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I am not exaggerating, either. Bullet journaling came to my attention because of some Instagram stories Bethany Mandel did toward the end of 2018, and I immediately loved the idea (Editor aka Bethany’s note: You can access the stories on my Instagram account as saved stories). I love to plan, but pre-designed planners just don’t work for me because they’re never exactly right. I had been keeping track of events on my phone calendar, but a bullet journal is so much more than that – it’s whatever you want it to be!
For those who don’t know, bullet journals are basically day planners that you customize yourself. You use whatever notebook you want, and create your own table of contents at the beginning so you can easily find the many things you’ll keep in it (calendars, lists, notes, etc.). There are infinite ways you can use a bullet journal, but I set mine up to have my yearly goals first, and then “monthlies” containing events, tasks, and goals for each month on a two-page spread. Some people do “dailies,” as well, but I use “weeklies,” because when I set up my to-do lists, I change my mind regularly about what I want to accomplish each day, making it much easier to just have one weekly to-do list. My weeklies also have a small calendar for the week, a habit tracker, and a shopping list.
So, how did this change my life? Well, it’s hard for me to stick with something for a long period of time, so the fact that I consistently used my bullet journal for the entire year of 2019 (even when I was in Italy for 10 days), should say a lot. Additionally, as I said before, bullet journaling is about so much more than the calendar. In the past, I would make goals and resolutions for the year, and then they would just float away, forgotten. However, my bullet journal gave me a place to keep my lists of goals, and at the beginning of each month, I would revisit my yearly goals to see what I wanted to do that month in an effort to work toward them. I would do the same each week, looking back at my monthly goals. Finally, at the end of each month, I would actually take time to write out a reflection on how I did toward those goals. I also did a year-long reflection at the end of the journal, and some of my 2020 goals were influenced by my progress in 2019!
Here are some of the things I accomplished in 2019 – things I would NEVER have done if I had not been bullet journaling:
- Edited a book I wrote in 2018 and started taking steps toward publishing it
- Actually ate vegetables most days
- Made great progress toward my punctuality goal (I wrote another post about that)
- Went to a drive-in theater for the first time
- Memorized the book of Philippians
- Started getting more sleep each night (now I regularly get close to 7.5 hours)
- Read 16 books of the Bible and 15 other books
- Worked consistently on learning Italian (even after my trip!)
I have to add that I really appreciate how much more I get done each WEEK now, too, since I actually write my full to-do list down. Here is a picture of one of my weekly spreads so you have a visual for how I set things up:
And here is my bullet journal hanging out with me in Italy – I just happened to be using a notebook I already had with Venice as the cover decoration, and then it turned out that I went to Venice that summer!
My 2020 bullet journal is even more organized than the 2019 one, since I knew in advance this time some of the lists I would want to make and could put them near the beginning. I also have even more goals this year, and I know very well that I may not accomplish them all. But you know what? I’m going to get much more done than I would have if I had not started bullet journaling. And as someone who has a large number of ambitions and dreams both for this year and beyond, that makes me excited for the future.Published in