How My Bullet Journal Reduces Stress

Because I use a Happy Planner and am learning to incorporate my bullet journaling into it, I should call it something easy like “Happy Journal”, right?  One of my important integrations is a Gratitude List, so Happy Journal would fit!  I am finding it a bit of a challenge to get into a rhythm with all of it, but when I do stop and take a few minutes every morning and every evening to “check in” with myself and my planner, I am coming to realize how my bullet journal reduces stress for me!!!

Although I resisted starting a habit tracker, I have found it to be invaluable to getting my day started off on the right foot!  It is sort of an ongoing “To Do” list for me of things that I really should be doing every day, but often forget because I’m busy and tired and approaching age 50 at the speed of light!

But more than a simple to do list, it contains the items I consider to be valuable to creating and maintaining a life of purpose and intention, while staying focused on my 2 Words for 2017!

The thing I like most about using my bullet journal is that the habit tracker is flexible!  I can flex from month to month, adding or changing habit items.  I can keep track for one month or for more than one month of certain habits I want to add or remove from my life, and follow my progress accordingly.

The habit tracker has become a reference point in my day, and when I use it, my morning and evening routines flow so much more smoothly.  I am reminded (but not nagged) to do things that help keep not only me, but my family in a good rhythm – and that certainly reduces my stress levels.  I can quickly see what items need my immediate attention, what items may not actually be as important as I first imagined, and also determine what things I need to add to my habit items.

Using a Gratitude list within my Happy Journal is a big deal for me, too.  I can easily whisper a “Thank you, Lord” for something awesome that happens – but we all know that recording these moments are both good and healthy.  It adds that sense of intention and can be seen over and over again, brought to mind and memory, and serve as a good balance for perspective – especially when things get a little wonky in life.  I have listed “Gratitude” in my habit tracker so that I can be reminded to record these moments and to be thankful for what I have been given.

It would be easy enough to just keep a habit tracker and gratitude list in a separate journal, but my goal is to really integrate everything into one go-to place, and I am finding it easier to combine my Bullet Journal and Happy Planner – and that makes me a Happy Mama!

Do you use a habit tracker?  How about a gratitude list?  How has the practice of using either one or both helped you?



Bullet Journaling in my MAMBI Happy Planner

Since using my MAMBI Happy Planner for the past year or so, I finally found my “groove” for recording notes and planning family schedules.  The MAMBI line includes a variety of extension packs including wedding, fitness, and home management planner pages.  I forgot to mention in my previous post that there are also inserts for photos, pocket folders and other dividers available as well – AND a variety of covers so you can stylize your planner even more.  The Note and Graph paper pack is my FAVORITE MAMBI addition – I love the variety of lined notes and graph paper. (affiliate links!)

Because I have been bullet journaling somewhat haphazardly, I wanted to find a way to incorporate my Happy Planner with my Bullet Journaling.  I use my HP mostly for schedule tracking and task completion.  But I don’t like to have to wait to get home from work to look in my bullet journal to remember details about things I wanted to tackle on my way home from work.  I decided I really needed to solve the problem and figure out how to add Bullet Journaling to my MAMBI Happy Planner.

Having found a couple of Bullet Journaling blogs through Instagram, I was learning more about bullet journaling, so it helped me narrow down what I could do with my Happy Planner already, and how I could add more to get the benefit of having both a planner and bullet journal in one.

Now some bullet journaling enthusiasts literally build their schedule every day.  In fact, I am following Kara Benz from Boho Berry, and she started a 30 days series that literally shows the process she goes through nightly to use her bullet journal.  That does NOT work for me – which is why I need the Happy Planner as my base.  But some of the tracking methods used by her and others have real value and offer more goal tracking – which helps me keep my eye on the future in the bigger picture.  (This post by Kara shows several layouts in her bullet journal – some of which I want to imitate within my HP).

