most efficient way to plan meals

The Most Efficient Way to Plan Meals

I know we don’t want to think about it (or maybe we do!), but the next school year is right around the corner and with it, the schedule tends to clutter up very quickly when that happens.  I know one of the biggest stressors in our household is mealtime.  Do I need to cook?  What do I have available at home?  What do I want to cook?  Do I have to stop at the store on my way home? Enter meal planning!  I’m here to offer so many tips and tricks about the most efficient way to plan meals.  Save yourself stress, time, and yes even money!

most efficient way to plan mealsHow to Plan Your Weekly Meals

Planning for a weekly meal can prove to be a bit of a challenge, but let’s take a look at the most efficient ways to plan meals. Our schedules make it difficult to prepare a home-cooked meal on a regular basis. However, the benefits of a weakly meal far outweigh the minor inconveniences.

Foods prepared at home can prove to be much healthier compared to fast food. A lot of foods that are packaged in a box or a can are saturated with sodium, sugar, and the bad kind of fats. Foods in a box generally lack the vitamins that are essential to our bodies.

Basics of Balancing Nutrition in Your Meals

When you are working on efficiently planning your meals, you want each meal to have a good balance of nutrients. This means including enough carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. Depending on the diet you follow or dietary restrictions, it might include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, dairy, and many other options. It is good to aim for a colorful plate, as that ensures you are getting a wide range of vitamins and minerals.

Cooking Methods

Experiment with different cooking methods. The temperature that you choose to cook can change the chemistry of the food. For example, cooking a tomato can increase its concentration of folate and antioxidants.

Changing up how you cook can also help with the meal prep process. For example, you can have multiple appliances going at once to cook different parts of your meals, such as potatoes in the air fryer, chicken breasts in the pressure cooker, and chili in the slow cooker. This frees up your oven and stove for other things, or you can skip the oven altogether and avoid getting your house too hot from all the cooking.

Start With Family Favorites

When you start working on what meals to prepare or even prep for the week, start with some favorites you know your family enjoys. You already know the ingredients and cooking process, so this is going to make it easy. It also ensures you have at least a few meals that you don’t have to think too much about.

Use Current Ingredients

Don’t buy all new ingredients! Meal planning is easier and more cost effective when you can work from what you already have, whether that is herbs or seasonings, meat in the freezer, or milk and butter in the fridge. You can even use some leftovers for different types of meals.

meal plan on a budgetHow to Meal Plan on a Budget

Do you find that your attempts to follow a healthy diet carve into your food budget? If so, it’s never too late to change your habits. Read on to learn how planning your meals in advance can actually help you save money on food. I mean, we don’t want just the most efficient way to plan meals, we also want the budget-friendly way too!

How to Stock Your Kitchen

Seasoned grocery shoppers will know that buying in bulk is always less expensive than purchasing smaller quantities. When you’re deciding which meals to prepare for the week, consider recipes that call for versatile ingredients, such as rice, beans, or pasta. Then attempt to incorporate these into as many meals as possible.

Also know that a well-stocked pantry is one of the greatest money-saving gifts you can give yourself. When you keep a multitude of spices, salts, condiments, and other cooking staples on hand, you won’t be starting from scratch for every meal. This will make it easier for you to choose recipes based on what you have available.

Tips for Staying Under Budget

  • Make a list and stick to it: Since you already know what you’ll be making, there’s no need to fill up the cart with superfluous items. Buy only what you need for the weekly menu. This requires having a grocery list each and every time you head to the store.
  • Take stock: Chances are, you already have the building blocks for a meal or two right in your fridge or freezer without realizing it. Before you go shopping, do a quick inventory of what you have on hand. Try to incorporate any ingredients that are either nearing their expiration date, or have been hanging around in the freezer for longer than a few months.
  • Keep it simple: There’s no need to go gourmet for every meal. A savory roast chicken accompanied by steamed veggies makes a perfectly appealing dinner, and you can use any leftovers to top a salad or two later in the week.

Once you’ve gotten into the habit of planning and prepping your week’s meals in advance, you’ll find it easy to stick to the schedule—and your budget.

leftovers when meal planningDealing with Leftovers While Meal Planning

There isn’t enough love for leftovers. People often waste a lot of food simply because they keep leftovers in the fridge, and never touch them. Instead of just scraping them into the trash bin, you should utilize those leftovers for your meal planning! There’s a very happy relationship between leftovers and meal planning. Leftovers definitely help out when you’re looking for the most efficient way to plan your meals.

Make Leftovers Your Meals

If you typically use a single day of the week to do the bulk of your cooking, then you should make that meal large enough for leftovers. Something like a casserole can easily feed a family of four and then some throughout the week. It makes for a great quick-grab breakfast that you don’t have to worry about cooking. Another example might be a steak that you cook and still have plenty of meat leftover. You can continue to eat that meat throughout the week. You can even utilize portions to ensure that you’re not overdoing it on how much protein and fat you consume.

Repurposing Leftovers

Let’s say you cook something in bulk on Sunday and you’re left with a lot of leftovers. However, you’re not the type of person who can eat the same kind of meal every day. You don’t have to toss out your leftovers either. Instead, repurpose them into a new meal for your meal planning. Let’s take the example of steak again.

Sure, you could just warm up the steak and use it as a meal. Or you could cut it up a bit more and make a steak burger out of it. Throw those pieces of meat between two buns and load it up with all of the extras that you desire. This is a chance to become a little creative in the kitchen. It will not only ensure you have a lot less cooking to do overall but you’ll also never get tired of your brand-new meal.

Cook Large Meals to Make Leftovers

Finally, you need to know what kind of meals are actually the best at creating leftovers. Sometimes you just need a really good pizza to get through the week. Why not make a veggie supreme pizza? Veggie-packed and large, it can easily feed you throughout the entire week.

Use your leftovers to your full advantage, even if that means purposely cooking in bulk so you can plan several meals from one type of recipe.

meal prep and planning ideasMost Efficient Ways to Prep Meals Ahead of Time

Meal planning is essential if you plan to change your diet and focus on more healthy eating options. Without a meal plan, it is easy to make a quick stop at a drive-by or order in food because nothing in the house is defrosted. The most efficient ways to plan meals will help you avoid this and lead a healthy and happy lifestyle. Meal planning allows you to become more organized with your food options and spend less time thinking about what to eat. It also ensures no food is wasted in your household and you save a lot of money eating real food as opposed to buying fast foods.

Meal planning is not stressful if you have a system in place. When making a meal plan, stick to weekly meals instead of longer periods to switch up your diet. If you make meal preps for longer periods, you can quickly get bored with the food forcing you to eat out. Prepping is the most vital part of meal planning. Prepping ensures you have everything in place in your fridge and all that is left to do is warm up the food.  

Meal Prep

The first tip to meal prep is keeping it simple. This can be done by picking one meal to eat throughout the week. This makes prepping easier and makes you feel less stressed for the week. For instance, for lunch, you can decide to eat rice and chicken for the week. Prep the chicken and rice that will last the whole week.

The second trick is to pre-cook your meals. Pre-cooking saves a lot of time for you during the week because you only have to warm the food when it is your meal time. For instance, cook a huge batch of rice or quinoa and store it in the fridge in portions.

Additionally, you can pre-cut all your vegetables and store them in airtight bags or containers for cooking. It is much easier to make one huge mess in the kitchen instead of several huge messes throughout the week. Therefore, cut all the vegetables you have from the market.

Lastly, always have your healthy snacks prepared for the week. This ensures you have something healthy to munch on in between meals or in the morning as you rush to work or school.

prepping a month of mealsPlanning Your Meals a Month Ahead of Time

Meal planning is a great tool for almost anyone. Whether you’re a busy parent who needs to know ahead of time what’s for dinner, or a single person living a busy life full of meetings and time with friends, meal planning can help you lead the healthy lifestyle you’ve always meant to.

By planning out every dinner, possibly even lunch and breakfast if your personality is super organized, you take the stress out of cooking. You can put the menu on your fridge and rest easy knowing that you won’t have to spend your commute wondering what you’re going to whip up, when in reality, you’re already so hungry you’ll eat the first thing you see in your fridge.

