The middle of last year I started a bullet journal, and now I don’t know how I lived without it! I use it as a planner, to-do-list, scheduler, habit tracker, and to keep track of what I’ve done. You can buy special dotted notebooks to use as a bullet journal, but I started using an A4 notebook I had spare (one of the many!) and I really like the size of it.

The original idea of a bullet journal was a simple text notebook, in which you mixed lists of different sorts with fancy bullet points to differentiate between different things. This idea has taken off and a quick pinterest search will bring you gazillions of fancy layouts and lettering styles to include. None of this is necessary, though by all means include it if it brings you pleasure. I have a much more utilitarian BuJo, and I don’t worry about making mistakes and then having to cross them out. As you might be able to see in the purposefully blurry photo above!

It’s taken me this long to work out what combination of pages and layouts work best for me. I’m not going into the detail of different spreads here, as there are plenty of resources for that. But this is what I use:

  • an index page
  • an extended future log (1/2 page per month) to list appointments,
  • a cashflow tracker
  • a combined daily/weekly and habit tracker spread
  • other pages as needed

When I started I did it very simply, and had a list of things for that day, and at the end of the day I drew a line underneath and started the next day. But I found it useful to split up my pages in advance so I could list things I needed to do on specific days in the future. Now I have my daily/weekly pages set up for a couple of months so I can plan better, and see what I’ll be doing. Eg Library books are due back in four weeks, so this way I can always add in on the right day when they’re due back. And I use a box for things to do, then colour it in when I’ve done it. This is something I picked up years ago from a colleague, and makes it really easy to see what I still need to do.

Having my habit tracker on the same page as my daily/weekly lists means that I only need to have one page open most of the time, where I can see everything. Then every so often I look at the list of tasks in the future log and plan out when I can do them, based on what else is going on. And this also allows me to include habits that I don’t necessarily want to do every day, but I certain number of times a week. And this is much more flexible than the electronic habit tracker I was using, as I can take into account other things that are going on (school holidays, visitors etc).

One thing I use to track my time, which I find very useful is to have a series of little trees along the bottom of each day.  Each tree represents half an hour (or a pomodoro; so 25 mins focused work time and 5 mins break) and I colour it in depending on what I’ve done. These are inspired by an app I heard of called the forest, which you could use to manage your time (specifically not check social media on your phone I think). I use three different colours to fill the trees in – one for writing related activities, one for family/house related activities, and one for when I spend time on myself. Note this is things that I have consciously chosen to do, so sitting reading facebook doesn’t count!  I did have a more complicated system with more colours for different things, but it was just too much and didn’t tell me anything helpful. Now I find it useful to look at the end of each week and see how I’ve done. How many empty trees I have, and how much time I’ve spent doing writing related activities.

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