Colorful Motivation Quote Wall – FREE PRINTABLE

Some of us might start to lose motivation to accomplish goals we set for 2017. I certainly did, so I made this motivation planner page to help me stay motivated. It turned out much better than I expected! I decided to release it as a free printable :). Enjoy!

Subscribe to Download Free Printable!

Bullet Journal Column and Row Grid Counts Reference – FREE PRINTABLE

If you are like me, you probably spend a lot of time drawing columns and rows in your bullet journal. And you probably need to recount and recalculate the number of grids every time you draw them, right?

I stumbled on a quick reference written by a fellow bujoer about how many grids you need for the number of columns you want to draw. So, I decided to make some images for visual reference so that you can print and stick to your journal. Refer to this page next time you need to draw columns and rows! Download the printables for FREE by subscribing to Infinite Planner. Plus you will get access to other printables we have as well. Enjoy!

A Guide for Making Your Own Custom Planner or Bullet Journal

custom planner

In the original bullet journal system, Ryder Carroll introduced a running log method that keeps track of your to-dos, events, and note items with just a pen and paper. The bullet journal notebook is supposed to be the only notebook you need to keep your life straight. The system is so incredibly simple, yet effective, and it has become wildly popular.

After using the bullet journal system in its original form for several weeks, I found that I need more structure in my planner. I need to be able to glance over the whole week and see what I need to do. I need a space to track my personal goals. I need a monthly calendar to jot down my major appointments and plans. I imagine a lot of people share the same pain, because many people have posted their hand-drawn weekly and monthly spreads which deviates from the original bullet journal form.

To help address this need, I created my own bullet journal system. It’s an agenda / bullet journal hybrid! I use a Filofax (a ring-bound planner) to host my bullet journal pages and custom agenda pages, instead of a bound notebook such as Leuchtturm1917. I like how this system offers so much more flexibility!

Why Create Your Own?

Although creating your own journal can take a little bit of work, it’s a time saver in the long run, because of the following reasons.

  1. You will save the time spent drawing the same spread over and over. Once you find the spread you love, you can print them out in unlimited quantity and use them over and over without the need to redraw.
  2. The consistent structure will help you stick to your planning routine.
  3. Migration to a new notebook is super easy. Imagine the situation where you keep a collection of your most important contacts on the bullet journal and you often need to refer to it. With bound notebooks, when your old notebook runs out, you have to copy the whole list into the new notebook. For a ring-bound or disc-bound planner, you never need to migrate manually, the pages you need can be kept in your planner permanently.
  4. When a page is messed up, you can just take it out and discard. With bound notebook, I would be super tempted to tear off the page I messed up, but I know that will destroy my notebook over time. With a ring-bound planner, I can just take off the messed up pages easily.
  5. Things will never be out of order. When I start a collection, I do not know how long that collection would be, so it’s hard to guess how many pages I should reserve. For example, I started a Christmas gift list in early November with the intention to keep filling it in the following 6 weeks, so I reserve 2 pages for it and continue using the following pages. In early December, I might find out that I have used up the two reserved pages. With a bound notebook, I would have to continue my gift list in a separate page far away from the first 2 pages, but with ring-bound system, I can just add another page right after the first two and keep my collection neatly in order.

What You Will Need

Hopefully you are convinced that making your own custom bullet journal is the way to planner peace! Great! Here are some supplies I recommend getting …

1. A ring-bound planner

When you start looking into ring-bound planners, you might be overwhelmed by the choices and it’s probably difficult to choose one. The topic of choosing ring-bound planners deserves its own blog post, but to preserve your sanity, I am going to give you a few options based on a few rules of thumb. If you plan to print your own inserts (which is an awesome decision!), I recommend getting a ring-bound planner that fit A5 papers, (the size of paper that is similar to half a US Letter paper sheet). This is because you can get cheap A5 papers from many stores. This will allow you to print, print, and print lifetime supplies of inserts really quickly. Here are two incredible options.

A. If you love leather planner and the cost is the biggest concern for you, or you just wonder what’s the cheapest way to try out a leather ring-bound planner, I recommend getting a Filofax Domino ($36) or Color Crush A5 ($37). These are well-known brands. I personally own a Filofax Domino and love it! It lays flat and has plenty of spaces to host my desk journal. It is possible to get cheaper ring-bound planner from AliExpress ($22), but the quality might be a bit compromised.

 

 

B. Most people love to bullet journal in Leuchtturm1917 because of how small and portable they are. If portability is important to you, then you should consider the following options. Filofax has a relatively small ring-bound notebook called Filofax Clipbook ($25). These are plastic ring-binder though, not leather. I have read so many good reviews about it so this is now in on my most wanted list! If you absolutely want leather planner, another fantastic option the Filofax Heritage ($109). This leather ring binder is small compared to most others. The price is a bit high, but if you want to invest in a good planner that will last you a long time, this is it!

 

 

Note that if portability is very important to you, you may consider getting a Personal size ring-bound planner. I have a Filofax Saffiano Compact, which I simply load with a ton of high-quality personal size grid inserts. I love this combo and have used it as my bullet journal for a long time. The only downside is with the smaller paper size, you can’t really draw fun layouts and insert printing is more troublesome for a personal size planner. If you don’t plan to print your own inserts, then this might be another great option!

2. Printing papers

After selecting your ring-bound planner, you are one step closer to holding your very own custom planner! The next thing you need is a good pack of A5 papers. If you are a paper junkie and want your journal to be flawless, no bleed-through, no ghosting (dang, you are a premium type of girl!), please do invest your lovely money in 32lb Bond A5 papers. As far as I know, there’s no place to get it offline, so on Amazon you go. This will make you feel like petting your princess planners every single day.

If you are more down-to-earth, you probably don’t mind a bit of ghosting here and there (maybe, you see it as the beauty of natural substances). Great! You may then buy regular A5 papers (24lb). Then you will be all set!

500 sheets of A5 papers will cost you around $20, that’s 3.8 cents per sheet, aka. crazily good deal in my book!

You may ask ‘where can I get A5 dot grid papers’ that are pre-printed and pre-punched. Trust me I flipped the whole internet and searched for it, and I couldn’t find one! I mean Amazon has a few options, but they are either too thin or the dots are not printed the right size. Some people resorted to buying a dot grid journal and cut and punch the papers. I think you are better off buying some loose leaf papers and printing dot grid pdf file on them. Cheaper and less time wasting!

