On New Beginnings and Bullet Journaling

On new beginnings

I am so excited that it’s October! I feel like it’s the start of a new year, as I started a new bullet journal October 1.  I purchased the journal back in July, and researched many people’s layouts online, took notes, and began mapping out my journal for October 1-Dec 31, 2020 back in August…So it was super exciting and thrilling to be able to make my first notes in it beginning this week!  

What’s a bullet journal?  I’ll get to that in just a minute!

October first also marked our weekly prenatal appointment, where we had an excellent check-in with the Doctor and she said the Non Stress Test (NST) was picture perfect.  Baby Boy will be here in less than four weeks and although our anxiety may be heightened, our excitement to meet him is also mounting…

The past couple of weeks have been nice and cool. With the arrival of October, harvesting our pumpkin patch, apple picking at our favorite orchard, and watching the leaves changing color, I can truly feel like a new season is upon us.  

Buds are appearing on our camellias, our rudbeckia is in full bloom, genuflecting to us as we exit the house everyday, and the sun is later to rise.  I’ve finally dug out and begun wearing some cozy sweaters, made a batch of chili, and spent more time outdoors in this milder weather. 

So the bullet journal – what’s that?

My “bujourney” so far – previous journals at the top, and the newest one at the bottom.

For me, my bullet journal helps keep track of birthdays and celebrations, our family calendar, a daily gratitude, blog ideas and states of completeness, and I’m trying out habit tracking for the blog as well as self-care.  I also have found a way to hopefully streamline daily notes of memories and milestones for each child so when we go to write the annual birthday letter- I can go straight to a page each month instead of skimming every day for a note.

My daily notes for our kids’ milestones, along with a spot to summarize the month.

The Bullet Journal was created by Ryder Carroll.  I first heard about the concept in a “mom” magazine, and without much research, just the minimal information found in the article, I began bullet journaling.  

My first bullet journal – monthly view for events on left and to-dos and monthly quote on right.

It is a system for organizing your life – noting events, logging tasks and daily to-dos, looking forward, reflecting back, tracking habits and keeping notes (about whatever you like to keep notes on).  Compiling all of this information by theme, “collections” are created.

I love to share my bullet journal set up with family and friends who ask, “What’s that?” in response to my enthusiastic, “I’ve started a new bullet journal!”   I’ve shared it about three times with Chouchou…Every time I start by, “Have I shown you my new journal?” to which he responds with a patient smile…and I proceed to share it, page by page.

He equates bullet journaling to scrapbooking and I agree – I save all of my journals and agendas, since they are a neatly organized souvenir of each year.  Saving them has helped us to write our birthday letter to Mon Cœur (MC) every year, and it helped me with writing my birth plan as I looked back at notes I kept from my L&D with Millie.

Daily to-dos for work and home, meal planning, and memories I didn’t want to forget were all noted in my journal.

Mom saw the year at a glance and all the writing I had to do upfront, and in her very Mom fashion said, “It’s too time consuming.”  She’s right, it does take time to set it up. The beauty is it can be as complicated or uncomplicated as you want to make it. Although there is some upfront work and a time commitment at the very beginning to get layouts on the page for the year and the month, to me it was very calming, almost like meditation with a ruler and pen.

Before setting up my most recent bullet journal, I did a lot of research looking at people’s shared bullet journal minimal set ups on YouTube.  I took notes, kept what I thought would work for me and trashed what seemed irrelevant.  

Since I’m starting in the fourth quarter of a year, I decided to plan out pages and collections just through the end of the year and then reevaluate at the end of the year to add or subtract any collections, layouts, or trackers that didn’t work for me.

I’m really glad that I’ve only mapped out three months, because I already have some ideas for changes….there are…so many ideas…out there, that I am finding more and more inspiration on how to better map my weekly spreads.

Set-up inspiration

I began a bullet journal a couple of years ago, in my last year of teaching.  I knew I wanted a place to keep tasks for myself, my job, our home, and keep little memories about MC and what she said or did on any particular day.  

Then when that ran out, I decided, I’ll just buy an agenda (Mom’s not wrong when she says it takes time to set up the bullet journal!).  I bought one, and although it was helpful to already have templates drawn out, I still had to label and number them and I just didn’t like the layouts as much…

So I was ecstatic to take on the bullet journal again, and this time actually purchased a dotted journal, instead of a lined one, so I could really make it my own.

There were two videos I watched and found informative when planning my bullet journal.  These videos had helpful, minimalistic set ups, and I found more things that I wanted to include instead of fluff to trash.

Pick Up Limes: This was the first and most helpful video for setting up my bullet journal. She gave a great walkthrough of her set up. I took many of her ideas, including the key set up, a monthly check in (emotional, physical, spiritual), and gratitudes.  I took the gratitudes a step further, with a milestone page for MC and Baby Boy.

Monthly check in, with a spot for words of affirmation and a monthly goal on the left; habit tracker on the right. “Exercise 10 min” was replaced by “Read thirty minutes” and I’m still not meeting that mark!

AmandaRachLee: Amanda shared some great ideas I will likely use at the beginning of the year – a new year page with goals, focus, dreams, and affirmations for the year.   

She uses a bill tracker as well, which I originally was going to include in my journal.  However, I decided that should be a monthly page that gets visibility for both Chouchou and me.  We are trying to budget better together while still keeping and using a credit card, so hiding it away in a page of my bullet journal just did not make sense for the teamwork effort we are putting in.

She had a page dedicated to ideas for her YouTube posts – I tweaked this to work with my blog and the three diverse areas that I blog under.  I took it a step further to add a key as to whether I had a draft, needed pictures, had scheduled the post, needed follow up on Instagram, etc. Again, I want to change this layout to be more fluid and easier to follow through the process from start to finish.

Blog idea brain dump on the left; daily gratitudes on the right!

How I keep up with my bullet journal

I take it with me everywhere – it’s small enough to fit in my purse, and heavy enough so I always feel its presence.  

At home during the day, it stays on the kitchen table or buffet, so I can reference my tasks, note gratitude, or little things MC says and I don’t want to forget.

At night, I reflect over the day, migrating or canceling tasks, adding the milestones and gratitudes if I haven’t already.  I also think about what I want to accomplish or a task I need to complete tomorrow or in the upcoming days.  I make sure to write it down before going to sleep so I can go to sleep, and I keep it on my nightstand.

In the morning, instead of checking my phone first thing, I grab my bullet journal from my nightstandand check in.  This helps keep me focused on my day, instead of falling down the IG or news feed rabbit hole.

Ryder Carroll

If you aren’t familiar with Bullet Journaling and want to get started, I do suggest starting with Ryder’s website, bulletjournal.com, which explains the process.  

There are many bullet journal enthusiasts out there, many with graceful calligraphy and images, stickers, washi tape and more.  I may not have a paying full time job, but my family, home, and marriage are all full time jobs and I have to prioritize practical over pretty.

Start with Ryder’s website, and then make it your own and discover other ideas that are out there.

Do you keep a bullet journal? Share your experience!


6 thoughts on “On New Beginnings and Bullet Journaling

  1. Loved this post! Bullet journalling is something I have been doing for a few years now and it keeps to ease my anxiety. I love having a planning system that I am in control of . -Xoxo chana


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