My Bullet Journal and Managing a To-Do List

March 22, 2016

Business Life

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*UPDATE: If video is your thing, scroll to the bottom of this post to catch the all-new in-depth look into my process of bullet journaling all while tapping your feet to the tunes.

I feel like I need to preface this post by saying everyone has their own method to their madness. What works for some will not work for others and it’s possible that my system could very well not be a good fit for anyone reading this. Which inevitably means that I am talking to myself about my to-do list… or typing to myself. Whatever. Even though this is a very real possibility, I will continue on and brave the possible embarrassment. Just promise that you will stay as long as you possibly can in order for me to ease the degree of said embarrassment. Keep reading to get an inside look at my bullet journal and managing a to-do list.

Alright, so I get asked a lot about my method of keeping track of to-do’s. And when people see my notebook they usually have questions so I thought I would give you a peek inside the system that I have developed for myself and, at this point, pretty much can never stop. Just liken me to a crotchety 85-year-old man – totally stuck in my ways and yelling at the kids to get off my lawn.

It was about two years ago I came across the original brilliant idea from Ryder Carroll, creator of the Bullet Journal. Back then it was a creation of his in order to organize and keep track of tasks, ideas, schedules, etc. I believe today there is an actual bullet journal you can purchase so it seems that the idea has really caught on.

While this way of staying organized totally spoke to me being a pen and paper girl and all, I knew I had to customize it to fit my needs and how I wanted it done. I tend to have this issue. It’s why I can never invest in and purchase any type of planner. Because there is always something missing. Or something I want to change.

So there I was. Bitten by the bullet journal bug, but needing to find my system. The method to my madness if you will. And today I am going to share with you my bullet journal and managing a to-do list.

How I bullet journal and manage a to-do list | KaraLayneAndCo.com

For those of you who may be following along on here you might be wondering how this works with my love for Evernote. It’s a very simple explanation. I use Evernote to handle my “bigger picture” – the writing of blog posts, managing current projects, scheduling reminders and the list goes on and on. My hybrid bullet journal is for the day-to-day grind, the dirty work, the millions of to-do’s and my doodling while in meetings and phone calls. Very important stuff.

So let’s first start off with the tools. I loved the idea of grabbing a Moleskin notebook with great grid pages like you see Ryder use, however, I have this need for my notebooks to be ring bound. I am constantly folding pages back and I knew that a Moleskin wouldn’t lay the way I want it to when folded.

I absolutely love the Greenroom brand of notebooks at Target and just recently discovered they have come out with a leather cover spiral bound notebook. Score! It’s the perfect size and totally gets the job done.

Now, my luck in the past has historically proven that once I find a product that I am obsessed with, it becomes discontinued. So, dear Greenroom. If you are reading this, let me know where I can send a wad of cash in order to receive a lifetime supply of this notebook. Because a girl can’t lose her favorite notebook, you know?

Yours truly, girl with issues.

How I bullet journal and manage a to-do list | KaraLayneAndCo.com

The other necessities are my Pilot G-2 pens in 0.7 point. Wow. I really do feel like I am naked in a crowded room by divulging all of my OCD tendencies in one singular blog post, but believe me when I say, I do not and will not write with anything else except for this pen. It’s my ride or die. I am known to grab a new pack of them every time I am at the store whether I need new ones or not. They are littered throughout my life – in all handbags, in my night stand, in my car – and once one shows signs of quitting on me and the ink isn’t consistent then that sucker is dead to me and I move on to the next.

Along with my pens, I have to have my trusty Wite-Out Mini. Forget writing in pencil and forget using any other type of White-Out. It has to be these adorable little ‘Wite-Out’s’ that fit perfectly in my fingers, are sturdy for me to haul around everywhere and last quite a long time.

My last tool is the cherry on top and something that brings a smile to my face. And it may mean that deep down I am still just a little girl who wants to make things fun and pretty (there were several years of a Lisa Frank addiction back in the day), but it really does make the cold sweats of looking at my growing to-do list less painful. And you guessed it. There is only one brand and type of washi tape that I prefer and that would be by Scotch.

How I bullet journal and manage a to-do list | KaraLayneAndCo.com

Let’s get down to the actual system. I started with creating a key. Some of this is straight from the original Bullet Journal system and some are different or just not there at all. These few symbols allow me to pick out quickly within my notebook what it is that I am looking for or reviewing.

How I bullet journal and manage a to-do list | KaraLayneAndCo.com

Next I label a single page for each day of the month. So every day gets it’s very own page. I do not create a master calendar because I use iCal for the broader, birds eye view. I want to keep my organization as a daily outlook.