3. Paper Puncher

This one is simple. I got an industrial 6 hole punch from Amazon about two years ago and never regretted. This one punch will handle all your insert punching no matter what ring-bound planner sizes you use, due to its adjustable punch positions. I have no complaints whatsoever. My punch has stayed strong for years of heavy punching. Beautiful product!

4. Printer

I assume this is a regular household item, but if you don’t have any printer, please do read on; otherwise skip ahead to Item 5. I used to work at a helpdesk call center; I know about office electronic junks!

First of all, you want a printer that can take A5 papers, luckily most printers do this, check check! Another neat feature to have is AirPrint, so you can print right from your laptop or wireless devices. You will appreciate this feature when you are busy journaling at one corner of the house and feel too lazy to lift your cute behind and walk to the printer to print your inserts. Trust me this happens too many times in my life! Also, you want to consider printers with good cost per page. Be aware that some printers are super cheap, but cost blood and tears when you try to get extra ink! This industry is notorious for ripping people off in this way. So avoid printers that are too cheap (especially the $20 printers calling for your wallet at Walmart).

I have made those mistakes, so to save you, I did an extensive research on various places to find printers that meet all the mentioned criteria. I found great two printers around $50 range to recommend.

HP Envy 4500 Series ($60) – This one was named “the best inkjet printer” in many tech blogs and also number one best seller on Amazon. One strength of this printer is HP’s Instant Ink program, which asked you to pay small monthly fee (minimum $3) to have ink cartridges delivered to your home whenever it runs out. If you trust tech guys, go for this one.

 

Canon MG5720 ($45) – I’ve heard many good things about this printer. It’s been raved about by many Etsy shop owners. The quality of the color is just the best in the market. Another neat feature of this printer is auto-deplex. What is auto-duplex? It refers to those genius printers that can flip your paper and print both sides automatically. If you are lazy (like me), you will love this feature! However, ink cost might not be as good as HP. If you plan to print some stickers as well and you love the vivid colors of Etsy planner stickers, you will pick this one!

 

5. Printable designs

If you prefer to draw all of your layouts, you really do not need to buy any printable designs other than a one-dollar dot grid PDF to print on hundreds and hundreds of your journal pages (you can get that from my shop here). Also, you can subscribe to my blog and get some free printables to get started (subscription form is in the sidebar).

If you feel like a little bit of printable goodies would make your setup come together much faster, please do visit my shop for some great printables. I designed these products very carefully in order to create a delightful planning experience. I enjoy using them myself and hope it’s joyful for you to use as well! My store has a Satisfaction Guarantee, so if you’re unsure if printables suit your needs but want to try them out, no problem.

6. Accessories

The rest is up to you! In the world of ring-bound planners, there are plenty of neat accessories out there, such as ziplock pouch, sticker tabs, or cute dividers. I also enjoy using stickers in my planner! So many fun choices!

Some Bullet Journal Pages to Get Your Started

I hope you have fun reading this post! Before I go, I want to just show a gallery of my custom bullet journal pages, just for inspiration. If you have any questions about anything, please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will come to rescue! See ya next post!

The Ultimate Guide for Financial Planning in Bullet Journal

bullet journal finance budget expense

I have read so many personal finance blogs and books — I have a lifetime worth of personal finance advice! There are so many opinions out there about how you should handle your finance, which I think were tailored to different individuals with different challenges. Some people need to save a few hundreds dollars for their next Christmas gift spree to avoid disappointing themselves. Some people want to seriously monitor their shopping habits and join in on the ‘no spend’ challenge. Some people may need to make extra money to pay off a debt. Whatever it is, your finance-related bullet journal spreads should support your own financial goals. So we should start thinking about our financial goals before making any spreads!

My personal belief is that your finance should not be complex. If you feel overwhelmed by your financial numbers, you might start to avoid working on it. So keep it simple! Focus on one goal at a time. If you have not looked at your financial figures before and you feel like your shopping habit can get a little out of hand, look into tracking your spending. If you have a dream (like traveling somewhere or buying a car), try saving trackers. Do not dive into all spreads right away, or you might feel overwhelmed and start to ignore your finance pages altogether! It is also important to add a little bit of fun into your financial spread to keep you entertained while watching your personal finance improves over time.

I have done all the research on beautiful bullet journal spreads that will help lift your financial status. This guide will walk you through all the ideas that I found in an organized manner. As a result, this post will be super long, but it should cover everything for people of all experience levels from beginner to financial-savvy folks. I hope this helps as many people as possible. Also, we have some free printables for you at the end of this post. So stay tuned!

You can start working on your finance in the simple bullet journal system with a journal book like Leuchtturm1917 and a pen, no problem! In fact, this is what I did when I started. But after reading this post, you might realize that finance planning is too complex for the original bullet journal system to handle. Plus, financial planning can be a boring subject (except for those weird people who love numbers and spreadsheets). So we definitely need to spice it up with some cute bullet journal spreads!

To help with this, I felt the need to create fun layouts specific for finance planning. In this post, I shared with you some of my own spreads and also some cute examples I found on the internet. If you like them, feel free to copy! If you do not have time to set it all up, you can also get my layouts in preprinted and printable format. Details will follow at the end of the post!

Some Financial Goals to Consider

 

1. Conscious Spending

If your shopping habits are getting out of hand, this is a good start. For those who are new to personal finance planning, being aware of your spending habits is the fundamental basis of healthy financial life. If this is your goal, you might want to have a Spending Log Spread and No-Spend Challenge Spread.

2. Budgeting for yourself and your family

This works well if you have been tracking your spending for some time or have a way to track all your expenses (because you exclusively use credit cards or you use an app to track expenses). If you think you have your spending habits under control in most areas, but want to monitor the big picture of money flowing in and out, this is the best goal to pick. If this is your goal you might need Bill Tracking Spread and Budget Spread.

3. Save for specific things

Most people have some big spending items they want to save money for, such as a Disneyland trip or a car down payment. It is good to be aware of your goals. If this is your goal, then you might want to create a need/want collection and set budget for each. It is important to make savings fun (otherwise you might give up on it). So fun saving trackers and cute spreads for saving challenges are a must. For this goal, you might want to keep a collection of needs and wants, saving tracker, saving challenge spread, emergency fund and retirement trackers.