Reasons to Meal Plan a Month in Advance

Meal planning can seem daunting at first, especially if you’ve never done it before. Sitting in front of a blank menu can be hard if you’re used to rummaging in your fridge until you find something that looks good every night. Filling in a week’s worth of meals can be tough, let alone a month. Tough as it may be, however, there are distinct advantages to meal planning a month in advance.

  1. By planning in advance, you’ll be able to slash your grocery bills, possibly in half. Stores want you to buy more than what’s on your list. They place tantalizing items on display that are hard to resist. The less often you’re at the store, the better. By planning a month in advance, you only need to do a large shopping trip once a month.  You can stop at a small store every week to restock on produce and milk. Plus, you’ll save more because you’ll be able to buy in bulk.
  2. It’s not as hard as you think. By setting up a meal rotation, you can easily set up a month of meals. This will save tons of time, leaving you free to cook and enjoy your meals.
  3. Meal planning can help make being healthy easier. Not only will it help relieve stress, it will let you plan your meals exactly, down to their macros. If you’re following a certain diet, meal planning is the only realistic way to stick with it. By planning far in advance, you’ll lower costs, be able to shop in bulk, and will save time. In a world that never stops running, it can feel refreshing to have a little time to rest.

Tips for Meal Planning a Month at a Time

In most respects, planning out your meals a month ahead of time, is the same as a weekly meal plan. There are just a few things to consider.  

  1. When and where to grocery shop. Just because you are planning a months’ worth of meals, doesn’t mean you are prepping and coking them all at the beginning of the month. You may want to split this up into weekly or bi-weekly grocery trips so your food doesn’t spoil.
  2. Whether or not to prepare them ahead of time. This is a really important decision to make, and one that will determine what types of meals you make. If you like freezer meals, you can definitely make more of them at once, as opposed to salads you put in jars, which won’t last nearly as long.
  3. Factoring in changes to your schedule. You probably know what is going on in the next week, but in the next month? Maybe not. This is why it’s good to have backup ideas for at least a few days out of the month when things may not go exactly according to plan.

meal planning for people who hate to cookThe Most Efficient Way to Plan Meals for People Who Hate to Cook

Not a big fan of cooking? Don’t worry – you’re not alone! Many people want to bring lunch to work or prep meals ahead of time, but struggle with the actual cooking part of it. Luckily, there are some options available, from more convenient methods of cooking, to choosing items that require absolutely no cooking or baking at all. Here are some tips for meal planning when you don’t want to cook much, or just don’t have time for it.

Utilize Different Appliances

If you aren’t interested in cooking elaborate meals, you don’t have to. In fact, you never have to turn on your stove or oven just to meal prep. But if you can turn on an appliance and just let it do its job, there are some options available to you.

  • Pressure Cooker – A pressure cooker is a type of appliance you plug in and cook foods with water and steam, as opposed to fire or an electric grill. It cooks foods in a different way, but there are many things you can do with it. You can cook chicken breasts or other types of meat, vegetables, pasta, baked potatoes, even hard boiled eggs.
  • Slow Cooker – The ultimate “set it and forget it” appliance is the slow cooker. This is great for people who don’t like to cook, since you just dump everything in and turn it on. A few hours later, your food is done.
  • Air Fryer – This is one of the newest and most popular cooking appliances around. It will cost you about $100 for a decent brand, but you get so much out of it. The air fryer is a way to cook food that is crispy and tastes fried, without actually being fried. No oil has to be used, and it cooks everything very quickly. You can make “fried” chicken in as little as 8-10 minutes, without ever turning on the stove.

Non-Cook Lunch and Dinner Options

If you want lunches and dinners that require absolutely no cooking at all, but don’t mind very minor prep work, here are some ideas:

  • Salads – Salads are healthy, pack a lot of vitamins and minerals, also something you can make without cooking anything. Want chicken on your salad, but don’t want to cook it? Just get a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and shred it up. Doesn’t get easier than that!
  • Sandwiches – This might sound boring, but there are many ways to make sandwiches. You can use bread, rolls, tortillas for wraps, and so many other items for a sandwich. It is all customizable, from the protein to the veggies, and you don’t need to turn on the stove or oven if you don’t want to.
  • Pasta or rice in a cup – Yes, these require a microwave, but that’s it I promise! These handy little cups usually don’t even require water, though some do so read the instructions.

getting bored with meal preppingHow to Avoid Getting Bored with Your Meals

Understandably, when you eat the same thing over and over through the week, your taste buds might start to become bored. Meal prep can be a great way to save money on groceries and ensure that you’re eating healthy. However, when you start to lose interest in your meals, you can become burned out. When that occurs, you’re not likely to keep sticking with the lifestyle. Since meal prep and planning can be such a great aspect to your life, you want to do everything that you can to stave off your boredom. This article will offer tips on how to stay interested in your meals throughout the week, even with all of these efficient ways to plan meals.

Add in Color

Sometimes all you need is a fresh dose of color to resume interest in eating your meals. After all, humans typically eat with their eyes first. Try cooking with many different colored vegetables and fruits. Then place those different colors throughout the week. For example, focus your first two meals on greens. Then, around the middle mark, perhaps fresh it up with some reds or purples. Utilize color to make your meal’s appearance fresh and exciting.

Make Backups

Perhaps you cooked a lasagna on the weekend. Most of the leftovers are gone so you don’t really have anything for the week. However, that doesn’t mean that the last portion should just go to waste. Instead, you make a backup meal out of it. Place the lasagna in the freezer. If at any point during your week you’re sick and tired of your current meals, then you have your backup meal–in this case, lasagna–to break up the monotony of your week.

Try Something New Each Week

For those who become bored quickly, you should try out a new recipe each week. This is a great way to further enhance your creativity in the kitchen. It can also keep your taste buds alive and excited. The more recipes that you have, the greater the variety of your meal plans.

Add Sauces

A quick and dirty way to make a meal more exciting is to add a different sauce to it. You can have the same meal every day but it can taste completely different each time depending upon what kind of sauce you use. When in doubt, make a new sauce and include it into your meals.  

kitchen appliances to plan mealsThe Best Kitchen Appliances for Meal Planning

Meal prep and planning is a great way to have meals prepared ahead of time, know exactly what you are eating each day of the week, and prepare for the busy days when you might not have time to go to the store or cook something from scratch after work.

While none of these are required, these handy tools and appliances really make the meal prep and planning process go much smoother.

Food Processor

If you plan to do a lot of chopping and dicing to prep your meals, particularly with lots of veggies, you need a food processor! This is going to save you so much time. The little extra time and energy it requires to wash this is nothing compared to dicing piles of veggies. Throw them in, turn it on, and voila!


You are probably no stranger to using a blender, but it has many uses aside from just making smoothies and margaritas. Some foods can also be cut up with a blender if you don’t have a food processor, or you need another appliance to run at the same time if you have some help in the kitchen on meal prep day. Think about what it can chop up for your smoothies, and it gives you a good idea of what this thing can do for other meal prep purposes.

Air Fryer and Pressure Cooker

Get one or both, and you will have some help in the kitchen for meal prep. They each work in different ways, and for different purposes. The pressure cooker uses water and air to cook foods, while the air fryer works by circulating air, often helped by putting a very small amount of oil on the food.

Slow Cooker

Slow cookers are still used frequently, and really help a lot when you are meal prepping. If you want to cook meals ahead of time, you can throw the ingredients in a slow cooker, turn it on, and let it cook while you prep other meals.

printable meal plannerUsing Printables for the Most Efficient Way to Plan Meals

Meal planning is one of the most important components of a healthy diet. Many people are too busy to prepare multiple healthy meals during the day. Instead of resorting to junk food or other quicker options, it’s beneficial to have meals prepared and planned beforehand. This allows people to have greater control over their diet. Although meal planning can have great results, this strategy takes some organization and preparation. Printables are a great way to simplify this process.

How are printables related to meal planning?

