bullet journal

Bullet Journal Beginner’s Guide

I started my first bullet journal on January 1, 2017. Well, to be honest, I sort of started a few months before that. I heard about it and googled it and planned to start doing it for a few months. I told my BFF about it so she’d start it with me, and shopped for supplies. Basically, I did a lot of “bullet journaling” before ever actually doing any. Now that I’m in year two, I recommend skipping that part and just diving in. In this post, I’ll include all the basics to get you started plus some tips I’ve picked up along the way. Then, it’s up to you to start and figure out what works best for your journaling style!

A bullet journal is made up of a few main areas and is a combination of note-taking space, tracker, and journal. The recommended areas to include are:

  • Index
  • Future Log
  • Monthly Log
  • Weekly/Daily Entries
  • Collections

The Index in a Bullet Journal

Create an index on the first few pages of your journal. (Some journals may have a dedicated space there for this, or you can simply make your own.) This space is for tracking where everything is, since it’s easy to lose track of things once you’ve got several months worth of content in your journal. In your index, add page numbers and short descriptions of what’s on each page.

A Future Log for your Bullet Journal

The Future Log is a broad look at your year and it’s especially great for tracking things months in advance (before you’ve made any pages for the month where the item belongs). I tend to track big picture things here, like work trips and vacations (which are often planned several months in advance), holidays, and any other little notes I want to remember but don’t have a place for yet.

Your Bullet Journal’s Monthly Spreads

The Monthly Log helps organize your months. It most often includes a calendar and task list. The calendar gives you an overview of your month, while the task list is a great place to list out things you want to accomplish for the month before you’re able to assign them to a more specific timeframe, like a specific day. Many people reserve two pages, called a spread, for this. I change mine up each month, but often end up with the dates listed on the left page and some form of a task list and inspiration or focus for the month on the right page.

Including Weekly/Daily Spreads in your BuJo

Your weekly and daily pages can be as simple or complicated as you like. Some people simply write the date, then fill up however many lines they need for that day, then the following day they skip one line and start again. I like to dress mine up a little bit more (but not much) so I tend to draw out one week at a time divided between two pages.

This is also a good time to establish a key if you’ll use any sort of signifiers. I use a square for to do list items I want to check off, and a circle for events or appointments. I also use a simple bullet point or a little heart to add additional notes (often just things I want to remember, but don’t need checking off). Like every other part of the bullet journal, this key can be as complicated or simple as you want. If you search “bullet journal key” on Pinterest, you’ll see lots of examples to inspire you, including color coded options, which seem like they’d be great if you need to divide up your tasks and plans further, like between things specific to work or school.

Bullet Journal Collections

This is where you add any other bits of info you want in your bullet journal. These pages are great for tracking things, making lists, and otherwise organizing your life outside of the calendar pages. Here are some collection page ideas to get you started thinking about what you might like to include in your journal: a list of books read or tv shows to watch, a habit tracker, an exercise log, meal planning or a food log, a spending or savings log, and your current wishlist.

A few of my favorite collections pages to create:

  • Travel Details: I like to create a new page for every trip I go on. I add the details as I get them, including the flight details, hotel, restaurant ideas, and activities I want to do. After the trip, I update the page with a short description of how it went.
  • Home Projects: Last year, I acted as the contractor for my kitchen renovation. Over the course of the project I use several pages in my bullet journal to track the progress. I made the initial to do list, mapped out the budget, and added notes about the progress (and my excitement) as it came together.
  • Blogging and Podcasting: I create pages for my blog and podcast projects. It’s nice to have a spot to jot down ideas and make plans for personal projects that feel good to keep up with but generally won’t automatically get the same attention as your work.

Start Your Bullet Journal Now

That’s it! Grab a blank notebook, your favorite pen, and get started.

If you get into bullet journaling, I’d love to see yours! Join me over on Instagram where I share bits of my journal and send me a note so I can check yours BuJo out too!

books, reading

Five Top Tips for Reading More Books

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I’m a big reader. I got off track logging my books as I read them in Goodreads this year to prove I met my goal of over 100, but I’m confident I did. No doubt about it, even without the proof, I know I’m well over it. So if you’ve been wishing you’d find a way to read more books, I’ve got the tips for you! (And no, I’m not going to tell you to stop watching television. I love TV too.)

Last year I shared ideas for How to Read More Books in 2016, and I’m back today with five more top tips to help you along the way. I recommend reading the first post for the entry-level ideas to get started, and adding in these next five to level-up your reading habits.