4. Pay off debt

If you have a mortgage or loan you need to pay off, it’s great to start tackling them right away. If you have a problem making minimum payments, debt tracking should be done in conjunction with spending tracking or income tracking. For the most part, these spreads should help keep you motivated to pay off your debts. If this is your goal, consider including Debt Information Log, Debt Payment Tracker, and Debt Snowball Tracker.

5. Increase your income

You probably have the goal of increasing your income capacity by taking on extra jobs or starting a business, so tracking your income is a must. I personally am taking on this goal for the coming years, since I have other goals pretty much under control at present. If you share the same goal, consider including Income Tracker in your bullet journal.

6. Track your financial status

If you are a pro in personal finance planning and are willing to handle very long-term financial goals, you may dive into some more advanced, big picture spreads that summarize your financial status and plan your whole financial life up to retirement. If this is your goal, you might enjoy Net Worth Tracker and Annual Overview Spread.

Ideas for Financial Spreads Categorized by Financial Goals

Okay, we covered all the financial goals you can start tackling. Now let’s dive into the idea galore! As examples, I have included a bunch of nice financial spread ideas you can incorporate into your bullet journal.

1. Conscious spending

The most fundamental basis of a healthy financial life is knowing where your money goes. This is the area where lots of people struggle (too many pretty things are calling for your wallet!!). So there are many layout options when it comes to spending trackers.

A simplest start

When I got started, I simply put the spending items among my other daily bullets. This is the simplest, non-intimidating way to jot things down quickly while building a small habit of tracking where my money goes.

bullet journal finance

Another way to do this is to incorporate Spending Log into your weekly layout. For example, here’s an example of a bullet journal layout with Spending Log built in.

It might be a good idea to create a habit tracker that reminds you to go over your expense everyday too.

A dedicated spread

Later on, when I got a little more serious with my financial planning, I created a spread for Spending Log, which is inspired by an Instagram image from @bobbis_bujo. I added info to this log once a day.

bullet journal finance

You don’t need to use color codes to track spending by categories if you don’t want to. For me, I found it helpful to break down my spending into 4 categories that matter most to me: commute, food, shopping, others. These three specific categories happen to be my weakest points, so I want to keep an eye on them.

No matter how you note down your daily spending, it is important to review your spending habit once a month. I set up a reminder in my Google calendar to do this. If your only goal is to be more conscious about spending, the review should take only 15 minutes. In monthly reviews, you can simply make a note of your total spending in a month, or the total expense by categories if you’d like. This will help you monitor the bottom-line and see how you are doing in the big picture.

If the monthly review or category-based tracking is too overwhelming for you, skip it! Just stick to simply jotting down expenses as they come up and you are already much better than average. The key is to keep it simple and fun.

My monthly review usually takes place in this spread.

bullet journal finance

No-Spend Challenge

I enjoy browsing the No-Spend Challenge Spreads in people’s bullet journals. It’s so much fun looking at how people attempt to stop their future self from losing money on things they clearly love! I love the idea so much I created a fun template for it. This is included in my free printable library! You will see links to that at the bottom of this post.

bullet journal finance

2. Budgeting for yourself and your family

Once you have been monitoring your spending habits for a while, you might want to gently add some control over your budget. This means that you want to make sure you have enough money to pay all your bills right on time while also perhaps addressing some worrying area of your spending.

The obvious way to start budgeting is to use a Bill Tracker! This very versatile spread will ensure that you pay all your bills and give you a great idea of what fixed expenses you have in each month.

bullet journal finance

For a more advanced planner, you may want to create a budget spread for both fixed expenses (recurring bills) and variable expenses (other one-time things such as car maintenance expense). My spreads are rather simple because I want them to be adaptable when circumstances change without having to redesign the layouts.

bullet journal finance

3. Savings

Everybody has something on their wish list (mine is super-duper long, sigh..). So I think it’s a good idea to get these lists on paper! This inspires you to continue working on your savings and helps you set priorities for spending. Here is a cute page I made for you (which is also available for free download below!)

bullet journal finance

Once you have identified the items of your desire, it makes sense to work your ass off for them! Yeah!

Aside from saving for pleasure, I think everyone needs a good reservoir of emergency funds. For starters, you should have at least $1000 in your account at all times for those rainy days when you might need this money fast. If you are a more advanced saver, you might want to consider saving up 6 months worth of your spending expenses in case of a job loss or a medical emergency. Also, if it’s within your means it’s wise to start thinking early about retirement and secure some funding for that as well. For a quick and rough guide, at least 5% of your income should go towards retirement savings, although you might increase that if you wish to retire early.

To keep track of all these areas of saving and keep it motivating and fun, I designed this Saving Log for my finance planner.

bullet journal finance

4. Debt pay-off

Debts are something no one wants to deal with, but unfortunately for many of us, we do have debts to pay. We can turn this bitter experience of seeing money flying out of our pocket into a more pleasant experience by creating an elaborate bullet journal spread for it!

bullet journal finance

The internet is full of awesome advice about how to tackle debt and one popular method is called the Debt Snowball Method taught by Dave Ramsey. (I guess everyone knows about him, but if you don’t, check out his stuff, he’s a great coach!) The idea (in a nutshell) is to list all the debts you have from the smallest sum to the largest sum. Then pay the minimum amount on all your debts, except the smallest one which you will attack with a vengeance (going crazy at paying it with get-the-hell-out-of-my-life attitude, taking extra jobs, selling stuff, and reducing entertainment spending if you have to). Then after you pay off the smallest debt, do the same for the next bigger one. Some awesome bujo-ers have made a spread for this method that you might want to copy.

5. Increase your income

This goal has the most refreshing spreads, as it means money is flying into your pocket this time. I try to make this spread fun because it motivates me to work harder and save money for what I truly want! The simplest way to keep an overview of my income streams is with something like my Income Tracker shown here.

bullet journal finance

6. Track your financial status

Okay this post is super long, but here’s our one last goal for you, dear financial goddess. If you have reached to the holy grail of personal finance planning (that is, knowing how much you spend each month, knowing how much you earn, setting budgets for everything, and getting your savings in order) you have come to the final level of financial planning ninja training. It’s time for you to have a tracker for the BIG picture of your financial life. (I don’t know about you, but my financial life is messy as hell, and I’m not quite sure I’ve yet reached this level. But I made the spread that I definitely want to conquer in the future!)

