Bullet Journaling 101

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Raise your hand if you have some combination of a planner, a phone with notes x10, a digital calendar, a grocery list app, a meal planning notepad, a family calendar on the wall, and post-its in various spots around your house?

That was me a year ago. Everything was silo’d and organized, but there was no central spot for it. I was drawn to my iphone resources (calendar, notes) because my phone is always with me, but also feeling a draw to be on my screen less (especially around my kids), and feeling like all the tools I was using were disparate. I never felt like I had what I needed when I needed it. I would be reading a magazine, and it would have a meal plan idea, a new book I want to read, and a Netflix line up for Fall — and I wanted to record all of that information in addition to the great quote I heard on NPR while driving.

It was around then that I learned about Bullet Journaling through an Atomic Moms podcast interview with Ryder Carroll. The minimalist in me loved the idea of using any blank journal — who doesn’t have a drawer of them? And the wanting-to-be-more-mindful mama in me loved the mindfulness aspect of Bullet Journaling.

I have wanted to write about this for a long time, but it took me a long time to find my own groove, and I want to encourage you to find your own groove if you feel a draw toward this type of planning.

Reasons why I have grown to love BuJo:

  • I can curl up with my journal and my pen anywhere, anytime, and everything I need is at my fingertips; this includes when I am with my kids at the park or the pool, where I don’t want to be on my phone, but I do have a few minutes (or planning thoughts that need to be recorded)
  • It allows me to be creative with pens and lettering, which is something I feel drawn toward but in a more private sense (don’t love my lettering enough to do it as a side-hustle)
  • I no longer have decision fatigue- when I want to record a gift idea, a future event date, a meal plan idea, I know exactly where to go; I make a new page, index it and move on
  • I have a record of my life – I can look back at how my weeks looked, at my notes from a particularly great speaker I attended, at which meals I have made and loved in October, and at my summer planner
  • I have recognized the mindfulness aspect of carrying forward tasks, re-writing them, re-committing to them
  • I have a perfect view of my week every week that serves me (I got here via trial and error)
  • I didn’t need to spend any money or do anything extra to do this habit so it fits in line with my minimalism journey

The basics of bullet journaling are:

  • Buy or find a blank notebook and a pen you really like
  • Start out with an index – number your pages as such, add to your index anytime (e.g. Christmas Lists, Future Blog Post ideas, shows to watch on Netflix)
  • Figure out your best page layout – I did this through trial and error – I’ll show you where I started below and where I have ended up
  • Don’t get too bogged down in the beautiful symbols and watercolors of others who do #bujo – I let that make me feel bad for a while, but now I’m back just reveling in the simplicity and productivity of this habit
  • Change it up when it doesn’t work for you (for example, I used to record when I was going to work out in every day; I later realized, my workout is daily, and the time changes, and there is no point in writing it on my schedule)
  • Resist the urge to use other tools, but instead think about how you can use your BuJo to fit that same need
  • Check out resources below for help

My Bullet Journal

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The format that I have found that works for me is a little different than what is initially recommended by Ryder. When I started, I was making a section for each day as the week went along – this is what Ryder suggests so you don’t take up too much space in the Journal – so the idea is that some days are short, and some days are long (with notes) so you shouldn’t draw it all out in advance. This worked for me for a bit, but I realized that I usually plan my whole week out on Sunday or Monday so I needed to see a full vision of the week to make it fit together – and I usually have enough space for notes since my life is not full of a lot of meetings (at this point).  In my original style, I used Ryder’s suggested bullets (circles for appointments, bullets for tasks and arrows for things you are carrying forward, an X to x through a completed task, and strike-through if it wasn’t being carried forward. My current style uses circles for appointments but allocates tasks broadly thoroughout the week. If you are using your BuJo for work and you have more notes, I could see why that style could work for you. We are all such unique creatures!

Original Style:

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Current Style:

Every week I use an index card to draw these lines:

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Then I fill in the dates and section headers:

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In addition to drawing out the week in advance using a ruler, I also learned that I needed a spot for my “dinner plan” and a spot for overall to-dos. I am not at the point where I can assign my weekly to-dos to a certain day of the week, so when I did that, I was having to move my bullets forward a lot, vs. just having an overall vision of what I want to accomplish during the week which I look at throughout the week.

