How I Deal With Dates In My Bullet Journal

Anyone starting to think I should rename this blog: Running and Bullet Journals? I feel like those are the only two things I write about anymore.

Ever since I started talking about the Bullet Journal, several people have asked if I keep a planner/calendar AND a Bullet Journal. And the answer is…NO. I only use a Bullet Journal these days. Now…let me say that I always found calendars/planners great, but I only looked at them when I was entering dates or if I was trying to be organized one day. For the most part? I still did random To Do lists around the house on scraps of paper or notepads. I really only pulled out the calendar if I was at a meeting, making plans, etc. It definitely didn’t come out daily, most of the times not even weekly. If you’re really dependent on your calendar/planner on a daily basis, then the Bullet Journal is probably not going to allow you to ditch it. I liked being able to see things a month at a time, several months ahead, but it turns out I didn’t depend on it as much as I maybe thought I did. The Bullet Journal, with a few additional pages, has proven sufficient for me. And – I use it daily.

(Sidenote: I keep wanting to abbreviate it to “BJ” and play around with some double entendres. I even almost titled this: “LET’S TALK ABOUT BJs!” But then I remembered that when my oldest child is bored, sometimes he reads this blog and he might have a heart attack if he saw that title on a blog entry.)

dates
These are the three pages that help me eliminate the calendar/planner.

Current Month

The first “month” page is the one described in the original Bullet Journal video. Except he didn’t add shiny owl stickers or washi tape to his. BECAUSE HE IS BORING. I essentially start my Month page with the first “event” I have to put on the next month. So, I was working with a November page about halfway through October. Once book fairs, or PTA meetings, or soccer parties start popping up for the next month, I create the page, and work off two month pages for awhile. I probably only have one month page going for the first two weeks of the month. I haven’t started the December page yet, but I probably will soon.

Birthdays/Anniversaries

The second page is the “Birthdays/Anniversaries” page. You could call it whatever you want, but basically it’s a page where I try to keep track of those annual events I don’t want to leave off the monthly pages. I messed up here trying to remember my Sister-in-Law’s birthday on my own in October and I was a day off. So, this page is a work in progress for this year, as I might realize as I adapt to the Bullet Journal that there are annual dates I need to remember every year, so I can add them to this page. Then, when I create the Month page as it arrives, I’ll check this page to make sure I have all of these days accounted for.

Future Dates

The third page is the “Future Dates” page. When things pop up that I want to remember: Races, Premiers, etc, but I don’t have a month page for them yet, I put them on this page. This helps for scheduling purposes so I can glance quickly to see if there are any conflicts when planning things in the future. And again, when I set up a new Monthly page, I check this one for important dates. I also like how this page shows the priorities in my life: Running and Entertainment.

I’ve heard some people making all 12 months as the first few pages of their Bullet Journals and if that works for you? Great! However, I like that the current month falls nearer to my daily To Do pages. I’m not sure if I would like flipping back to the beginning constantly. Also, as you can see I use tabs for the pages I reference a lot. And it would be hard to tab the months if they were all together. Finally? I think I’ll get…MAX…6 months out of this journal before I have to get a new one, so no point in doing all at once for me.

EDITED TO ADD:

Since this topic has become so popular, I made Calendar Pages for bullet journals. AND – I did a “summary” post of journal info all of my bullet here.

16 Comments

  • Crystal PK

    I *really* want to try this. I’m a grad student at UNA and I usually use your basic calendar, but like you, I seem to only look at it when I’m inputting dates. And Google Calendar, while seemingly awesome, doesn’t help me much without a smart phone. I need to just give it a go!

    PS Kudos on the owl stickers!

  • Mary

    THANK YOU for writing about this today (and for answering my question on Twitter)! So I have some more questions, OF COURSE.

    I am having trouble wrapping my head around the lack of order of everything. I understand the index, and I like the idea of tabs. But if you think of something you need a list for (right now, I have a packing list and a Christmas gift list), do you just put them on the next available page? And then add them to the index? I fully grasp the idea of the monthly dates list and the task list, and I have not yet added a daily page (but I am thinking of jumping on that today). Does the index really help with what I am perceiving to be a lack of orderliness (is that a word?)? And do you just pick a page to start the next month when you are ready to, or do you do it on the next available page? What does that do to daily pages? Do you create your daily pages when you create your monthly pages and just leave a couple of lines for each day? Am I overthinking this?

    Also, full disclosure of my type A personality, I am having trouble with the fact that I set out on this new adventure smack dab in the middle of a month. I couldn’t wait to get started, but I hate that I didn’t start on November 1st.

    Sorry for all the questions…

  • Zoot

    I use the next open page for EVERYTHING. So, when I came up with the need for a Christmas List page, I made it and added it to my index! P. 43) and maybe add a tab if I think I’ll need to access it a lot. And then I create “daily” pages in the next blank page too, but I don’t really do them every day. I’ll label the page with the date I launch it on (like 11/4) but I keep adding “to do” until the page fills up, making it almost a weekly page. And sometimes, like if I just have a big grocery list, I just put it on the next blank page. I think the freedom is in being able to just ignore pages that aren’t either A) in the index or B ) tabbed. If you ignore those pages, it creates order because once you’re done with that day/week/grocery list, you don’t have to revisit it.

