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Before you say, “I can’t draw,” hear me out.
I can’t draw either. In fact, I almost gave up on bullet journaling completely because I felt like a failure. Not to mention feeling like a fraud, because What is a bullet journal without the artwork? Right, it’s a lame DIY planner… (This is literally how I spoke to myself in the past, but I’m on a quest to change that. Let me know if you want to hear more about this journey and I’ll be happy to share.)
My bullet journal contains no drawings and no grandiose monthly theme. Some hard-core bullet journal-ers may say that mine looks terribly boring and unimpressive. But that’s okay because it works for me, and I think it can work for you too.
Let’s get into the bullet journal planning nitty-gritty!
THIS IN-DEPTH GUIDE IS FOR YOU IF:
A) You enjoy simplicity in your bullet journal planning style/techniques
B) You want to feel satisfied, motivated even, by the lack of the time-consuming artwork
C) You’ve searched high & low for a store-bought planner and none are quite right
MY TWO SIMPLE “SPREADS”
My bullet journal planning technique is super simple, but super effective. I only use two types of spreads: a monthly planning spread and weekly “to-do” spreads. Any more than this and my bullet journal becomes difficult to flip through efficiently, which defeats the organizational purpose. Not to mention, there is nothing productive about distractions in the form of trackers, drawings, more trackers, flipping through a dozen pages, and even more trackers.
THE MONTHLY SPREAD
This is where I keep a visual layout of everything I need to accomplish and remember for the month.
The left side page is where I plan my content and work tasks. This side outlines my more scheduled tasks. I create charts that help me visualize when my blog posts, Instagram posts, Etsy releases, and my e-journal The Millennial Maven Love Letters need to go live so everything gets done on schedule.
The right side page is where I write down my goals and inspiration, important dates, and my more fluid to-do‘s. With the exception of the to-do‘s list that spans the length of the page, I divide the space into relatively small sections. I want only the most important things listed on this page. No fluff.
THE WEEKLY SPREAD
I want my weekly spread to be as efficient and useful as possible. Again, no fluff. Instead of filling space with drawings, trackers, and random note sections that I will likely ignore, I simply divide the two page spread into six full-length columns. I draw out a header box for each day to give the overall spread a more structured look. I note all-day events in the header box, including holidays, birthdays I want to remember, days when my husband is off work.
Every day, I write out my to-do list and stuff to remember at the top of each column. I create these spreads on a weekly basis, so I don’t fill my days with tasks more than a few days in advance. This helps me live in the moment and take things one day at a time. Anything that I absolutely cannot forget that isn’t within the upcoming few days goes in the to-do section of my monthly spread.
THE “JOURNAL” IN BULLET JOURNAL PLANNING
I typically fill about 1/3 of the column with tasks, and then I use the remainder as space for a journal entry. I like the idea of keeping a journal so I can look back at how I was feeling at any particular time in my life.
Unfortunately, I’ve never been very consistent with other journals. I thrive on structure. Having a dedicated spot to write in and defined amount of space to fill helps motivate me to write something. Anything. Sometimes I write random tidbits about my day, and other times I write to work something out in my brain that has been plaguing me. I suggest you try it.
THE “LOOKING FORWARD” SECTION
You probably noticed the “Looking Forward” section at the very bottom of the right side page. If you assumed this section is where I write down additional to-do‘s, that would be incorrect. This section is frivolous, but it is not without purpose.
In my experience, the biggest killer of productivity is lack of motivation. It’s very hard to stay motivated when you can’t see what you are working toward. It’s like, why keep working if you don’t know what good is to come from all your labor?
Therefore, my “Looking Forward” section is reserved for things or events that I am genuinely looking forward to. Things that bring me true excitement. Things that light a fire under my butt, in a good way.
Whenever I am feeling unmotivated and crummy, I look at this little corner of the page. It reminds me of all the amazing things I have coming up soon and inspires me to get down to business.
MAKE IT PRETTY WITH COLOR
As much as I hate to admit it, I like looking at a pretty bullet journal too. If I could draw cute doodles like the best of them, I probably would. But since attempting to draw elaborate designs isn’t in the cards for me, I use color to spice up my spreads. It’s pretty self explanatory.
I love these Sharpie highlighters. The colors are vibrant but still relatively translucent, the ink doesn’t smudge once dry, and the color doesn’t bleed through my notebook paper too much.
It still like to keep the overall look pretty simple and streamlined, so I just add accent colors here and there to create some definition and liveliness.
Sharpie Liquid Highlighters, 10 Ct. >> [AMAZON]
Even though I don’t consider myself an artist, I do dabble in some basic hand lettering. I keep it simple and I don’t go overboard. The last thing I want is for my bullet journal to start feeling like just another chore I have to do each day. For the most part, I will hand letter a short quote or a few motivational words on each page, whatever speaks to me at the time. Along with the pops of color, this gives me all the pretty-ness I need to feel inspired without causing me any frustration with my lack of art skills.
- I prefer a lined spiral notebook instead of a traditional dot grid bullet journal. Spiral notebooks stay open better, and lines work better for my text-based spreads than dots do.
- Instead of bulky bookmarks or ribbons, I use a large paperclip to clip together my monthly and weekly spreads. This way, they are always only one flip apart. It’s useful especially in the later weeks of the month when the monthly spread gets pushed farther back.
THINGS OTHER BULLET JOURNALS INCLUDE THAT I NO LONGER USE
- Calendar Spread: I find that I just use my phone when to reference one.
- Habit trackers: Personally, these were too much effort, and they made me not want to look in my bullet journal at all because a) I didn’t want to fill the dang things out, and b) I also couldn’t stand looking at them unused and neglected.
- Social Media Tracker: This was just bad for my emotional well being.
- Brain dump: It’s great in theory, but I never seemed to be near the bullet journal when great ideas popped into my head. To see where my brain dumping actually happens, check out check out this post all about the apps I use to plan my life!
That’s all for today!
Like this post? This one will help you too >> How I Plan My Life || best planning apps + journaling tips! (How To Plan Your Life)
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Till next time ♥︎
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FTC- Not sponsored by any brands mentioned. I purchase all products myself. All opinions are my own. Some links may be affiliated.