Planning with Intentionality: Bullet Journaling

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We’ve all been there: you make plans with the best of intentions, even putting them into the calendar on your phone, and you insist that you won’t forget. The day comes around, you are sitting at home and get a message from your friend asking where you are, and you panic. How could you have forgotten?

In this digital age, it can seem like our technology is a foolproof method for remembering. We have apps to do anything and everything, and doing anything analog just seems needlessly cumbersome and time-consuming. Yet, we also find ourselves forgetting appointments, feeling unprepared for the day, and not accomplishing what we planned. This is because there is less intentionality in typing something into your phone or computer versus writing it down. Your mind isn’t forced to really think about what it is doing because typing is so quick. The note, appointment, or whatever else you may store digitally is forgotten as soon as it is typed. All of these lapses in our day-to-day memory can leave us feeling mentally taxed, far too busy, and anxious for the days ahead.

What if I were to propose a simple solution?  The “Bullet Journal” is an analog system for planning and organizing your life. Now, you may be tempted to tune out because you’ve tried physical planners before and never lasted more than a few months at best, but hear me out. The bullet journal is essentially a do-it-yourself planner/journal/notebook. All you need to make one is a notebook and a pen. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive because you can make your bullet journal whatever and however you want. You can plan out your schedule, but you can also plan trips, make lists of ideas or books to read, make sketches, set goals, and track habits and emotions! This blog will cover the foundations of starting your bullet journal, with ideas and examples.

The main concept behind bullet journaling is the idea of “rapid logging,” or making quick notes, in order to avoid getting bogged down by the task of journaling or planning. As you can see, I have included some examples of “spreads” or pages as I prefer to do them in my own bullet journal, but they can look like whatever would be most helpful to you. Usually there is a little bit of trial and error throughout the process of bullet journaling, and you will eventually find out what works for you! There is a plethora of inspiration on Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, blogs such as bohoberry.com, and the official bullet journal website: bulletjournal.com.

A bullet journal starts with a key for standardizing your use of symbols and colors throughout, and an index for easily finding whatever page you are looking for. Next comes a future log, in which you record your plans several months into the future. Looking so far into the future can be a bit overwhelming, but if you do have any big events coming up, like birthdays or trips, it can be helpful to know you’ve written them down somewhere. A future log doesn’t have to be extremely detailed or comprehensive, as long as it has the main highlights of your future plans.

Next, you may write out a slightly more detailed plan of events for whatever month you are currently in or about to begin. This can include a little bit more detail than the future log, because you will likely have more detail once the month is closer. 

Moving into more detail, you can have weekly and/or daily spreads. Weekly spreads are helpful because you can sit down and plan your week on Sunday night (or whatever night is convenient), including work schedule, appointments, and plans with friends, as well as write down anything you need or want to accomplish that week. Having this sort of a plan going into the week can help you feel more prepared and ready to start a new week, regardless of the stresses or anxieties it may hold.

A daily spread helps you organize to the highest amount of detail. At some point the day before, perhaps as part of your bedtime routine, you can sit down and look at your weekly or monthly spread, write down your schedule and any special events, and pick tasks or goals to complete the next day. Similar to the weekly spread, this allows you to go to bed knowing you have the next day’s schedule planned, and you won’t be up thinking about all the things you need to accomplish and hoping you don’t forget anything.

This may all sound like a lot of work, but if you are feeling disorganized or out of control in your life, it may be helpful to begin using a system that you create with your own hands and your own needs and priorities in mind. It enables you to be creative while freeing your mind up from struggling to remember appointments or to-do lists, and the nagging anxiety that comes with the fear of forgetting something important.

If you would like to try this out but don’t want to commit just yet, start on a loose piece of paper. The paper I used for my examples was printed online after searching “dot grid printables.” But we made it easy by providing a download here. My hope is that this is as helpful a method for you as it has been for me!

Laura Lanier Licensed Professional Counselor-Intern

Coming soon:  Bullet Journaling for Mental Health

To schedule an appointment with Laura Lanier call 940-222-8703 ext 704 or click on services, Schedule with Laura L. Laura focuses on College Age students and Adults. She has experience with eating disorders and issues with body image.

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