ACHIEVE SUCCESS ALL YEAR ROUND
Do you take the time to review your Bullet Journal? Are you keeping track of your personal progress, what goals you want to achieve, and projects you want to tackle? If you want to have a successful year, you need to use your planner. I’m not just talking about setting up for the week. No, you need to use it by setting up pages that you can use to focus on what matters to you. Then, use it! There are so many collections to add, but from what I’ve experienced, keeping track of my goals, habits, and ambitions help keep me motivated. I have since achieved a lot of my goals when I started to focus.
Often times we don’t recognize the progress we have made, the milestones we have reached, and even the smallest accomplishments. If you improve in any way this year, I hope it’s because you have become more focused and determined to use your planner; and, I mean use it. Include everything you can think of that will help you stay successful.
GOAL SETTING AND ACTION STEPS
While the Bullet Journal is great for keeping your life together, as well as using it to house creative and fun spreads, what the Bullet Journal method tries to teach us is the art of living intentionally. The Bujo has been created to help you organize your life in a way that is meaningful rather than superfluous. If used to its best advantages, you can reach goals, discover what matters most, and become more self-aware. Of course, this first starts with goal setting.
If you haven’t done so already, I suggest creating a goals spread in your journal. You don’t have to include a ton; it is much better to only include 3-5 with one main area of focus per quarter rather than a bunch yearly. Even if you already had a list of goals, if you haven’t mapped out any of them then you are less likely to reach them. With no plan of action, you can’t take a step forward. Try to be mindful as you review your goals and action steps. Are you adding too much to your plate? Are there tasks you can delegate or get rid of? As you start to focus on your goals, you need to constantly check in with your Bujo.
Monthly reviews are crucial to reaching any type of success.Take the time at the end of the month to analyze what happened that particular month. Set aside time to review what happened that month: accomplishments/goals you had reached or made progress on, and what special events or celebrations happened. I would take it a step further by analyzing your progress. What worked this month? Where can you improve? List your favorite memories, your big wins, and anything of note you would like to remember. I typically dedicate two pages for this spread.
You can also take this time to see what your month is going to look like: any deadlines you have, events and appointments, and major tasks you want to get done. It’s good to take time to set your for the next month before the current month ends. This way you can be more prepared and focused. I’m all about getting a headstart; typically setting up a week to a week and a half in advance. The typical pages I include in my setup are a calendar, goals and tasks master list, gratitude log, and a special collection for the month; as well as leaving room for my end of month review.
I am a sucker for setting up each quarter. I include a seasonal bucket list, a list of goals, and a master task list in my set up. Before, of course, just like what should be done at the end of the month should be done at the end of each quarter—a review. Now, let me let you in on a secret: break your year into easy, 90 day chunks. How can you check your progress throughout the year if you only wait until the last month? Progress should not be analyzed once a year; that’s not making waves, just a ripple of action.
Listen, I love making goals; maybe more so than I should. I have been known to be terrible at looking at them throughout the year. So, for me, what has worked is picking three goals for two areas of my life to focus on each quarter (one for every month, ideally per category). I do make a master goals list in the beginning of the year, however the quarterly review allows me to adjust for growth or lack of in that length of time. I have noticed I made reading more of a habit this year. After three months of constant reading, I reached half way to my goal in under four months—two months ahead of time! When I noticed that, I knew I could reasonably adjust my goal to reading 39 books, rather than 26. And, I am way on track! Check in quarterly; you’ll be surprised about how far you’ve come. Who doesn’t want an extra push or invisible pat on the back? You’re a planner, I know you do.
Okay, so you check in quarterly now. Why review at the end of the year? didn’t I tell you not to focus on the end of year review? Why, you are both correct and incorrect. Yes, you should do a final, more thorough review, but to have any of your progress make sense, you need to review each quarter as well. It’s simple: you set a goal, plan what to do, then take action. However, what happens in between that time when you hit a roadblock? Can you see all that at the end of the year if you haven’t recorded any of it previously? Our memories are not that good (even for the best of us).
A yearly review is your final wrap out. Think of it as a photo album. Throughout the year you took photos of everything—and I mean everything. Now, in December, it's time to print the photos, put in a photobook, and marvel at all that has been accomplished—the good and the bad. We often have problems, as humans, with not being harsh on ourselves. There are enough of us that strive for perfection, often letting that get in the way of living intentionally and healthy. Your check in at the end of the year is your chance to acknowledge your year for what it was. So, you didn’t reach all NINETEEN goals you set this year. Even if you achieved just one, you did great! You tried and that’s what matters. Screw perfection. See your year as what it was—perfectly imperfect.
