When I first started using the bullet journal system, my aim was to become more focused, more organised and to get more stuff done.  I definitely think it’s helped me to do that and I feel like I get more done each month then ever before.  I always used to write lists and get the essentials finished, but using the bullet journal has helped me to get more of the things done that I actually want to do, as well as the things I need to do.

Each month, I jot down everything that’s in my head. I don’t worry about making a layout or creating something picture worthy – I just want a no pressure page where I can empty my head.  It feels so much better when it’s all out on paper.

Empty head

This is not my full list as I have a lot of client specific tasks that I can’t share, but this gives you a good feel as to the types of things on my mind.  Once I have written the list, I quickly categorise my thoughts:  M – for me, W – work, H – home and C – creative.  From a look at my list I can see that the area I need to focus on the most is things for me – isn’t that always the area that gets neglected!  This ranges from seeing my family more, looking after my health and fitness, catching up with correspondence and exploring new places.

The next step for me is thinking about the month ahead.  What realistically can I do to move ahead with these areas?

Monthly plan

I use the same categories and pick things from my initial list that I think I will have time to work on during the month.  I don’t worry too much about the detail at this stage, just the broad subject, such as ‘health plan’ or ‘explore’.

Each weekend I then think about the week that is approaching and set out my plans for that week.

Weekly plans

I look at my appointments for the week and then list the activities from my monthly plan that I want to work on the most, perhaps adding a bit more detail to those areas.  To make sure I stay focused, I add my most important goals for the week on a tip-in card.  I find this useful as I can leave this card open when I am working on other pages in my journal, meaning that my goals for the week are much harder to forget about.  I use a combination of some old Project Life cards, cards people have sent me or tip-ins I have made myself.  I then washi them onto the edge of my page.

Finally I create a plan for the next day. Each evening I look back through what I have achieved during the day, what tasks need to be migrated to the next day and anything else I want to add from my weekly plan.

Daily plan

I use the same categories, marked with an initial.  I also try and estimate how long each task is going to take me.  This is to help me with being realistic about how much I am going to be able to get done.  I have a habit of massively over-planning for my days and then giving myself a hard time for not checking everything off.  Writing down the anticipated length of tasks helps me with this.  It’s very easy to believe I have 8 hours ahead of me to get everything done, but of course, I never actually have 8 hours – unanticipated work phone calls and emails realistically take up at least half of my time every day.

I use the * signifier to help me easily see the most important activities for the day.  I know that I work the best and have the most energy in the morning, so I make sure that I tackle the most complex and important tasks first.  This means that by the afternoon I can spend time on simpler or more enjoyable tasks, when my energy levels are at their lowest.

I find the evening is the best time for me to plan, I have had enough distance from the busy day to think clearly about what I want to get done the following day.  It also helps me to relax knowing that I have a plan in place for the following day and that nothing has been forgotten.  I genuinely believe that despite the time I spend setting up my bullet journal, I get more done than ever before, feel more focused and start each day with a clear plan in mind.

So, my focus for the next couple of months will be doing some more things for me 🙂  Sure, I need to get lots of work and home things done, but I will be taking some time out to spend with family, work on my fitness, explore more and play with paint!

Anyway, I hope you have a great April and find time for the things that are important to you.

Helen xx

24 thoughts on “Using Your Bullet Journal to Get More of the Good Stuff Done”

  1. I feel like the first few months with the bullet journal is about finding the best way for you, personally, to handle tasks and appointsments. Then you can take it a step
    further and start trying to tackle projects and goals. It can be frustrating but so worth the time to learn how your brain works best.

    Your transparency with your journal and journey is so inspiring!

    1. I agree, it’s all about working out the best way for you to personally use your bullet journal, especially in the early stages. I find my needs still change each month and I love being able to adapt my pages to suit what is going on at the time. Thank you for your lovely comments!

  2. Thanks for sharing! Super helpful and I really like your layouts. Pretty, simple, effective.

    1. Thank you for stopping by to leave such lovely comments. I hope you have a wonderful April xx

  3. I love how you use categories to help you balance your work and home tasks with some things for yourself. I really need to incorporate something like that into my spreads. I definitely put off the stuff I want to do for myself!

    Thank you for sharing your process and your pages. Your posts are always so inspiring!