Here’s the spread I plan to use for my annual financial overview.

bullet journal finance

And another spread for net worth tracking.

bullet journal finance

Okay, that’s all the goals I have to cover in this blog post. Now that we have all the spread examples that we could possibly find in the whole wide world, you might feel itchy to get started. You may take the inspiration and draw these spreads out in your standard bullet journal notebook or use the pre-made template options I offer below!

Want to Dive Into Personal Finance Planning?

If you want to start working on your finance, but aren’t sure you have the time to set up all the spreads, I happen to have a solution! I created the Ultimate Finance Planner, which has all the financial planner pages you’d need preprinted and bound in a single book. This planner addresses all the financial goals mentioned in this post (and more), with instructions that walk you through step-by-step. I even added a bunch of dot grid pages for your bullet journal joy! It’s available for a thrifty price on Amazon (with Amazon prime shipping option!)

The Ultimate Finance Planner

If you want to have a peek inside the Ultimate Financial Planner, check out the flip-through images on this page.

Printable Finance Planner

If you would rather set things up in your own planning system so that you can pick and choose what spreads to include and have the finance planner together with the rest of your planning pages, you might want to pick up my mega finance kit printables [www.etsy.com/listing/488559120/finance-mega-kit-financial-planner]. I really put a lot of effort into creating the best financial planner pages that I’m sure everyone will find useful!

I am spoiling you guys with so much awesome financial planning pages for this one. The printable kit contains 27 pages of joyful, nice and neat financial spreads. There are tons of page variations to choose from.

bullet journal finance

Now onto Your Free Printables!

For Infinite Planner subscribers, I of course have prepared awesome goodies for you special folks! This blog post includes two free printables you can download instantly after joining my email list!

  1. No-Spend Challenge Template
  2. Needs and Wants List

For my previous subscribers please revisit the member-only download page in the link I sent you earlier. The new printables should be uploaded there already!

For newcomers, please use the form below to subscribe!

 


This post is super long, but I am not apologizing because I want EVERYONE to have a stress-free financial planning experience. It is such an important part of our lives. As always, if you have awesome ideas or notice something I skipped, please let me know in the comments section below and let’s make a rocking resource for all bullet journalers out there! Stay cool and see you soon in my next post!

 

100++ Bullet Journal Ideas: Spreads, Trackers, and Collections

Bullet journal ideas

One question I have heard a lot of in bullet journal community is: “What could I possibly track in my bullet journal? I need some ideas!”

So I decided to do the honor and keep a running list of all possible things to track in your bullet journal!! (Did I just hear crowd cheering?) This is a list I intend to update over and over, so if you spot any missing ideas, please let me know in the comments below, so that our community can access the ideas whenever they need.

For some of these ideas, I have created an accompanying Pinterest board for your enjoyment :). Check out the links for more visual inspirations.

If you want the printable of the list (shown in the cover image), scroll down to subscribe to get access to our wonderful printable library!

Alright! Here’s a list of a gazillion bullet journal ideas!!! Yeah!

Daily Personal Stuff

  1. Daily tasks
  2. Daily events
  3. Weekly goals, tasks, events
  4. Time tracker
  5. Priority tasks
  6. Focus of the day
  7. Quote of the day
  8. Life lesson learned
  9. Daily journal entries
  10. Gratitude log
  11. Meditation log
  12. Me time
  13. What makes you happy
  14. Timeline of your whole life
  15. Your perfect schedule
  16. Challenge trackers
  17. Dream log

Finance

Want to plan your finance? Please check out my epic guide for financial planning in bullet journal :).

For other visual ideas, please follow my Bullet Journal Finances Pinterest Board)

  1. Bill tracker
  2. Spending log
  3. Saving log
  4. Net-worth tracking
  5. Things to sell
  6. No spend tracker

Health & Weight Loss

(For visual ideas, please follow my Bullet Journal for Fitness Pinterest board)

  1. Sleep log
  2. Food log
  3. Water intake tracker
  4. Exercise log
  5. Running log
  6. Weight lifting log
  7. Weight tracker
  8. Daily hygiene (flossing, skin care routine)
  9. Medicine, vitamins, supplements
  10. Sickness and symptoms
  11. Recipes to try
  12. Mental health tracker
  13. Menstrual cycle
  14. Fruit and veggie intake
  15. Mood tracker
  16. Energy tracker
  17. Step, Fitbit tracker

Chores and Family

  1. Family chores
  2. Kids development
  3. Conception and Pregnancy tracking
  4. Keeping in touch with family
  5. Cleaning
  6. Master grocery list
  7. When I did last …
  8. Car maintenance log
  9. Pet log
  10. Favorite recipes
  11. School supplies
  12. Baby names
  13. Nice things to do for your family member

Work

  1. Project tracker
  2. Master work to-do list
  3. Contact information
  4. Meeting schedule
  5. Meeting notes

Study

  1. Homework and assignments
  2. Class schedule
  3. Ideas for papers
  4. Project work and group project tracker
  5. Class information note

Home

  1. Home renovation
  2. House buying, hunting
  3. House decoration ideas
  4. Furniture shopping ideas

Dreams and Goals

(For visual ideas, please follow my Bullet Journal Goal Setting Pinterest board)

  1. Your accomplishments
  2. Inspirational quotes
  3. Vision board
  4. Yearly, Monthly, Weekly goals you want to achieve and an action plan
  5. Goal tracking

Business and Blogs

  1. Blog ideas
  2. Blog stats
  3. Blog task list
  4. Social media tracker
  5. Editorial calendar
  6. Business expense tracker
  7. Business income tracker
  8. List of influencers
  9. Blog websites
  10. Ideas to improve business
  11. Sale tracker
  12. List of keywords

Shopping

  1. Wish list
  2. Gift shopping ideas
  3. Shopping list

Hobbies

  1. Movies
  2. TV shows
  3. Books to read
  4. Book reviews and summary
  5. Video games
  6. Sewing and knitting
  7. Sport tracking
  8. Restaurants to try
  9. Gardening to do
  10. Art ideas

Travel

  1. Places you’ve been
  2. Places you want to go
  3. Master packing list
  4. Trip planning, schedule
  5. Flight price tracker

Important Events

  1. Weddings
  2. Party planning
  3. Birthdays
  4. Family reunion planning
  5. Live show and concert spreads

Don’t forget: if you see that something else is missing, please let me know in the comments. Let’s grow this humongous list together!

