Learn how to begin a bullet journal and how to set it up. You can even create pages for long-term goals.
Beyond Bullets (Ulysses Press, 2017) by Megan Rutell, is for anyone who likes bullet journaling. Rutell has found new and creative ways to use all of the pages of your journal. Find out what else you could be adding to your journal from all of the great ideas and photos that Rutell has shared.
An index or table of contents is one of the simplest ways to find your pages quickly. This works best in bound notebook systems where the pages aren’t moved. If your notebook doesn’t have an area for indexing (some journals come with one already printed), you can save two to three pages in the front or back of your notebook for this purpose.
Instead of listing every page in your table of contents, save space (and time) by listing important or unique spreads. Try setting times in your routine to update the index, or make it part of a planning checklist. It may not be the most exciting part of journaling, but don’t underestimate its power. Many people skip over this step only to discover it could have saved them time and frustration.
Indexing is great for finding anything and everything in your journal, but what if you like grouping similar pages together? If you use a refillable notebook, you can segment it to avoid keeping an enormous amount of information in the same place. In school, you probably had separate notebooks for each subject. Dividing your life into categories can make it easier to focus on one thing at a time.
In a traveler notebook, for example, you can assign separate booklets for scheduling, school or work, lists, collections, trips, special projects, and so on. Since all booklets are held together in the same notebook cover, you still get the convenience of an all-in-one notebook. Dividers, tabs, or booklets be used for the same effect in a binder or disc-bound system.
This is one of my favorite methods for locating information in my journal. Let’s suppose you want to find all the pages dealing with health and fitness. In a standard bound notebook, rearranging pages is not an option, but you can still create categories that let you group pages visually. Here’s how it works:
Keeping a long-term planning page in your journal will give you a bird’s-eye view of your life. You’ll be able to see projects coming from months away. When everyone else looks around and says, “Wow, that snuck up on me,” you’ll already be organized with an action plan and time to spare.
This phase of planning can be fairly general. It is meant as a holding place for projects and appointments until they deserve more detailed attention.
Drop Zones, as their name implies, are designated spaces to collect events and projects. Use this layout as a complete long-term planning setup or to supplement another long-term planning layout. Depending on how much space you want for each month, you can fit two, six, even twelve months on a two-page spread.
Let’s pretend it is April, and you are making vacation plans with friends. You all decide to go on a road trip the second week in June. Since it’s only April, you haven’t made your June monthly page yet. Until then, drop the road trip in your June Drop Zone.
Since each box is an open area (no assigned spots for dates or location), you have some flexibility in how much space you devote to each item. Maybe you don’t know the exact date or location yet. That’s okay. Drop a note as a placeholder and you can add more details when you move the note to your June monthly planning page.
For people whose schedules require more precision, this method might not work on its own. For example, if you need to know that November 14 falls on a Wednesday, you’ll have to make some adaptation (such as adding a small calendar next to each Drop Zone). However, it could still be useful for planning individual projects throughout the year and identifying crunch points.
This is my personal favorite long-term planning method, and it is very simple to create. The setup is a little more involved than Drop Zones, but you can still create an entire year of planning in a few short minutes.
Instead of a calendar, you will create a list of dates. Deadlines or appointments go next to their corresponding date. Place up to four months—or fewer if you like more space to write—on a two-page spread. Repeat this setup until you have a full year. Near the end of the year, you can always add additional long-term pages to extend your planning view.
This method combines elements from the last two. Skinny Columns retain the flexibility of Drop Zones, but the layout looks similar to the Column Method.
With the journal turned vertically, divide each page into six equal columns. The long layout gives you more lines to work with (as opposed to the small boxes in Drop Zones), but there aren’t any pre-filled dates.
Unless your scheduling needs are very light, this format will probably not fulfill all your long-term planning needs. I find it most useful as a supplemental planning page to track birthdays, holidays, and important recurring events each month.
The Planning Wheel takes a completely different approach to planning. Unlike most familiar calendars, this one uses a circular layout. This unconventional format creates a striking effect that appeals to journal users with an artistic spirit.
The example in the photo uses the colors of the rainbow to separate months visually, but this spread is just as effective in black and white. To create this layout, use a compass (a standard compass or circular helix stencil, like the one listed in Chapter 2) and section it into thirty-degree wedges. The wedges hold birthdays, holidays, and important recurring events. The boxes surrounding the wheel are for ongoing scheduling. Use these as temporary Drop Zones. They will hold events or projects until you are ready to move them to a monthly planning page or elsewhere in your journal.
This layout is a great example of how everyone plans differently. For some people, this format is too unconventional to be useful. However, others will feel it is ideal because it is unconventional. Give it a whirl and decide for yourself.
The last option this book covers for long-term planning is a method, not a specific format. Some feel that moving tasks from long-term planning to monthly spreads is too cumbersome. It is possible to write everything in the appropriate monthly page from the beginning.
Draw all twelve calendar months (or the monthly planning pages of your choosing) at the very beginning of your journal. Now, you can use premade monthlies throughout the entire year. No matter where you are in your notebook, you’ll flip back to the front when you need to see your monthly schedule. You can mark the current month with a ribbon marker or paper clip to make this easier.
If you create monthly memory pages, gratitude lists, or self-assessment pages throughout the year (mixed into the journal), these will be separated from your planning pages (at the front of the journal)
This is not a comprehensive list of all possible methods for long-term planning. Make adjustments to these, or experiment with your own layouts. You’ll discover the precise combination that works for your unique life.
More from Beyond Bullets:• Habit Trackers and Health and Wellness Journal
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