Meal planning is no different than any form of preparation. You’ll need some way to organize and remember the information that will be used to prepare meals in the future. Printables are a great way to organize this information in a digestible and easy-to-read format. Many printables will be divided into seven different sections denoting each day of the week. There may be divisions below these individual sections for each meal to be prepared that day. In addition to these categories, there may be a section for a grocery list or calorie counter.

Where can you find meal planning printables?

Websites focusing on health and fitness are the best places to find meal planning printables. These popular sites will usually have some templates that can be downloaded for free. Some templates can even be filled out online and then printed after completion. There are also some design websites that allow users to design their own printable for free. When designing your own printable, you can customize the format to fit your unique fitness goals and needs.

Here’s just a few beautiful ones that I’ve seen on Etsy (affiliate links):

How should you print and organize your templates?

Once you’ve found a printable to use with your meal planning, it’s time to print the template. Although you can use normal paper without any problems, it is advisable to print these meal planning templates on nicer paper that will last longer. If you’re interested in reusing a template week after week, you can place the printable in a protective sleeve or laminated shield. You’ll have a protected template, and you can write on top with an erasable marker.

How can you use your printables effectively?

Using a meal planning template effectively is as simple as remaining consistent and determined. You should start each week by writing down your intended meals for each day. If you have to purchase items from the grocery store, add these products to the grocery list section.

meal prep containersGuide to Using Meal Prep Containers

Whether you’re interested in dieting or just want to encourage yourself to eat healthier, your biggest tool is going to be meal planning. By having your week’s meals ready to go, you can cut down on the urge to choose convenient foods that aren’t always the best for you.   Meal planning is also an easy method of ensuring that you’re receiving all of the protein, vitamins, and nutrients that your body requires in a day. Choosing your meals is only half of meal planning. The other half is storage. Which containers are perfect for meal planning? That all depends on your needs. This article will discuss a few tips on how to choose the correct container for your meal planning.

Quality Matters

The first thing to remember, especially with meal containers you are bring with you to work or other places outside the home, is to choose the highest quality possible. This is going to help them last and keep your food as fresh as possible. Look for containers that come with airtight, leak-proof lids. These might be plastic or glass containers, depending on your budget and personal preference. Of course you don’t want it to leak, but being airtight will keep your food fresh, whether it is left out on the counter or your desk, or you are storing it in the fridge.

Glass Containers

There are a lot of benefits to using glass containers. They’re easier to clean, their lids are typically snug, and you can microwave them. For those who want to make their meal-times even more convenient, then you need to pick up a few glass containers. You’ll never have to worry about plastic melting in the microwave again. Or wondering what potential toxic materials are entering your food via the microwave. They can often be healthier for you and long-lasting, though expect to pay a little more for the glass containers. Many people don’t feel comfortable with glass while on-the-go, but again, it is completely a personal preference.

Portion-Focused Containers

One of the best tips for using containers to prep and plan your meals, is to use those with portions already included. These contain different compartments, making it easy to separate different parts of your meals, and has the bonus of portion control at the same time. Here are some benefits of compartment containers:

  • Everything is portioned out, which is handy for dieting.
  • It makes it easy to balance your meals in each compartment.
  • You keep your food from mixing together when you don’t want it to.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some meal planning tips and tricks for more productive meal planning?

Meal planning is an excellent strategy to use when trying to improve your food choices. During a busy day, it can be difficult to carve out enough time to prepare a healthy meal. The idea of having to prepare three meals each day can seem daunting and impossible. With the right meal planning strategy and the most efficient ways to plan your meals, you can kiss all of that stress and anxiety goodbye.   By cooking and prepping your meals for the week, you eliminate many of the worries that revolve around eating healthy during the day. In order to help you achieve your health goals, here are some tips and tricks for a more efficient meal planning strategy.

  1. Start with Your Favorite Meals: Many people make the mistake of trying to cook something new every day. How exhausting! And expensive! When you’re focusing on getting healthier, the nutrients within the meal are much more important than the appearance or taste of the dish. Instead of focusing on creating something that would make Betty Crocker happy, you should stick with your favorite meals. Sticking with simple meals will make the preparation process much quicker and easier. You can always swap out a recipe or two with each passing week. It’s important to always focus on the nutrients rather than the taste.
  2. Use Leftovers as Much as You Can: Not every meal needs to be cooked from scratch. In fact, it’s a waste of valuable time to cook each meal from the very beginning. Instead, you should take a look in the refrigerator to see what’s available. Using items already in the fridge will accomplish a few goals. First and foremost, you’ll save a lot of time that would have been spent cooking or baking from scratch. Secondly, you won’t end up having a fridge full of random food items. Tomorrow’s meals should start from the leftovers you have laying around.
  3. Have Some Essential Ingredients: Meal planning isn’t about cooking something tasty and creating a nice presentation. You can save all that effort for your next date with the in-laws. During meal prep, you should only focus on getting your required calories and macronutrients for the week. At times, this will require you to stomach some less-than-satisfying combinations of grains, vegetables, and grains. It’s always a good idea to have some essential ingredients that can make these hardy meals more palatable. Peanut, barbecue, and Tabasco sauce are a few great options that can turn any meal into a tasty treat. To make your meal planning more efficient, having the basics on hand can go a long way.

What are some easy prep and meal planning ideas?

Perhaps you’ve decided to try out meal planning. You’ll likely find that it can be an effective method for ensuring that everyone in your home receives a healthy meal with little effort. For those who are busy or just plain exhausted after a day’s worth of work, then meal planning can completely change your life. Before you can start planning your meals, however, you need to have a few recipe ideas. To help ensure you get started the right way, here a few general recipe tips to keep in mind.

Store Recipes Somewhere Easily Accessible

Let’s be honest, we’re all lazy people. Some of us can become burned out on an idea at even the smallest hint of extra effort. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. Work is difficult and exhausting. Add adult responsibilities on top of that and it’s no wonder you’re looking for minimal work. To ensure that your meal planning is successful, you need to store your recipes in an easily accessible place. More than that, they need to stay organized.

No one wants to spend a few minutes flipping through a book trying to find the right recipe. Organization is going to be your best friend in this regard. You may want to consider storing your recipes on a handle of one of your cupboards. Or just have it in the top drawer next to your cooking instruments.

Have a General Consensus of Everyone’s Tastes

One of the worst things that you can do is cook a meal large enough to have leftovers that carry you through the week only to find that no one likes it. That’s time, money, and effort wasted. Before you start looking or creating a recipe, you should speak to your family about what they like to eat and what they don’t like to eat. Be sure to include yourself in this interview, too. Once you have a taste collection, you can then start to look for and create recipes according to those tastes.

Stick with Themes

Another recipe idea is to stick with a theme for certain days. For example, Tuesdays can be taco night or soup night. This can make creating recipes easy. It also allows your week to be broken up just enough to ensure that you don’t get bored with the same meal.

Can you give me some ideas for a meal prep grocery list for beginners? That sounds like one of the most efficient ways to plan my meals!

Meal planning is all about convenience – it allows you to plan a week or more of meals ahead of time, often prepping them beforehand. It lets you see exactly what you will be eating each day of the week without worrying about it or wondering if you have the right ingredients, and also makes it easier to ensure your family has balanced meals.

Here are some tips for meal planning, especially when it comes to the details, like planning out your grocery list.

  • Take inventory first: Any meal planner knows that this is the first step. You need to know what you already have for a few different reasons. First of all, many leftovers can be used for different dishes, so you don’t have to waste them. It is also a good idea to take stock so you can really find the most efficient way to plan meals based around certain ingredients you have. And lastly, it keeps you from adding an item to your grocery list that you already have.
  • Start with the simplest meals first: You may only plan your dinners, or every meal of the day for each member of the family. To simplify this process, just start with the simplest meals on your list. For many people, this is breakfast. If you know you want to make an omelet every day for breakfast, you can write down the ingredients you need, and be done with that portion of the meal planning.
    • Make sure you not only write the meals you need for each one you are planning, but also the ingredients, and the amount of ingredients. Having more than one chicken dish? Look at the amount you need for each and get a good total of how much chicken o pick up if you have run out completely. This is going to prevent multiple trips to the store in the middle of the week.
  • Work on your grocery list: This one is completely up to you, but it does help to organize your list. You know what order you go in the grocery store, whether you start in produce or do the deli and bakery first, so that is how your list should be ordered. This is going to make shopping the fastest possible, and also avoid aisles with foods you don’t need, but are often tempting to you. Don’t need snacks? Avoid that aisle completely by having an organized list.

bullet journal hacks and ideas

Bullet Journal Hacks and Ideas

In the past few years, bullet journaling has become an extremely popular way to organize your tasks and record your memories. A bullet journal is a combination of a planner, a to-do list, and a diary, so it can hold virtually everything that you need to write down. But are you familiar with all the bullet journal hacks and ideas?

