Whose planner is it anyway? (BuJo Series Intro)

BuJo Setup Series Intro

The Bullet Journal (affectionately nicknamed BuJo) is a powerful tool, and you’ve probably either tried it or have heard enough about it that you’re curious to find out what it is.

There’s no shortage of Pins or posts on the topic to help you on your way. This post will probably rank 200,000 on a Google search.

That’s okay.

This isn’t a “How To,” or a “List of Supplies.” I won’t be telling you how to design your spreads. (Although those posts are coming for those who are interested.)

Before I begin this BuJo Setup Mini Series, I want to put a question out to you – Whose journal is it anyway?

I’m creating the perfect setup for me. This is the 4th journal I’ve started using the main BuJo ideas. I’ve changed each journal with use. I like following some of the “rules” and not others. (I don’t think I ever want to migrate a list again.)

The point I’m trying to make here, is that this is my journal. I’ve made the adjustments I’m going to detail in this series because they better served me. But I’m not saying that this series will be pointless to the greater world.

What I want you to remember from now through the end of the series is that your BuJo will only serve you if you take the time to process what tips and tools will help you make it yours.

Sounds silly to take the time to write this out, but I’m writing from personal failure. I have put my BuJo on a shelf for weeks because I thought I wasn’t using it “correctly” only to realize that I was trying to use someone else’s journal (of course, I do not mean literally).

And can I just pick on the idea of “failure” for a second?

Good. Thanks.

Who says it’s a failure if I try to use washi tape and it looks silly? What if I use a different pen and my handwriting looks wobbly? Or if I title a spread and see that it’s off center?

These and so many other mishaps happen to me. I’m not a natural born scrapbook visionary. I don’t see blank journal space as an opportunity to showcase my vision for a beautiful layout of colors, stickers, etc.

But I do like to look at beautiful things! I try little ways to make my journal more visually pleasing.

So, from the beginning of my journal creation, I set my standard at “plain with purpose” and I own the fact that I’m not going to secretly wish for a vivid, colorful, impressive display of book art. This journal is going to serve me by being my brain on paper, and if I can keep my standard in the right place then I will be so much more likely to just grab it and write as often as I need to. This, to me, is BuJo success.

Are you ready to dig in?

My goal is to inspire you to think, not copy. I want you to design a BuJo that will call to you. One that will be so easy to write in that you wonder how you ever lived without your brain on paper. It may be decked out in all the Hobby Lobby glam, or it might be a college ruled spiral notebook and pencil. Whatever it is, I want it to be yours. The more you write in it, the more valuable it will be to you.

Let’s get started!

Watch my videos on YouTube for more thoughts and tips!

Read all my previous posts on the Bullet Journal:

Bullet Journal Quick Start Guide

BuJo QSG

After writing yesterday’s post on the importance of using a Bullet Journal, I felt like it was time to write a Quick Start Up Guide.

What is a Bullet Journal?

A lot of people have heard of the Bullet Journal by now, and most people still want to know: is it a calendar, a journal, or a planner? The answer is: yes. This system sounds sleek and fancy, but it really is super simple. So simple that you could look around your house and find everything you need to get started right now.

The system is a method of keeping your life contained in one journal. So, your calendar gets written in here, your grocery list, the notes from last week’s seminar, your plans and dreams for the future – all of it. Just turn to the next page, title it, and start writing.

Sound too random to really work for you? Maybe at first. It might take a couple weeks to fully transition to the method, but I guarantee that the writing part of it all will be so rewarding that it will far outweigh your original feelings of skepticism.

How does it work?

There are four main pillars of the system: a spread, the index, migration, and future logs.

Most importantly, before you give this method a try, you will need to abandon any notion of doing it “right or wrong.” This is your journal, do what makes sense to you. The only essential piece to the success of your journal is to just keep writing.

Now, for pillar #1: A Spread

This is the next open page in your journal. What goes on the new spread is totally up to you.

Spread = the next blank page

Spread = the next blank page

A spread could be:

  • Your daily agenda
  • The current month’s events and dates to remember
  • A grocery list
  • You name it – whatever is going on in your life can be written down on a spread

#2: The Index

This is the only organization piece of the Bullet Journal system. It’s simple, easy, and streamlined. It’s commonly what people want to skip in using the system, but trust me when I tell you that this index will serve as a valuable record once you’re well into the middle and end of your journal.

