The System That Finally Worked…and it’s not Digital (Shhhh!)

I am an organized soul.

Really, I am. Certainly my life and surroundings do not always reflect that, but it’s something I’m constantly striving for – a sense of order, a sense of having a teeny bit of control over some small areas of my life.

Running a household is serious work that requires serious planning and organization, especially if you are cooking and preparing real food. I don’t take this role lightly. Without  structure and planing, we end up spending money on convenience items that we cannot afford and quite frankly, our family life falls into chaos in an alarmingly short amount of time. The budget gets broken, stress levels rise and everyone loses.

We literally cannot afford to be disorganized!

Over the years, I have tried many different methods of organizing my schedule, home, and meals, all with varying degrees of success. Yet, I could never make any one system stick.

The system that finally worked...and its not digital shhh

The Bullet Journal

This past winter, a friend of mine, who shares my love for organization, pulled out a notebook to show me. It was full of little notes, symbols and lists. She introduced me to the concept of “The Bullet Journal.”

The what?!? It sounded a little intimidating to me. Was this some kind of rigid organization system that required structure and perfection?

Actually, it turned out to be the opposite.

I went home and did a little research. The concept of the “Bullet Journal” was created by Ryder Carroll as a simple, yet effective way to manage time, ideas and a schedule. Be sure to check out his website, Bullet Journal, for an overview of the concepts and basic design of a Bullet Journal. As it says on the website:

The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.

On Carroll’s website, you can find all the information you need to get started and even purchase an actual journal. I highly recommend you start there before beginning a Bullet Journal. Watch the helpful introduction video here.

A quick Google search led me to loads of other helpful websites of others that have embraced the Bullet Journal concept and made it their own. Be careful. There are some avid Bullet Journalers out there who make their Bullet Journal quite literally a work of art – they are absolutely breathtaking and impressive…and completely intimidating at times.

I quickly learned to appreciate what others do, but not feel any pressure to make my Bullet Journal look like theirs. This is MY journal – I can do whatever I want.

There is no “right or wrong” way to do it.

An Analog System in a Digital World

I’ve become a bit of a Bullet Journal evangelist since I started 6 months ago. I can’t help but rave about it! Honestly, I’m not sure how I functioned without it.

Some people seem skeptical when I explain the concept to them (which is totally fine!). The question I get most often from people is “Why would you spend time writing things down? Why not just use your phone?”

It’s a valid question.

If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it’s that every person operates in a different manor. Each person’s brain works differently, each person has strengths and weaknesses in certain areas. And this is a good thing. Thank goodness we’re not all the same! We can’t expect one organizing system for work for everyone.

For example, I’m a “hands-on” person. I draw, I write, I doodle.

I need the feel of paper and pencil.

This is how I learn, how I process information and ideas, how I organize thoughts (and yes, I wrote out the framework for this post on paper before typing it because I just can’t organize my ideas on a screen!). Technology is a weakness for me because so much of it is abstract and goes against my learning style. An organization system that relies on screens has no appeal for me. I need to write, to physically hold a pencil and write on actual paper.

Hand-writing may seem old-fashioned and obsolete, but recent studies have proved otherwise. Studies of note-taking habits in college students have discovered that students who take notes by hand (as opposed to typing on a laptop/device) display increased comprehension, information retention, and ability to grasp new concepts. No one knows exactly why, but it seems that writing by hand engages the brain in a different way.

Technology is a wonderful tool for many tasks, but it is not always the best choice for everyone.

I know many people have great organizing/scheduling systems on their computer/phone/tablet. If that is working for you, that is awesome! But if you are a more hands-on person, like me, the Bullet Journal might be worth a shot.

What IS a Bullet Journal?

As stated above by Ryder Carroll, a Bullet Journal can be whatever you need it to be. Most people use it to organize their time and as a “To-Do” list, but it’s completely flexible.

  • Need a place to keep track of dates, appointments, birthdays?
  • Need a place to make a “To-Do” list?
  • Need a place to make a weekly/monthly Menu Plan and Shopping Lists?
  • Need a place to keep track of quotes, verse or ideas?
  • Need a place to journal about your day?
  • Need a place to keep track of your progress on your training regimen?
  • Need a place to jot down all the books you want to read?
  • Need a place to make lists/charts/goals?