If you’re just starting your bullet journal, you may be overwhelmed by all the different possibilities. There are an unlimited number of sections you can include in your journal, and you can design them in any way you want. While this gives you lots of room for creativity, it also can make it difficult for you to decide where to start.

With this type of journal, it is important that you have a good plan beforehand, but also that you learn some little tips and tricks that seasoned bullet journalers have already begun using.

This whole post is going to give you an inside look into some tips and “hacks” for your bullet journal, whether you are brand new or have been working with this type of journal for a while.

Keep reading to get the inside scoop on bullet journaling.

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    Deciding on your sections beforehand

    Out of all the bullet journal hacks and ideas, what’s the number one trick everyone should know?

    Preparation! This is a lot more important than people realize. When you rush through setting up your bullet journal, you probably miss a lot and don’t have room to move stuff around or add new pages. The best thing you can do is make a lot of the big decisions before you even put the bullet journal together.

    Choosing all of your sections before you set up your journal will help you keep it organized. You can add collection pages at any time when you think of them. However, if you want sections in your bullet journal that repeat each month, deciding on them beforehand will help you space everything out evenly and leave enough pages for each topic.

    What pages to add

    The main sections for a bullet journal are the index, the future log, the monthly logs, and the daily logs. Some popular collections pages to consider adding include:

    • Yearly goals
    • Books you’ve read or plan to read
    • Movies you’ve seen or plan to watch
    • Recipes to try
    • Things that made you laugh
    • Your favorite quotes
    • Goals or tasks
    • Personal or business lists
    • Packing lists and travel goals
    • Other miscellaneous collections or pages

    If you’re using your bullet journal to track your goal progress or to help with new habits, you can add monthly collections pages. Choosing about the different sections and collections you want will help you select your journal size. Some section ideas include:

    • Sleep tracker
    • Weight tracker
    • Water intake
    • Chore log
    • Spending and savings logs

    As you can see, there are many pages to add and a lot of ways to approach the journal.

    Write down a list of the main sections you want first, such as the index and the calendar logs. Then, come up with a list of other pages, such as those above or others you want to add. Then you can come up with a good order to put the pages in the journal. This very crucial preparation step will save you a lot of headaches later on.

    Make all your decisions before starting

    You don’t want to get halfway through creating your bullet journal before realizing that your setup won’t work. When deciding how to design your journal, consider all of the different sections you plan to include.

    Do you want all of your pages to be uniform, or are you okay with some variety between sections? Would you prefer your monthly task lists to be written in calendar form or in list form? What do you plan to use for signifiers?

    If you want to be very creative or artistic with your journal, try designing a couple of sample pages on loose sheets of paper before starting your journal. This will help you figure out exactly how you want to format your different sections without having to remove pages from your journal that you don’t like.

    Start looking at other bullet journals and sample pages to get a look and feel for how people like to set them up. Don’t just try to copy one person’s journal, but rather use multiple journals as inspiration. Many times, you find the inspiration you need to add your own flair and creativity to your own journal.

    Start simple

    When looking up hacks and ideas for your bullet journal, you’ll probably see lots of elaborate, beautifully-decorated journals with dozens of different sections and collections. You may be inspired to create the be-all and end-all of bullet journals, but it’s better to start simple. Even with all of these bullet journal hacks and ideas, pick and choose what works best for you.

    If you’re not used to journaling, you may get overwhelmed quickly and be more likely to quit. Keep it simple until journaling becomes a habit, then start adding more detail or more content.

    Try beginning with just the main sections of a bullet journal: the index, the future log, the monthly logs, and the daily logs. Add a couple of collections pages that are important to you, but don’t go overboard. If you want to add some color or doodles, go ahead.

    However, your bullet journal can also be written entirely in pencil with no fancy designs or drawings. Focus on the content more than the appearance, and build on the foundation of your bullet journal only when you really feel inspired.

    Not artistic? That’s okay! You don’t need to be in order to make your bullet journal look pretty, but also keep your simple design at the same time. Try using some of the following items to create good layouts that don’t require too much thought:
    Use a ruler when making lines, boxes or grids.
    Try small stickers as your signifiers instead of drawing them yourself.
    Get printables with designs already on the pages.

    Leave blank pages between sections

    It’s up to you whether you set up your journal for months in advance or take it one month or week at a time. If you do choose to get a few months ahead with your journal design, leave more blank pages between each section than you think you’ll need. It can be very frustrating to want to add a new collections page or a longer daily entry but not have enough space.

    The more you journal, the more ideas and inspiration will come to you. Leave at least five or six blank pages between each month, just in case you have a lot to report. If these pages end up staying blank, it’s completely fine. If you do run out of space in one section, though, don’t worry. The index at the beginning of your journal will keep track of where everything is, so you can skip ahead to the next blank page and record it in your index.

    If you aren’t sure where in your journal you might want to add more pages, just add one blank page after every few sections. This gives you room to add more as needed, and additional space in the journal if you end up migrating pages later on.

    Color code your different categories

    Once you’ve set up your journal and have gotten used to it, color coding is a great next step. There are a few different options for color coding, so you’ll have to decide which is best for your own journal. You can color code each section of your journal, so monthly logs are all one color, daily logs are another color, and collections are other colors. One option is to color code your collections based on these categories:

    • Things that have happened
    • Things you plan to happen (books to read, recipes to make, etc.)
    • Habit tracking
    • Ideas
    • Tasks and goals

    Another option is to get more precise and detailed with your color coding of individual tasks or items in the journal. Instead of assigning each section its own color, you can color code subcategories within the sections. For example, you can mark up your monthly spread according to different tasks or events that day. Doctor’s appointment days could be blue, birthdays could be red, and bill due dates could be green.

    You can also color code your daily log by assigning different colors to different tasks. This is mostly the purpose of signifiers, but some people respond better to colors than to symbols. You could use a different color for job or school tasks, chores, events, reminders, and memories. If you’re serious about color coding, buying a collection of high quality colored pens might be a good idea. You can also use highlighters or markers to assign colors to different topics.

    Try using sticky notes of different colors when deciding on the colors for each section. This allows you to do the planning work without having to keep going back and switch the colors. Once you are settled on them, you can then go in with pens or markers to assign colors permanently to the pages of your bullet journal.

    Keep signifiers simple

    Signifiers are the symbols in your daily logs that provide visual categorization. You can take a quick glance at your list and see what type of tasks or reminders you’ve written. This is a fantastic organizational method, but it can get confusing and messy if you use too many symbols.

    The purpose of signifiers is to easily recognize what’s written in your daily log, but if you have 20 different symbols to keep track of, you’ll just have to spend more time remembering or decoding the symbols. Some people keep a fold-out key for their signifiers in the cover of their journal. This can be very helpful, but it’s usually easier just to keep your signifiers simple.

    You should be able to split up your daily entries into just four or five categories. You could use one symbol for things you need to do, one for appointments or events, one for reminders, and one for memories you’ve recorded. Once you get familiar with your signifiers, you may want to add new ones to be more specific. Try to gradually add signifiers instead of introducing them all at once, so you can take the time to get familiar with them.

    If you are having trouble deciding what signifiers should be, consider shapes and what they mean to you. These do not have to be the same as for other people. Here are some examples:
    ❤️For any list of things you love.
    ⭕Often used for bullet points, you can check items off a task list.
    ⭐When you do something amazing, use a star!