Subscribe to Infinite Planner below to download free idea list printables to be used for your reference! Plus, get access to all printables we will release in the future!

Bullet Journal Starter Kit – An Affordable Shopping List for Beginners

 

In today’s post, I am going to talk about the topic I love the most … stationery shopping!! I have seen a lot of questions from people starting bullet journal and wanting to know what are the absolute must-haves for bullet journaling, a.k.a. a bullet journal starter kit. I will keep the budget for this post under $35 and keep the list simple instead of overwhelming you with too many options. Items from my list go from the most crucial to the least useful, so if you don’t need anything fancy just stick with the top two items!

Alright, I hope you are ready for some newbie shopping time!

The Notebook

When it comes to bullet journaling, you need only two things: a notebook and a pen! The most popular notebook for bullet journal, hands-down, is Leuchtturm 1917 A5 Hardcover Dotted. People are sooo drooling over this notebook. This is also the brand that serves as the official bullet journal notebook. No other choice would get more solid than this. The leather journal will set you back about $20.

Another great option that many people talked about is the Essentials Dot Matrix Notebook. This is an awesome $10 notebook that has similar paper quality as the Leuchtturm 1917, better price for someone who just want to try it out!

 

 

The Pen

Technically, you only need a black pen. And frankly, any cheap pen you have would work. But for the maximal writing pleasure, I do recommend getting some fine point pens. In this domain, consensus doesn’t come as easy. But trust me I have read around a gazillion and a half blogs, and it always come down to a few brands: Sharpie Fine Point Pen, Staedtler Triplus Fineliner 0.3 mm, Stabilo point 88 pens set 0.4 mm, and Paper Mate Flair Ultra-Fine Felt Tip Pen. My votes go to Sharpie. I found them to smear less than other brands.

You should be able to pick up 4-8 of these pens (in black) for around $10.

If you do want to have a little fun and color code your bullet entries, you might want to get a colored pens pack. The four brands I discussed above have colored varieties. I opted for Staedtler Color Pen Set because Sharpie does not offer lots of colors.

  1. Sharpie Pen Fine Point Pen, 6 Colored Pens
  2. Staedtler Color Pen Set, 36 Colors
  3. Stabilo Pens Point 88-Fine Point, 30 Colors
  4. Paper Mate Flair, Ultra-Fine Felt Tip Pen, 8 Colors

A 6-8 color pens pack will set you back around $10-$12. For a color maniac (like me), 30-36 color pen packs comes to around $15-$30.

Color pens will allow you to have a bit more fun with your planner. For example, some days you just feel colorful (everyone have those days, right?), so your to-do items can have variety of colors. If you find color coding helpful to separate different types of tasks, you will love using colored pens!

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Highlighters

These items are the must-have for me personally for highlighting headers and important bullet items. It definitely helps my journal look a little bit less plain. Here are some examples of highlighter usage from bohoberry.com

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The most popular highlighter brand in the market is, hands down, Zebra Midliner. I recommend you get all 15 colors for around $15, for maximum color joy :).

Miscellaneous

At this point you have your shopping cart full of goodies, but before you check out, don’t forget to grab a good small ruler if you don’t already have one on hand. I like clear acrylic rulers, because, unlike stainless steel rulers, you can actually see what’s written underneath. An acrylic ruler can withstand heavier use than a plastic one too.

Also, at some point you are going to be making a typo or a mistake, that you cannot stand having in sight. (In general, I do not give a damn about typos and some typos are too hilarious to erase, but trust me the I-wish-my-pen-were-erasable moment does happen.) So you may wish to grab a good pack of whiteout correction tape before you check out.

Lastly, for those who like a prettier planning style, you may enjoy adding  washi tape and planner stickers to the mix. But then, these items are such a diverse mix that they probably deserve a whole separate list sometime down the line!

I hope you enjoy this short hassle-free shopping list! Bullet journal is simple and you really don’t need much to start. If you want to start on a trial period with a 1-dollar target notebook and pens and just go to town with them, it will totally be fine too. Until next time!

 

Setting up Bullet Journal for New Year (2017)

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It seems like everybody is talking about setting up their bullet journal for the new year! I really like the energy right around this time of year, where we get to relax and refresh, people are talking about the future, ambitious goals are being made, and fresh new notebooks are coming out of the package!

I also have heard that a few people struggle to make their first pages. Therefore, I spent a lot of time researching and making this post to show you how I set up my bullet journal for the new year, plus I will be giving out some free printables to get you started!

In this blog post, I will talk about …

  1. Brainstorming. How I spent 15 minutes jotting down what bullet journal would do for me.
  2. All the essential bullet journal pages (with a bit of cuteness added to them)
  3. Goal setting for the new year
  4. Of course, your awesome and free printables!!

Brainstorming

The great thing about bullet journal is that it can be whatever you want it to be. It will evolve to fit your needs. So before you start, I recommend venting out everything you want your bullet journal to be this year. To me, this means listing like crazy (something I really do best!)

So to give you an example, here are some of the things I jotted down really quickly.

Goals setting and achievements

  1. Quote of the year. (something I want to pay attention to everyday).
  2. Annual page. (a year-at-a-glance page that has all of my holidays highlighted for easier trip planning).
  3. Future log. (to keep track of birthdays and important days, like the first day of the semester or family gathering dates).
  4. My goals for this year (arranged by areas of life: business, health, personal).
  5. Quarterly pages (listing my 3-month challenges’ plans and logs).
  6. Monthly pages (setting action goals and putting down specific time periods those goals will get done).

Weekly and daily

  1. Weekly goals and to-do list.
  2. Daily morning routine (to reflect on my yesterday and set my intention for today).
  3. Pomodoro log (a little spread that track how many pomodoros I do each day).
  4. Daily to-do and goals.
  5. Time tracking.
  6. Rapid logging (a practice to track what happens during the day).

