Bullet journals are amazing. You can spend hours drawing up the pages and making it as neat and pretty as possible. However, there are two problems with that….
Firstly, we don’t all have hours to spend on things like this! Secondly, if you are not the most artistic nor the neatest person the finished results can be quite disappointing when compared to some of the beautiful pages you see online.
Some pages in a bullet journal are created once and last for months but some need to be set up monthly, weekly or even daily. This can be very time consuming! I often find I am recreating the same page over and over with only minor tweaks.
I realise that in part, that is the point. The mindful practice of keeping the journal has its own benefits. I am sure that that is true, it is quite relaxing sitting with the coloured pens designing pages and thinking about layouts. I would just rather be doing a little less of it and still have the pretty trackers and organisation. Rather than create each journal page and tracker from scratch having the most commonly used ones as printed sheets saves lots of set up time.
How many days do you start with an enormous do list only to end the day with most of the list untouched and a feeling of failure? Could it be that you simply didn’t have the time available to complete all your planned tasks. If so you were bound to fail before you started!
The picture below shows a version of my daily planner. This is one of my favourite pages as it tracks back to goals and forces you to take a view on the time available in your day and how you spend that time. Let me take you through it…
- Write your goals at the top of the page every day. I know I just talked about this being a time saving download but writing your goals every day is important. Each time you write them you are underlining them in your mind. Think about your goals – are they really important to you? Are they really what you want to achieve? Good! Now in the planner lets make sure you are getting to spend enough time on them. Tip I put a colour code beside each goal so that I can see where my time has gone quickly as I flip through completed pages. Try to write your goals in a single short sentence.
- Work out how much time you have to spend on routine and how much time you have available for yourself. There is a timeline giving a full 24 hours in 15 minute blocks. If you are anything like me there are times when your day starts very early or ends very late and there are no hours of the day that are never seen! When tracking self-care it is important to include the time you spend asleep or resting too. Start by blocking out on the time available line anything that is fixed. I include the time I plan to wake and go to bed here, work, fixed chores and appointments. Tip – be realistic when working out the time it takes to complete fixed tasks. Don’t assume that you stop one activity and instantly start another. Be kind to yourself and allow breathing space. It is better to plan to do less and achieve what you plan, than to plan to do huge amounts and fail. This also applies to the next step where you list what you want or need to achieve.
- Write your do list of actions for the day. Tip – you have already worked out how much or how little time you have available. There is no benefit to setting yourself too big a mountain to climb in your action list. Be realistic! Try to start with the most pressing tasks or the things that are most important to you. As you write your list consider whether each action is related to one of your goals. There is a box to colour in or code with a number to tag it back to a goal. Is the action a task that has to be completed, not related to your goals, just something that you need to do? Is the action something that contributes to your self care? Colour in the task box or self-care box beside the action. Tip – this is where you start to see the balance of your day. Are all your planned actions tasks? Is there any self-care in the mix?
- Complete the timeline. Fill in the Goals, Tasks and Self-care timelines. Make sure you allow enough time for each action with a bit of breathing space in between. Designate time for self-care. During some parts of your day you might be able to work a bit of multi-tasking in! Last time I read up on multi-tasking the general view was that it is a myth, nobody actually multi-tasks. Our brains simply flip from one thing to another very quickly when we try. The usual outcome is that we do neither task as well as we would have if we had focussed. However, if you go for a run and allow your mind to wander over a problem you need to resolve…. in my book that would be working towards getting fit AND completing an action to resolve a problem!
- Select your key task. To be positive, what is the one thing that would make your day feel successful if you accomplished it. Put another way – what would you go to be worried about if you didn’t complete it! Writing that task out again at the bottom of the list and selecting the slot that you are going to complete it in reinforces the plan. TIP – highlight on the timeline the slot in which you will complete you key task. Don’t look at my example for this – on the day I photographed my planner I didn’t complete the key task! Hey…. nobody is perfect 🙂
- Review. The remaining boxes on the page are for review. There are tick boxes (or colour in boxes) to show which actions were completed and whether any were carried forwards. The section at the bottom allows me to record a couple of points on the day. Something good that happened; something I learned and something I did to help others. I don’t have time to keep a diary but I find just three sentences gives me a bit of a record.
- Mood and energy tracker. This is helpful as background to understand whether you are asking too much of yourself on certain days when you are possibly not feeling your best. Learn from this and set your sights at an achievable level to allow yourself to succeed. You are more likely to keep going and working towards your goals if you feel successful. The mood tracker has a blank box for you to put in however you feel rather than being constrained by a pre-printed list!
There you have it. The planner works best when you spend 10 minutes each evening reviewing your day and then working out what the following day looks like and what you plan to achieve. Filing the completed sheets allows you to build up a journal without spending hours creating little boxes. You can also mix and match, creating your own pages when you have time and relying on the printed pages when time is short. Here is the free download. Daily planner (144 downloads) . Please let me know how it works for you. Happy planning!