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APR 2020

Pen & Mug

Bullet Journal

I love a good notebook. I love the smell of a good notebook. I love the feeeel of a good notebook. I love flipping through the inky pages of a worn out book that has traveled far and wide, and I love dragging a felt-tip pen across a fresh blank page.

Along with all the simple joys, a notebook can be the most versatile and powerful task-management system around (if you know how to use it), and you'll never need to charge it, update it, or even be very precious with it at all. Spill your coffee on it, cram it in your back pocket – it all just adds to the story that this notebook will tell.

Today, I wanted to share two things:

1)  The simple method that I use in my notebooks to keep all my ducks in a row, and...

2)  The release of some sweet new notebooks in our online shoppe.

First, the how. A few years ago, Jeremy showed me an analog system for task management, goal tracking and note taking called Bullet Journal. Today, we each use our own modified versions of the Bullet Journal method to keep our heads straight, and I live and die by this thing.

My take on the Bullet Journal system helps me to better manage my to-do lists week-to-week, as well as day-by-day. Here's how it goes:

Create this spread at the beginning of your notebook to keep track of events planned far in advance, like birthdays, weddings, and your trip to Australia. Mine looks like this:
(x2 for all 12 months)

example of the year view page setup

A spread that gives you a closer look at an individual month.

Copy events and other notes from your YEAR VIEW to your MONTH VIEW page when you create it, and add any additional events or reminders that you need for the month. Use the right page of this spread for monthly goal-tracking, lists of books to read, whatever works for you. Here's how my MONTH VIEW pages look:

example of the year view page setup

The DAY/WEEK VIEW pages are where I spend most of my time. This is where you track specific work tasks, events, and important adulting that you need to do (i.e. file taxes!) on a day-by-day basis.

I like to write all my days for a given month out at once rather than adding them day-by-day. This helps me keep everything together and lets me move tasks around in my week more easily. If you didn't get to a certain task on Monday, for example, and you see that the middle of your week is packed, move it to Friday now instead of waiting until Thursday night or Friday morning to make your Friday to-do list. These pages are also a good visual way to see how full your days are. If you run out of lines, you're probably trying to accomplish too many things in one day. Move some to the next day, or later in the week.

Here's a sense of what a WEEK VIEW spread looks like:

example of the year view page setup
example of the year view page setup

Because I also use my notebooks for sketching, journaling and general note taking, I like to plug my MONTH VIEW and DAY/WEEK VIEW pages into my notebook as I go, rather than keeping everything at the start of my notebook.

For example, pages 8 - 13 of my current notebook are the MONTH VIEW and DAY/WEEK VIEW pages for February, then pages 14 - 41 are the pages I used for sketching and note taking throughout the month of February. Pages 42 - 48 are the MONTH VIEW and DAY/WEEK VIEW pages for March, followed by the of sketching and journaling I did in March. And so on.

That's as much as I'll get into here. Want to learn more? Want to give this method a try? There is SO MUCH that your notebook can do, and so many resources already out there to be found. Like this one, and this other one. Keep track of your long- and short-term goals, daily journaling, habit tracking, meal prep, decision making processes... you name it. Anything you want to track/journal/ponder out loud on the pages of your book, you can find a way. Or hey, invent a new way that works best for you!

Ready for more good news? We just dropped our brand new "Ducks in Rows" dot-grid notebooks, perfect for exactly this sort of thing. The original plan was just to make a few of these notebooks for the Pen & Mug team, but then I decided to make enough to share. If you want to try out this whole bullet journal thing, or you're a seasoned journal-er in need of a great new book, we hope you'll give one of these guys a whirl.

Here's to journaling, skecthing, and goal achieving.

Pen & Mug

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