Health & self care

  1. Sleep log (keeping track of my sleep time and trying to sleep at the optimal time).
  2. Health routine tracker (skincare, healthy eating, dental and doctor appointments)
  3. Energy tracker (to find ways to combat fatigue)
  4. Journaling (venting out frustration and complaining my way to a healthy mind!)
  5. Life lessons (things I collected from my readings that I want to revisit from time to time)

Finance

(If you are thinking about setting up finance spreads please read my epic guide for finance planning in bullet journal!)

  1. Expense tracker (needs to break down the categories to know what to keep an eye on).
  2. Income tracker
  3. Tax worksheet

Business

  1. Blog ideas collection
  2. Design ideas for my Etsy shop
  3. Business improvement ideas collection
  4. Business accounting
  5. Social media editorial calendar
  6. Business growth tracker
  7. Business tips and knowledge resources

I recommend you make similar list to get some ideas. We will not create all these spreads in one sitting (I think it will be overwhelming, even for crazies like me). It is just great to get a general idea about what your bullet journal means to you this year. This list also miss a few things too but that’s okay; I will update it as the year goes by.

Now let us set up our bullet journals for the new year

After having a rough idea of what’s in store for this year, I will start setting up some essential pages.

I’d like to begin the year with some sassiness built in to my journal, so the first thing I did, of course, is to make a pretty cover! My bullet journal is hosted in a ring-bound planner, I can make custom pages in my computer (for example, using Microsoft Word) and print them quickly and cheaply on A5 papers. You guys are lucky I will be giving away these cover printables for free :). Link will follow in the very last section.

 

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Then I have quote of the year page.

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I’d like to keep it simple right now. Since I use a ring-bound planner, the quote of the year can easily become quote of two months. I can swap this out for a different quote when life situations change, but for now, this simple page will do!

It would not be bullet journal without these two things: the key page and the index page! For a bullet journal beginner, the key page is where you will list all the bullet symbols you’ll use and what it means to you. You can see some examples below. The index page is like a table of contents where you list all of your page numbers and what’s written on them. Since I have a ring-bound planner, I don’t have a rigid page numbering system because I tend to move things around. But here I will list all of my sections and what page has been added (or removed) from the section!

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These two pages are included in the free printable kit too! Wink wink.

Then my year-at-a-glance page is set up with all official holidays highlighted in pink with my pastel highlighters.

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Last but not least, one of the bullet journal essential pages is the future log! I primarily use Google Calendar for all scheduling, so I don’t really use future log for events like the original bullet journal suggests. This page is here just to keep track of really important dates, such as birthdays, important school dates, and long trips.

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Alright! Now that we have set up all the needed pages to keep our journal organized, I am going to move onto some goal setting awesomeness.

Setting the Goals for New Year!

When it comes to achieving something you want, setting a goal and writing it down is still the best way! This is why I devote a large portion of my planner for goal setting. For 2017, I set goals in 3 areas of my life: business & finance, health & wellness, and personal development.

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I know, I know, New Year resolutions are prone to fail, but many sources say when you are specific about the goals you want to achieve and set reasonable milestones, you are more likely to achieve them! This means instead of saying my goal is ‘lose weight’, say ‘my goal’ is to lose 25 pounds in 2017. Then it is easier for you to break that goal down and take small steps required to achieve it. I try to make my goal as specific as possible. I want to make sure I can track each achievement milestone (like write 52 blog posts) and as well as any daily habit completions.

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For some goals that are really hard to track (for example, be a better wife) I use this goal log sheet to make a journal entry every time there’s an important achievement. I also track slips (we are human and therefore we will make lots of mistakes!) The key is to be aware of how you are doing on these goals that are super important to you!

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I have a separate set of trackers for goals that are difficult, specific, yet very important to me. If you really want to make significant progresses towards your goals in 2017 with bullet journal, please stay tuned to our blog. We have a lot of posts and challenges in store!

Infinite Planner’s New Year Starter Kit

All pages you see in this post are available for download from the Infinite Planner shop! Plus there are a bunch bonus pages that are not.  Please following this link to the listing. As of this writing we have a 30% discount going on at the shop, so there’s really no need to wait! Please grab it!

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I put heart and soul into creating each of my printables, so hopefully they will be useful for you as much as they’ve been useful for me. If you have any suggestions about new designs that you want to see in my shop, please do let me know at the Etsy messaging system or email me.

Now to the Free Printables!

Alright! Now it is time for the free printables. I have put together an awesome pack that will get you started on your wonderful 2017 bullet journey :). Here’s a list of all the 4 pages:

  1. 2017 cover pages (the two designs shown above!)
  2. Stop wishing, start doing. My quote of the year page.
  3. Key page.
  4. Index page.

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Subscribe to Infinite Planner below to download free bullet journal printables! Plus, get access to all printables we will release in the future!

 

100++ Bullet Journal Printables ** FREE DOWNLOADS **

I am a printable junkie. That indeed was not a secret at all. So I have been gathering a lot of bullet journal printables from around the web to help you get started with bullet journal and save you tons of time spent drawing your layouts! I truly appreciate all these blog owners who gave out these impressive files for free. If you are ready, here we go!

1. Artistic bullet journal printables from Wundertastischdesign

 

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I think wundertastischdesign by far has the best design of bullet journal printables. She is a brilliant designer and she has been giving away a dozen of free printables every month. That’s over 60 printables in total! Do check out her blog at wundertastisch.com.

2. Cute hand drawn bullet journal printables from Twentysomethingmeltdown.com

 

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Aside from being one of the most productive twenty-something I’ve ever followed, Gwennan has also designed a set of really cute bullet journal printables for all of us! Do check out her Etsy store as well since there are plenty of cute products in there. You can download the printables through this link  twentysomethingmeltdown.com.

3. Simple printables from bulletjournaljoy.com

 

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If you are looking for simple but comprehensive set of calendars for quick bullet journal, look no further! I love that this blog offered a large variety of essential pages that I am sure you need. Please visit bulletjournaljoy.com for downloads.

4. Cute collection of printables from violettefactory.com

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There’s something classic about blogging in French! If you, like me, do not know French, you will not understand what’s going on in this page until the free printables pop up and then viola! Download this classic printables at violettefactory.com.

5. Girly bullet journal pages from lifeismessyandbrilliant.com

 

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I saved my most favorite for last! This blog has tons of cute and useful planner printables. From Christmas page to birthday tracker. How adorable is that? Check out her printables at lifeismessyandbrilliant.com.