The Bullet Journal can do all these things and much, much more. Everything will be in one place, instead of scattered on random pieces of paper.

How my bullet journal transformed my life

Getting Started: Choose Your Journal

There are many options out there, including “THE” Bullet Journal on the Bullet Journal website. Certainly, you could use any old notebook you find laying about the house. I started this way, just to make sure I liked the system before investing in a more expensive journal, and this might be the way for you to start too.

However, I highly recommend taking time to search for a journal that appeals to YOU. Any organization system will not work if you don’t use it! Choose a journal that you LOVE, something that makes you happy, that you WANT to use. My journal lives on my kitchen counter, so I made sure to pick something I wanted to look at all the time.

I went to a few bookstores to check out journals and in the end decided to order the Leuchtturm1917 Notebook with a hardcover and dots (a grid pattern). The Moleskine journals/notebooks were my second option, but I wanted something with a sturdy hard cover, since I would be stuffing the journal into my purse all the time. I take it everywhere with me, just like my cell phone.

It also has two page marker ribbons, an elastic closure and a pocket in the back. Since it didn’t have a place to hold a pencil, I simply hot- glued a ribbon in a loop to the back cover.

The grid pattern (dots) in the journal is handy for making charts and calendar pages, but some people prefer a lined journal.

open bullet journal on counter

Choose Your Writing Utensil

Again, choose something you love and that you want to use! If you look at photos of Bullet Journal pages online, you will see that many people use beautiful colored pens, pencils and markers. Some people use a plain pen…and some people, like me, go way old school and simply use a pencil.

As a recovering perfectionist, it’s important for me to be able to erase things. In fact, I erase in my journal all the time – it helps to keep my journal flexible and ever-changing to meet my needs!

I wish I had more time to use color and make my Bullet Journal more beautiful, but at this point in my life, it is definitely more utilitarian than decorative. For some, the Bullet Journal could provide a much needed artistic and creative outlet.

Create Your Modules

Here is where you may want to take some time to explore the Bullet Journal website and watch the video. There are 4 basic Modules that create the structure of the Bullet Journal, according to Ryder Carroll: The Index, The Future Log, The Monthly Log and the Daily Log.

(Again, the Bullet Journal is a flexible system for you, so be sure check out how other people have created these Modules – you may find one that works for you, or you may need to come up with your own. There is no right or wrong!)

Here is a peek at my Bullet Journal. I don’t follow all the “rules” on the Bullet Journal page, but found what works for me.

The Index helps you record where your entries are located so you’re not paging through the journal to find what you need. Every time you start a new page, you record it in the Index.

bullet journal index

The Future Log is your main calendar. Use this to make plans months in advance (next time I will only do 2 months per page, to give myself more room to record upcoming events).

bullet journal future log and monthly calendars

The Monthly Log is a more detailed calendar, along with a set of goals/tasks to be accomplished that month. Here I deviated greatly from Carroll’s Monthly Log. I break up each day into “Morning”, “Afternoon” and “Evening” so that I can see at a glance what parts of the day I have open. I’m grateful for Boho Berry for sharing this design idea!

bullet journal one month calendar

The Daily Log is for day-to-day use, to keep track of the daily “To-Do” list and daily events. Carroll encourages people to create their Daily Log as they go or the night before, instead of setting up a bunch of days ahead of time. Again, I deviate here and have created more of a “Week at a Glance” module – there is space under each day of the week that I fill out the night before. If I know I have an appointment on a certain day of the week, I can write that in ahead of time, but the actual “to-do” items are added the night before.

my bullet journal daily log - the most important part

I also have a space in the Daily Log called “To Do This Week”. At the beginning of each week, I look at the Monthly Log goal/task list and decide which ones will be tackled that week. Then I try to schedule which day that task will be taken care of.

Along the side, I have a column called “Today’s Schedule”. This is my hour-by-hour planner. I don’t use it every day, but if I’m having a particularly full day or have lots to accomplish, I use this to keep me on track and help me figure out what I can realistically tackle in one day. Everything is written in pencil so it can be erased at the end of the day and reused the next day.

