Updated on August 5, 2015
The notebook that contains my life
When it comes to stationery, I’m a bit of a fiend. I collect notebooks like nobody’s business (who cares if I have nothing to use it for? One day I will!) and have been known to just take them all out and look at them. Because they are beautiful and I love them.
I’m also a pretty busy person and I’ve been using the Bullet Journal system to keep track of my life ever since I discovered it last year (Bullet Journal, not my life). The beauty of Bullet Journal is that you can adapt it to suit you. I have been gradually doing just that (using many different notebooks) and I think now I’ve arrived at pretty much my perfect system.
A couple of months ago I bought a small leather Ravello notebook and spent a very happy afternoon transforming it into my dream bullet journal. Here’s what I used:
- Coloured post-its
- Floral notebook paper
- Lined paper
- Coloured paperclips
First, I worked out the different sections I would need and then I sketched out the order and the number of pages in the book, using pencil. My contents page looks like this:
- Reading/Books received: to keep track of what I need to read each month, and also the new books I receive, for my round-up posts.
- Monthly notes: by far the bulk of the book. More details below.
- Blog ideas: notes for future blog posts.
- Gift ideas: a list of things to buy people, so I’m never short of ideas!
- Money: a place to keep track of who owes me what (and who I owe). Particularly useful living a shared house where we all pay for different things.
- Holiday: to record the holiday I’ve taken so far and how much time I have left to take.
- Food list: a shopping list. If I run out of anything, it goes here.
- Items list: other items I need that can’t be bought at a supermarket.
Fortunately, when I’d counted out all the pages (and, yes, numbered them), there were exactly enough for seven months (June to December), including one page for notes about January 2015.
For the ‘Food’ and ‘Items’ shopping lists, I cut up the floral paper and stuck them to the back pages with paperclips. This makes removable pages, so I can replace them when they get full up with things I’ve bought and crossed off.
The ‘Gifts’ and ‘Blog Ideas’ pages are folded pieces of lined paper stuck into the book, so I have loads of space to write but only use up one page for each.
I cut up the coloured post-its to make little tabs, to mark the beginning of each month. That way I can quickly skip back and forth through the year, without getting lost in a sea of pages.
Each month contains several sections:
- Task list: one page dedicated to all the major things I want to achieve that month (eg. finishing a big project or organising a particular event).
- Month overview: two pages laid out like a calendar, with major events marked so I can get a quick overview of when things are happening.
- Blog schedule: two pages showing my blog plans for the month, including dates for each post and ideas for future posts that won’t fit in that month.
- Daily tasks: one page for each day of the month, so I can break down bigger projects into daily tasks and see what I need to do each day.
This notebook does have plain paper, so I decided to make a line guide so that I don’t end up writing at all sorts of funny angles. I just thickened the lines on a piece of paper using a black pen, cut it to the right size, and popped it in with a paperclip to hold it in place. Not only does it help me write straight, the paperclip makes for a handy bookmark, so I can find the day I’m on really quickly.
Let’s not forget, this is a bullet journal. I have a key written on the inside front cover although, of course, I know it by heart now.
Things to do are marked with empty circles, which you can cross out when you’re done, or put an arrow in to show that the item has been moved to a different day. Things to remember and events are marked with a bullet point, unless it’s something I need to plan or buy a gift for, in which case it gets a star!
And there we have it! I’ve been using this journal for over two months now and I absolutely love it. It has a space for everything I need, it’s a really useful size to carry around and thanks to its little elastic strap I can keep it closed and keep a pen with it all times (albeit a disgustingly chewed Biro).
Do you use the Bullet Journal system, or a different pen and paper method for keeping track of your life? Or is your personal organisation done entirely through technology?