And as you can see my notebook in use, I simply note for that day any tasks, meetings/appointments, etc. You will also see that I have moved some things to another date or I have crossed something off that was cancelled all together. Ahem. In my defense this particular to-do was cancelled since I am under the weather a bit. I promise.

How I bullet journal and manage a to-do list | KaraLayneAndCo.com

Following the daily pages for a specific month, I will then select a certain number of pages to leave blank for notes, inspiration, ideas and of course, doodling. As I was just flipping through March, I know that all of my notes and ideas for that month will be right after my daily pages. And the process repeats – after March’s note pages, I will then create April’s daily outlook followed by April’s note pages

How I bullet journal and manage a to-do list | KaraLayneAndCo.com

To be as efficient as possible and to find things as quick as possible, I simply create a tab using washi tape and add it to where my current note section stands. This way I know before it is the current month and after are my notes and where I left off. Simple, but effective. And pretty.

How I bullet journal and manage a to-do list | KaraLayneAndCo.com

So there you have it. My own take on the Bullet Journal system and how I manage my daily to-do list and constant thoughts. And if you made it this far, you and I should really be friends so make sure and reach out below I can thank you personally for not judging all of my quirks. You can also enjoy a quick little video as well to help you get started:

And I really have to ask, what is the method to your  madness?

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Comments

Lora Ernest

I love your handwriting. I am definitely going to put some of your tips to use. I have papers everywhere, it’s crazy. Thanks so much for this post.

Kimiko

Pilot G-2 0.7 for life!! I’m so obnoxious about them that I’ve been given them as gifts and from my husband in Christmas stockings:)

I made it to the end and love it!!

Amy Emery

I think I’m in love. Do you combine work/home in each daily page?

Katrina

i love your handwriting! I wish my lists looked that pretty. Mine are usually so sloppy, but I like to switch up the pen colors because it makes me happy. I do like the g-2 pens, but that’s the kind they supply us at work so when I’m at home, I like to use something else that won’t remind me of work. I’m weird that way.

Jennie

Hi, Kara. So happy to meet a fellow addict of the G-2 pen! I use and LOVE the extra fine 0.38 point. Like you, I get nervous if I don’t have at least a few back-ups stashed away. I also can’t live without my correction tape! I’m always telling my class of 2nd graders how a little bit of ingenuity and creativity can make a great impact… 🙂 Who wouldn’t prefer the neat and tidy correction tape over the wet messy liquid version?! I was so glad to see your post on bullet journaling as I’ve been reading about it… Read more »

This post literally saved my life, it was perfect! Ever since I was a kid I was obsessed with journaling and collecting notebooks. My only problem was I never stuck to keeping a to do list or writing down my ideas in my notebooks because I couldn’t do it in a way that was organized and nice to look at so I would eventually give up on journaling. After reading your post I went out the next day to Target and bought all the supplies you mentioned and I’m pretty happy to say that I’m now obsessed. I’ve been able… Read more »

Peg Graham

love this idea.

So thankful today that there’s another complex soul out there obsessing over just the perfect journal, the very specific (and only that) writing implement, and “the pretty” of the Washi tape!!!

This is the simplest bullet journal I have seen (it’s meant in a good way 🙂 ) I got overwhelmed by all the YouTube videos about the bullet journal and quit but this made me want to try it again 😊

Enjoyed your approach — and Love anyone who puts as much thought into the “tools” of everyday living that you have! I also agree with everyone else that your writing is beautiful … makes me want to take a bit more time making mine more attractive. Thank you for the inspiration! BTW: I have tried bullet journaling in many different formats including using a Circa foldover, Moleskine and varying colors of Pilot G2 pens, mechanical pencils and fancy ballpoint pens (that are so much prettier to look at than to write with). My current bullet journal is a Midori Traveler’s… Read more »

Kate

I am continually trying different ways to manage my crazy life. It was refreshing to see I am not the only one sticking to paper and pen, staying away from pre-made planners…they can’t meet all my needs

Kristin

In your todo list what is the circled letter b and the arrow down represent?

Kathie Morgan

This is extremely interesting, I think I will give it a go. I too love the pens and have been given them as stocking stuffers, in fact, that’s how I found them! I have my sticky notes all over and they sometimes float away.

Jenna Kellenberger

I love this! It definitely appeals to my love of organization/journaling. Do the notebooks you buy have enough pages for all the days of the year, including your notes pages? Or do you just buy a new notebook midway through the year?