    Use threading

    You may have projects or collections that spread out throughout your bullet journal. You can flip to the index page to find all the page numbers, but that can be a hassle. Threading is a helpful way to connect the pages of your ongoing projects, even if they aren’t in consecutive pages in your journal.

    In the bottom corner of the page, write the page number of the previous or next entry of that particular topic or collection. This will quickly and easily direct you to the correct page when you want to see the collection in its entirety.

    Don’t forget to add the threaded pages to your index! It is imperative that you stay as organized as possible with your bullet journal.

    Use sticky notes

    You may sometimes have short-term reminders or small lists that you want to write down but don’t want to keep in your journal permanently. Grocery lists and weekly meal plans are great lists to keep on sticky notes with your daily or weekly logs.

    Also, if you design your monthly logs one at a time, you may have an event or task to remember in the next month but don’t want to make the log for that month yet. In these cases, you can add a sticky note to your current monthly log as a reminder to jot the information down when you make next month’s log.

    Sticky notes can also be used to put blank pages on hold for collections or projects. You may have an idea for a collection but aren’t yet ready to write it down. Keep a sticky note with your idea on a blank page, so you’ll remember that the page has a purpose.

    Get creative with your sticky notes! You don’t have to just use the plain, boring yellow ones. Not only are there a lot of fun colors to choose from, but fun shapes as well. If you can’t find shapes in your office supply store, check craft stores in the planner and journaling section. They often have different options, like stars, hearts, dogs, and just about every shape you can think of.

    Mark important pages with washi tape

    Washi tape comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns, and it can be a useful organizer for your journal. To mark an important page, you can line the edge with washi tape, which will let you easily turn to the page without needing to check the index. You may want to use washi tape on your monthly spreads or on important collections pages. You can even color code pages with the tape, which will make it even easier to find important pages.

    Use Washi tape to add more color and design to your bullet journal, but also for organizing. If you don’t like boring grids and boxes that you draw, make them with the Washi tape instead.

    Make it look pretty

    Once you’re comfortable with the layout of your journal and journaling has become a habit, you can start decorating. Making your bullet journal pretty is a great stress reliever, and it can make you feel especially proud of your project.

    You can find hundreds or even thousands of pictures of bullet journals online, which can provide some inspiration. However, your journal should be representative of you. While finding ideas from others is a good starting point, you should always put your own creativity into it. You can start by choosing a theme, which can change each month or remain constant throughout your whole journal. Your themes could be related to travel destinations, nature scenes, current holidays, or anything else you’re interested in.

    Decorating your page headers is another way to spruce up your journal. Try practicing your cursive to write elegant headers, or write your headers in bubble letters and fill them in. You can use highlighters or colored pens to decorate around the heading, or you can draw a banner around the heading to make it stand out. If you like doodling, you can add decorative borders to your pages or devote entire pages to drawings.

    Even if you don’t feel that artistic, you can make your bullet journal look great just by keeping it organized and adding some color. You can add patterned washi tape to your pages to make them more artistic, or you could include photos in some of your entries to break up the text.

    Use stickers and stencils found at your local craft store if you want to add more color and creativity to the bullet journal pages.

    Make journaling a ritual

    Many people are very excited to write in their journal for the first few days, but they quickly fall off the wagon and forget about their project. The best way to stick with your bullet journaling is to make it a habit or a ritual. Try to keep your bullet journal in the same place, so it becomes a regular fixture in your life. This may be on your nightstand, in your kitchen, or in your bag to go with you everywhere.

    One great thing about bullet journaling is that it’s a much smaller time commitment than other types of writing. Once you set up your monthly spread, you just have to jot down a few bullet points each day. However, this also means that it’s easy to tell yourself, “I can write this down tomorrow and catch up.”

    Maybe it will only take you a few minutes to catch up the following day, but getting in the habit of procrastinating your journaling will eventually lead to you stopping entirely. If you have a thought that you want to record in your journal, write it down as soon as you can.

    If you’d rather write everything down at once instead of sporadically throughout the day, find the best time of day for you to write. This could be during your lunch break, right when you get home from work, before you go to bed, or whenever you feel the most productive or creative. Set a reminder on your phone to journal during this time, and make it a habit to journal every single day.

    Find the time of day when you would enjoy using the journal the most. This might be early in the morning, or right in the middle of the day when you are on your lunch break. This should always be fun for you, so choose what works best for YOU.

    Don’t compare to others

    Looking at other people’s bullet journals can be great for finding ideas or inspiration, but you shouldn’t compare your journal to theirs. You’ll see some journals that look like professional pieces of artwork and others that only contains messy bullet points written in pencil. As fun as it can be to decorate your journal, the content matters more than the appearance, and your content is unique to you.

    Also, don’t think that just because other people include certain topics or collections in their journals, you have to as well. Bullet journals are very customizable, so you only need to include what’s relevant to you. Don’t make your journal look a certain way or contain certain topics just because other journals do. This will make your journal less sincere and authentic to you.

    Keep looking for inspiration

    Your bullet journal should always be representative of you, but you should also keep looking for inspiration to stay interested and motivated. You can read blog posts about bullet journal ideas or look at other people’s journals on Pinterest, Instagram, or YouTube. You might see something that’s perfect for your own journal, and adding a new page will spark your enthusiasm.

    Continually looking for ways to improve your journal will prevent it from becoming just another chore. It should be a fun project that helps you stay organized and lets you record important moments or ideas. If you focus on what really inspires you to write, your bullet journal can become a lifelong project.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How do I start a bullet journal?

    Wow, that was a lot of bullet journal hacks and ideas but what if you’re brand-new? Most of us have a lot of things on our minds, yet we don’t put enough of it down on paper. Many of those ideas and thoughts bouncing around in your head can sometimes start to feel overwhelming. You may have secret hopes, dreams, love interests, failures or ups and downs going through your head.

    It can be hard to remember each of those and it can be very difficult to keep all of your thoughts organized without writing them down somewhere. A great way to remedy this, as well as clear your mind a little, is to write everything down in a journal. Keeping a journal is great for anyone and is an awesome way to express yourself away from any judgment of others. Below are some tips for starting your first journal.

    1. Protect your privacy – You must first think of ways to protect your privacy when you start a journal. This is especially true if you plan to add ideas that you don’t want people stealing. Always reserve the first page of your journal for your name and phone number or email address. This way, if it gets lost, you might get lucky and have it returned to you. If you like to write online, you may consider getting a personal email set aside just for your journal entries. Alternately, consider getting a flash drive to keep your entries on and make them password protected.
    2. Date your entries – If you are only able to establish one habit when writing in your journal, it needs to be adding dates to all of your entries. This will allow you to reconstruct your entries chronologically by dates. It can also let you notice the silence in between certain entries.
    3. Keep and read what you write – Many don’t feel the need to go back and read what they have written. However, it can be of great importance to go back and read what you wrote previously. You can be pleasantly surprised with how much you knew before and how far you have come.
    4. Write thoughts down quickly – Many people who journal regularly know all to well about “journal block.” This is the same as writer’s block and you can lose everything you want to write down if you don’t get it out in time. To outsmart this block, write everything down as fast as you can or as soon as you have a thought come to mind. Don’t tell yourself you will write it down later because you might miss your chance.
    5. Be truthful – Your own personal truth is not your enemy. You are writing for yourself, not for anyone else. Do not try and talk yourself out of getting to know yourself better and trying to understand how you really feel about things. You have to give yourself permission to tell the truth about everything. Also, give yourself the ability to go at your own pace. If you are having a hard time facing your own truth, you can slow it down a little.
    6. Write naturally – The best thing about keeping a journal is that there are no rules to follow. Don’t overthink what you are writing or how you are writing it. Write naturally and enjoy the process. You will gain more from it than you realize. Even with all these bullet journal hacks and ideas, don’t go over the top and try to do “all the things” at once.
    7. When you start, don’t stop – When you start a new entry, it is best to start with the present moment. This could be what is going on in your life that day or that week. It is best to keep the thoughts and ideas flowing. Add in how you are feeling about everything going on as well. When you come back to read old entries, you will find it easier to relive the moment if you were more descriptive about how you were feeling as things were happening in your life. While writing, don’t take time to go back and edit or rewrite anything. Let everything flow out naturally.
    8. Start with a quick meditation moment – In order to get yourself ready for a writing session, take a few moments to take some deep breaths and meditate. You can use a variety of things to help you get in the mood for writing. The use of deep breathing, soft music, stretches or candles are all great things to help get your creative juices flowing.

