Lindsay Brazell

Music Educator and Creative Professional

New Year, New Bullet Journal

I started using the Bullet Journal system in April 2015, and it evolved into one of the greatest productivity tools I have ever had. I love it because it is completely customizable:

  • I can use whatever notebook I please. (Moleskine Classic Notebook, Large, Squared, Black, Hard Cover (5 x 8.25)  Love it!)
  • I can change the layout to suit my needs whenever I need to.
  • To me, it’s not just a productivity tool to accomplish tasks, but it’s a life keeper for me. I track habits, goals, and have gleaned incredible insight into how I spend my money and my time.

When you google Bullet Journal or check the #bulletjournal hashtag on Instagram, the photos are sometimes overwhelming. Some people have really gorgeous handwriting and have high quality doodles all over their pages, which sometimes makes me think they aren’t  accomplishing anything but making the notebook look pretty. It can be a little discouraging, especially if your handwriting and artistic skills are anything like mine: tragic and unimpressive. However, I’ve discovered a lot of great layout ideas that I have been able to tweak to fit my life and work.

I thought I’d share a few things that I am finding success with in case you’d like to start the year off with a new system. If I am being honest, I don’t use some of the key features noted in the introduction video on the Bullet Journal website.

  1. I don’t use an index. I had one in my first bullet journal, but after a few months I stopped entering items in it. For me, it’s a wasted page. I know what’s in there, and I don’t mind flipping through the pages to find it.
  2. I don’t use daily spreads. I can’t make daily to-do lists because they would be miles long by Friday. I know that’s a “me problem,” but I get a lot more done when I function by the week. I use weekly spreads that include my home, work, and blog/music to-do lists. I also keep weekly expenses/income and transfer to an inclusive monthly spending page so I can see how I spend/earn week-to-week. More on this later.
  3. I do monthly habit tracking. This has been really insightful, if not too revealing. I track how many times I buy coffee, how frequently we go out to eat, how often I exercise, and various other habits that show me how I spend my time and money. I grew my habit list to be way too involved, so for January I have only the habits I truly care about!
  4. I do not use my Bullet Journal as a calendar. Not even the month overview that is shown in the video. I never used it. I did try a weekly time spread, but it was just taking up space, and I honestly don’t have enough weekly appointments for it to be useful. I do use the Passion Planner academic calendar for this, and am hoping to use it as more of a time management tool this year instead of using it solely as a calendar. While I had hoped to use one notebook for everything, I found that a separate appointment calendar worked better for me in both my personal and work life.
  5. I do weekly reflections. However, I keep a separate journal for myself for long form journaling. Doing a short weekly reflection helps me see what happened each week, successes and struggles, and any other notes I wish to make that I would want to refer back to. It completes my weekly spread to tasks, spending, and reflection…a well rounded plan right?! 😉

Here’s a photo of my weekly spread. I purposely edited it to be illegible and unattractive looking because I don’t want you to see how much I spent on groceries that week. (BUT HEY, I just came back from a week away…so you wouldn’t judge me, right?) Although…I don’t think that I know how to edit photos any other way. 😉

Nothing too fancy. Regular handwriting. Optimal space for what I need. That’s exactly why this system is my jam right now.

I encourage you to try it out. Grab a random notebook you have in your house before you commit to buying one, and see how it goes for a month or two. Try different layouts that compliment the needs and events of your life. You can’t do it wrong! 🙂


*Please note: Some of these are Amazon Affiliate links. (Some are not, too!) This means that if you click on them and end up making a purchase through the Amazon website, I will make a small commission. It aids in the cost of running a website. Thanks for your support!*


Do you use a Bullet Journal? Are you giving it a try this month? I’d love to hear about your journey!! Leave a comment below, or continue the conversation on Twitter @LindsayBrazell.


About Lindsay

I’m Lindsay, a choral music educator by day, a singer-songwriter by evening, and a writer when time allows. You can find my latest album, The Room I Found – Lindsay Morelli on iTunes.

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