Sandra Wagner

Still figuring out a system for a crazy busy job. Too many tasks,projects and categories. But this may be a solution. I love planners and have always wanted to create my own. You are right on. They just always need a little tweaking. Great system. Thanks

Visitor directed from Pinterest

Hello, just wanted to offer a suggestion about the Pilot G2 pens you love – since you are so committed to them and use so many, you might want to consider purchasing refills rather than a whole new pack of pens all the time. Just a suggestion to incorporate more environmentally-friendly choices in your life 🙂 (If you’re already doing this then I apologise, it wasn’t too clear from this post and it’s the only one I’ve read from your blog!)

Crystal

I gasped when I saw that you too are obsessive about your Pilot G-2 pens. I prefer 1.0 to the finer nips. Harder to find, but I too buy them whenever I see them. One hint of skipping and it is banished to the “here have a pen” box by the front door. I also love my tiny bullet journal AND the white out mini. I discovered these on my own, but to see my go to items on someone else’s page is meeting a kindred spirit. But now I am wondering about Washi tape. I have seen them on… Read more »

Thanks for sharing your method. I’m in the process of corralling all my notes, schedules, etc., and the way you organize yours sounds completely manageable.

silvia

I keep note paper in every room. With pen. 2 kinds I like. Am a nurses aid so wear scrubs. Notes go in container at door. When I leave in am they go in r pocket of pant. When done work I look at my notes and determine which r most urgent and do as many of those as I have energy for. They get crossed out. Every once in a while I condense the lists

Jill

Actually, the “leather” journal you spoke of from Target is described as a “leather look” journal, so you may want to change your post a bit so your readers aren’t mislead. The journal still looks good to me; I’m going to check if my local Target stores carry it! Thank you for the suggestion!

April

I want to first say I enjoyed your post. I have a moleskin journal that I have been playing with. But sometimes I feel like I really don’t need a journal because I do the same thing everyday… Go to work…come home. Do you right down every thing you have to do that day… Like cleaning and cooking? I guess I just am not sure if I doing it right.

kelly

omg your handwriting is AMAZING.

Hi Kara, I am so thrilled to have found your blog. I have been collecting journal pins for a while, but I must be quite dim as I hadn’t really got it until I read your blog. So thank you so much and yes we should be friends. I am a 67 year old grandmother of 4. I run a B & B in Australia and I love travel. My life is pretty full on and I am a consistent list maker. I love moleskin notebooks and stationery of all kinds. I am drawn to making my own and my… Read more »

Great walk through of a simple to do list but with a system! Seeing yours makes me wanna go work on my own list that is way too long! 🙂

Hi there!
Love the ideas you’ve put forth. I love maintaining notebooks as well. And your photos are so clean and crisp! Washi tapes are so essential in a notebook addict’s drawer. Lol. ^_^
http://maryangela.in/10-epic-ways-boost-confidence/

Julie

Hi! I love your post. I’ve been considering doing something similar in my Bullet Journal because it seems like the “so many possibilities” aspect of the Bullet Journal is turning into chaos, really. And if there’s anything my mind needs LESS of, it’s chaos. I, too, use my Bullet Journal mainly as a means to keep up with a daily to-do list. How do you deal with perpetual to-do items? Like, if it doesn’t NEED to be done today, but it does need to be done in the future, and you don’t want to forget about it. Do you just… Read more »

I totally get being attached to certain kinds of pens, pads, etc. I’ve been a major fan of Pilot Precise, until I discovered Pilot Frixxion, which are truly erasable gel pens! I’ve tried lots of kinds of notebooks but keep coming back to basic steno pads. They work well for me.

Thank you for the great bullet journal tips, as a new #Bujo freak I love reading new tricks!

FYI, check out Frixxion pens… Erasable! Eliminates the need for whiteout and if you are super frisky, Rocketbook Wave notebooks (erasable in the microwave) after you upload the notes directly to Evernote for storage!

stacy

Cris

Thanks, I grabbed a notebook, wrote up a key and got started. I think your ideas have really helped me stay on track. Even when I don’t get the majority of items done, I still love hashing through those cute little boxes. 🙂

emae

thank you for the great example. I have been trying to start a bullet journal. a few false starts and many different journal types so far. I think I am going use different colors that match my phone calendar, purse big calendar, and wall calendar for the family. I am pinning this post and favorite tab on my computer to remind/encourage me.

KaREN

thank you for sharing your bullet journal, this I could do. Many other articles and ideas I have seem were so complicated. Yours is straight forward.

Christy

Pilot G-2 0.7 points are the only pens I can stand to use. Fine point? Gross! Ball point? Hideous! The scratching of a ball point (or pencil for that matter) I swear I can feel that scratching at the base of my skull. Your tips are wonderful! We should be great friends. Thank you!!