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How to index:

  1. Section off the first 4 pages of your blank journal and dedicate these pages as the INDEX. (If you choose to use the Lechtturm journal – recommended below – the Index is included as the first 4 pages.)
  2. Title each new spread. (Keep it simple! And use shorthand. See picture above for example.)
  3. Write a page number at the bottom of each spread.
  4. Record the page number and title on your index page.

#3: Migration

Sometimes when I write a to do list, I include everything I must do and everything I want to do. When the want-to-dos don’t get done, the mark of their true importance is whether I want to move them to the next day’s spread and list them again. This is the process of migration.

Benefits of migration:

  • Rewriting tasks takes intention
  • Intention fuels productivity
  • Conversely, rewriting a task multiple times reveals that the task may be irrelevant

Threading is also nice when migrating tasks or thoughts to a new spread. To remember where in your journal you first wrote a specific plan or idea, just write that page number at the bottom of the new page next to the current page number.

It would look similar to this: 45 | 62

The “45” is the first page a topic was written down, and the “62” is the current page you are on.

#4 Future Logs

A future log is usually a collection of plans, dates, and events for the future. Since the point of the system is to remain in a daily mindset and not write plans in advance, the future log is a place to jot down future events that need to be remembered.

So, if you are currently in the month of January, then you would write out the whole month in dates and days on the first of the month for reference. Every day in the month of January would then get a fresh spread. (You can combine days and write more than one day on a spread.)

May 2016 166

To create a future log:

  1. Open a spread and section it into months of the year
  2. Label the months
  3. Jot down dates and events you’re already aware of
  4. Include the page number and record this log in the index 

Can I customize it?

Yes! One of the beauties of this system is how unique it is to the user. Some prefer to go all out and buy tons of scrapbooking extras and others work best by using a simple spiral notebook with no bells and whistles.

I created a Budget Bullet Journal for keeping track of our ledger. I keep this in a separate notebook which is technically a breaking of the Bullet Journal rules.

Thou shalt not keep separate calendars, notebooks, or planners.

But I’m okay with that. I’ve been with the system long enough to know what encourages me to write and keep the system going and what discourages me and leave me staring at blank pages.

Do what works for you in order to just keep writing.

What makes this system different than other packaged systems?

For those who struggle with fear of failure, this system is golden because you simply can’t fail at it. Each new day is a blank page. Start fresh.

For the creative types, there isn’t a box you have to fit your ideas into. Live it up, the Bullet Journal is your muse.

For the rebels and control freaks, you are in complete charge of where your Bullet Journal goes. You can be as ordered, organized, and OCD as you need to be.

What do I need to get started?

Simple Start – you probably already have what you need. A simple spiral notebook like this one and something to write with works fine.

Better Start – I have used a spiral notebook, a plain Moleskine (no lines or grid), a dotted Lechtturm 1917 (dots are my favorite – plus the pages are already numbered for you!), and an Official Bullet Journal.

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The Official BuJo doesn’t add any value for the added price (and it’s often “out of stock”) so my top recommendation for starting out is to get a dotted Lechtturm.

Optional accessories:

  • Specific pens, these are fun but these are my favorite
  • Page flags, I’ve used these in the past to mark months
  • Washi tape, YouTube videos abound on how to dress up your journal – I do not recommend this (I tried it, and it proved to just slow me down and make me feel obligated to make a system out of the colors of tape). Some people really enjoy adding this flare, so to each their own!
  • Pen holder attachment for a Lechtturm, there are many options to choose from – none are necessary

What’s in the name?

Bullet Journal comes from the creator of the system who recommends writing your lists using a “bullet” mark. Once the task is complete, you mark an “X” through the bullet. I personally prefer to use the “Dash-Plus+” system. Again, their’s freedom and beauty in the uniqueness of using the Bullet Journal system.

So. What are you waiting for? Get writing!

Want to learn even more? I share even more tips and challenges in the Accountability emails. Click here to get started and make sure to mark “Yes!” to get motivation in your mailbox.

Links in this post are for your reference to see or purchase the product mentioned. These are affiliate links. Thank you for your support of this site! To read more about affiliate links, click here.

Bullet Journal: Homeschool Planning Tip #1

BuJo HPT 1

You know you need to plan out what you want to accomplish in the next year for homeschooling your children. But where do you start?

In the last post, I wrote that I would be sharing my year planning tips in short and sweet chunks, and the best place to start is by emphasizing the importance of using a Bullet Journal.

There are so many moving pieces with lining up a homeschool plan, that every mom I know has struggled to keep it all together. From not being able to see the big picture, or not being able to figure out the small details, it can all feel overwhelming.

