chaos control · life · organizing

control my chaos ~ bullet journal

Ahhhhh…September.  Best of summer.  Warm enough for shorts and flip flops and dips in the ocean. Best of fall. Cardigans in the morning and evening. Pumpkin spice lattes. Routine.  Oh, blessed routine.  How I’ve missed thee.

Okay…if you know me, you know I love lists.  I love the concept of being super organized.  I love journals and planners of all sorts.  ‘Sounds like you’ve got everything under control; what’s the problem,’ you may ask? (Aside from an obsessive need for control, that is….) I have trouble with the follow-through.  I have a plethora of baskets, bins, jars, boxes, and all manner of storage containers.  Many even have labels.  A place for everything and everything in its place.  That’s my motto.  Perhaps…it might be my motto if stuff could put itself away. You can see here, here, here, here and here for examples of my shortcomings.

These are a few of my notebooks, journals and planning aids…this is also the sad reality of how it generally looks.  You see why I need help?

I am finding it increasingly difficult to juggle all that’s on my plate without an overwhelming sense of inadequacy.  My df girl, cb girl and I began a new business venture this summer.  We secured a table at the market in town, began supplying a local shop with cards and such (I’m also ‘on call,’ so to speak, when she needs someone to tend the store), as well as an Etsy shop for printables. Church administration, activities and so on will be back in full swing.  Now that the beginning of school’s on the horizon once again, I am re-assessing my planning game.

I’ve tried various calendars and planners.  I have an abundance of ideas on Pinterest.  It seems like there was no single method that would fit all my needs.  I got a beautiful Heidi Swapp planner a couple of years ago, which I loved, but I found it a little bulky.  I printed out new sheets that fit my purposes a little better for the following year; but, it was time consuming to get the right format.  This summer I used a dual printable system–one for the month and weekly sheets for the specifics.  I posted it on my fridge and it was quite useful, but still not just right.


Enter bullet journals.  I had been intrigued by these, then my Alberta girl had one when she visited and I thought I’d give it a whirl.  I ordered an inexpensive one from Amazon to get started.  I didn’t want to invest in a pricier moleskin journal until I decided whether or not it would function well for me.  I love that they are completely flexible, but I worry that it will be too much effort each week. Also, migrating future tasks sounds like a lot of extra work.

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This past week or so, we’ve all been down and out with a cold/flu that has kept us inside. I used this time to research bullet journaling and to sketch out the items I would include in my own version.  Youtube has a profusion of videos from the very simple to the superlatively elaborate–more like a daily scrapbook.  I watched endless amounts of these videos.  Here’s a bullet journal playlist with a smattering of journal-ers to get you going.

Armed with my bottomless cup of hot water, honey and lemon, I sat down and nervously put pen to paper.  I’m not gonna lie: I messed up right from the get-go.  My year at a glance didn’t all fit as it should and could not be salvaged. I’d like to blame it on my feverish state, but I’m not so sure. I had wanted the whole year visible on two pages, with important dates highlighted.  I found there were just too many birthdays, and not enough space.  I carefully cut those pages out and began again. Take two.  More mistakes.  This time–against my better judgement–I used white out. White out on a cream-coloured page.  Ouch.  I figured it would just be the first of many.  If I kept removing pages, I’d be lucky to get a month’s worth in one book.  I cringingly, if not resolutely, carried on.


I decided I would keep it simple to encourage me to keep up with it.  I also block out the basic format in pencil before plowing ahead–just the basics, mind you, not everything, as I don’t want to write everything twice.  I’m using the ZIG Millennium 05 pen in black (although I do like my Micron and Sharpie pens, as well) and for now just two highlighters in green and blue.  I do like that I can change things up weekly, if need be, if I’m finding it’s not quite right.

Here’s my basic format:

  • Year at a glance
  • Dates to remember (birthdays & anniversaries)
  • On-going lists:  Ideas (gift-giving, church things, business & blog), To-Do Lists (cleaning schedules, around the house needs), Goals–remember, not a natural one for me (faith, life, health, homeschool)
  • Daily routines
  • Month at a glance with goals, to-dos, reminders, trackers (to help achieve said goals), and finally a recap of the month.
  • Week at a glance with meal plan, tasks, water and meds tracker (I am notoriously lax in taking my medication), notes, etc.

You may have noticed the first week included the long weekend.  I wanted my week at a glance to start on a Monday, but the first of September was a Friday and we were supposed to be at camp that weekend anyway,  so I squeezed it in.

There you have it.  Stay tuned to see if I can actually make this work for me.  I’m optimistic, as it will be nice to have everything at my fingertips in a book that small enough to slip in my purse.  One thing I have noticed already:  I wish it had a lay flat binding.  Oh well.  Also, as this journal did not come with an elastic to keep closed, I added a hairband to keep the book closed tightly when not in use.  I’ll probably add some tabs or washi tape to make on-going items and the current calendars easy to find.  I’m sure I’ll have other lists to add along the way…that’s just the way I roll.

Are you a bullet journal aficionado?  Have any suggestions?  What planners work for you?


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