Bullet Journalling Changed My Life

This is a guest post by Alyce from Blossom Heart Quilts

Two months ago, I started a bullet journal as a way of keeping track of all the things I needed to do while my husband was away for a couple of weeks. I had heard bits and pieces about it from other quilt bloggers who did it, but had never really looked into it. But one day, I finally did some research into what it is and how to do it, and  I haven’t looked back since!

What is bullet journalling?

Essentially, it’s just keeping all your to-do lists in one organised place! It doesn’t need any fancy planner, just a notebook and pen. This is the video by the man who came up with the original bullet journal concept:

This is the most basic form of bullet journalling. As I said, organised to-do lists! But not just for the daily stuff, but also for helping remember things like movies to watch, or books to read – the things that you randomly think of but then forget when it comes time to remember them/do it!

Why bullet journalling?

I have tried many different types of planners and diaries over the years. Day-to-a-page, weekly, monthly… nothing has ever really stuck beyond a few weeks or maybe a couple of months. I’d always revert back to lists on pieces of paper here or there, and at the best of times, managing to keep them all to one of those shopping list pads. But I always felt disorganised, and as my quilting blog and business has grown, I was losing track of what I was doing and when it needed to be done!

To set up my bullet journal, I sat down for a couple of hours and did some research online. I checked out what other people had done, how they had set up their notebooks, what adaptations they had made, etc so that I could work out what I wanted from my bullet journal. I was then able to go buy a notebook from the local department store, plus a tricolour pen, and set it up “right” (for me) from the beginning.

Another big pro for this system is there is no pressure to fill up set spaces. There are no pre-drawn boxes like in a printed planner that you need to fill up and use up. You just write what you need, when you need, and if you skip some days, you aren’t wasting paper/space/money! And on the other end of the spectrum, there are no boxes constraining the width or length of your lists.

Some adaptations

One big problem with the original concept is the lack of ability to forward plan. I need a way to record future events and deadlines, so I made the first few double pages as monthly calendars and task lists. I printed off some A5 monthly calendars to paste in and used some washi tape to colour code the pages for easier reference. I have also added a 2015 calendar to the back to keep note of things happening next year.

Bullet journal monthly calendar

The second change I’ve made is to do a weekly page at the start of each week to keep an overview of the events and tasks for that week. This has really helped me keep focused each week on both things I have to do, plus make progress on tasks with a longer timeline.

Weekly bullet journal list

I’ve also moved the “general collections” such as blog post ideas, movies to watch, etc to the back pages of the notebook so I can keep my daily and monthly pages together and flowing! That’s just my need for order coming through.

How has it worked

As I mentioned at the start, I began my bullet journal the day my husband left for a couple of weeks away. Not only did it keep me on top of everything extra I had to do while he was away, it also kick-started my productivity levels. Since May, both kids have now been in full-time preschool here in Japan and I have struggled to make the most of my new-found freedom. By writing down everything that I need to do, and getting real satisfaction from ticking each item off (that’s the real secret to this system working for me!), I have been the most productive I have been in a very long time. I have even started a second bullet journal, much closer to the original bullet journal concept, to keep track of my blogging and quilting tasks and projects so that they didn’t take over my bigger one. And that too has really helped me get more organised in that part of my life!

Inside my bullet journal

You can see a collection bullet journal inspiration and ideas on my bullet journal Pinterest board and also how I made my bullet journal a little bit more pretty at And Sew We Craft… because who wants a boring planner?!

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Alyce-Profile-Pic-300x300About Alyce from Blossom Heart Quilts

My little family and I are living it up in Japan for 3 years while my husband has a job here. So I’m looking after our kidlets, teaching a little English and enjoying the quilting time that our quieter lifestyle now allows! In between eating sushi, fabric shopping and going for bike rides that is.

Find our guest: Blog | Facebook

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21 comments

Janine Evans August 21, 2014 - 9:19 PM

I’m at journal keeper for tasks. Tried the online ones but keep going back to pen and paper. Will try implementing some of your suggestions. Thanks for sharing.

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Julie Aujard August 21, 2014 - 11:10 PM

Alyce, when I read why you started this “I have tried many different types of planners and diaries over the years. Day-to-a-page, weekly, monthly… nothing has ever really stuck beyond a few weeks or maybe a couple of months. I’d always revert back to lists on pieces of paper here or there…” I thought oh wow, this is me. Thank you for sharing, I will be organising my very own journals using your methods now for keeping my business details, invoices and plans.