And most people don’t feel the urge to pull it all together until August anyway. When August rolls around they are shocked, overwhelmed, and irrational (usually this stays on the inside but it has a way of leaking into “jokes” and crazy eyes). Suddenly, there’s so much to figure out, and most moms complain that they feel so far behind.

So, why stay on that crazy cycle?

Let me encourage you that you can avoid all of that by taking the time to implement my bite sized planning tips now in the late spring and early summer. By the time August rolls around for you, it will be possible for you to feel at peace with your next homeschool year’s plan and have the confidence to begin.

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How to begin:

You need to have ONE place where you write everything down. You need a method of recording all the things in your life. This is why I strongly encourage you to use the Bullet Journal system. It’s simple, streamlined, and customizable to your specific preferences.

All you need is a journal and pen.

{I wrote all about how to set up a Bullet Journal for homeschooling last year. If you have never heard of this system before, go to this post and check it out. Then come back here to finish this post.}

Now that you’re ready to write, clear out a couple evenings or a Saturday afternoon to start brain dumping all your thoughts about your home, your kids, and your philosophy of education. This will be an ongoing part of your planning, but it is also extremely important that you honor this part of the planning process by putting it first.

WARNING: Do not purchase any books, resources, tools, etc. until you have completed this step.

It’s important to know how you feel about homeschooling. It’s valuable to write down where you are now emotionally, where your family is at in terms of functioning in the home, and where the next year could potentially take you.

Take the time to note all the major milestones that are expected to come within the next year. Can you imagine how these changes will influence how you feel about being a home educator?

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The goal in writing all these things down is to settle your mind and heart, to center your focus on the present and the foreseeable future, to detail the specific challenges you face, and to prioritize just a few educational goals. The whole point in all this is to turn away from the temptation to buy the prepackaged curricula that feels promising: Homeschooling made easy! Or the temptation to blame the challenges of the past year on the resources that you chose: Well, we completely failed to finish our science curriculum because the instructor’s guide was just too hard to use.

Both of these temptations appeal to my desire to have a sure thing. I want to be successful at this lifestyle of home education. I want to prove that I’m capable.

But when I write out that my child struggles with mood swings and impulsive behavior then it doesn’t really matter if I pick a perfect “school in a box,” it’s likely that this child will not want to do anything I propose in our homeschool year.

And if I’m not growing like I should in the discipline of ordering our routine to be consistent, trustworthy, and beneficial to all in the family then it doesn’t matter if I find the best science program with an instructor’s guide that I can understand – because chances are I won’t be disciplined enough to use it.

So, this is why the first step in planning for your next year needs to happen now. You must give yourself time to honestly reflect on the strengths and weaknesses that you have within your home.

Whether you like it or not, in the next homeschool year you will not be able to accomplish everything you feel like you “should” do. That’s why it’s important to make the time to really prioritize your goals.

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In summary, to begin your homeschool planning:

  • Set up a Bullet Journal
  • Write out the highs and lows from this past year
  • Note your child(ren)’s strength and weaknesses and just a few simple goals for their personal growth (I wrote out a page of prayer requests for my kids to help me remember the most important things)
  • Articulate your educational philosophy
  • Write down any anticipated milestones coming in the next year
  • Chart what a potential week in your life will look like – include outside commitments, routine goals, and rest.

Sit with this journal and continue to write until you feel settled. Don’t move on from this step until you feel confident that you can make wise decisions regarding how you will spend your time and money on the next homeschool year.

One game-changer resource that has helped me in this part of the planning process has been Sarah McKenzie’s book: Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace (affiliate link). You should get this book, read a few pages a day (there are only 81 pages – but each page is a gold mine of truth), and record all your thoughts in your Bullet Journal. I promise you will treasure what you write. 

Next in this series, I’ll be sharing how I find closure for the year that we just finished. This can be a tricky thing because we don’t always “complete” a subject, but keeping it on the shelf when I don’t we won’t use it anymore isn’t helpful. The next post will help you move on, let go, and clean the slate.

Are you feeling motivated to plan? Or is it draining just to think about it? Maybe you're like me and you waffle back and forth between these two. Wherever you're at in this learning journey, I'd love to help you take the next step. That's why I've created an Accountability/Encouragement group. I send out 2 emails per week to inspire and challenge you - and these are applicable to anyone at any stage of personal discipline. Want to join us? Click here to sign up.