    What do I write in my bullet journal?

    There is nothing quite like that breath of fresh air that tends to come with starting a new year. For those who have stumbled and made mistakes in the year gone by, it is their time to start to rebound and make better choices for the future. For all of us, it is a time of self-reflection and hopefully some positive changes. Many use this time to come up with some resolutions for themselves for the new year. A common (and productive) one is to choose to start journaling. Today we take a look at some creative ideas for writing prompts for each season. These bullet journal hacks and ideas will keep you writing all year long!


    We start with the coldest of seasons because this is the time when New Year’s resides. If you happen to decide to start your journal during this time of year, then you need some creative ideas to get those writing juices flowing.

    A lot of people associate people getting out and about during the Summer time, what about those interesting people who are outside during the frigid Winter. Surely there is something interesting to say about them.

    You don’t even have to write about this exactly idea, but it probably got you thinking already. The point is to spark a creative jolt within you.


    The weather is starting to warm up and people are in a better mood (generally speaking of course). This time of year is one that we can all appreciate almost no matter who we are. You might choose to write about revitalization and how even in the darkest days of Winter, we always know that Spring will still come around and make everything feel new and fresh again.

    If you are feeling like being contrarian in your journal, how about writing about the decay of certain things (think abandoned malls, outdated inventions). Either direction can take you on a fun journey in your journal.


    Each season possesses a unique challenge for the writer to tackle. It can be difficult to remain motivated to write in one’s journal when all of our lives are so busy. However, we have to remain on the straight and narrow in order to continue to fill that journal up. A few of these writing prompts may just help make the process a little easier.

    And of course, summer vacations are prime for bullet journals! From the planning to the packing list, to the adventures along the way!


    This is the season of Halloween and of football. Sports are a go-to topic if you can’t think of something else to write about. Who is your favorite team? When did you first decide that would be the team you support? What about their rival team can you just not stand?

    For Halloween, think about what really scares you. Not just the vampires and goblins, but your true fears in life. What are the things that keep you up at night? Are you afraid to even talk about them out loud? If so, writing them down may give you an outlet to release some of that fear and move on.

    What do I do on the first page of my bullet journal?

    Categorize your index

    A huge one in the world of bullet journal hacks and ideas. A chronological index is very helpful for keeping your bullet journal organized. The way you format you index is up to you, but it’s usually wise to list your index items by page number. However, you can also add additional pages to your index that list everything by category. This way, you can easily find all the pages that relate to a specific topic.

    One category for your index page may be monthly logs. Then, you can easily see the page numbers for each monthly log all grouped together. If you have a lot of collections, you can list the different categories in your index. When you want to find all of your journal entries that involve that particular topic, you won’t have to scan through your entire index. Instead, you can go right to that category in the index.

    If you don’t want to make a separate index page for categories, you can also color code your traditional index page. Your journal entries and categories can stay concisely listed on one or two pages, but you can also find entries quickly by recognizing the colors.

    It’s important to decide how to format and use your index before you start setting up your journal. Make sure you leave enough pages at the beginning for your index to expand if it needs to. If you want to divide your index into lots of different categories, consider splitting your index pages into two columns, which will give you twice the space.

    Write your index in pencil when first starting your bullet journal. This makes it much easier to switch around when you are still working out where the pages should be.

    advantages of printable planners

    Advantages of printable planners: The Top Three

    Did you know that printables can be your planner’s best friend?  Do you know what the key advantages of printable planners are? Whether you prefer daily, weekly, or monthly planning, read on to find out the top three reasons why you should consider printable pages for your planner even if you already have another system in place!

    advantages of printable planners
    advantages of printable planners

    Advantage #1: Perfectly Personalized

    Imagine walking into a store and picking each individual page for your planner, and then putting it all together just for yourself.  And being able to go back to the store year after year and duplicate the planner at no additional charge.  If you decide you need a random weekly planner page in addition to your regular monthly pages, or you want to add a second gift tracker when the holidays come around, simply being able to add individual pages as you need them. Want to try out new mood trackers? Go ahead!

    I even keep my travel printables right in the month of the trip. I simply print one out for each trip when we’ve locked in the dates and start making my notes right there.

    Being able to add any page you want (I admit that I have several fun coloring pages in mine), and not being “stuck” with pages you don’t need.  Like a beautiful eyeshadow palette with that one weird shade.  Who wants that in a planner that you are going to use every day for an entire year? No one!

    Planners are so personal because they are truly your life on paper.  And why shouldn’t it work for you instead of the other way around?  If you mess up a page, no need for whiteout, simple re-print and replace. Personally, I love this particular feature!

    Advantage #2: Completely Customizable

    Individual printable pages allow you to customize the layout and combination in your planner itself.  But in addition to the individual printables that are available, you can also find beautiful blank templates.  These templates are terrific because you can add your own colors and pictures, or even type in special dates to remember directly into the calendar.

    For example, the gift tracker that I use has everyone’s birthdays printed right onto the page. It’s so handy not to have to recreate that every year (since rarely do people’s birthdays change, ha!) Not to mention the templates are yours forever so you can update and reprint year after year.  Or if you need to add or change something, make the edits and reprint just that page!

    Advantage #3: Entirely Economical

    I mentioned it above, but I wanted to highlight the fact that printables are actually very economical.  That is the world of printable planner pages!  Being able to pay upfront just once, and print as many as you like!  There is the initial cost for the files or templates, however after that purchase, you own those digital files and can re-print as many pages as you like.

    Need 5 gift trackers?  Go ahead and print them all out!  Made a mistake on the week of April 9th?  Reprint and replace it! Wait, do you need to insert more Notes pages in June? Do it!

    No matter whose system you use or where you find your printables or templates, they are a great economical option for a truly personalized and customized planner that’s all about you!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are printable planners?

    Simply put, printable planners are digital pages and files that you create or buy, and then physically print out to put in a holder such as a binder or a discbound system. You can buy individual pages or entire planners, whichever you are looking for.

    What can I do with a printable planner?

    Anything you want! It is yours to personalize and customize any way you see fit. And you can change it as you go through your year. Do you currently have a spiral for this year? No worries, if you want to start testing the waters with printables, go ahead! When I started my first bullet journal, I found some lovely printable trackers I wanted to use. I made my purchase, printed it out, and then glued it into the pages. You can start today!

    Why are paper planners better?

    I’ve really tried to get into some of the electronic planners but they just aren’t the same. I like my paper planners because I like the tactile aspects of putting pen to paper. I like using my colored pens and pencils, I like doodling in the margins, and I love my stickers. My current planner is a discbound system, full of so many wonderful printables, and I love the fact that I can truly make it my own. I’ve added spreadsheets, calendars, schedules and more.

    Do paper planners even still matter?

    Just ask Erin Condren whether paper planners still matter! I think there is something special about a beautiful paper planner. Think of it as the difference between a Happy Birthday email or a Happy Birthday card in the mail. Which would you prefer to receive? The card of course, that has a loved one’s handwritten note and signature.

    I also like the fact that even if I don’t hole punch a page and insert it, I can stick things into the discbound holder such as bills that need to be paid or cards that need to be mailed. If you’re planning only in electronic formats, where do you keep those things???

    You may also be interested in…

    inspiration and motivation for your planner

    Inspiration and Motivation for your Planner

    When you think about your planner, what inspires you in your designs and decorations? How do you find your inspiration? What motivates you to keep it accurate and up-to-date? Whether you use a pre-printed planner, a plain dot-grid journal, or a collection of printables — we all add our own mark to our planner system!