The system that finally worked...and its not digital shhh

The Daily Log is what really helps me keep my sanity. It’s the workhorse of the Bullet Journal.

Create Your Bullets

When creating your Daily Log, you will use symbols or signifiers to keep track of everything. Here is where the little symbols come into play and where the name “Bullet Journal” comes from.

The dot

A “bullet” or dot is put in front of each task.

The X

Once that task is completed, it is “X”-ed out.

The arrow

If the task is not completed, it is “migrated” or moved to the next day, represented by a arrow symbol. For example, if I don’t get around to “Pay Bills” on Thursday, it gets moved to Friday… and so on until I actually complete the task. Writing it over again reminds me I can’t ignore that task! If the task was not vital or worth moving to another day (such as an article you wanted to read, but it’s just not going to happen), you can simply put a line through it – that task is dead.

The O

An “O” represents events.

The dash

A “-“ represents notes, thoughts, or ideas.

The star

“*” or a star can be placed in front of anything that is of vital importance.

Feel free to make up your own symbols and signifiers.

Of course, this is YOUR Bullet Journal and you can do whatever you want. I found all these symbols to be overly complicated – now I simply stick with a bullet point for just about everything.

The system that finally worked...and its not digital shhh

Create Your “Extras”

Spreads, lists, collections, charts… whatever you want to call them, you will probably want to add a few to your Bullet Journal. I advise you to take it slow and not get carried away with adding all sorts of of lists at first. You may find that you don’t really use them.

Here are a few extras that have proved to be helpful for me, that I DO use on a regular basis:

  • Menu Plan and Shopping List: As a Real Foodie, cooking and preparing food is a HUGE part of my life. At the beginning of each week, I sit down and draw a new chart and menu plan. I created a system that works for me – I plan breakfasts, dinners and what food prep needs to be done the day before. At the bottom is my shopping list and a list of foods that I need to make that week to keep things running smoothly (usually foods to pack in lunches or for easy breakfasts). I usually shop on Tuesdays, so if I think of something later in the week that I need to buy, I write it on the list, circle it and move that item to next week’s Shopping List after I have created it.
The system that finally worked...and its not digital shhh
  • Freezer Inventory: We either buy meat in large quantities directly from local farms (beef and pork) or produce/hunt it ourselves (chicken and venison). As a result, at times we have 1/4 of a cow, half a hog, 30 whole chickens and an entire deer in our freezer at the same time. I keep track of it in my Bullet Journal so that when I’m out grocery shopping, I know exactly what cuts of meat I have available to work with.
bullet journal freezer inventory - keeping real food organized well
  • Health Goals Tracker: I’ve discovered that if I want to make changes, I need some sort of accountability. A chart to track my goals is very helpful and allows me to see actual progress. As you can see, I was not perfect and missed checking some things off, but perfection is not the goal! Improvement is!
bullet journal health goals tracker
  • Books to Read: I’m constantly getting recommendations about books to read. Since I always have my Bullet Journal with me, it’s easy to whip it out and jot down the title. When I’m at the library, I can pull out the list and find the books. I also have a list of Children’s Books to Read to my kids.
  • Books Read: As an avid reader with like-minded friends (I’m usually reading 3-4 books at the same time, generally non-fiction), I’ve found it very helpful to keep track of books so I can refer back to them and share as needed.
  • Movies to Watch: We have “Family Movie Night” on Fridays, so we’re always looking for good content. I went to a few websites that listed the best family movies and jotted them down on our list.
  • To Buy: This is where I write down random items we need to purchase in the near future . When my husband needs to spend a few bucks more on Amazon to get free shipping, we check the list and add those to the cart. I can add items whenever they come to mind.
  • Long-term Project List: We live in an 1880’s farmhouse that hasn’t been updated since the 1940’s. There are so many projects to work on that we get overwhelmed and discouraged sometimes. We wrote everything down and it’s encouraging to see those “X”s that remind us we ARE making progress.
  • Quotes: I used to write down verses and quotes on note cards or in notebooks and as a result, I have a gigantic pile of random pieces of paper or quote hidden away in random notebooks… and can never find what I’m looking for. Now they are all in one place!
bullet journal quotes collection
  • Musings/Ideas: Whenever a project idea pops into my head or I run across a website/company I want to remember, I jot it down on this page.

