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Rachel KenleyWell… that was a hell of a year we just go through, wasn’t it.  And doesn’t 2017 seem all shiny and pretty, filled with hope and blank pages?

Like many of you, I am more than ready for this new year for both personal, professionew-yearnal, and worldly reasons.  I am also determined not to get to November 2017 with the same feeling I’ve had for the last two years: depression, exhaustion and frustration.

So better than a resolution or even goals (which I have written), as I wrote in the title, I have a plan and a planner that supports me completely.

bullet-journal-15Last year in September I started bullet journaling, which is a creative way to not only plan your month, week and days but a way to keep track of projects, ideas, books read, blog ideas, collections… anything! I discovered it in August (although for the life of me I can’t remember where) and spent the weeks leading up to September learning about it.  It’s ideal.

For over 15 years (seriously – since I left the 9-5 world) I’ve tried to find and use a planner that would not only work for me and my style, but that I’d stick to.  I can’t tell you how many different sizes and layouts I’ve bought. I prefer planning on paper, but I’d forget or get busy and not use what I bought.  Using Google appointments was and is great, but it didn’t help me keep track of a project or my daily to do’s.  Lists on a pad were fine, but they got lost or only had a few things ticked off per day and that frustrated the **** out of me.

Nothing was working.

My monthly spread and habit tracker (which was downloaded)

My monthly spread and habit tracker (which was downloaded)

Until this.  I create all of my “spreads” which makes my creative side very happy, and you should see all the pens I’ve been able to buy and use. I’m able to track habits, set goals and the steps to reach them, see where my time is going and where I have blocks of time to do what works. I have gotten more done in the past four months on the things that matter than I have in a long time.

And I’m able to use the one planner for writing, business, family, meal planning and fun.  It’s all there with me to reference and actually use!  I still work with my google calendar for appointments (I appreciate the reminders), but when I write things down not only do I remember them better, but if it has to do with a project, the writing sets my thoughts and intentions in motion so that my brain works on things without my being completely aware of it.

To start, my recommendation is to visit the official Bullet Journal site at: http://bulletjournal.com.  This will give you the basics and show you a very simple, minimalistic BuJo (can’t call it a bj after all). Of all the other journalers out there, the one I like the best is Kara Benz at Boho Berry.  Her website is: http://bohoberry.wpengine.com and if you sign up for her emails you get access to her free downloads which are wonderfully helpful (especially her habit tracker).  Kara also has a great YouTube channel and a private Facebook group for her “tribe.”

my favorite new spread. Reusable each week. I normally have a list-size post it over the tabs on the right hand side to keep track of what I need to buy

my favorite new spread. Reusable each week. I normally have a list-size post it over the tabs on the right-hand side to keep track of what I need to buy

There are also sub-groups for those of us who love to bullet journals.  There are groups on Facebook for writers, homeschoolers, people who prefer using a travel journal, for business planning, for mental health and mindfulness.  You have an interest?  There’s probably a group to join.

Now a warning: If you do want to look into this, be careful.  You can get sucked in for *hours* on the images in Instagram, Pinterest, and the videos on YouTube.  Trust me, I’ve fallen down that rabbit hole.  Either set a timer or do it at the end of the day when having time disappear won’t interfere with your other plans.

So if you’re like me and have a lot of great goals and resolutions but have had trouble in the past sticking to your plan – or your planner – check out the community of bullet journalers.