How to Create a Bullet Journal Planner Hybrid
So maybe you've tried bullet journaling... or you are thinking about trying it... but you're not sure it will work for you. On the other hand, you've tried TONS of different planners, and none of them seem to work perfectly either. What do you do?
I'm a "best of both worlds" kind of girl. When something "sort of" works, and something else "sort of" works, I try and find a way to smush the two together. This is how I came up with my bullet journal planner hybrid. Sound interesting to you? Read on...!
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How I Use Bullet Journaling
If you are brand new to bullet journaling, and you need more details on the ins-and-outs, please see Kim’s Thorough Guide to Bullet Journaling.
Otherwise, when you’re ready, here is a quick rundown of the basics (as borrowed from Kim's post), and how I use each of these in my bullet journal / planner hybrid.
These are the key concepts to bullet journaling:
- Task List
- Other Collections
- Lists & Trackers
- Goal Plans
- Sketches / Fun / Misc
- Rapid Logging
- Task Bullet
- Event Bullet
- Note Bullet
So let’s break it down:
Index: I don’t actually use an index. For regular bullet journals, an index is helpful to refer to so you can find different collections that are strewn throughout your journal. Since I have a planner hybrid, I actually use tabbed dividers for different section (which I’ll explain more in detail below) therefore, an index isn’t really necessary. I supposed I could put an index if my notes/goals/brain-dump or trackers sections got too out of control, but for the most part, I can find everything I need pretty quickly.
Future log: This is the section of your bullet journal or planner where you would list future events (birthdays, vacations, doctor’s appointments, etc). Things that aren't happening in the next few days or weeks, but that you need to remember for later. I don't use a future log. Instead, I use a Google Calendar that my husband and oldest son have been trained to add things too. 🙂 This works so much better for everyone, since we can all see the same thing and stay up-to-date on the master family plan. Plus, it's color-coded!
Monthly log: This section typically consists of a monthly calendar and a monthly task list. I don't use a monthly calendar in my planner, again, because I use Google Calendar for that. I may transfer very exciting or important events to my daily or weekly threads, but for the most part I just refer to my Google Calendar regularly and that is enough. As far as a monthly task list goes, I tend to use “master” to-do lists (one for home and one for work) and then break down the tasks by day or week. I find that using a monthly task list is difficult because I don't always have a way to schedule the tasks that far in advance, and things tend to get lost or forgotten.
Daily log: I LOVE using a bullet journal style daily log. For me the layout of my daily log can change so much from day to day that having the flexibility of using bullet journaling for this is great. There are a million different daily planner pages out there and some of them work great some of the time, but my days are never the same. Some days, I have one task to complete and many scheduled events. Some days, I have no events and what feels like 100 tasks to complete. Some days I need a shopping list and others I don't, etc. Having the ability to design my daily page to fit my ever-changing needs is a relief.
Collections: This is where bullet journaling has truly been game changing for me. There are many, many different types of collections that I use regularly and there just aren't planners pages out there for all of them. For instance, I like to track gift ideas, books I want to read, TV show episodes to watch, daily habits, and many other things. I also need pages for random notes, thoughts, and brainstorming sessions. I also like to track future goals and the plans that accompany them. There is a sea of inspiration in regards to bullet journaling for all of these types of collections. Don’t believe me? Just search Pinterest for “bullet journal ideas.”
Rapid Logging and Migration: I use rapid logging in my bullet journal planner combo similarly to how it is explained on the Bullet Journal website, and in Kim’s post. I have changed my bullet designs a bit to fit my needs, however. Here’s what I use:
I use blank squares, rather than dots for tasks. When a task is completed, I fill it in with criss-crossed lines. If the tasks is cancelled, I put an “X”. If the task is migrated to a later date or a different list, I put an arrow going right.
I don’t use event bullets, and rarely use note bullets. Events, as I’ve said, go to my Google calendar, and notes tend to go into a master to-do list, other list, or a notes page right away, rather than be mixed with my daily tasks.
So what do I use planner pages for?
Events that are happening soon and time-blocking. I like using a printed weekly view where I can add events and appointments for the upcoming week, and time block sections of my day for work, home, personal, and play. I like having the structure of a weekly view that is all done up for me ahead of time.
I could just draw it out bullet-journal style, but quite frankly, I'm too lazy to spend the time drawing lines and sectioning off hours. There are some people who LOVE doing this. It’s sort of a relaxing hobby and it helps them to feel more organized. All the power to them! I just know what works for me, and if I had to redraw the same template every week, I’d never get it done! 🙂 I’d rather just fill in the blanks.
Breakdown of my current bullet journal/planner hybrid:
- Planner - Weekly layout with sections for events/appointments and time-blocking.
- Daily Log - My bullet journal daily log/tasks.
- Notes/Goals/Braindump/Mind-Maps - Any lists and jumbled pages of text and thoughts.
- Trackers - Anything that I’m tracking, that I can just check the box for.
- Journal - Daily journal entries. I keep a second discbound notebook for moving journal overflow to, so that this planner doesn’t get too full, since I tend to write really long journal entries 🙂
For those of you who love bullet journaling, but still haven't found complete "planner peace" with it, maybe consider creating a hybrid like this! You get the best of both words (structure and freedom) and it is super easy to tweak along the way.
Have you found planner peace? Do you use a bullet journal, day planner, or something else entirely? I'd love to hear about your system in the comments below!