    Where do you look for your planner inspiration?

    When you sit down, how do you decide on the month’s theme or layout?  Do you base your designs and decorations on the season?  On the holiday of month?  On a personal event happening in that month?  If you’re like me, it’s all over the map depending on what I have planned for the month.

    • A lot of the time mine is based on the time of year – floral for spring, beautiful leaves for autumn.  But if I have a particularly big event in a month, I might switch it up.  In April of this year, I have a family wedding to attend so the design might include doves or wedding bells.
    • While electronic organization has it’s advantages, I almost always circle back to organizing in paper.  If for no other reason than I love my stickers and washi tapes!
    • I’ve even mixed up the mood trackers based on the overall design on the month.  If you aren’t integrating a mood tracker, you should give it a try!

    How do you stay motivated to use your planner?

    When life gets busy, productivity and habits can start to fall by the wayside.  How do you stay on track with using your planner?

    • When I started my first bullet journal, I actually put “bujo” as one of the habits in my habit tracker!  It helped me build the habit that is now instilled in me (for the most part).
    • Having all your journaling habits and supplies in place makes it so much easier to accomplish your planner goals.
    • For a little help or inspiration, check out these planner habit suggestions to cement it as part of your daily life.

    A collection of ideas and designs – check them out!

    Here are just a few products to give you some ideas and inspiration for your journaling.  Some of them are brand-new products and some of them are just my favorite products!

    Erin Condren Ettavee Ultimate Planny Pack

    Erin Condren Layers Planner Folio

    Coco and Opal Design Sticker Club

    The bullet journal

    It’s the start of the year, and your resolution is to be more mindful and more organized. There’s nothing like old-fashioned pen and paper to help make this happen.

    Or maybe you’re a veteran journaler looking to transform your practice. Regardless of your experience journaling, the Bullet Journal can boost your practice.

    Bullet journaling involves a great deal of customization. Have you spent time looking through journal formats and found that there wasn’t one that fit your needs exactly?

    Enter the Bullet Journal.

    The basis of the journal is simplicity in the form of bullet points. The founder says that the more effort is expended to create a list or entry, the less likely we are to continue to do it. Instead of complicated recording methods, the basic structure of this journal is the bullet.

    From there, journals can be customized to whatever need you have. If you have a million to do lists, this is a way to track them all. If you want to set reasonable goals and habits and track your progress, this allows you to do that in a way that is intuitive for you. It includes an index that you update as you go, and you can track future events and tasks or last month’s tasks that didn’t get done.

    It makes use of something called “rapid logging” which is just a fancy way of saying jotting down notes. The idea is to get things out of your head quickly so that you can use symbols to organize and track them.

    It’s a journal and a to-do list all in one. Once you figure out your system, it makes a lot of sense to keep track of both things to do in the future and the daily events happening now. This method gives you a complete picture of what your life is like so you can reflect, make changes, or simply create gratitude for day to day occurrences and circumstances.

    Bullet Journals are easily customizable and are intended to reflect a natural system of organization already in your head. You don’t have to worry about organizing your thoughts as you get them on paper. Instead, you mark them with a logical series of symbols after they are down on paper to track.

    1. Benefits of Bullet Journaling

    The first thing to know about bullet journals is that they are extremely beneficial. Here is a list of some of the top benefits of using this type of journal.

    They Are Versatile

    One of the most significant benefits of switching to this system is that you can use any notebook.

    No, really.

    Although many of the demonstration models use the simple dot grid to help keep things straight, you can start today with whatever notebook is lying around.

    Journals are like purses or closets. They’re never perfect, and there’s always something else you wish you had. Instead of using what someone else thinks are organized, the system follows how you think.

    This kind of customization removes the fear around buying the wrong type of journal or finding out later that there’s a better system. As you grow bored of a system, you can switch it up to reveal fresh ideas and see your to-do list in a new way. No boredom means you’re more likely to stick with the system.

    They Work with Any Budget

    Another benefit is that you don’t need to invest a ton of money. You want something that is rugged enough to go with you everywhere, but there are a lot of cheap notebooks out there that can accomplish this task. Some planners can run you upwards of $50 or more. This is an expensive experiment to try and then abandon.

    It Has Multiple Uses

    The Bullet Journal also functions as several different recording notebooks at once. You don’t need to buy a journal to record day to day activities, a habit tracker for all those New Year’s resolutions, and a planner to keep organized. You can do everything in one space. Simplification means you’re more likely to stick with this system and see real change.

    Anything you can do to simplify your process and make it more personalized to your needs keeps you from dropping the system. Though Bullet Journaling can seem overwhelming at first, once you figure out your system, it needs little maintenance to carry you through each day. No more feeling guilty that you couldn’t stay consistent.

    2. What to Write About

    And now the real beauty of the Bullet Journal – you can write about anything that you want.

    Getting started is easy. You need a blank notebook and a pen. That’s it.

    Rapid Logging

    Most people start with the rapid logging pages. This is your list of to-dos, notes, and observations. Once you jot them down, begin to mark them based on a system of symbols that you’ve created. If you aren’t sure what the symbols should be, you can look at examples of what others are doing and modify accordingly.

    It’s important to keep your notes short, but you can always expand notes on the next page if there’s something you need to write more in-depth. First, quick. Then expand.


    The next part is the index. At the beginning of your journal is a running index with page numbers marked and a list of your symbols so you can keep track. This will help guide you as you get deeper into your notebook and need to look back or find other information previously recorded.

    Give yourself two pages for the index just to be safe, but you don’t have to record everything. Make judgment calls about what information will need to be retrieved quickly later as you are making your entries.

    Future Logs

    After the index is your future log. This is the calendar portion of your journal and can help you get a handle on what’s coming up, so your planning today is more efficient. Set up the pages for it first and then add to it as you get into the day to day stuff.

    After this, many journalers have a big picture view of each month. As you enter the month, make an entry at the beginning of that section to see a bird’s eye view of what’s coming up and any thoughts or preparations that need to be made.

    You can track lists that need to be completed by month’s end, record birthdays and any preparations, household tasks, and any other monthly related things.

    Big Projects

    From here, create pages dedicated to any projects or habits you are making. You can keep track of the books you’ve read, for example. You can also make a log of any improvements in your health, or watch your debt fall as other examples.

    These projects get their own dedicated pages and index entries to help you see your progress over time. You can create them wherever you are in your journal and find them quickly through the index. This also gives you an idea of when you started for further tracking.

    3. Tips for Bullet Journaling

    This can all seem overwhelming the first time you set it up, but the most important thing to remember is that perfection isn’t necessary. The journal evolves as you do. The longer you adopt this system, the more likely your journal is to reflect what you need, but don’t get mired in perfection the first time.

    If you don’t know where to start, there are blog posts and YouTube videos dedicated to different types of layouts and ideas for things to track. You can find a few that match what you need and copy those or use them as a starting point to create your own.

    Take Your Time Learning

    Start slowly in the beginning. Don’t try to adopt every fancy layout that you find. Begin with the basics: the future log, the rapid journaling, and the index.

    Once you get the hang of your marking system, you can begin to add layouts to track more complicated things. Also, it’s not essential that you be artistic either. In fact, many Bullet Journalers don’t have any art training and use straightforward layouts.

    Make it Look Amazing

    That said, if art is your thing, then decorate your layouts. This is the perfect opportunity to decorate what you’re doing in your journal. Many of the more complicated spreads rely on art and can be a great way to get in your creative edge.

    Work Out What You Want First

    If you still have trouble getting started, take a few sheets of scrap paper and experiment with some layouts before you start recording them in your notebook. This will let you see firsthand what a few things will look like if you still aren’t sure what layouts you want to follow. Transfer the ones you like to your official journal or staple them in.

    4. Prompts to Help Get You Started

    The journaling prompts for a bullet journal are a little different than other types of journals. Here are some tips to help get you started:

    the first six pages of your notebook to leave room for the index and the future log, and make sure your very first rapid log has a page number attached to it.

    Now that you have the first rapid log page, go back and make your first index entry. You can title it however you want, but it’s likely that this very first rapid log attempt will be important later.

