I love organization – calendars, scheduling, to-do lists, etc. I have always loved planners and have used a variety of organization systems over the years. I started with a traditional planner back in elementary school and used that system for the vast majority of my life. I recently started using a bullet journal after a few friends from grad school showed me all the great things you can do with it - here's what I love about it:
My absolute favorite part of the BuJo is its flexibility. You can use any notebook and you get to personalize the system to be exactly how you want it. This was both completely overwhelming and freeing at the same time. I like the ability to try something for a week or a month and then decide whether it makes sense moving forward.
The traditional system uses a monthly and daily format, but I like to plan a week at a time so I use a weekly spread. On Sundays I write out all of my appointments and events for each day. I also think about all the tasks (both personal and work) that I need to get done and how much available time I have each day, and then allocate tasks to each day to fit the timing. For example, Tuesdays are usually a relatively free day with minimal meetings so I often try to get a lot of work tasks done on that day. I like the weekly format because I don’t feel as guilty when I don’t get my Monday tasks done on Monday because I know I have a few more days before the task is truly incomplete for that week.
The original BuJo system utilizes a variety of symbols to indicate the status of tasks or other items. I only use a few of these symbols, but one of my favorites has to do with migrating tasks. Migration refers to moving a task or item to a future date. For example, I might fail to complete a long-term project during the current week so I draw an arrow next to the item and then re-write it in the next week. This helps me to feel like I have paid attention to each task even if they did not all get completed. This is also where the weekly spread is beneficial because I only have to migrate once a week rather than every day.
Another common BuJo element is a habit tracker. This was one of the ideas that most attracted me to BuJo even though you could do it independently of the rest of the BuJo system. The idea here is to track your habits on a daily basis – you choose what to track. It gives me the accountability and reminder I need to tackle these tasks that I want to make into habits. As you can see, many of my habits revolve around health and I am better at completing some tasks over others. I am okay with that as long as I am getting healthier overall. You can track tasks you want to complete every day (like drinking a certain amount of water) or ones you only want to do certain days of the week (like reading Inside Higher Ed). I also like making this colorful so it looks pretty because that is even more motivation to do more of the habits!
A final element that I use a lot is collections. These are just lists of items that do not have to do with particular dates or deadlines. Most of mine are personal, but I do keep track of activities I plan to do in my RA staff meetings and I also made a collection for tasks I needed to complete during training this past August. My other collections have to do with keeping a list of upcoming movies and brainstorming healthy breakfast options, among others.
As you can see, I’m pretty passionate about my Bullet Journal and I take time to update it every day as well as additional time on Sundays to prep. How do you use your BuJo? Feel free to comment below or tweet @jshap722 to get the conversation started. Happy organizing!
P.S. If the BuJo system is new to you, I recommend checking out these resources to get some context for my tips.
Cover photo via Boho Berry
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