The Pros and Cons of the Bullet Journal System

Of course, there is no perfect organizing system for everyone, but I feel the Bullet Journal can be a good fit for many people. Like all things in life, it has pros and cons.

The Pros:

  1. Customizable and flexible: The Bullet Journal can be whatever you need it to be. You are not constrained by the layout of ready-made planner, calendar, etc.
  2. Soothing/meditative: Creating, writing, designing and planning can be very helpful for some. There is something glorious about creating order from chaos, feeling like you’ve got your ducks in a row.
  3. Good for both Left (Logical) and Right (Creative) brained people: The Bullet Journal offers both structure and flexibility, making it a viable choice for all brain types.
  4. Portable: You choose the size and style of your journal. I made sure it was easy to fit in my purse. My journal goes everywhere with me, just like my cell phone. In fact, I often place my phone inside my journal – they live together.

The Cons:

  1. Time Consuming: Let’s face it. It takes time to write things out and it takes time to create charts, graphs, calendars, etc. Some people have solved this issue by making photo copies of regularly used charts (like a Menu Plan template) and simply pasting them onto a page. Personally, I don’t mind the time it takes – sitting down and writing/creating helps me process ideas and organize my thoughts. Scribbles That Matter has created a bullet planner with the basics already drawn in, if starting from scratch is not for you. 
  2. Not easily shared with others: There are some digital planning/organizing systems that allow you to share with the whole family. I can see how that would be a great fit busy families. The Bullet Journal really works best for one person.
  3. Have to actually remember to use it: Like all organizing systems, it won’t work if you don’t use it. This is why I recommend choosing a journal and writing utensil that you love, something that you really want to use!

Some Bullet Journal Options

the bullet journal organization system for hands-on people

You can use journals with grid lines or dots (or again, just lined paper to initially try it out). I took a quick look at Amazon reviews, so in case you don’t love the original bullet journal, here are some others people appreciate:

  • Essentials Grid-Lined Notebook (folks mentioned that laying flat is a good feature of a bullet journal, also that this one has nice thick pages that don’t bleed through)
  • Leuchtturm with Grids (many love it, one 3-star review said that the pages bleed with markers, and it’s pricey, although the same company that makes the official Bullet Journal)
  • Moleskine Dotted, Soft Cover (a less expensive option, but thin pages according to reviews – no good for markers or felt tip pens, but others loved it)
  • Scribbles That Matter in A5 and B6 have a dedicated following and are very responsive to customer feedback. 

A System That Works

While the Bullet Journal is not a “magic bullet,” it IS possible that it could transform your life and bring a sense of order from chaos. It may not be the right system for everyone, but if you have been struggling to find something that works for your unique personality, maybe this is it!

Have you tried using a Bullet Journal? What other systems have you had success with? What is your biggest organizational challenge?

34 thoughts on “The System That Finally Worked…and it’s not Digital (Shhhh!)”

  1. I switched to a bullet journal completely 5 months ago after playing around with the system for a few months and I may never go back. Flexible, all of my lists, and notes, finances, home, school, and work in one place, thank you! I also meal plan but my freezer inventory hasn’t gone in it yet. I do also use frixxion pens. Though I use others and brush pens to with correction tape or a sticker if I mess up

  2. Heather @ https://joysinmylife.com

    This post gave me some new ideas for pages in my bullet journal. I really love the freezer inventory layout, as well as your future, monthly, and daily layouts.

    I also keep a whiteboard with the weekly plan on it in our kitchen (appointments & dinners) to share with the family, as well as our icloud calendar stays up-to-date with appointments to share with my husband.

