Never Say Never: My Bullet Journal

The Bullet Journal is THE THING in the planning & productivity world these days.

“It’s a fad,” I said. “A bullet journal is not going to work for me.”

And then last week I went on vacation. I didn’t take my computer and I didn’t take my planner.

So I started a bullet journal in the small notebook I’d brought with me, in case I needed to write anything down.

It just seemed to make sense. And that whole index-at-the-beginning thing? A lifesaver!

My Michele Quigley Catholic planner. @franciscanmom

I’m a confirmed fan of the paper planner, and a loyal customer of Michele Quigley, whose planners I love because they are beautiful, well-made in a family business, functional and contain all kinds of useful Catholic data like the daily readings, saint of the day, quotes from saints, papal prayer intentions and more.

My Michele Quigley Catholic planner. @franciscanmom

I purchased the notebook addition for the back of the planner and use that as my “bullet journal” for work. I also have a section there for organizing book reviews, because I don’t want those to fall through the cracks (that’s not the way to stay on the good side of authors and publishers!)

I wasn’t using a bullet journal for anything else, but did have a brain-dump notebook that I used on and off through the winter and spring. That sort of fell off when summer came along.

Since I double-dog-dared Deanna Bartalini to try (and report on) using the bullet journal and have actually begun using one myself, I figure that the least I can do is play along and link up at her post.

Like Deanna, I’m not out to create a work of art here. I might use a ruler to make a vertical line–that’s it (my notebook is ruled, not graph paper). And look: I don’t even use the same color pen for everything. It’s random–and that’s OK.

My bullet journal @franciscanmom

Unlike Deanna, I’m not using this as my planner. It’s a notebook with indexed pages for whatever I need to write down at a particular time. During my vacation, I used it to track:

  • micro-reviews of books I read on the trip (7 total) for input into Goodreads after my return
  • some brainstorming for the regular feature I’ll be writing for Today’s Catholic Teacher
  • a list of dinner ideas
  • items to discuss with TheKid’s guidance counselor regarding what his classroom teachers will need to know about diabetes
  • “random airport sightings” — things that popped into my head while we sat in the San Juan airport for 6 hours. (Times like that, I wish I were a fiction writer. There was lots of story fodder going on, and I don’t mean that in an uncharitable way. Airports are fascinating places for people-watching.)

Once I let go of the idea that it had to LOOK good, I found that the bullet journal really can work for me!

Have you tried using a bullet journal? Join the linkup at and share what works (and doesn’t work) for you!

Trying out the bullet journal: Never say never @franciscanmom

Show Us Your Planner!

Today I’m participating in a “Show Us Your Planner” linkup at Since the middle of the summer, Lisa Hess has been writing about organization for students, for your home, and finally for your personal time-management issues. Lately, she’s been talking planners–one of my favorite subjects!

Show Us Your Planner logo

A couple of weeks ago, I found an article online that refines to an amazing degree what I am already doing: the Strikethru method. I don’t use all the steps to the method described in that article, but since I am, in Lisa Hess’s terms, an “I Need To See It” person (and even more than that, “I Need To Write It”) this planning method works for me.

Basically, my planner is in two parts: a notebook and a planner.

Notebook and planner for SUYP

I got the notebook at Barnes & Noble, because it was cute. But you can use looseleaf, or a legal pad, or whatever for the notebook part.

I get my planners from Michele Quigley, a Catholic mom who makes beautiful planners. These planners contain a monthly 2-page view and a weekly view. They also include the readings of the day, feast-day listings, quotes from the saints, monthly papal prayer intentions and some prayer pages. (And note the beautiful cover with the San Damiano Cross! There are quite a few cover choices but this one is my favorite.)

show us your planner (5)

Here’s what the weekly view looks like: Sunday through Wednesday on one page, Thursday through Saturday (plus quote and tiny monthly calendar) on the other.

I start by using my notebook as a place to dump out all the things I need to schedule into my week.

show us your planner (4)

After I get that list out of my head and onto paper, I start adding items to days in my planner.

For me, it helps if I use keywords in caps, like CALL, SEND, WRITE, BUY, ERRAND, HOME, EMAIL.

A little circle next to an item means I’ve added it to the planner. A check mark means it’s done. YES, I do write things down on the list after I’ve done them, just so I can have the satisfaction of checking them off.

And the dinner plan is done in pencil for a reason. That is the most subject-to-change part of my schedule.

show us your planner (3)Next weekend when I look at that list again, I can go through and see if anything has to be carried over to the following week.

This planner has a section in the back that I use for work notes and book-review lists, so I can keep those items separate from my home and family tasks and appointments. That section is really a lesson-planning supplement, an add-on purchase, but since it’s basically a 7X6 grid across 2 pages, it can be used for anything and it works well for me. Most of my work stuff is on a shared Google calendar anyway.

I do add personal appointments to my own Google calendar so I can access that info on the go, but I feel much more in control of my schedule when I can write it down in a planner.

Show us YOUR planner! Write about your planner at your blog and link it over at If you don’t have a blog, share into about your planner and how you use it in the comment box.