Marcie

I’m currently using a bullet journal but I find myself getting bored now and then So, its not consistent…..Thank you for your authenticity, it’s got me back on board with using my bullet journal with new purpose!

Hi, Interesting system. My go to for years has been the Harvard International book. It has a similar integrated system for keeping track of appointments, scheduling, delegating things. etc.. It has been my go-to system for over ten years: love it. 1-800-harvard.com Harvard planners. They come in many different styles with daily, or weekly views. (Don’t mean to sound like a commercial, I’m not connected to them, you just wondered what we use that works.) I too like your printing. I appreciate style in a world where texting makes my handwriting suffer. Lots of ideas. Thanks for posting. pens:….hmmm I… Read more »

Danielle

I love the Pilot G-2’s so much that I have them in every color and width I can find. They are the glue that keeps me wanting to be organized. I have one issue with them, which makes me so sad, and that is they are not waterproof paper compatible, so I cannot use them in my professional life. They run like cheap mascara and it just makes me want to cry.

Your handwriting should be a font ! 🙂 Loved your tips, thank you.

Oh, I LOVE this. I’ve followed your work since, well, forever but I’ve just now wandered over to your blog. What a treasure trove of…EVERYTHING! Love it, and you (and, of course the ocd tendencies!)

Ande

Thank you so much. This makes what I want to do work. I have been struggling trying to change my ways of thinking to work with the bullet journal system ( due to my own OCD tendencies).Nnow I feel like my eyes have been opened to making it work for me instead of me working for it! Love love the G2 pens and always pack an extra. Thanks for the time you put into this.

Cinthia

I love it. Thanks

Judy

I read the entire post and appreciate your honesty. I have just started bullet journaling and already want to make changes, similar to yours. Thanks for the suggestions! I wrote down your products to check them out at Target tomorrow😊

gigi

i simply love your handwriting and your site! you’re in my ‘inspiration’ list, for sure, as i will be starting to blog soon! i’m a woman of few words, more of visual and that’s exactly what i see in your site. count me as one of your fans! more power!
ggb

This is great! I’m a list maker in a notebook that I love. It’s great to meet someone who does things similarly. My notebook of choice is the one by arc (formerly sold at staples – thankfully still available online). I love it because it is spiral and the pages can be moved from section to section.

Shannon

I love this post! We are definitely kindred spirits, but when I read the line about things you become obsessed with being discontinued… Well, I thought for a minute that I clearly have a twin I didn’t know about. That has become such a pattern in my life that my boyfriend (sounds silly to call him that when this Dec is our 20th anniversary!), but I digress… Anyway, he knows we have to practically hoard things I truly love or I’ll be scouring eBay and Big Lots all over Florida trying to find them! 😒 I love a spiral because… Read more »

Shannon

GASP! Please excuse all my typos! I was moving a little too fast for my own good. 😉

Jessica

When you are in the market for a new notebook, the leuchtturm 1917 has a grid, dotted, or lined option. I like that it is center bound (much more friendly for lefties than the rings) but it does a really good job of laying flat without feeling like the pages will fall out. I’m pleased with it so far.

Jodi

I love this information but I have a question. Can you give me any tips for processing/handling/organizing the actual to-do’s? So overwhelmed with it all coming at me all day long.

Rowena

I read to the end, even read the section on your tabs for notes twice ( I am borrowing that idea, for sure!) , And I love your method. I am currently experimenting with weekly layouts over 2 pages, but I can see certain months getting so full of things to do where a page a day would make lots of stress disappear. I can relate to wanting and using one product only, forever. You are not alone! Your simple efficiency and washi tape add-ons are great, and the fact that it works for you is an inspiration, to me… Read more »

Ooh, I like your planning method! Mine’s kind of similar: I JUST recently found my planning system preference, except more with color! I’m also like most people with planners – buying one but not actually using it….but just last Friday I finally found a planner at Walmart that had a vertical weekly spread, which is perfect for my daily to do lists, so I had to have it. I also have a journal on the side with collections of lists and among other things! (Similar to how your journal goes) The pen you use is a good pen! But I’m… Read more »

Kari

I love this!! Thank you for this PIN. I began BuJo recently and have been struggling with not doing “future planning” like the traditional method stresses. I WANT to draw out my whole month the way your video shows! It’s like this: nothing is wrong with Bullet Journaling; however sometimes it doesn’t feel right to not have your month laid out. I love your video!! More please! P.S. Great supplies!! I love the Washi “signifyer” on the edges of your pages. Such a dope idea dude! You rule! Keep it up. And thank you for this!

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