    1. Thank you so much! I’ve always put things for myself last on my priority list, but I know that I’m so much happier and a better person to be around if I spend some time doing things that are just for me. Since I started giving more priority to those things, I find I’m much more productive in other areas too as I want to protect my Me time, which makes me zoom through the other tasks! I hope you make more time for you xx

  4. Brilliant Post Helen. I find that I’m using my journal more retrospectively than before because most of my to-do’s are for work so I have another system there. This gives me a chance to talk about my day,with a bit of art thrown in, but that’s the amazing thing about this system – you can make it work for you whatever your needs as there are no constraints. And if you don’t like it, just turn the page! 😆

    1. Thank you so much Jane! I completely agree, the joy of an empty book that you can turn into something just for you, to reflect your life, is pretty amazing. I love including reflective sections, it really adds an extra level of interest. You know I love a few arty bits too!! 🙂 xx

  5. This has made more sense to me than most posts I’ve read about actually getting things accomplished with a bullet journal. Thank you!

    1. Thank you for such a lovely comment, I’m really pleased you enjoyed reading it. xx

  6. Thank you for such a detailed post. I especially like the way you break down your lists into categories. I have one bujo for work and a separate bujo at home but I don’t do that much planning around what I’d like to do for me so that is a key takeaway for me. Keep up your awesome work.

    1. Thank you for reading and leaving such a kind comment. Adding categories has really helped me to focus on all of the areas that are important to me, as it’s so easy to be swept along with the normal daily demands of life otherwise. I think we all deserve a little time just for ourselves. xx

  7. Great ideas! I’ve already implemented some categories for my monthly goals (personal, couple, work and general tasks) and some brain storming ehn planning for the next month after your example. Still avoiding to do a weekly reflection… never found enough time to do it! 🙂
    After the first three month of this year with a bujo full of drawing, I’m now reclaiming it for my productivity. So much more easy to think on next day without a lot of drawings catching up my attention. On the worst days, I even stopped making plans for the next day because I was afraid to take too much space for writing and not letting enough for drawing. 🙁
    I agree, we need to experiment and then find our own style, and posts like this one are really a big help. Thanks!
    Big hug!

    1. Thank you so much! It’s definitely all about the balance isn’t it. I love decorating my bujo, but that always has to be the optional extra, after I have finished the actual planning and getting things done. If it looks pretty it encourages me to use it more, but I also need to be able to work and focus whilst using it. I love that we can customise it to suit our needs on any particular day or week. Thank you for leaving such lovely comments. Big hugs back! xx

  8. Gosh, I thought I posted a comment 2 days ago, and was still waiting for your reply, when I saw that I didn’t post at all😨😨😨. So, my dear Helen, that’s what I was going to say: I love absolutely everything you mentioned – the brain dump, the categorizing with letters, prioritizing ( most important tasks right after the first cup of coffee), and I am honest trying to incorpórate it all into my daily planning routine. The only thing I won’t be able to do in a thousand years is being realistic with the time I spend on tasks – I simply don’t know, for every time I do even the same thing, it takes me different amounts of time!!!! So it’s an enigma for me, I mean how you do that, and I admire you, for being so amazing, in everything!!!❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

    1. Lovely Lena!! OOh, being realistic about time you need to spend on tasks is so difficult isn’t it! My problem is that in my head I think every task is only going to take me 10 minutes so I say “yes” to everything, causing me to be completely over-whelmed if I’m not careful. I’ve been estimating the time required for a couple of months now and I check in with how long things actually take me on average, compared to what I had thought. Some tasks I over-estimate and some under, but in the end it seems to work out about equal 🙂 It’s definitely helping me to be more realistic with how much I plan in for each day. I’ve been loving seeing your spreads on Instagram, they look amazing!! xxx

  9. Wow!!! I have never wanted to try bullet journaling until I saw your IG page and now that I have read this blog post all I want to do is drive 3 hours to the nearest city to buy one! Absolutely love your methods.

    1. Thank you for such a wonderful compliment! Bullet journals should definitely come with a warning – they are highly addictive, but so much fun!! I love being able to plan out my tasks, but in a creative way that encourages me to work in my journal every day. Thank you so much for visiting my blog xx

  10. Absolutely Loved the post Helen! I’m going to do your M-W-H-C page! I think it’ll really help to see where I need balance before I even plan my month! Thanks for sharing and being such a blessing sweetie! Have an incredible day!! Laura

    1. Aww, thank you so much Laura! Getting that good balance is always so hard isn’t it!! I really hope it helps you to get more of the lovely things done 🙂 Hope you have a wonderful day too, Helen xx

  11. This USC great. Thanks for sharing. I see elements of Getting Things Done in there. Is that a system you are deliberately drawing inspiration from or is it a coincidence?

    I love how you add estimated times for tasks. I’ll give that a try too.

    1. Thank you so much. I have “Getting Things Done” in my pile of books to read, but I haven’t started it yet – sounds like it might be right up my street! 🙂 I hope estimating the time required for tasks helps you. It is certainly helping me to be more realistic about how many things I plan for and say “yes” to each day. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

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