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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Bullet Journal notebook ideas

Ever since my Bullet Journal post a couple of weeks ago, I've been thinking about what types of notebooks would work best for this system. (If you don't know what the Bullet Journal is, please read my post about it and follow the links there to learn about it, then come back).

As I noted in that post, the Bullet Journal system needs to be combined with a longer-range calendar for forward planning. I played with a version of this with a Moleskine Monthly notebook, which would work great for a little while, but with only 50 lined pages after the month calendars it wouldn't last very long.

I tried hand-drawing monthly grids into a notebook, but it took a really long time and I realized it wouldn't be something anyone would want to do every couple of months when they filled up their notebook. In the end it didn't matter for my own personal use, because I use my Plannerisms planner for all forward planning and am now using a notebook (this one) for a daily record and for all lists and notes. It's working great for me and I'll write about it in a later post.

But just today I had a realization that if someone wanted to plan ahead and do a Bullet Journal in one notebook all together, there is a very obvious solution.

Use a notebook, or planner, with monthly pages.

Here's an example: this is a 2013 Paperblanks Ultra size Poe Tamerlane weekly planner I bought a couple of months ago. It was really cheap, and I loved the cover, so I bought it to use as a notebook. But today I realized it would be perfect as a Bullet Journal (or any notebook system) plus forward planning.

The horizontal weekly format works well as a notebook because it doesn't have breaks between the days and the dates are easy to ignore. A week + notes format would work nearly as well (Paperblanks calls their week + notes format Verso) but a format with vertical daily columns probably wouldn't work as well because the columns would break up the page too much.

Anyway, this planner has monthly calendars for all of the current year:

And all of the following year:
So this would be useful as a notebook any time within the two-year period. Fill in the monthly calendars for forward planning, and use the rest of the planner as a notebook. If you start it at the beginning of the year, you could even use it as a weekly planner from the front and a notebook from the back and start a new one when the content meets in the middle.

Any brand or size of weekly planner with month calendars would work well for this.

If you want more pages in the book, use a day per page planner with monthly calendars and just ignore the date on each day's page. It can be hard to find day per page planners with month calendars included. Paperblanks day per page planners have month calendars. So does the Quo Vadis Journal 21 (which you can enter to win in this post, click through here) and the Time Traveler day per page planner has month calendars too.

Another obvious option would be to use a planning notebook with monthly calendars like these I reviewed awhile back.

I think monthly calendars in notebooks are very useful. What do you think?


  1. I was looking at the bullet journal again, because I'd like to write full time and need to do better with some of my time management issues. I ended up deciding on a simple Staples graph notebook (like for school) because it cost $2.00 and wouldn't be a big investment if it didn't work. I still have my Arc, which has the full month calendar, and that works fine for giving me an overall view of appointments for the month.

  2. I'm having a lot of trouble putting calendar info into the bullet journal. It seems to work best for me as a superb way of ordering and organizing the ordinary daily scribble notebook. You could then just transfer your tasks and events to an adjunct calendar system, like your Plannerisms weekly (I'm considering switching to smaller notebook format for 2014 and replacing the Uncalendar with a Plannerisms planner so eagerly awaiting notice of their availability!).

    1. Thanks Christine! I too am awaiting notice from my publisher of when the 2014 Plannerisms planners will be ready to ship. I've been told it will be later this month. I'll make a huge announcement here on Plannerisms when they are ready. I can't wait!!

  3. I got so spoiled by the tabbed monthly calendars in the Franklin Quest planner during the 20+ years that I used that system that even though I now happily use a Moleskine week+notes format, I still use the FQ tabbed monthly pages with it (in a binder with some other sections, such as financial and medical data). I sure wish more planners came with tabbed monthly pages... I'm sure they are more expensive to produce, but then the monthly pages would be so much more useful.

  4. Hi all,

    I had to try the Bullet Journal as well -- which I do really like. For monthly/long-range planning, I modified the suggested "Collections" and took two sheets of my Moleskine large notebook and drew three vertical months for an entire year. So a quarter of a year on each set of two pages. I included space for monthly goals, days off work, holidays and then just "general" for notes / etc.

    For long range planning I just note the item in the appropriate month collection, or column.

    For each new month I just reference that collection and re-write the entries. I analyzed my future planning on really don't have too many entries to re-write...

    Just my two cents :-)


    1. Thanks Dinos, I think this is the solution I'm looking for!

  5. Episode #70 at The Pen Addict has an interview with the creator of the Bullet Journal. He apparently intended it as a capture notebook, not a forward planner, and is currently working on a couple of ideas for that function. I already did some of this stuff to organize my journal and the only way I could see to make it work would be with two books, as Christine says. If there were a monthly planner the size of the Plannerisms address/notes book that could fit in the back pocket of my journal, I might try it.

    1. Mstraat,
      Thanks for this--this was a good listen, explanation=)

    2. mstraat thanks so much! I listened to it today and it's great to hear how he started the whole Bullet Journal system and how it evolved for him.

      PS have you tried the Quo Vadis pocket size monthly planners? There are two to choose from:



    3. Here is the link to the interview with the Bullet Journal guy:


      They also talk about which notebooks they like to use for the Bullet Journal system, and there are links to the notebooks too.

    4. Added to my list of podcasts to listen to :) We should be guests Laurie!

    5. Yes!! That would be awesome to be guests on their show!!

  6. Thanks for your review and information; I have been intrigued by this system for a while, but haven't figured out away the biggest shortcoming I envision -- how do you schedule events that are in the future, when the whole system is - as you said - growing organically? If I need to schedule an appointment/meeting/event a few weeks (months) out, how do I manage this when I don't have any idea what page I will be on when that date arrives?

    Thanks for touching on this in your post - and I think your idea of putting all of the monthly calendars in the front might be the best way to deal with it. I can't figure out another alternative at this point.

    I'd love read further discussion on this - or if anyone has contact with Ryder Carrol on how he does it, or how others are dealing with it. I haven't yet listen to the podcast, but plan to. Maybe he addresses this?

    Thanks again.

    1. Definitely listen to the podcast, it cleared up a lot of questions for me. He said he never intended it as a planner, but as a capture device. He said he recognizes that it lacks future planning and he is working on ways to address that, and plans to do a new video sometime in the future about it.


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