Did I miss anything on this page? If there’s a collection of free bullet journal printables hidden somewhere on the web, I sure want to know about it! So please let me know in the comment section, so I can gather them all on this page!

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How I used Bullet Journal and Pomodoro to Combat Procrastination and Attention Deficit

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I have the worst version of what I called ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’. It goes like this.

I have something I absolutely need to do (say an unavoidable deadline for a very important assignment is approaching, OMG). My mind insists that there is this one side-track (totally unrelated) nifty idea I should pursue right now. Usually it’s a new project that has nothing to do with anything else I have done in my entire life, a new course or a new book I decided to pick up. Sometimes this means I’m getting sucked into the rabbit hole of Youtube videos or Reddit. And, yes, consuming these medias seems like a really important ‘learning’ experience at the time. My brain is totally convinced that what I am doing is very hard work. In the back of my mind, the worry about the deadline is looming, introducing a low-grade stress throughout those side-track madness experience. After hours or days spent on the side projects, I absolutely cannot avoid the deadline. So I forced myself hard to suck it up and complete the assignment, and boom, I completed that scary task last minute and saved myself from earth-shattering embarrassment.

When the next deadline looms over, the cycle repeats. And I rarely revisit those side projects I worked on in the past. What?!

So far, this strategy has somewhat worked, in a very forgiving sense of the word. I got decent grades through college and grad school, and people thought I am an overachiever. Little do they know, in my head, I feel like I work 500 times harder than what I actually achieve, and I feel the struggle all the time. I am very suspicious that I have a little ADD, but never got a real diagnosis.

I have taken brain supplements (and it really helps by the way; I just don’t want to do it long-term) and also read some good books, which I will talk about in a bit. These experiments were helpful and probably contribute to why I have gotten to this point. But I think what seals the deal with me and my procrastination is the combination of Pomodoro techniques and our beloved Bullet Journal!

What is Pomodoro Technique?

It’s a truly simple and wonderful idea. Since I cannot explain it better myself, I’d rather quote an excerpt from LifeHacker.

The Pomodoro Technique was invented in the early 90s by developer, entrepeneur, and author Francesco Cirillo. Cirillo named the system “Pomodoro” after the tomato-shaped timer he used to track his work as a university student. The methodology is simple: When faced with any large task or series of tasks, break the work down into short, timed intervals (called “Pomodoros”) that are spaced out by short breaks. This trains your brain to focus for short periods and helps you stay on top of deadlines or constantly-refilling inboxes. With time it can even help improve your attention span and concentration .

It’s a splendid idea! Pomodoro technique became very famous a few years ago and got voted the best productivity method by many polls. It is a unbeatable champion as far as productivity methods go! The process of Pomodoro goes like this.

  1. Pick one single task you want to accomplish.
  2. Set a countdown timer to 25 minutes (though I often used 15 minutes). If you have no concentration (like me a few years back), set it to just 5 minutes for the first few rounds.
  3. Put all of your mental focus into that task during the time.
  4. Take a break (like 5 minutes) and for every 4 pomodoros you complete, take a long break (say, 20 minutes).

You can get a cute physical pomodoro timer for this purpose. Or use your phone as a timer. My favorite app for keeping track of pomodoros is ClearFocus on Android, it has the best minimalist interface and also keep track of statistics. It’s free and just really great!

This is what I call “Single Tasking”. It is known as Pomodoro technique. Set a timer for 15 minutes and during that period, work on one and only one task. Putting all your energy into that task and get into the zone. It’s remarkable how fast that 15-minute flies and how much you get done. Whenever I have a task that I have been putting off and feel a bit scared of starting, I thought to myself “Just start a pomodoro. Only 15 minutes. It could not possibly hurt.” And it works everytime! PS: the best Android app for this is ClearFocus. #planneraddict #bulletjournal #bulletjournaling #bulletjournalcommunity #bulletjournaljunkies #bujo #bujocommunity #bujojunkies #wearebujo #filofaxpersonal #filofax #filofaxing #filofaxlove #filofaxaddict

A photo posted by Infinite Planner (@infiniteplanner) on

In my experience, Pomodoro is quite magic when it is in use. I realized that, for me, focusing on the task is not that hard (at least not for the first hour), but getting started is my true weak link. Pomodoro convinces my ADD brain to pay attention for the first few minutes, until it gains some momentum and my brain takes off to the right direction.

Here Comes our Bullet Journal

I have used Pomodoro on and off for years, but the practice never really stuck. This is simply because, without a constant reminder to use it, I just forgot it exists!

So here’s where the bullet journal comes in. I use Bujo to track pomodoro sessions. With a constant visual reminder in the notebook I use every single day, it is hard to forget how great this technique is! Also, after I finish a good series of Pomodoro sessions, I use color pens to mark my accomplishments.

This act of coloring the squares is quite rewarding! Overtime, the action-reward cycle reinforces my brain to love setting the pomodoro and make it stick! Sometimes when my husband and I feel the post-lunch slumps, we will set up a ‘joint Pomodoro’ for our respective tasks and get things done together. We found that practice is really helpful when lack of motivation hits.

But that’s not all. I think the psychology of procrastination is complicated and you cannot beat it by just tricking your brain to get started once in a while. If you find it hard to tell yourself to start working in the first place, chances are you are going to find it hard to convince yourself to hit the pomodoro start button too.

According to The Now Habit, my all-time favorite book on procrastination, we procrastinate because of several reasons. For example, we feel unfulfilled and frustrated about our lives in general and never really allow ourselves to feel satisfied with our accomplishments. That one clearly resonates with me.

Another one that is definitely the case for me was the lack of clarity in my goals. As an accused overachiever, I actually never really know what my goals are. I just want everything! I want perfect family, great financial status, awesome academic profiles, and plenty of relaxing times. I never really understood that life cannot be perfect and these goals are sometimes conflicted. I will blog in detail about how to discover your passion with bullet journal. But for now, it’ll suffice to say that a lot of these mindsets must be changed to truly ‘fix’ procrastination.

