Starting a bullet journal as a busy working mom

Have you hear of bullet journaling? It’s a type of planner that is totally customizable, making it perfect for all the moving parts of a working moms’ life. Read on to see how I started my own (and how you can, too!)

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I am a digital girl with an analog heart. 

I love using new technology and connecting with others online (I mean, hi hello, welcome to my online space).

But when it comes to planning, I’ve been a diehard paper planner since middle school. If it doesn’t get written down with a pen, it’s not gonna get done.

And while I have cycled in and out of plenty of planner brands over the years (The Happy Planner was a recent favorite) I kept hearing about this new thing called a bullet journal.

A bullet journal is a planner with a system you create yourself, following a few simple rules.

If I’m being honest, it seemed like too much work to get started, and I didn’t want a new system to learn.

In any case, I started following the hashtag for it, #bujo, on Instagram, because seeing things organized neatly and prettily makes my heart happy. And for a while, that was enough.

But I’ve been struggling with my paper planners these last few months. I have a ridic amount of balls to keep in the air on any given day, and the spaces and organizational systems in my planners just wasn’t cutting it anymore.

Right now, I’m juggling:

  • My personal life, including stuff I do alone, stuff I do with my husband or friends, and babysitters’ comings and goings.
  • My kids social and school schedule.
  • Freelance work.
  • My part-time day job as cooking coordinator at a local preschool, which involves different lesson plans for classes as well as organizing all the kids’ meals.
  • My blog work for Percolate Kitchen, like scheduling social media promotions and blog posts.
  • The course work for my workshop, Uncomplicated Kitchen, including interviews and video trainings.
  • Plus things like bill paying, meal planning, etc.

It was too much for one planner!

And believe me, I tried everything with my old planner to figure out some sort of a system that worked. But I kept feeling like I was missing something and it was driving me crazy.

I tried lists. I tried blocking time using washi tape. I tried Google planners and Evernote and Asana and Trello.  But nothing I tried made me feel like I could sit down and look at a DAY and see WTH was going on. Everything was all too entwined and too messy!

So I started looking at bullet journaling, again. Maybe it could be the thing for this busy mom?

I bought a Luechtturm 1927 notebook on Amazon and some finepoint Sharpie pens, and watched this 5-minute video tutorial on the bullet journaling webpage.

Then I crossed my fingers that I had finally found something that worked with all the moving parts in my brain.

You guys. Two months in, and I can totally see what the fuss is about now!

I love that I can create new sections as I need them, move things around, rip out a page and start over….and it doesn’t ruin the organization of other stuff.

Here are a few of my favorite pages so far in my bullet journal:

Our November has been mellower than the last few months, but I’m trying to strike a balance between functional and keeping memories. 
As a preschool cook and instructor, I’ve got different classes, menus,and lessons to keep track of. I’m not crazy about this system yet, so it’s a work in progress- but it’s better than storing everything in scattered Evernote folders like I had been! 
As a diehard 4am waker, I loved this quote and doodled it in my journal one night while watching Netflix.

Here’s a basic outline of what bullet journaling is and how it works:

To begin, bullet journals are what you make it (which is why they can seem so overwhelming at first). You can use different journals for different sections of your life, or one big daddy journal to track it all with a simple system.

Here’s how to start:

  • Begin with a blank notebook (The Leuchtturm 1927 brand is the gold standard, but people also dig Moleskin or the Bullet Journal brand. Or a regular 5 star notebook! Whatever works for you.)
  • Number the first 20 or so pages to get started, and leave the first page blank to fill in an index as you go.
  • Then rock your thing, mama bird. Create a page where you list your kids activities, then index it. Or your meal plan, then index it. Start tracking how much sleep you get at night. The world is your oyster, organized lady.
  • Every morning (or every night), spend at least 5 minutes with your journal, checking off what has been completed and what needs to be done. Pour the lists that are sitting in your brain out onto a page. It feels so good!

What I use when bullet journaling:

I use fine point pens to write and markers to highlight and decorate.

And I love these paper sticky note flags. I use the little flags as a color coordinated way to plan out the posts I plan to publish on the blog, and I love that I can categorize them by color and get a visual representation of how the month is laid out: 

I currently have the A5 size Leuchtturm 1927 notebook, the biggest size they offer, which works for me since I write big and I like seeing more things laid out on the page. I also like how this brand of notebook includes an easy index page at the front and has a small pocket at the back for receipts, etc.

What else is bullet journaling good for?

At night, I’ve started doodling in my bullet journal and it is SO DANG SOOTHING. I’m definitely not much of a doodler or artist, but I still love unwinding this way.  

I used to just mindlessly scroll Instagram with Netflix on in the background and it always made me feel anxious. And for reals, I am not an artist. My drawings are childish at best.

But lately these doodles help SO MUCH to turn my brain off after a long day. Here’s the full-page drawing I did the other day, of my favorite quote from Jack Kerouac:

My favorite Kerouc quote, as a bullet journal doodle.

The thing with my bullet journal is it took such little time to set up, which is the opposite of what I was nervous about in the beginning. I watched the short video on the website and then created an index and a monthly calendar.Then I did another page. Then another. Now I’m obsessed with how easy it is to mold to my life!

I love how customizable the entire thing is, and how it helps me feel like I have control over my schedule. I mean, lolololol I totally don’t have that much control because that’s how #momlife goes, but I FEEL like I do.

Here are a few of my fave inspo websites and Instagram accounts for bullet journaling, if you want to to look into it more:

Boho Berry

Planner Simplicity

Tiny Ray of Sunshine (great starter pages!)

Notebook Therapy

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