DAILY CHECK INS
Do you check in regularly with your planner? Have you made it part of your routines yet? Daily check ins are crucial for year round success. By dedicating a small chunk of time, and I mean small—who has time for an hour check in twice a day— you will do wonders for your sanity. Not only will you be prepared each day, and you will be, life won’t be as hectic. I know I don’t have the option to waste time on “extra” tasks because I forgot what I was supposed to work on; nor, do I have the energy to refer to my bujo constantly throughout the day. I am a once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once at night kinda woman when it comes to fitting in time for my planner. Sometimes, I even skip the afternoon reminders.
In The Bullet Journal Method, Ryder Carroll talks about a lot about putting into practice a daily reflection in your bullet journal. Now, before you say how obvious this is, let me stop you. This practice is more than a journal entry. It isn’t just to remind you all you did that day; or, how you felt about meeting your friend for coffee. As the saying goes, you need to prepare the night before for the day ahead. If you are only planning in the morning, you will miss a lot of things you need to plan for. Let’s say you have a task you need to migrate but you wait until the morning to do so.
Well, looks like your schedule is chock full today. There isn’t enough room. If you planned the night before, you would be more likely to fit your migrated task(s) because you could see what you could adjust. Frankly, I am barely thinking clearly at 6:00 in the morning to plan my day; I just need a quick reminder of the plan I set up. My daily reflection at night allows me to fill in my weekly tracker, migrate and delete unnecessary tasks. I can see if I had any appointments come up that needs to be moved. Personally, reviewing my day gives me an extra boost before bed; I got to see all my tiny wins for the day. They sure add up!
As avid notebook and planner lovers, our hearts don’t belong to just one. Because of this, you will be migrating your system, regularly enough. For most Bullet Journals, as well loved as they are, they don’t have unlimited amounts of pages. In order to remain successful throughout the notebook transitions, you are going to want to do a few things. There is the standard future log, but I am talking about a deeper set up. Similar to your new year, new planner set up, this one might take a bit of time. First, you will want to carry over all important dates, birthdays and anniversaries, special events, and appointments to your future log. Trust me, you are going to need a future log if you want to not miss a thing. Because your migration will take place during random times in the year, your layout will change, but the point should remain.
What comes next? Of course, your annual goals. If you made goals during the beginning of the year, migrate it over; but, only the ones not completed. Hopefully, you won’t be migrating all of them because, well..progress! If you are one of those ambitious goal setters, it will be hard at first to not replace the goals you reached. Or, maybe it’s just me? Regardless, change not those goals!
On top of the basics: future log, goals, monthly pages, and carried over collections—a “When Did I Last…” page should be included. I’ll be honest, it’s not one of the more fun pages to add. Most of us overlook it; myself included. So, why should you? It’s not fun driving a car that’s oil has run out. Or, sleeping on a mattress that hasn’t been touched in years. And, sheets—old, dirty, too worn sheets. You need to schedule your oil change, rotate your mattress, and change your sheets on a semi-regular basis. This spread is also handy for reminding you when you need a health check up and season specific home maintenance.
Since it isn’t a recurring task, it can get lost in the shuffle. Now, I don’t have a car, own a home, but I do have a bed, sheets, and a toothbrush that will need to be changed. Whatever your needs are, this list is important so you don’t get stuck on the highway, hurt your back sleeping, etc.
Keep it close
Make your planner/ bullet journal visible. You can’t be successful if you don’t implement anything. We all need a push at one point or another; reminders for what we have to do, have done, and still need to do. If you don’t have your tool handy, how can it be properly used? You don’t need to carry it with you at all times; I do but I think that’s mostly because I like playing in it. It doesn’t have to be open on your desk at all times; that’s a bit overwhelming. If you keep it close enough in view but far enough to reach for it too much, then you’re good. It’s almost like a safety thing. Just because you don’t use something doesn’t mean you don’t want to know where it is in case you do need to use it.
Add only the necessities
This is a tough one, even for me. I love adding collections. Mostly so I can “waste my time” but as I talk about managing the time we have, it’s a bit ridiculous when there is so much I actually need to get done. So, with that being said, I have cut down my superfluous collections by half. It’s not just because I was adding just to add, it is also wasting precious space. I don’t have the money to buy a new notebook every three - four months. If you are in the same boat as me, there’s more important things that money can go towards. So...stop the madness! Only add what will bring you joy, get you closer to your goals, and has purpose.
Sound off in the comments below what helps you have a great year.
Remember, it’s all about planning one night at a time.