So this is the area where bullet journal has helped me tremendously. I journaled a lot more in my bullet notebook (more than I ever do on Evernote app). When I have a bad day, I ask myself why am I suffering and jot down those thoughts. This gives me a chance to later look into those entries later in a new perspective. I discover great insights from them all the time. I also keep a collection of bullet journal items labeled ‘LESSON’, which contains nuggets of wisdom I revealed as I carefully examine my thoughts. When I feel bad, I go through these lessons to remind myself I can choose to abandon the bad feelings right now.

Here’s an example of my note entry to analyze the route course of my procrastination habits.

I think overall, healthier emotional states naturally lead to recovery from procrastination syndrome. I think all of us are competent and have a capability to achieve great success, we just need to get out of our own way and stop sabotaging ourselves! Bullet journaling helps us become more aware of our thoughts and mentally healthier. This is just one way this planning technique helps me stay productive :).

How to Start Bullet Journal without Feeling Overwhelmed

Bullet journal is an analog planning and note-taking system described by Ryder Carroll. He describes his system in a video, which went viral and the bullet journal sensation spread across the globe.

Now bullet journal has evolved to something completely different. If you search for bullet journal in Instagram or Pinterest, you will encounter hundreds of journal spreads for everything possible from ‘migraine tracking’ to ‘mythology of the day’. There are very artistic people out there, and their spreads are so disorientingly gorgeous. I couldn’t help but feel inspired to jump in!

But when I first started bullet journaling, I felt super overwhelmed with all the possibilities. Even Carroll’s original system was too complicated to me. There are keys, index, future logs, daily logs, collections. All these concepts you need to keep track of and think about. There are just too many things that I don’t even know if I want to use. And I want it to look pretty too, of course! These ideas made me feel a little paralyzed.

However, I started anyway. By experimenting and being very kind to myself, I am happy to say I started to find planner peace in bullet journaling! I want to share my journey with everyone who is just getting started and might feel the same way I did.

Unlike most blog posts about starting a bullet journal, I will not talk about the basic ingredients of the system and the terminologies. If this is the first time you heard about bullet journal, you can learn about basic concepts from the original video. Instead, this post will talk about my method of discovering my own bullet journal structure and planning style. Hope this will help those of you who are struggling with bullet journal to find your peace as well!

Developing your planner peace

For lack of better words, I call my system ‘flow journaling’. The use of the word ‘system’ is misleading, because it’s not a rigidly structured system of its own so much as it is a guide to develop your own planning and journaling routine over time, using only pen and paper.

First, just grab a cheap notebook. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, the $2 notebook that was supposed to be used for who-knows-what on your bookshelf is totally fine (me secretly hoping I’m not the only one who has a gazillion of empty notebooks around my apartment).  Then, grab your favorite pen.

And start bulleting away! Make a list of something. Some fine topics to start with would be ‘why you’d like to use a bullet journal?’, ‘what do you want to journal about?’, ‘what do you want to write down on a daily basis?’, ‘what about monthly?’, ‘what areas of your life need organization?’. Write these out in bullet form. At this point, don’t worry about organization or aesthetics of the journal whatsoever.

What I understood later is that writing your stream of consciousness helps vent out your confusion about where to start. After bullet journaling for several months, I started using this bullet brainstorming method to reconcile any confusion that prevents me from getting started, on anywhere from designing my Christmas spread to developing a software. Seriously it’s an awesome hack!

After the initial ‘listing like a mad woman’ session, I started carrying that cheap notebook around with me to work, to bed, to everywhere. And when an idea comes into my mind, I write. I jotted down to-do lists, emotions, energy levels, dinner, money spent, conversations with coworkers. Whatever significant things that come to my life, I jotted it down. Note that some days you will be too busy to make any bullet and it’s okay. No pressure! Just let the thoughts flow onto the paper whenever possible!

After tracking my thoughts for a while, I started developing some form of organizations on top of that note stream.

Tag it and date it

Over time, I started noticing some patterns in my thoughts. Things I often think about. Flipping through my thought flow notebook, I saw a few themes. For example, I love to write down ‘life lessons’ that I discovered as I go through the ups and downs of my life. I usually write these down quickly to not forget them. Another thing I wrote down a lot is ‘daily resolution’, like ‘I must be brave and do [insert scary tasks] today!’ Other common themes are ‘blog ideas’, ‘business ideas’, etc.

So I started tagging these thoughts! I use a red pen for this purpose. I want the hashtags to stand out.

So now my thought streams have some organization to them and I have a much better idea of what my bullet journal will contain. I can see my planning system starting to form itself! The hashtags are basically labeling what would become my ‘collection’ (as the bullet journal system father would call it). Each of my bullet thoughts are categorized into different collections.

As soon as I was ready, I started to put a date label together with my stream of thoughts. I would flip to a new page, write down the current date, and add some bullet list. At first, I only included some items in my daily log, whereas some others I left in the thought stream page. It started with something like a dry to-do list with a date, like the image below. This is basically my early ‘daily log’.

Over time, I integrated more of the stream into my daily logs. The frequently-used tags kind of follow me to the daily logs and I got something like this.

Notice that my bullets are also changed to some bullet keys that I know are relevant to me. Like in the page above, I used open circles for events planned, closed circles for events that happened, dots for to-dos, cross for completed to-dos, stars for tagged items (or ‘collections’), and dollar signs for spending-related items.

What I later understood is that I was learning to CATEGORIZE my thoughts. It’s weird, but most of us are not going about our days organizing our thoughts — thoughts just happen to us in random order! So the process of classifying your mental streams is not at all intuitive to us. Bullet journaling and planning require you to categorize your thoughts to know where to write each piece of thoughts down. (Isn’t that literally ‘keeping your head straight’?!) So this flow journaling method helps you achieve that over time.

Finally, I need some of my collections to have their own place (for example, I want all of my ‘blog ideas’ to stay in one place, so that I can access it when I need to write blogs). So I migrated them from my ‘thought stream’ to a separate collection, to make things a little more organized.

Let your planner form itself

After these thought tracking experiments, you will have a full bullet journal system that is customized to your life! You will have all your collection ideas and keys developed to suit YOU. I didn’t know planner peace was sneaking up on me when I started this journey, but it’s been an amazing experience! Now I keep a side-kick bullet journal (a small dotted notebook) to capture my thought streams for integrating into my main journaling system.

What do you think about this? Leave me some thoughts on the comments so that we can develop the idea further.