I am a complete sucker for stationery – pretty notebooks, printed paper, greeting cards, fancy pens, scrapbook embellishments – and I am a planner. Oh boy, am I a planner. My favorite Christmas present this past year was the planner Russ bought me. (I got a lot of strange looks from family and friends when I mentioned that, but I’m not ashamed). I will never keep my appointments and reminders only in my phone; there’s something too satisfying about actually crossing items off a physical to-do list.
Although I love my calendar/planner, I keep a variety of notebooks with me, too. There’s the work notebooks hidden in my work bag (one for to-do lists, one for meeting notes); the journals scattered across my desk at home for jotting down story ideas; the craft keeper; the blog editorial planner…you get the point. Too many notebooks. And I never seem to have the right one with me when I need it.
So I decided to consolidate and create one master notebook – part planner, part journal, with a little of this and that thrown in for good measure.
I came across bullet journaling sometime in the past year or two and immediately wanted to give it a whirl, but kept getting frustrated by trying to find the right notebook and pens. I was a little intimidated, I think, too – there’s a cult following out there for bullet journaling, and I thought it had to be done a certain way. It wasn’t until recently that I learned you can pretty much do whatever you want, and there are tons of guidelines and example layouts out there on Pinterest and Instagram to help you get started.
Going with what I know, I almost started with a Moleskine notebook…but I’ve never found them to be quite wide enough. My hand slips off the page too easily and I get frustrated by the lack of the lay-flat spine.
I started googling and that’s when I came across a brand called Leuchtturm1917 – the hardcover dot grid notebooks are apparently the go-to for bullet journalers. I tried to find a hardcover but they were sold out everywhere! (Anecdote: I saw one of my coworkers carrying one of these notebooks down the hall a few weeks ago, and without even being able to stop myself, I excitedly shouted, “Is that a Leuchtturm1917 hardcover A5 notebook in Azure blue?! Where did you get it?” Poor Joey. Sorry about that. Again. #notebookfangirlmoment). I almost gave up on the whole idea of bullet journaling, but went ahead and purchased a soft cover B5 notebook from the Goulet Pen Company, and I am thrilled with it. I received my package super quickly and they included a nice little handwritten note inside, which I really appreciated. I was hesitant about the soft cover getting destroyed inside my bag and thought the size might be too big (it’s 7 by 10 inches). However, it’s nicely sturdy and I love the extra width. It won’t fit in my small purse but I carry a giant tote most of the time, so no worries there. I’m really happy with it.
I spent some time this afternoon filling in the pages for the month of July with what I knew I needed – a monthly calendar spread, weekly pages, to-do lists, and project planning. I’m not thrilled with how long it’s taking, but I hope it gets faster as I figure out what I’m doing. I really hope to incorporate spending some creative time on my notebook each Sunday. It helps me prepare and relax for the upcoming week.
Below are a few quick snapshots from my journal/planner.
This is the back side of my monthly spread. I usually transfer a master to-do list from month-to-month, so it was a definite need for me.
We don’t always travel, but I really needed this space when we went on vacation last month so I kept it.
I also want to improve a few areas in my life where I’m feeling stressed: blog planning, remembering special events, and taking care of my physical health. My blog editorial planning always gets away from me despite all of my good intentions (real work usually gets in the way, to be honest, and that keeps the lights on, so it wins). I have lots of good ideas throughout the month for posts but they get lost on post-it notes or in the empty part of my brain and never see the light of day. And when real work gets busy, my physical health gets bulldozed over, too. Going for walks or to the gym? Eating better? Haha, yeah, right. And last but not least in any way, the busier I am, the lousier of a friend I am. I hope that having a dedicated call-out to upcoming birthdays and events for the month will help me stay on top of things.
Then there’s this little section called House Fun, which in reality should have been named “The Nest Shit Show” but I was feeling positive when I sketched it, ha. In the past six months, we’ve remodeled two bathrooms and added full-house AC. I am always working on some project in the house, and I need to budget both our time and moola if that’s going to continue.
Next is a weekly spread. I go back and forth over the necessity of this; I feel like it’s a leftover from my college days when I kept track of what assignments were due when. I keep appointments in both the monthly view and the weekly view, but the weekly pages in my planner are a lot more sparse than anywhere else.
A weekly to do list though? Yeah, that’s usually a post-it note. I’m really happy to have a place to put weekly tasks from my master to-do list.
The one nice thing about having the weekly layout is the schedule reminder – if I need allergy shots sometime this week, I can only go on certain days. That’s the kind of info that gets put into my daily slots. I know that some journalers detail their entire morning, afternoon, and night into these slots, but that’d be impossible for me. I have an entirely separate work calendaring system that isn’t represented in this notebook; and I don’t want the two combined.
And let’s talk about meal planning! We suck at it. Anyone else? Don’t get me wrong, we make a menu and a grocery list. We go to the store. But then it’s Wednesday night at 7 PM and we’re both dead-dog-tired and don’t want to cook, so takeout it is. We end up wasting food and money, and eating way too many calories, so it’s a lose/lose/lose. My goal here is use our favorite meals on post-it flags under each day of the week – ones that can be moved from week to week so we stay on track and actually use the food we buy.
And last is a page I’m working on, because I realized today that getting those cute layouts you see all over the interwebs takes a lot of time and dedication. Today I learned that I have no idea how to draw a ribbon banner…and that it’s also much easier than you’d expect. But I won’t always have Pinterest there to help me, so a cheat sheet doodling page it is!
And that’s about it for my start…I have no idea if I’m going to stick with this or not. I spent three hours today on it and I really don’t have that kind of time. Well, actually, my poor eyes don’t have that kind of longevity anymore, haha. Getting old sucks, kids.
Anywho, I hope that it works for me because I did get some creative fulfillment from this today. If you have any tips or tricks, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. I’m relatively new to this but maybe I’ll be a pro soon! At any rate, I’m just happy to have another pretty notebook to add to my collection.
Disclaimer: This is in no way a sponsored post. I did not receive any compensation from the Goulet Pen Co. or Leuchtturm1917. It’s just me sharing my experiences with two companies that I like. Wanted to be clear with that! Thanks! – Aubrey