    Now, this means you have to be okay with the mumble/jumble lists between the tabbed or indexed pages. I could see how that might bug some people, but I don’t mind it because I have weird pride in all of my daily “To Do”s being in one place. 🙂

  • Monica

    Thank you for writing about this! I think you could show different parts of your bullet journal every day for a week and I’d like it, because I am still trying to get mine started. Love the stickers and the colored ink. I think you mentioned earlier that the colored ink tends to bleed through the pages so you only use one side of the paper. Is that right or did I imagine it? So far, I’ve only used black ink. I need to brighten things up!
    I like the monthly calendar page in a planner, so I think I may print one of those and put it in that little pocket at the back of the Moleskine. Having all my lists in one place is awesome. I hadn’t thought of getting the little tabs, either. Thanks for the great ideas. Really, please share more of your bullet journal!

  • Erin

    OK. You’ve convinced me. I’ve spent my entire life keeping everything in my head… appointments, plans with friends, to-do lists, grocery lists, birthdays, etc. I manage to keep everything running smoothly for the most part, but it’s kind of mentally exhausting and I suck at remembering what I need when I’m grocery shopping. I’m going to try keeping a bullet journal! Hooray!! (It was the way you keep a calendar that was the tipping point.)

  • Lulu

    Please more Bullet Journal entries – I have watched the video but I would liek to see more of your practical application and workflow. And your’s is cutier!!!

  • Amy

    I’ve been using what is basically a disorganized, un-indexed bullet journal for about a year now — to do lists, idea lists, and deadlines all in one notebook. I’m totally inspired by your method and working on converting to having an organized bullet journal for 2014, but struggling with if/how to keep work and family/school task lists separate. How did you separate out your work?

    • zoot

      That varies depending on the day/week/tasks. I do have a few pages for big projects that I start (on the next page) and sometimes tab (but not usually) and I just know they’re there…near my daily page…so I’ll flip back when I need the info. Then, I’ll mark the title of that project (Ex: “MIGRATION: was a recent project) on my daily To Do page so I’ll know to go back to that main page a few pages back. If I think it has info I’ll need later I’ll index it.

      But most of the time, work is daily tasks too so I’ll just add them to my daily/weekly To Do pages. Sometimes it will say “XXXX Site WP Install” right below “Mail E’s Card” because they’re both things I need to do that day. Now, that’s easy for me b/c I work from home so the work/home life gets blurred. If I didn’t? I might divide the page into two halves so the two “To Do” lists would stay separate.

      But honestly? It morphs with each project I work on at work. I probably have just as many “Work” pages as I do “Home” pages but there’s not a lot of patterns since my projects at work vary a bit.

      BAH. Clear as mud, right?

    • zoot

      I’m pasting the same response I told Amy here 🙂 One journal – but here is how I handle work/home stuff…..

      ***************
      That varies depending on the day/week/tasks. I do have a few pages for big projects that I start (on the next page) and sometimes tab (but not usually) and I just know they’re there…near my daily page…so I’ll flip back when I need the info. Then, I’ll mark the title of that project (Ex: “MIGRATION: was a recent project) on my daily To Do page so I’ll know to go back to that main page a few pages back. If I think it has info I’ll need later I’ll index it.

      But most of the time, work is daily tasks too so I’ll just add them to my daily/weekly To Do pages. Sometimes it will say “XXXX Site WP Install” right below “Mail E’s Card” because they’re both things I need to do that day. Now, that’s easy for me b/c I work from home so the work/home life gets blurred. If I didn’t? I might divide the page into two halves so the two “To Do” lists would stay separate.

      But honestly? It morphs with each project I work on at work. I probably have just as many “Work” pages as I do “Home” pages but there’s not a lot of patterns since my projects at work vary a bit.

      BAH. Clear as mud, right?

  • Heather@YSP

    I LOVE my bullet journal now. Thanks for introducing me to it! Where did you get the tabs you use for your pages? I want those. I’m going to add an annual dates page to mine as well.

    How do you handle recurring activities, like things you do every week or even every day? I use mine to track health and fitness habits too, so I have things like “do yoga” or “drink water” on there every day.

  • Lisa

    So, I’ve been an Erin Condren fangirl for several years. I liked my life planner, I used it, but then… I saw the bullet video journal. LIFE CHANGING.

    I’m using an Erin Condren notebook with the monthly calendar insert, so I can see all the dates laid out on the calendar, and plenty of notebook pages for bullet journaling. And a cute Instagram on the front that makes me smile 🙂

  • Kim

    I Bullet Journal quite by accident this morning, but wasn’t convinced. I am retired but still using a date book and a 4×6 notebooks for Lists. My notebook goes everywhere but datebook stays home. I am known to be an idea person but I didn’t think about merging them!!! Wow I had to have the calendar, JUST had to., At least until I found your page in a search, wal-la, calender fit my notebook perfectly. I have April up and ready, I am excited. Thanks for the pdf calendar. Oh, BTW, I found a Bullet Journal Facebook group. LOL

    I joined another FB group in 2013 called Planner Addicts and really were!!!! — I joined to solve my dilemma but these gals were taking pictures of their stacks of EC planners, one for work, one for home, one for church and ….

    Also, in my search I found a notebook without rings, with refillable pages, heck o pete, I may have seen it here, anyway the notebook was abut 35.00 @ sorta.com. But, I am now on a fixed income and get the cutest flowered notebooks for .99 at Big Lots, I love colored pens also.

    OK, one more thing, an idea, I printed out your pdf calendars for the rest of the year and made a pocket in the back of the notebook to house them.