  3. Lori, I’ve had the same planner for over 15 years! Started as a tool for work appointments and social Calendar but quickly became indispensable for organizing my life. Essential to me that it is a ring binder so I can move and remove obsolete pages and not have to rewrite pages thru the years. Pencil is about all that i ever use. Appointment change, just a quick erasure away and I know that time is now available. Address changes are a snap.

    I travel a lot, over 100 days a year, and it always with me. My passwords are there (in code) but always handy.

    My planner was from an office supply store and all I replaced each year is the calendar for the next year and take out the old one. Some years I have To have get new pages for some of the categories, but with a binder it is just a quick snap.

    AFTER all these years the binder still looks like new. My little black book!

    Barb

  4. I began a bullet journal last December. I still use the google calendar for big picture planning, events, birthdays, etc, and Plan to Eat for menu planning and a combination of that and inventory/shopping lists I made in Word for our shopping lists (I have 9dc, 6 not working outside the home. Everyone has their zone they inventory, shop for, and put up afterwords.) I, too, found Flyladies ideas wonderful, but her journal too big to carry around with me. I now have a 5.5×8.5 moleskin, dark blue lined journal that I use for weekly planning (which I review daily and circle what I plan to accomplish that day) and random notes. My health notes are in the back. I have used google keep for those random notes and information in the past, but may move all the old ones over next year. I do have a 8.5×11 notebook for research notes and my prayer lists, but I don’t need to carry them with me. The index is the brillant stroke that made paper work for me.

    1. Leia Webbster

      I also found the index to be a brilliant idea! I have been using Bullet Journals for a few years now and whenever I need to find something in an old one, scanning the Index always makes it a simple process. And the Collections concept made it easier to group things rather than having them scattered throughout the journal. Kudos to Ryder for sharing his idea with the world!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your method and letting us know and show us that we do not need to make thé bullet a piece of art ! I also love to write with a simple pencil.
    I was so impressed by all thé pictures that you can find on pinterest that I was afraid to use mine not the right way.
    Thanks again !
    Bien à vous.
    Magalie

  6. Thank you SO much for the simple explanation! I have been seeing things about Bullet Journals float around but so many of them were so artsy and colorful and as a not-so-creative person, it all seemed very intimidating but I really needed a way to be more organized without breaking the bank (many some of those organizers out there are sooo pricey!) I just barely started mine yesterday but I feel hopeful and it will be fun to see where I at a month from now (and more) after using it. Thank you!

    1. Jen, You are welcome! I totally understand – I loved the idea of the Bullet Journal, but knew there was no way I could make mine so artsy… and I didn’t really want to. The Bullet Journal has worked really well for me! I know it’s not for everyone, but I love how customizable it is. Best wishes with your Bullet Journaling! Hope it goes well!

      Lori

  7. Thanks for sharing your methods.
    I use a combination of phone and paper. Future appts go into my phone because my calender is shared with my husband, I can easily set recurring events (such as birthdays), it automatically sets alarms, and I can record events months in advance. I transfwr them to paper in the week that they occur. I also have my grocery list on my phone so my husband can add things, important as he does half the cooking (he handles lunch while I do supper).
    I have also used evernote for lists but prefer paper for that. I’m trying to find a balance between my everyday schedule and tasks and everything else. I’m nervous to put the everyday stuff in the bullet journal because I take a lot of notes and record ideas and plans and think it may get difficult to refer back to dailies with all of that stuff mixed in. So I’m playing with an actual planner for day to day stuff and bullet journal for lists, schedules etc. Still haven’t quite figured it out but I’m getting closer. I wish the systems I used in the past worked but I guess that new seasons in life call for new organizational methods.

    Also, as a leftie, pencil isn’t an option as it often ends up completely smudged. Some pens are fine but I hate having to scribble things out. Another blogger, Giftie Etc, wrote about the pen that changed my world. Frixion pens are fully erasable and don’t smudge. I’m totally in love with them! They do disappear with too much heat (discovered when I laminated my son’s picture, oops! Thought it mostly came back after we cooled it down) and the ink runs out faster than a ballpoint but they are worth it, for me anyway. Just thought I’d shared that tip for and fellow lefties reading.

