{Planner Maniac} Anatomy of my Bullet Journal experience

by Julia



  1. The paper. At the beginning of the year I started printing out my own inserts using plain A4 printable paper cut in half. I soon realised that a) the layout caused a non-indifferent level of paper waste [no paper waste allowed!] b) it was a further complication of the system, considering that every time I needed new paper to write I had to take the printer out, cut the paper, etc. etc. I soon realised that simple A5 grid notepads were actually incredibly handy and suited my needs perfectly 🙂 as I’m not using fancy fountain pens or the like any kind of paper [even not-high quality] it’s fine to me.
  2. The pens. It’s no mystery that I’m a Muji fan, so I often find myself buying stationery items there without actually needing them [wrong, I know]. I had this set of four erasable gel pens I hadn’t much used in the past so I thought this was the right occasion to revamp them. They turn out to be a great choice indeed! First of all I discovered that somehow my hand holds them better than the regular gel ones, and this slighly improves my handwriting. But most of all using erasable pens is incredibly handy for changing plans – I don’t have to use pencils and then rewrite stuff in pen once they’re settled, if something changes I just erase it and ready to go 🙂
  3. The highlighters. Again, at the beginning of the year I had an extremely complex system involving Zebra mildliners, Stabilo highlighting pencils and Staedtlerfine tip highlighters; of course it was way too uncovenient to carry out and too bulky to take with me everyday at work or at the library, so I downsized to the Zebra mildliner set only, that is way easier to carry around and with the double tip provides more writing and highlighting options.
  4. The monthly calendar. My inserts at the beginning of the year offered a very in-depth system comprehensive of a monthly calendar, a weekly view and bullet journal for daily pages. It turned out to be a little too much for me at this stage of my life, as most of the pages remained blank at the end of each week; I’ve discovered that monthly cal + bujo is the perfect combo for me at the moment. I use my monthly calendar for recurring tasks, due dates, appointments, regular payments and events [like movie festivals and the like]. It’s mostly for foward planning, but I use it as a reference tool as well.
  5. The weekly view. I just randomly have a weekly overview when I know I have a lot going on during a specific week and I feel I need more control over my time management. It’s just a simple ruled 5A paper, no strings attached.
  6. The bullet journal. When I say Bullet journal I should problably specify that I use this system just for my daily pages, not the whole concept as Ryder Carroll conceived it. After a few years of intensive planner use I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t need to write down stuff every single day of the year. More than just this, there are days in which I need an entire A5 page, others in which I barely jot down 3 tasks. The BuJo system provides me the flexibility that I need in terms free space and avoids the paper waste I would have if I used predated daily pages. Here’s what I write in my bullet journal pages:
    1. The date. In the last couple of months of 2015 I’ve spent hours browsing other people’s boards on Pinterest, gathering ideas for my date style. I liked the idea of using kanji in it as it’s something I’ve been doing ever since my Japanese days and that could make my pages a little more personal. The system is very simple: I draw a circle and in it I write the kanji of the day of the week + the number of the actual date. I don’t specify the month
    2. The diary entry. Next to the date circle I like to add every morning 3 lines of diary. It’s a nice way for me to make the dates more vivid, not just listing daily tasks but also adding a few more personal details. I’m not a huge fan of journaling activity into the planner – in fact I have my separate diary for longer and more complete rants [lol]. This is just a quick memento for the future [even though it often turns out as my blowoff against the traffic, the weather, etc.].
    3. The priority list. After the date and the diary entry I star writing my tasks for the day. All productivity gurus stress the importance of not just listing your to dos but also and foremost to give priorities to them, because you really don’t need to accomplish everything everyday – but certain things must be finished off on a certain date. I try to follow this mantra and I first jot down my 3 MITs for the day, followed by all the other things I would like to accomplish [failing almost every time].
    4. The priority colour coding. I’ve seen over on Pinterest many smart Bulletjournalists [is this even a word?] using different colours to check off their tasks boxes [ex. blue for errands, yellow for study, red for work and so on]. Considering that I use digital task managers for my work to dos I don’t think I would make much use of this system right now, so I preferred to make things my own way using a very basic colour coding system: I use a pink pen to check off my MITs and a purple pen to check off all the remaining stuff. This helps me visually to realise whether I’m really concentrating on my important tasks or not.
    5. The nice things to remember. Apart from the proper diary, I like to note nice daily events like when I take a hot bubble bath or the night me and doctor L. finished watching Heroes season 1. This is a habit I started last year in my Original Personal Nude and that I feel really attached to.
    6. The key entries. My key system is very easy to remember: I use 1, 2, 3 for my MITs [whather the category they pertain to], m for management (which actually means more administration), i for everything related to technology, b for beauty, p for planners, s for study, w for wellness; I draw an envelope for texts to write and a phone receiver for calls to make. I also use the for finances, but I happens rarely to write such things in my planner.

I feel like I’ve written a lot and I’m not even sure if my system really makes sense – but I’m happy with it and I honestly can say that since I started using it I haven’t felt attracted by any other kind of planner. I personally don’t like switching from a planner to another every 2-3 months, I’m much happier with a solid but simple system which does what’s supposed to – helping me being organised without losing pieces here and there.