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Last, I found that I like to look ahead and know what is coming down the pike. I added a section for upcoming that helps me look ahead without having to flip the page. And, because I had room, I added a spot for my shoppping list which I later assign to each store on my OurGroceries App.

Overall, 9 months into this habit, and I continue to learn about myself, my habits, intentions and planning style. If you have been thinking about doing this, I would encourage you to use a notebook you have hanging around and just get started! It is freeing to have everything in one place and has streamlined life planning, meal planning and weekly planning.

Do you BuJo? Let me know in the comments what layout works for you!

Resources

Fall Meal Planning: Tools & Hacks

 

 

 

Summer was fun. We traveled, we ate at food trucks, we brought over all of our random scraps and melded them with another families random scraps and called it dinner. We grilled things with two ingredients and called it dinner. We got away with murder. It was good, but it’s time for things to get real again.

I love the rhythm of meal planning, the knowing, the doing, the never scrambling, but I know that it can be very overwhelming for some, and so I want to share some of the things that have worked for our family.

Our goals are to:

  1. Cook once, use it or eat it twice (or more)
  2. Eat healthy, diverse food
  3. Minimize processed ingredients
  4. Minimize waste

I think our goals are the same goals that most people have, but achieving these requires a little bit of work at the beginning of the week, a willingness to eat leftovers, and a general rule that everyone in your family eats the same thing. People ask me all the time about how I feed my kids, how I get them to eat what they eat, and my answer is very simple: I only make one meal. Period. Ever.

You can tell me “my kid will never do that” – but I will say to you, if you only ever make one meal, and there are no alternatives, your children will eat what you eat, and they will be omnivores within a matter of weeks. Will there be tears? Maybe. In the long run, you will save time and money, and you will raise tiny humans who eat more than fries and chicken nuggets.

This plan works for our family. I would love to hear what works for you family.

Saturday and Sunday: Lay out your week, visually, and see which nights you need meals. Factor in business trips, nights out, and if you’re cooking for another family this week.

Sunday: Slate your meals into your schedule, and make your shopping list and grocery shop (if you can) or plan to shop early Monday or pick up groceries. I am a huge fan of the pick-up spaces at the grocery store – they come and load my car. I am picky about produce, so usually don’t order it. We buy most of our meat in bulk at Costco and we rarely eat processed food, so grocery shopping is a little easier.

A typical schedule for us looks like this:

Sunday: Cook something more elaborate/homey-something I wouldn’t make on a weeknight, it’s a good night to try a new recipe

Monday: Cook twice. I make a soup in the InstantPot that I will eat for my lunches all week. Cook a meal for that night.

Tuesday: Cook a meal with leftovers.

Wednesday: Cook a meal

Thursday: My MIL coined the phrase “Ditto” night – it’s when you empty all of the leftovers from the fridge onto the counter and you let everyone choose what they want. This means that everything gets eaten before the weekend, minimizing waste and maximizing freshness.

Friday: Either pizza night at home – we use Cali’flour pizza crusts and keep jarred sauce and toppings on hand always, or we do a no-cook charcuterie and cheese board with a good bottle of wine.

Saturday: Eat out

If I’m following this plan, I need five recipes a week, one of which is almost always a soup. I keep a list on my phone of my family’s top 10 recipes – at least two of my recipes are almost always repeats that vary by season, and usually two recipes are new. This minimizes the amount of new recipes I’m trying per week and how much time it takes to find them. One of my favorite hacks is taking a cookbook to the playground (either from my collection or the library) – I take photos of the pages of things I want to make and upload them to a shared album on icloud so they are easy to find when I’m making my weekly plan.

Last, I use this pad and this one for my Saturday/Sunday week and meal planning. And really last, we use the Our Groceries app to make our grocery lists by store. The app syncs to my iWatch and to my husband’s phone, so even when we’re grocery shopping together we can both be crossing off items. It organizes our lists by store, and keeps us from overbuying.