I have always planned, and it just came naturally to me. 

But how I plan has changed over the years.  

Some changes happened because my life changed, others because I learned new systems and techniques. Now it changes because I’m constantly checking in with what is working and what isn’t, and then I make adjustments accordingly.  

My first planners were just pieces of paper, and I then used the school’s planners. Planning systems came later. 

However, most planning systems didn’t entirely work. There were always pages I didn’t use, or they were too bulky for a small purse or heavy to carry everywhere.   At one time, I carried a planner and a notebook. 

I needed something better. Something flexible and inclusive. 


My husband was the first to start Bullet Journaling.

My husband tried to convert me from planners to bullet journaling, but at first look, I rejected it. Google bullet journals – you will see images and images of elaborate designs with lots of colour and drawing. 

I don’t have time for that. If I want an arts and craft project, I’ll do arts and crafts. But to plan my life, I was not too fond of the stress of creating pretty pages. 

My husband then explained that bullet journals didn’t have to be all that. 

A little more research, and I discovered he was right. 

Ryder Carroll of “The Bullet Journal Method” is named the bullet journal’s creator. Carroll has been quoted as saying, “Bullet journaling is always about function over form, right? And to be very clear about that, form can mean sloppy or beautiful. It doesn’t matter what your bullet journal looks like. It’s about how it makes you feel, and how effective it is in moving you towards the things that matter to you.”

That was 18 bullet journals ago.   I start a new bullet journal every 3-to 4 months. 

No two of my journals are the same. What worked when I started is different from what works now.   But I love that I can change my planning pages and processes at any time. I don’t have to find a new planner or try a new system; I just adjust as I create new pages.  

My bullet journal is a way to plan my week and days, take notes, and help me reach my goals. It is where I set my weekly commitments and my daily intentions. It is where I check in on what my wins are, what I’m grateful for and what is working. It’s also where I make notes and keep track of misc things.  

If you journal bullet journal, you will find lots of information but focus on info from Ryder Carroll and The Bullet Journal Method (a book). 

The most significant benefit I have found from bullet journaling is that I can customize it to me, and it allows me to get everything out of my head and onto paper. It frees my mind for problem-solving and creativity.   It is small enough to fit in a purse and flexible enough to be anything I need it to be.  

If you want to start bullet journaling, there are a ton of recourses on the internet, but I would start here:  https://bulletjournal.com

You can be a minimalist journaler like me or let your creativity shine. Do you! 

I used to use the bullet journal exclusively. But have since gone hybrid. I use an electronic calendar for my appointments and meetings and plot out my ideal week. I use an app for all my to-do lists and success activities, and I use plain excel to plan and map out my goals.   

I use my bullet journal to:

  • Determine my weekly commitments (using my goal planning, app, and calendar)
  • Plan my week using the weekly commitments and my ideal week
  • track what is working and what is not
  • record my daily gratitude and wins
  • note where I was uncomfortable that day
  • document any notes
  • track deliveries and referrals
  • and more.  

I’ve thought about moving back to a planner. But there is something soothing about creating the pages I need to create success. And when I reflect weekly on what is working and what isn’t… my bullet journaling is working. I’ll keep it.    

How do you keep yourself organized? Do you use a bullet journal? A planner? 

Whatever system you use, has it changed over time?  

My life was my life; I would have to stare it down, somehow, and make it work for me.

Paula McLain