    For the future log, make three spaces on each page to log months. You don’t need a lot of space for each month, just enough to record significant events that will likely affect how you plan during that month and any of the other parts of the year. These can correspond to birthdays, major holidays and vacations, and other necessary parts of the year.

    Be sure to record your organizing symbols for rapid logging somewhere in the front as well. This will help you to remember as you get used to your system. Again, if you aren’t sure what you want to do, following the official Bullet Journal format is a good bet for those until you decide if you want to create your own.

    It can also help you to identify one or two big goals or projects and make those dedicated pages here as well. If your resolution involves drinking more water or reading more books, now is a good time to write down where you are and track where you’re going. Log this page in your index, of course.

    Final Thoughts

    Bullet Journaling can seem overwhelming if you’re used to journals and planners where everything is already mapped out, but spending a little time researching examples and setting up your own system can pay off in the long run.

    You’ll have more freedom to record the things you need without wasting space. You can make use of your creativity to decorate your journal. Eventually, you’ll be able to look back at past years and get a clear picture of what your day to day life was like. From here, it’s easier to set up future goals and feel grateful for how far you’ve come.

    Tips for setting up each bullet journaling month

    Do you love making lists, setting goals, and organizing your life? If so, bullet journaling might be the perfect productivity system for you. Using a bullet journal is simple, but it can take some time to find a monthly layout you love. Keep reading for some tips on setting up each monthly spread in a way that works for you.

    Make the Layouts Simple or Complex

    If you do a Google search for bullet journaling information, you’ll find tons of results with images of other people’s picture-perfect, heavily decorated journals. If you’re new to bullet journaling, you might wonder, “Does my journal have to look like that too?” The answer: nope. A minimalistic monthly layout is just as useful as a layout with tons of doodles and decorative tape. Of course, if you enjoy decorating your journal, go for it! But it’s okay to focus on function over form, too. And if you find yourself especially busy one month, don’t feel bad about using a simpler layout than usual.

    Know How You Can Stay Organized

    The right monthly layout for you will depend on your preferred organization style. Do you like jotting down your events on a calendar, or does a list format work better for you? Do you stay motivated best if you can see your monthly goals at a glance? If you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to experiment a little – you’ll quickly learn what works for you and what doesn’t.

    Do Some Planning Ahead

    Before you start creating your layout, think about which pages you want to include. For example, you might want to have a monthly calendar, a list of to-dos and goals, a habit tracker, or a money tracker. Decide how you want to order these pages. To help prevent mistakes, you can lightly sketch your layout in pencil before going over it with a pen, or you can make a mock-up on a separate piece of paper.

    Give Yourself Plenty of Space

    It’s frustrating to run out of space, so give yourself a little more room than you think you need. Don’t try to cram an elaborate layout onto a single page. Your bullet journal is meant to be functional, so utilize all the space you need.

    Review Your Last Month

    If you’ve been bullet journaling for a while, you can get some good ideas by checking out the previous month’s layout. What features did you like? Which ones did you not really use? Is there anything you want to add?

    Use Trackers Only When Needed

    Lots of people enjoy using trackers, like habit trackers, mood trackers, or exercise trackers, in their bullet journals. Trackers are a great feature – they give you a big-picture overview of how you’re progressing towards your goals. But if you try to track everything in your life, you’ll get bogged down. Instead, focus on a few key metrics that are important to you. If you find that you want more, add them gradually.

    Don’t Worry About Mistakes

    No matter how careful you are, your bullet journal won’t be perfect, and that’s okay. Don’t let a stray pen line or a messed-up page get you down. Turn the page and try again, or just doodle over the mistake. A few cross-outs won’t make your journal any less useful.

    Make it Individual

    It’s fine to get inspiration from other people’s journals, but feel free to get creative, too! Tweak your favorite layouts and add your own creative spin. Over time, you’ll come up with a monthly layout that’s all your own.

    Setting up monthly pages in your bullet journal can be fun, so don’t be intimidated by the task. Whether you prefer a complex layout or a clean, simple one, you’re sure to find a monthly format that works for you.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What 5 things should be on a good daily planner?

    1. A daily task list, preferably prioritized but that’s not absolutely necessary
    2. A calendar of some kind
    3. Your goal(s) for the day
    4. A place to take notes
    5. I like to keep a gratitude list too, so that even on the rough days, I can remember what I have to be grateful for

    What should a weekly planner include?

    • Some kind of goal(s)
    • Some kind of to-do list
    • Some kind of calendar

    How do beginners use planners?

    The easiest pieces to include in your first planner are a to-do list and a calendar system of some kind. Almost everything builds from there! And truthfully, it doesn’t have to be pretty at first while you’re getting used to the habit of keeping and using a planner. Once you have established your habit, you can start “jazzing” it up as you want!

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    setting goals

    How are your SMART goals defined?

    What can I say about goal setting?  We have all been there with work-related goal setting when it comes to our performance reviews.  That dreaded process of setting goals to discuss with your manager for the next year, most of which are just words to fill the page and complete the task. Every year, asking yourself how are my SMART goals defined this time?

    I’m not talking about that kind of goal!

    I’m talking about the ones you actually want to set for yourself and want to accomplish!  The goal or goals can be related to your job, to your family, to your health, to anything.  Personally, I want to focus on some of the health changes that I have been having, as well as balancing my regular job and my business here.

    SMART goals defined

    Let’s look at
    SMART goals defined!

    * Specific
    * Measurable
    * Achievable
    * Relevant
    * Time-bound

    S — I want to clean out my closet so that I can see my clothing more easily.

    M — I want to eliminate 20 items from my stuff that I no longer need or use.

    A — I will need to gather my supplies and set aside the time to get it done.

    R — This will help streamline my morning and get me out the door faster.

    T — I want to accomplish this within the next 30 days.

    It also helps to envision the final result.  Right now, you’re on Island A and you want to be on Island B.

    • Island A is the state of your closet right now.  Shoes that you bought 10 years ago that you haven’t worn in 8 years; a bridesmaid’s dress you wore once in a wedding you can barely remember; and let’s not forget those Christmas bows.  How did they get in there anyway?
    • Island B is the land of color coordinated coat hangers and perfectly aligned pairs of shoes and a shelf display of handbags.  (Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration).  But Island B could realistically be the clothing you wear regularly hanging up nicely and no more digging through those bridesmaids’ dresses to find the sweater you need for work this morning.

    When you imagine living on Island B, what does it look like?  What does it feel like?  Are your mornings a little easier?  Do you have a better idea what to add to your wardrobe when you go shopping?  Can you breathe just a little easier when you walk into that closet?

    Once you’ve defined your SMART goals, you can keep that image to motivate you to get the goal accomplished!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is the meaning of SMART goals?

    The general meaning of SMART goals is to set realistic goals that can be defined, measured, and accomplished. When goals are too vague, they tend to get lost. But when you outline the terms of the goal, it becomes more real and more achievable.

    What are the 5 parts of SMART?

    1. Smart
    2. Measurable
    3. Achievable
    4. Relevant
    5. Time-bound

    How do you write a SMART goal?

    • Smart – The who, what, when, where, why, and which of the goal you are setting.
    • Measurable – What type of metrics will you use to measure your progress and your completion?
    • Achievable – How will you accomplish your goal? Will you need a new skill? Will you need help?
    • Relevant – How does this individual goal line up with your overall ideas and objectives?
    • Time-bound – Set a realistic time limit. If it’s a large goal, make sure to break it down into milestones.

    What are some SMART goal examples?

    1. S – I want to earn a promotion at work.
    2. M – I will seek new projects and certifications.
    3. A – My boss already mentioned a possibility.
    4. R – I want to keep my career moving upward.
    5. T – I will complete the project and the certification and apply within 4 months.
    1. S – I want to lose 25 pounds.
    2. M – I’ll track of my food, exercise, and weight.
    3. A – I am in good health to start this regimen.
    4. R – I want to have more energy for activities.
    5. T – I have already RSVP-ed for my class reunion in 6 months.

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