I have been using a bullet journal -actually, 2 bullet journals – for many months now, and I love how they have increased my organization and productivity. But, I have a dirty little secret – I am still using a regular planner, too. Why am I using a bullet journal AND planner?
I have written before about the many ways that I use my bullet journals, from to-do lists, to financial planning, to sketching and, yes, even journalling. But one aspect I was never able to successfully incorporate was future planning. I am 100% self-employed, and do hair part-time. This means I have to be able to book appointments, sometimes months into the future. I also, legally, have to keep a record of those appointments for 3 years. Last year I used an Erin Condren planner as my salon appointment book, as well as my personal planner. This worked really well, but when I discovered the bullet journal, I loved it so much I wanted to incorporate that, too. So, I use a planner and bullet journal.
I almost felt a weird sort of guilt when I continued to use and Erin Condren planner for the salon. Like I was a sell-out bullet-journaler because I still liked my planner. But, I have found, as my friend Mandee calls it, planner peace by using both methods, If you have struggled with transitioning completely out of a traditional planner, you may want to rethink ditching it.
How I Use My Erin Condren Planner
This year I am using an Erin Condren horizontal style planner, which has been a bit of a learning curve. I have used the vertical layout in the past, but was tempted by the additional writing space of a horizontal. I keep all of my salon appointments in the box on the left. I also track any personal appointments, or events that would prevent me from being able to work here, so I don’t end up double-booking myself somewhere.
I notate any and all expenses connected to my salon in this planner, and then tuck the receipts in the back pocket until I can file them. I use this planner for all of my future planning. I also track bills due on the monthly calendar, although since I perfected my financial layouts in my bullet journal, I may do away with this.
I do some minimal decorating in my Erin Condren. A little washi, some stamps, and a doodle here and there. I definitely don’t go overboard in this area, but a little color never hurt anyone.
How I Use My Bullet Journals
I use my bullet journal as a notebook, a planner, a habit tracker, a financial tracker, a sketchbook, a brain dump, and many other things. My personal bullet journal goes with me everywhere, and keeps a lot of pertinent information in one place. I jot down grocery lists, quotes, phone numbers, notes from meetings … This has eliminated keeping too many notebooks on hand, and not having the right information with me at the right time.
I have been using the same Leuchtturm 1917 notebook since the beginning of the year, and I am not quite 1/3 of the way through it, so I see myself needing 2 notebooks per year. There are a few pages I will copy from notebook to notebook, but I find the repetition to be helpful.
In my blog bullet journal I track expenses and income, due dates, my editorial calendar, blog post ideas, etc. I keep a running list of blogs and sites I like to share from, as well as a daily to-do list of blog-related tasks. I keep this journal pretty on-topic, and keep my daily spreads fairly abbreviated, so I think one notebook will last me for at least a year.
Using Multiple Planners/Journals
One of the comments I hear frequently is, “I can barely keep up with one journal, let alone several!” If you are considering keeping more than one journal and or planner, I have a few tips. First, make sure that there is an actual necessity for more than one. Since I own several businesses, it is helpful for me to compartmentalize. Most people don’t own their own business, let alone several, so most of their interests and activities could probably be kept in one. But, I think most people who are employed could probably see the benefit of keeping a planner and bullet journal.
Secondly, keep it simple. I don’t do a lot of elaborate doodling in my blog journal, and I don’t write the same things down in my Erin Condren that I do in my personal bullet journal. Each planner and journal has a specific purpose, and I use it to that end. Every morning I sit down for a few minutes and go over each day, and add what I need to. I take some time on the weekend to do any decorating or forward planning, as well as to look over the previous week and recap. This ritual is not only relaxing to me, but very constructive because it helps me to commit my schedule and to-do’s to memory.
If you find your planning ritual to be stressful, or feel like you need to schedule time to plan, you’re doing it wrong. Make the system work for you, and don’t feel like your journal or planner has to look exactly like someone else’s.
My personal bullet journal comes with me 90% of the time when I leave the house, because it has so many of my to-do’s and lists in it. My Erin Condren planner only comes with me when I am going to the salon. I used to carry it with me everywhere, and then I would end up booking appointments in the middle of the grocery store or school concert. Boundaries are good things. My blog planner stays at home in my desk, because that is the only place I need or use it.
If you are interested in purchasing an Erin Condren planner, click here for my referral link which will give you $10 off your first purchase. This is the Leuchtturm1917 notebook I use for my bullet journals. If you would like to read more about my planner you can click here,