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My (Ugly) Bullet Journal

Every blogger has a bullet journal post, of this I’m convinced. So why did I feel the need to write about my bullet journal? Because it’s ugly. Yes, that’s right, I’m a proud ugly bullet journaler. 

The washi tape, the perfect book, the drawers full of colored pens and markers and stamps and stickers- I don’t have any of it.

It’s taken five years, but I finally have discovered the bullet journal set up that works perfectly for me, and I’m going to share it with you because I’m proud of my ugly little paper-brain-boy. 

What it doesn’t include:

  1. No monthly overview

  2. No future log

  3. No to-do list

  4. No habit tracker

I don’t use a month overview, a to-do list, or a future log because my iPhone calendar does all of that for me.  I usually think of things I need to do in the middle of the night, and I'm not taking my BuJo to my nightstand, so I quickly type it out, save it as an all-day event for the next work day, and then I'm allowed to stop thinking about it because I won't forget!

As for habit tracking…that’s a habit I haven’t formed yet. But when I do, I just use the Productive app.

What my BuJo does have is three page categories: 

  1. Review/Goals

  2. Weekly

  3. Notes/Journals

Category A: Review/Goals Spread

Review = Things I did

Goals = Things I want to do

I don’t do a monthly review/goals, I do a quarterly review/goals. Four times a year, I check to make sure I’m not totally going off the rails in any of the three important aspects of my life: Cosmic Corner, publishing, or personal shit. 

I make a 3x3 table, label the top with the three months in that quarter and the side with the three aspects of life I want to not ignore (you can have more if you really want just remember to KISP: Keep it simple, please.)

Then just add goals! It’s okay to do a cake-goal, too. In November, I do NaNoWriMo, so my personal life and Cosmic Corner life have realllyyyy simple goals such as "one mentor meeting" and "coffee and breakfast at home every morning".

I also do a yearly review/goals spread which is a 3x4 table (three life aspects over four quarters). Breaking the year into quarters suits me best because it’s a lot less overwhelming for me than twelfs. Twelves? Twelve bits. Gosh, twelf sounds nasty. 

Category the next: Weekly Spread

After I do a spread for my quarterly goals, I mark every page I’ll need for my weekly spreads for the entire quarter by writing in the bottom right corner the first letter of the month and the dates that spread will cover. 

For example, the third week in January has the label “J13-J19” on the bottom right. It’s a super quick task and it means that I have an entire uninterrupted quarter’s worth of weekly spreads ready to go. 

Next, I divide the spread into 8 parts, one for each day of the week because I’ve unlocked a secret 8th day of the week that allows me to be ultra productive (that’s for another blog post, though). 

Then, I just add the day of the week (Only the first letter because I’m not MADE of time) and the date to the upper left hand corner of each division et voila! A very simple, quick planner set up that’s entirely customizable. 

I also leave a little header and footer area where I add the year (in case I forget), quarter, month, week #, weekly goal, and page number. My eighth day-of-the-week is reserved for information tid-bits that are too tiny or unimportant to be a serious note or journal. Things like phone numbers I need to call back or order numbers to reference… information that’s only really relevant for a few hours usually. Also, long-form addition. 

Each task has an open circle as a bullet point and I fill in the circle when I complete it. Each event has a dash as a bullet point and an @ time at the end. 

Every work morning, I write out all my tasks and events from my digital calendar in the daily space of my bullet journal and then give them a number 1-infinity and I do those tasks in exactly that order, one after the other, until I’m done. I usually start with tasks I can do on my phone, then computer tasks, then organizing/tactile tasks because grouping them that way helps me get through them faster. 

If I decide not to do a task on the day I wrote it on, I put a > over the open circle and re-write it on the next work day. Eventually, I get tired of re-writing it all the time and just do it. 

If I no longer need to do a task because my husband took pity on me and did it instead, I put a line all the way through it. 

I keep a post-it flag on the current week as a bookmark because they’re cheap, thin, and easy to move! 

It’s not pretty, but it makes life simpler and I crave simple in a world of complexity. 

Third category: Notes/journals

Helloooo high-school! Cornell note-taking saved my life in AP Art History, and it still works today! 

I also keep a post-it tab on the last entry in my note space so I can easily flip to add notes. 

These pages are easy to set up, just count over four or so rows (I always use dotted or graph paper) and draw a line straight down! Left side of the line gets the date and time for journal entries or the category for notes and the right side gets the notes themselves which are usually bullet-pointed and have sub-titles.

I also copy all my important notes to Evernote so they’re searchable and safe in the digital cloud. I just like to write them by hand first because when I’m taking workshops, it feels more natural to write out my notes by hand and I can add arrows and doodles as weird bullet points as-needed. 

That’s it! Oh… wait, you wanted product recommendations right? Okay. 

Here’s what I use: 

-Hardcover dotted Moleskine

-Tiny metal ruler from Westcott 

-Stabilo felt pens (grey for set-up work, blue for Cosmic Corner, purple for publishing, orange for personal life) 

-A Faber-Castell Pitt marker for marking off past-days 

-Post-it brand flags 

-Global Art canvas pencil case (it’s got elastics to keep everything in place and it’s exactly the same size as my Moleskine!) 

And that’s it. My ugly, easy, down-and dirty, no frills bullet journal method.

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