  8. Becca @ The Earthling's Handbook

    Great system! I’m very anti-smartphone as I’m seeing a lot of hints that they’re making people dumber…and it’s great to be able to get things done even if there’s an extended power outage or you’ve lost your phone charger!

    I had a system of making a weekly schedule on scrap paper that worked really well for me until I got a concussion a year ago. For a while after that, I had huge problems with to-do lists of any kind! Starting to make a list was very difficult and sort of hurt my head, but once I got started it was okay and I could get some things done, but as soon as there was something on the list that I hadn’t gotten done as quickly as I’d thought I could, the list became weirdly frightening and disgusting to me so that it was hard to make myself look at it. Then I’d be all like, “I can’t start a new list because there’s an old list on my clipboard and I can’t even go near it.”

    Now that I’m feeling better, lists are working for me again, but I am experimenting with formats and finding different things are more effective for me at different times. As a psychologist, I’m very interested in all this, despite my frustration last year!

    I’m glad your system is working so well for you. Thanks for presenting it in detail so we all can think about which ideas will work for us!

  9. I design my own pages to create my journal (along wit grocery lists, recurring tasks, kids chores, appointments, etc) because doing so saves alot of time & repetition; and I can adapt/change it as needed. I then print it bind it (at home, or work, or Kinkos/office suppply stores) using a backing/binder a size that suits me/the season (usually 6 month intervals; and 3 month during holiday season).

    For others who’d like to choose & print their own pages, here’s a link to Etsy where you can buy all sorts of pre-designed, printable pages (.pdf’s)

    https://www.etsy.com/search?q=bullet+journal+printable

  10. Thank you! I hadn’t heard of the bullet journal before now, but after doing a little more looking into it, I think this is something that could work for me. I never used to be much of a list person, but as you said running a household is serious work! Lately I’ve been grabbing a sheet of computer paper, diving it up, and then throwing it out when finished. Just today I was wishing I had a record handy of what we did for our last bbq, and for hubby’s salads each week, etc… So this is going to be great! I bough a cheap plain journal when I was out today (the ones you linked to work out very expensive in Australia… Not sure how I would explain to hubby that I just spent $40 on a journal when a $3 one will do the same thing!) will see how this goes… I’m excited!

    1. Alissa, I hope it works for you! I love being able to look back at our menu plans when I’m running low on ideas or inspiration. And yikes! $40 for a journal is pricey – I got mine for less than half that price. Glad you found a journal that works. That’s what I love about the Bullet Journal concept – that it’s totally flexible and you can make it be whatever you need! Best wishes!

  11. Thanks for your reflections – as a newbie to bullet journalling (Feb 2016) your feedback is helpful to my fine tuning of my system. I’d like to suggest adding the Eccolo Cool Jazz Journal to your list of good options. I found it at the big name office supply store – it was the only graph paged hard covered journal on the shelf so I gave it a shot. It also has the elastic closure and back cover pocket, along with an elastic pen loop. While my pen loop did fall off everything else, including the 5.5″x8.5″ size is working well for me and its comparatively inexpensive.

    I particularly identify with your encouragement to keep it simple to start and not feel the pressure to make it a work of art – thanks again!

    1. Oooo, thanks for the suggestion on the less expensive journal! I think the price of journals certainly puts some people off.

      Yes, when I first researched Bullet Journals, I was totally intimidated by all the fancy pages and art work. As a former art teacher, I LOVE to see people incorporating creativity into their every day life, but not all of us have the desire or time to do that. Removing the pressure to make it beautiful was such a relief!

  12. I really like the bullet journal! I also love your post on it. I became overwhelmed with the intricacies that I was seeing on others’ posts. I love that you embrace the simple side of it and what works for you at this time. I tend to do an all or nothing approach which leaves me with not using the method. I instilled too many colors and too many symbols. My memory and comprehension works better when I use pen and paper. Your post gave me the desire to try again, but this time use only one writing utensil and a few symbols. Thank you for sharing your experience!

      1. I have kept it simple since I first read this post. And I LOVE it! I found a nice product, TUL, at Office Max/Office Depot. The cover is sturdy enough and I can mix and match lined paper with dotted paper. I do color code somewhat, but leave the main listing up to my black, fine Sharpie pen. I also gave myself permission to stop stressing over a not-so-pretty mistake and to just simply write and worry about the details later.