  1. Give yourself a book budget. I don’t mean this as a way to decrease your book spending, but to increase it guilt-free. If you’ve set aside X dollars for books per month, it’s perfectly fine to spend the entire amount on books. It’s not meant for anything else. Buy books and stack them up to tempt you. Or fill out your ebook collection, so you’ll always find one that you’re in the mood to read anytime you browse your virtual bookshelves.
  2. Go to bed early, but don’t actually go to sleep. I go to bed at a laughably early hour very often because I settle in, get cozy, and read fiction. I often read tweets by people making jokes about going to bed early while I’m already in bed, to be honest. Sometimes I’m there so early, I get a few hours of reading in. (My problem is usually making myself stop to actually go to sleep at some point.)
  3. Always keep a book with you. Like Rory Gilmore, a book should be your constant companion. Luckily you don’t have to weigh your bag down like her if you don’t want to. Your phone is a perfectly fine place to store a current read to dive into on-the-go. Choose an app (Kindle, iBooks, etc.) and get a collection of ebooks going there. I like to tweet #bookdeals I find if you’re looking for a new one.
  4. Read non-fiction on your lunch break. I’m not very good at reading non-fiction in bed, so I save it for my daytime reading, which often ends up being my lunch break. I really like to take the time to reset myself for a productive afternoon by stepping away from my computer, so my lunch breaks are often used for exercising or reading (or both at the same time — hey, audiobooks!).
  5. Track, write, share, and take notes! Sure, reading is great on its own, but if you make the whole process a bit more interactive and form habits around it, you’re more likely to do it more often. Keep a list of the books you’ve read this year in your bullet journal or track them on Goodreads. Take notes as you read, or jot down your thoughts when you finish a book. Live tweet your thoughts about a book while reading it, or whip up a cute graphic with a quote from your current read for your Instagram (or #bookstagram, if you will).

No excuses. Start reading.

I’m up for chatting about your recent read anytime. 😉

books, reading

How to Read More Books

Before I share a few tips on how to read more books, I’ll explain why I’m writing this at all: When I hear reading statistics about just how few books Americans are reading every year, it makes my book-loving heart hurt. According to a 2013 Pew report (“A Snapshot of Reading in America”), 76% of American adults read at least one book per year, which is actually more than I would’ve guessed. The average number of books read for everyone 18+ is twelve. T-W-E-L-V-E. That’s one per month and includes print, digital, and audio. If you’re a fellow data-nerd, take a peek at the report to see the numbers broken down by sex, race, age, education, income, and community.

Read More Books

If you’re reading this, I’m going to go ahead and assume that lack of literacy isn’t holding you back in life. But, it is a problem for some Americans in ways that matter to us all, like this one: Nearly 85% of the juveniles who face trial in the juvenile court system & more than 60% of all inmates are functionally illiterate. (!?!!?!!) For similar stats, check out DoSomething.org’s 11 Facts About Literacy in America.

Even if you’re not a kid about to grow up with a reading problem and spend your life struggling to stay afloat, there’s a good chance your life could be much improved if it included a whole lot more reading and books. And as someone who manages to read more than 100 books per year, I’ve got a few tips!

Five Simple Ways to Read More Often

  • Schedule it! Don’t just wait around for a magical, silent, perfect moment to crack open a book. Make it a part of your life and routine. That could mean going to lounge in bed a bit earlier than normal, finding a cozy spot during your lunch break, or keeping a book in your car for those times you end up waiting around somewhere and you’d normally pass the minutes playing on your phone.
  • Combine it with another routine activity! If you spend time each day exercising or commuting to work for a while, read while you do it! If your commute involves you driving yourself, listen to an audiobook. Those count too and some books are even better that way. (I highly recommend Mindy Kaling’s memoir in audio! And in every other format.)
  • Don’t hesitate to drop a dud! If you’ve read the first 50 pages of a book and it’s really not hooking you yet, switch books! It may be the wrong time for that particular book and you can try again another time, or maybe it’s just plain bad and you shouldn’t bother. It happens. Don’t let it ruin your reading flow.
  • Switch it up! Don’t feel like you have to read one book at a time. You might be someone who likes to have a novel and a non-fiction one going at the same time. Or multiple novels. Whatever! I avoid non-fiction at night, but love it earlier in the day. In bed, I’m all novels.
  • Challenge yourself! Set a reading goal! You can pick a number of books to read in this year. Or you can challenge yourself to check items off of a list of types of books to read.

That’s it! Off you to go read more books.

life

Reminders & Tips for Life

One of the absolute best parts of being an adult for me has been knowing myself so well, fully accepting who I am, and being happy about it. It’s awesome. There’s no reason to worry about what someone else is thinking about me and I’ve got zero hours to dedicate to not doing exactly what I want to be doing. This has gotten even easier in my thirties.

So, here’s my quick & simple advice for living a great life, being cool with who you are, and finding your slice of happiness:

I don't have any weaknesses gifFirst, stop thinking and saying negative things about yourself. Guilty pleasures? You don’t have any! There’s no reason to have guilt over watching a long-running TV drama or reading regency romance or whatever you prefer.

You like what you like & that’s awesome. (Hi, I still watch Grey’s Anatomy. Also, I’ve read dozens of romance novels this year and they’re fantastic.)

Also, basically always do this:

And say what you want:

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Bitch? Please, like you care if some jerk calls you that. Pfft. Never be silenced.

And take Tina Belcher’s advice:

Believe you're beautiful Tina Belcher gif

Think great things about yourself. That totally makes them true! You’ve got a life to live… no time for making yourself feel bad.

Also, sometimes boys are great (if you’re into that sort of thing), but…

It’s best to be good at being alone and taking care of yourself rather than waiting around for a dude to validate your life. (This is easier when you’ve got an awesome BFF, so find your platonic life partner ASAP. It’s a game changer.)

And ALWAYS THIS:

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Work hard, make things happen, ask for help when you need it, be positive, don’t hate on yourself, never give up, and WIN AT LIFE. It’s protocol.