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Pamela Harris August 21, 2014 - 11:38 PM

I use a somewhat-similar journal system, however I save a little time by using removable A5 size (almost) post-it notes for the big picture “collections”/items – to capture/build them on the run – and then progressively migrate tasks into daily/weekly pages of the journal as they work into our weekly schedule(s) over time. This allows me to move the post-it note(s) through the journal over time – saving me time with any re-writing from day to day/week to week.

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Pamela Harris August 21, 2014 - 11:39 PM

I use a somewhat-similar journal system, however I save a little time by using removable A5 size (almost) post-it notes for the big picture “collections”/items – to capture/build them on the run – and then progressively migrate tasks into daily/weekly pages of the journal as they work into our weekly schedule(s) over time. This allows me to move the post-it note(s) through the journal over time – saving me time with any re-writing from day to day/week to week.

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Anonymous August 22, 2014 - 3:42 AM

You can’t bet pen and paper.

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Janis August 22, 2014 - 8:07 AM

Love, love, love the bullet journal idea. Used a similar thing to this years ago then stopped – but it’s starting again TODAY. ????

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Katrina August 22, 2014 - 9:58 AM

It is fantastic i agree!

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Kylie P August 22, 2014 - 10:04 AM

I’ve bullet journaled for a couple of years now and I love it!!! I love the ability to brain dump and not lose anything – I like clearing out my head!!

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Katrina August 22, 2014 - 10:12 AM

I agree with you Kylie!

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Alyce {Blossom Heart Quilts} August 22, 2014 - 10:22 AM

Brain dump, yes! That’s exactly what it feels like!

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katepickle August 22, 2014 - 11:15 AM

Oh I love this…
I have been doing a more random and incomplete version of this but this is just what I need to make it work better!
thank you!

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Maggie August 22, 2014 - 7:07 PM

Seems a great system……should eliminate all those notes I keep writing and losing.

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The Filing Fairies August 25, 2014 - 10:33 AM

I never knew this had a name! As an ex event manager I have been using this method for many many years and I had never heard it given a name before. Thanks Alyce and Katrina

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chrissy August 27, 2014 - 12:55 AM

Great idea, but I kind of do this in my filofax already which means I only have one place to look for everything, whether it’s scheduled or unscheduled. I might give this a try though as it looks great!

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Charlene Morunga August 27, 2014 - 12:52 PM

I have started my Bullet Journal today 🙂 Thanks for sharing 🙂
I have shared it here..
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Teacher-by-trade-Mother-by-nature/1477526579148791?sk=timeline

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Phoenicia September 2, 2014 - 3:50 AM

I like the idea! I agree that writing all you need to do, increases the chances of it actually being completed. It is no more a thought but a required action.

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Michelle October 8, 2014 - 10:16 AM

I do something similar inspired by the book ‘Getting things done’ and ‘The Power of Moms’ on YouTube. Now I make my own pages for my journal binder with the days for the week on the left and spaces for lists on the right. My lists are Clean, Home, Desk, Errands, and Notes for ‘brain dumping’. My to-dos are now grouped and I don’t have lots of little lists to lose!

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Angelica May 17, 2015 - 11:29 AM

Michelle I’ve got the GTD book but yet to read it, is it a similar system to this?

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Bec May 14, 2015 - 9:51 AM

I started one of these at the end of last year and I absolutely love it… I keep a little zip lock bag in the front to store paper clips so I can paper clip the pages together when I am finished with them.
I also printed out a years worth of monthly calendars and I keep a track of all those ‘random’ appointments (the repeating ones go on the kids term calendar so babysitters know what’s on when!)
I use a simple exercise book which I covered in a funky wrapping paper and contact.
I am totally like you and can’t keep a diary or a list going to save my life. This is the only thing I have been able to keep going with!
I love the idea of the wasabi tape… gonna have to get me some!

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Angelica May 17, 2015 - 10:33 AM

I absolutely love that system, will be trying it out, so much more simpler!

I’ve currently got a normal weekly diary/planner but due to lack of space you can only really place items like appointments and things like that, but I have to have another to-do list elsewhere, this combines both.

Will definitely be looking into this as I absolutely am a list person and love the ticking of finished items 🙂

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Katrina - The Organised Housewife May 18, 2015 - 11:31 AM

I hope you like it as much as what i do, Angelica! I can’t live without mine.:)

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