The beauty of the bullet journal method is the flexibility. It can be what you need it to be, and through the varied seasons of life, flexibility is exactly what I need. In this post, I wanted to show how I typically bullet journal in my current season of life as a stay-at-home mom of littles.
Of course there is no “right” way to bullet journal, but sometimes it helps to see what someone else does in order to spark ideas for yourself. If you’re on the fence about jumping into bullet journaling, I’d encourage you to read this post, then go check out Ryder Carroll’s Youtube channel on the method, or perhaps read his book, The Bullet Journal Method. His explanation of the method is comprehensive (he did invent it, after all). What you’ll read below is my take on the method with some different modifications.
Making an index at the front of your bullet journal is crucial to being able to find information you’ve written down later. If you buy a Leuchturrm1917 dot grid notebook, it will already have an index in the front, but if not, it’s easy to make one. Here is one I did in my first bullet journal four years ago. Not pretty, but it got the job done.
I used to lay this out each quarter, but now I lay it out at the beginning of the year for the entire year. It typically takes four pages, and this is where I write down scheduled activities or tasks for the upcoming months for which I have not yet created a monthly spread. And what is a monthly spread, you ask?
I create a monthly spread at the beginning of each month. I migrate all activities or tasks which are written in my future log for that month onto this spread. I also create a master task list for the month for bigger tasks I want to accomplish through the month. I’ll also usually put a list of people’s birthdays I want to remember in that month.
Weekly Spread/Daily Log
My daily logs used to be much more detailed, but mama doesn’t have time for that these days. Instead, I make space for each day in a weekly spread. I write any scheduled activities in these spaces. I also have a running master task list for the week on the top right hand side of the page. I found trying to assign every task to specific days of the week was too frustrating with all the interruptions from my dear children, so I took to making a list for the week instead. If something absolutely has to get done on a particular day, I’ll write it in that day’s space, but if I plan to do something flexible on Monday and it gets bumped to Wednesday instead, I’m not beating myself up about it.
To Do Lists
I’ve mentioned this already, but my to-do lists reside in two places: my monthly spread (which is an overall task list for the month) and my weekly spread (which is an overall task list for the week). I migrate tasks from my monthly spread into different weeks of the month as I see what time I have available when and what needs to get accomplished.
Types of Tasks (Signifiers)
Ryder Carroll created several types of signifiers, but I only use four: the filled-in circle, the hollow circle, the X, and the arrow. For me, the filled-in circle is an activity or task happening at home. The hollow circle is an activity or task happening outside our home. When the item is finished or complete, I put an X through it. If I cancel an item for some reason, I put a line through it. If I don’t get the item done and I have to move it forward to another day, I turn it into an arrow, which means I’m “migrating” that task to another day.
Collections are just one of many lovely features of the bullet journal. Starting a house hunt? Researching job opportunities? Brainstorming ideas for a home renovation? A collection can be a tremendous asset in these scenarios. Recently, I was researching educational options for my kids and found myself forming a collection without even really thinking about it. Lists, sketches, contact information, etc. You can write the page number your collection starts on in the index you make at the front of your bullet journal, then just add page numbers to that line as you add more pages to the collection.
What about stuff you don’t get done? I mentioned this in passing above, but if something still needs to be accomplished and didn’t get done, simply make the task dot into an arrow and add the item to the next week’s task list (or the the next month’s task list or whatever you need to do).
Cal Newport said, “In the most general sense, productivity is about navigating from a large constellation of possible things you could be doing to the actual execution of a much smaller number of things each day.”
To me, this perfectly explains the world of the stay-at-home mom. There is always a huge constellation of things we could be doing, and we need a system that quiets the noise and helps us get the important things done with the limited time we have.
The Bullet Journal Method has helped me more than I can express. I never miss appointments. I don’t lose bills. I don’t wander through my day wondering what I need to get done. Everything is in one spot and streamlined in a way that makes sense to me. Fiddle with it and tweak it until it works for you. That’s what I did and now I can’t imagine life without it.
If you already bullet journal or are planning to give bullet journaling a try, let me know in the comments below!