I have been bullet journaling for two years and I think it’s fair to say that I will never go back. If you’re new to bullet journaling or have no idea what I’m talking about, the bullet journal is, according to Ryder Caroll, its creator, a “customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.” Basically, it’s a fully customizable planner system where you can write down EVERYTHING that’s in your head, aka my life savior for these past two years. I use it both for my personal life and work life. You can check out the official website and video to learn more. There are many bullet journal videos and Instagram accounts out there. Most are very creative and artsy, which at first made me think this was counterproductive and absolutely not for me, but the magic of the bullet journal is that you can make it as beautiful or as simple as you want. So don’t be put off or intimidated, your bullet journal will be YOURS.
Now that my bullet journal is a well-oiled machine, I thought I would share my 2018 setup. I also created an Instagram account where I share the inside of my bullet journal and connect with the bullet journal community (which is huge and awesome!).
I have been using the Leuchtturm 1917 since the beginning and I really like it. The first page is a built-in index (which I don’t use), but my first spread is this calendex (a word invented by Eddy Hope), where I log all my future events, appointments, travels, etc. It’s basically the equivalent of the calendar you usually find in the first pages of classic planners.
THE FUTURE LOG
I use the future log to add important dates (which are usually also in the calendex), but also (and mainly) for tasks that are dateless but need to be dealt with during that month (like filing my tax return, renewing my passport, etc.), deadlines, or events that I know will happen on a particular month but don’t have dates yet.
THE PAYMENT LOG
Freelance life means you spend your time sending invoices/handing in your work and then wait for said invoice or work to be paid (usually, not on time). This is how I keep track of every single job I’ve done and/or invoice number, the day I sent it, and the amount that is owed. That way, I’m always aware of what still needs to be paid, who I need to contact if the payment is late, and also notice any mistake regarding my payments (and yes, mistakes do actually happen frequently). When a payment is made, I strike it out.
THE COLLECTION SPREAD
In the bullet journal world, collections are lists that are related by a common theme or purpose. It could be a list of books you’d like to read, recipes you’d like to try, new skills you’d like to learn, etc. I created those four from the beginning but you can start one anywhere in your bullet journal (this is one of the many reasons why the bullet journal is system is so great).I settled on the themes that often come up in my head: blog post ideas, video ideas, braindump (everything that won’t fit under one category but that I need to write down somewhere), and a travel wishlist.
THE MONTHLY LOG
This is my monthly log, and it’s basically the same every month. The first column is dedicated to events, appointments and so on, the second one was dedicated to a translating job I was working on in January (that column is gone now), and the third one is all about the recurring monthly tasks (like paying the rent, backing up my laptop, paying my phone bill, etc.) and other tasks specific to this month. I also add a “Next” section for events or reminders of things to transfer to the next month. I already track my income and expenses in a yearly spreadsheet on my computer, but I wanted to try and track it by hand this year. I stopped after January.
THE WEEKLY/DAILY LOG
This is both my weekly and daily log, which I use on a daily basis to plan my week and each day, both for personal and work purposes. On the left page, the first column is dedicated to my daily tasks (translate that amount of pages for this project, clean the bathroom, send that invoice, etc.) and the second column is for scheduled appointments and events. I’ve tried many, many, many spreads over the years but this one is the one I’ve been using the longest. It perfectly suits my needs. On the second page, you will find my weekly to-do list, my translation goals (number of pages per day depending on the projects), the books I have to read for work, my workout plan for the week, and things coming the following week that I’ll have to add on the next spread.
As you can see, bullet journals are versatile and customizable according to your needs, and also as time goes by and as your life changes. Since mine is simple and minimalist, I don’t spend a lot of time setting it up: I plan each week on each Sunday and it takes me no longer than 10 minutes to set up (I actually love that moment, it helps me focus on what’s coming and start the week with a clear head). This also applies for the monthly logs. The only part that takes a little longer is planning those first pages at the beginning of the year, but it’s very satisfying once the year comes to a close to start afresh and think about what’s to come.
The headers stickers I use are printable stickers designed by Claire from Minimal Plan.