  13. Question about using a pencil: Do you find that your writing tends to blur after the journal has been carried around and handled a lot? I had a journal once, that I wrote in pencil, and after a while blurred until it was nearly illegible, but it was written in a spiral notebook, which let the pages slide against one another. Is this journal, because of its sewn binding and elastic strap, less prone to that, do you think? What are your thoughts? Being an artist, journaling pencil really appeals to me, but I’d rather use pen if blurring is a problem. But the problem comes in that I wouldn’t know until after I’d used a good while. Thanks!

    1. Hi Laurie! I’ve been using my journal daily for over 6 months now and have not noticed ANY blurring of the pages. The binding is quite excellent and the strap helps to keep everything tidy. I use a HB lead mechanical pencil, which is easy to erase, but doesn’t smudge like a softer lead pencil would. Hope this helps!

    2. One good reason to use pencil is that lead/graphite is relatively resistant to moisture & fluids (from weather, drips, spills, etc); versus ink which will quickly/easily smear & bleed, and often obliterate entries seep thru pages (and entire journals as well). This is why many diagrams, charts, journal are typically (or mandatorly) rendered in pencil (typically #2 pencil).

  14. Katie, you might like the Planner Pad. I also need a paper system. This one lets me categorize and then filter my categorized tasks into daily to-dos. Categories could be Food Prep, Post ideas, Reviews, school, Church, and whatever suits your life.
    I LOVE mine and get no kick back for promoting them! http://productivemama.com/planner-pad-forever/

    1. I apologize, Lori. I assumed Katie wrote this article but now I see I was not paying attention. You might like the Planner Pad, too 😉

  15. Oh my. I actually already do most of this, it is just scattered randomly throughout my notebook. This would be a great fit for me, thank you!

    1. Your welcome! For years, I worked with the FlyLady Control Journal, which uses a 3 ring binder. I loved having all the info in one place, but the size of the binder made it totally cumbersome – too big to take with me to the store and took up too much space on the counter. It worked well for organizing information, but didn’t meet my day-to-day needs. I still use my Control Journal occasionally, but the Bullet Journal system has been a much better fit for me.

      1. Lori,

        I used to follow the FlyLady too! I learned a lot from her and her team when I was a new mom with my own place to take care of. Some of her lists and ideas have stuck with me, but they have been applied to my bullet journal!

  16. This sounds so fun! 🙂 I’m a very organized, person, and I love paper and pencil, and yes, I’m the kind of person that will write down a task after its completed, just so I can cross it off 🙂

    1. Ha!!!! I do that too, just to make myself feel like I’ve accomplished something. Glad to know I’m not the only one! It’s also helpful to write those things in so I can look back and see what I did on each day – it really is a journal of my life!

  17. In my 20s & 30s, this system would have been very intriguing to me. In my mid40s i started putting my life in my phn. Now at 51 (with younger kids still) Im pretty unorganized but my phn is as far as it gets lol
    I remember my incredibly organized, productive days…

  18. Writing things down puts it in ur brain. Its kinethestic rly. I wrote copious notes in high school n college. I intuitively knew if i wrote it, I d get in my brain. Even ppl who arent highly visual or hate to write, need to do this. Making handwriting obsolete is not a good idea. Its happening, surely, but i will keep writing and my kids will keep being taught and required to put things in writing, till high school. Then they can use a keyboard for reports (they can keyboard for fun before, in addition to writing) but essays and such will be in writing, along with outlining, etc.
    Write a phn number down. Type a phn number into ur phn. I bet u remember the written down one better 🙂

    1. Becca @ The Earthling's Handbook

      I need to read more of the research, but my first guess as to why handwriting is effective is that your muscles (and, therefore, the part of your brain guiding your muscles) do different things to form each letter, whereas to press keys they do essentially the same thing no matter which key it is…and even there, in my experience I remember more of what I wrote when I touch-typed (specific finger moving at specific angle for each letter) than when I hit all the keys with one finger or random fingers.

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