and can plan for that day (i.e. cooler mornings means great for walking, cool mornings/hot days means dress in layers, etc.).
- Grocery List: Usually, I don’t use both columns completely. I will quickly bullet point before grocery shopping. I try to only go grocery shopping once/week so I minimize food waste and stay within budget.
- Call/Email/Follow up: I get loads of emails coming through daily! At the beginning of each week, I’ll make a quick list of the “must respond” people that otherwise might get lost in the madness.
- Weekly Goals: Typically, these are my top 3-5 goals for that week. I’ll also include any appointments or events in this area so I don’t forget.
- Social Media Tracker: I’ll write down my stats at the beginning of the week. This makes it easier for me to assess what was effective/ineffective, what content did well, and overall trends at the end of the month.
I try to keep my daily layout very simple. Through testing different planners and layouts, I’ve found that more structured daily layout (i.e. hour-by-hour task allotments) and constricted space for my to-do lists really hindered what I felt like I could accomplish. Hence, the wide-open space right under my to-do list header!
- Month + Date: Always in the corner.
- To-do List of the Day: This photo only shows 3 squares, but my daily to-do’s are much longer than that. I start off by drawing the 3 squares for my “top 3” must dos of the day. Everything from email responses to pins on Pinterest to appointments to workouts are filled in afterwards, using the same square checkboxes.
- Brain Dump: Throughout the day, I find myself coming across an idea and I’m always scrambling for a place to write it down where I won’t forget about it. This is what that area is for! I’ll also use it if I see a deadline come across my calendar as a miniature prep reminder.
- Gratitude List: This is probably one of the most important areas of my bullet journal. As someone who is battling chronic depression, it’s important for me to see the good every day. The first “thing” I always write down is Josh, my amazing husband. Everything else I write down changes from day-to-day. I typically write it in list format and fill the space as much as I can.
- Mini-Journal: Every day, I write down one good thing that happened in one sentence. At the end of the year, you can look back and see how amazing it all was and relive your best moments! It’s actually pretty awesome to experience.
common bujo concerns
Isn’t it time consuming? Wouldn’t it be more productive to just write a basic to-do list?
Yes and no. The way that I handle the time aspect of this is by allotting myself a little “me time” on Sunday. It can actually be very therapeutic to sit down, grab some coffee, listen to your favorite music and just plan out your week. This usually takes me 1-2 hours. I will stencil out my week and all my daily bujos. However, I don’t fill in my daily layouts right then and there. I will spend 15 minutes the morning of that day doing that.
Considering all this, it actually saves you time. You end up with a game plan so you can knock out your tasks quickly and efficiently instead of wasting time procrastinating and attempting to figure out what’s important throughout the day. The trick is to sketch it all out in advance.
I’m not artsy. I don’t think this is for me.
I understand. Some people are not into the creative aspect of bullet journaling. However, I’ve seen some incredible minimal layouts that you might think are great (like this one or this one) that really just focus on the most important things. I also highly recommend getting the stencils I mentioned above (you can see them here) and sticking to a simple black-and-white color palette, since you’re probably not concerned with the details of it all (not a bad thing, by the way!).
You’re layout is great!…for you. I can’t seem to find something that fits me.
As I’ve mentioned before, bullet journals are super customizable and you have to go with what works for you. If these layouts aren’t going to help you, then don’t do them. I’ve bullet pointed some other layouts below that you might find interesting. I also recommend finding Pinterest boards just geared towards bullet journal layouts and something might spark an idea! Ultimately, it’s all trial and error.
- For those who want something minimal
- For those who are career-focused
- For those who are a stay-at-home parent
- For those who are children-centered (regardless of stay-at-home or not)
- For those who are teachers
- For those who are students
- For those who are bloggers/social media savvy
What are some other lists and trackers I can include in my bullet journal?
Check out the list below and I hope it helps! It’s not a 100% comprehensive list, but it’s a great place to start!
- Habit Tracker
- Water Tracker
- Exercise Tracker
- TBR/Book List
- Travel Bucket List
- Birthday/Anniversary List
- Cleaning Schedule
- Holiday Menu List
- Packing List
- Wish List
- Sleep Log
- Password Tracker
- Yearly Goals List
- Movies to Watch
- Budget Tracker
- Restaurants/Coffee Shops to Try
- Date Nights to Plan
- Kids Milestones Tracker
- Savings Tracker
- DIY Project List
Obviously, these are in addition to the options I’ve already laid out with my bullet journal. Feel free to come up with some of your own, too!
Little pieces for you!
- If you have posted how you style your bullet journal, leave me a link in the comments! I truly love seeing and nosing about with what others do with their bullet journals 🙂 Plus, it may help others to see what’s out there, too.
- If you have any questions, leave a comment! I’ll try to answer the best I can!
- Also, leave a comment if you have any planner tips! I love taking the time to plan and organize, so I’m addicted to all those little tips and would love to hear them!