Like tons of people who start the bullet journal, I felt the need to create every spread and layout that I possibly could. I felt like I had to get all these thoughts onto paper because I was afraid I would lose them forever. This led to something of a burnout about a month after I began my bullet journal. After that, I took it a bit slower. I made my bullet journal a little bit more methodical. Thankfully, I’m not alone in this bullet journal development! Erin of The Petite Planner has undergone a similar journey, and has figured out which collections are truly valuable over a long period of time. I’ll turn it over to her so she can explain the five essential bullet journal pages that she comes back to again and again. Erin, the floor is yours!
Essential and Fun Pages – Finding the Difference
When I first started using the bullet journal system a year ago, I was eager to make every single collection I saw on Pinterest. I flew through pages, adding movie collection spreads, tv series trackers, nail polish swatches, etc. These collections were pretty and fun, but they didn’t add to my overall productivity or self-fulfillment. Don’t get me wrong; I still add plenty of fun pages that add no value to my day-to-day efficiency. But, after more than 300 pages in two different journals, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are a few essential bullet journal pages everyone should try.
I’m not going to bore you with traditional pages like future logs and dailies. Oh no! This gets a touch more personal, allowing you to tune in with yourself emotionally and cognitively. These additional pages will guide your thought process, allow you to reflect on a monthly basis, and really focus in on your goals.
5 Essential Bullet Journal Pages
Perhaps you have seen images of these mood trackers floating around Pinterest or Instagram. Boho Berry uses a Mood Mandala, which has become quite popular among the bullet journal community. However, it’s not necessary to know how to draw a mandala or be overly creative with your mood tracker.
The purpose is to be aware of your emotional state each day. Then you record it in your bullet journal, usually in the form of a color-coded system. Each color represents a different emotion or state of mind. For example, I have seven colors. Each represents a specific set of emotions. You can certainly choose your own colors and classify your emotions into as many or as few categories as you want.
Many people use the mandala idea, but there are other options. For instance, many people have created a yearly mood tracker named, Year in Pixels. You can see an example here.
Personally, I designed my own mood tracker to fit my needs. For the month of April, I drew 30 circular shapes on the upper half of my spread. I then added 30 numbered lines below to make brief notes about each day.
The mood tracker is an essential page because it allows you to make connections between your daily productivity and your emotional state. I like to look back at my previous week and find the days that I didn’t get much done. And then, I see how my mood was that day, and what triggered the mood. It’s a great self-awareness tool. It keeps me check with how I’m feeling, instead of overlooking those emotions.
This is my go-to motivational page when I’m feeling lethargic. It’s the page that contains my big dreams and the ones require the most effort.
I made my annual goals page fairly simple. I brainstormed my goals for 15 minutes, writing down everything that came to mind. Then, I categorized these goals into: Finances, Blog, Family, and Fitness. These are the areas I’m currently most concerned with in my life. Now, I didn’t include every single goal I had brainstormed. I picked the highest priority goals and added those.
If you are just starting your bullet journal, I highly recommend this be one of your first pages, and that you mark it with some washi tape. Make it easily accessible so that you can flip to it regularly.
I recently read a quote that said, “Don’t call them dreams, call them plans.” That quote radiated with me. Make your goals big, and believe with every ounce that you will achieve them. Remember, it’s your journal, your goals, your dreams. So add that family vacation to Hawaii or paying off your mortgage. The importance of this page is to be your driving force, your why. It’s a great resource to use and look at when you’re feeling unmotivated or are questioning why you’re doing what you’re doing.
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Master Task List
So, you have your monthly log with your task list, and then you have weeklies and dailies, which also include tasks. But, do you have big tasks that don’t really fit into specific timeframe? Maybe you need to order your child’s birth certificate or do research on a local construction company before hiring them. You don’t know where to note these miscellaneous tasks, so they get left out of your bullet journal and therefore, forgotten.
Hence, the master task list. This is my running to-do list of extra things that I need to get done, but not right away or even in the very near future. I often reference this page when I have slow days to see which of these things I can get started on accomplishing. Then, I either do the task right away or migrate it to my weekly log to be done within the week.
The master task list is among my top five essential bullet journal pages because it makes up for my not-so-elephant-like memory. It’s quick to use, easy to reference and add to, and it lessens my anxiety knowing that I have these extra tasks written down in a place that I’m certain to see them.
Whether you are trying to be a more mindful eater or trying to establish and stick to a grocery budget, a monthly meal plan is highly effective. The version I’m using allows space for all 30-31 days on a single page and allows you plan breakfast lunch and dinner.
This is most effective when used to actually plan your meals ahead of time and not write them in as you go. So, to make it, you will vertically write in however many days there are in the month on the left-hand side of your page, leaving one cell to the left to note the day of the week. In the Leuchtturm1917, you will have 24 cells left. Divide them up into 3 equal columns with 8 cells each. Then, title the columns: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. You can also draw horizontal lines where each weekend ends.
I recommend planning out a week’s worth of meals at a time. From there, you can either be sure to reference this page daily or migrate that week’s worth of meals to you weekly spread. The idea is to be able to look ahead and see what you may need to pull out of the freezer or buy from the store beforehand. For people who are trying to watch what they eat, this works to keep you prepared. Then you aren’t left hangry and eating pizza pockets at 7PM on Tuesday night.
The last essential page on the list is a monthly memories or reflection page. You would add this page in when you create your monthly pages and fill it in throughout the month. I personally use a combination of doodles and brief sentences to jot down important memories or reflections.
While the memories page may be more of a standard journal or diary touch, writing down reflections is a great way to look back, analyze, and then plan for the next month. Perhaps you tried out a new workout class at the gym that was really fun and you’re seeing results. That would be something to write down on this page. On the other hand, maybe you’ve been working a lot of overtime, and you’re starting to feel very tired and overwhelmed. This would also be worth noting.
These reflections are important. Just like the mood tracker, if you don’t intentionally think about how your month went, then it’s easy to ignore it completely. This could throw you off of reaching your goals, being happier, or becoming more productive. In this instance, the quote, “If you change nothing, nothing changes”, applies perfectly.
Make it Work for You
Keep adding your favorite creative collections. The bullet journal system is designed to be flexible and 100% personalized. But, definitely, take the time to sit down and try the above pages for yourself. Try them for a month and see if they help keep you motivated or focused. Maybe you’ll find a better way to incorporate the general idea of the page so that it’s tailored to your life and your needs. The goals of these pages are to save you time, encourage personal growth, and keep you focused on what’s important to you.
I’d love if you shared your essential bullet journal pages with me in the comments! What pages do you use most, and how have they helped you?
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