Some of the things I’d like to add by Bullet Journaling in my MAMBI Happy Planner are:

  • Favorite meals (quick at a glance reference)
  • Books to read (for downtime that might pop up)
  • Bucket List
  • Home Project List (so when I am shopping I can stay on track)
  • Habit Tracking (I LOVE this aspect of bullet journaling because it is both a reminder and a report card!)

Getting everything on paper – not just schedules and appointments, but goals and dreams and bucket lists – makes those goals more tangible and trackable.  It is good to have a written plan with flexibility, and to be able to both look back and mark success and then look forward to see what to work toward.  This is the biggest factor in my desire to add bullet journaling to my Happy Planner…

So what do you think about Bullet Journaling?  Have you tried it before?  Do you use it now?  How has it benefited you?  Would you consider doing any bullet journaling after reading Kara’s post?


How I Use My Bullet Journal for Lists

I will be honest – I like to research.  I like to put in search terms and Google things, see what I can find on Pinterest or Instagram – and see how other people do things.  There are numerous planning systems – which, as we all know – means that not EVERY system works for EVERY person.  So when you find the thing that works for you – it can be pretty exciting.  This post will explain how I use my bullet journal for my lists by way of pictures.

I have written numerous posts on planning.  Numerous.  And it’s always been an exploration for me.  I won’t tell you how many binders of things I have in place – because I am always fine-tuning them and getting them into shape.  But for me, this Bullet Journal, is my 1st go to on a daily basis and it is giving me such peace of mind!

One of the primary components of a Bullet Journal is an Index.  And in the essential oil BUJO (bullet journal for short), I have an index with page numbers which will really come in handy when I need specific information about oils.  However, i decided to forego the index in my List BUJO because I used washi tape instead and I have my sections defined in this way.  This BUJO is less structured in that sense, but I like it this way.  In fact – I have a whole section that doesn’t even have a designated use yet, and I like that flexibility.

The whole idea is to create a system that will WORK. FOR. YOU.  It doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s or even anyone else’s.  The value is making it fit your need.

Maybe you want to catalog daily routines, moods & weather.  Maybe you need a detailed weekly schedule.  Maybe you want to document IEP information for one or more of your children.  Maybe you want to plan a garden.  Maybe you want to create bucket lists or record family memories in a unique way.  Maybe you want to track new habits – or habits you are trying to quit.  Maybe you want to make book lists and movie lists and restaurant lists.

The Bullet Journal is something that is contained and yet so very flexible, and of all the planning things I have used, I have found it to be most convenient.  Perfect size for my purse.  Easily changed to fit my needs.

When I discovered that I could track a Master To-Do List (essentially my “Brain Dump” section) in my BUJO, that’s when I really got excited.  I make lists and remake the same lists and it’s crazy.  In my BUJO, I can begin an ongoing list that is just all “TO DO” and when a task is completed cross it off.  When not completed, I can simply move the tasks to the next page.  It helps me track what I actually accomplish which is also a big benefit.


*I originally intended to post pictures of my BUJO layouts today, but due to some unforseen technical difficulties on my computer, I can’t get them uploaded to my post.  Argh! I am working on it and will get them posted ASAP.

I have some other thoughts that will be forthcoming while I work out the technicalities of posting pictures soon!

Why a Bullet Journal

If you do a search on Pinterest or even Google for “Bullet Journal” you will discover a vast community of people who use a bullet-style format for planning and goal setting.  You will also find many different ways to use a Bullet Journal, and maybe some of them could work for you.

While I have used a couple of different planner styles, I have discovered that my need for a Bullet Journal is very specific:  Lists!

I have finally found a system of lists that I can stay on top of and not lose every other minute.  Cuz that has always been my issue with lists – I am great at making lists – but I am even better at losing lists.

What good is a list if you cannot find it???

My bullet journal has proven to tackle that issue for me without adding a crazy amount of bulk to my systems.  And less is better when it comes to the systems I need.

First – what do I use as a Bullet Journal?

There are many different journals – ruled, unruled, graph, or dot – which can be used as the foundation for a Bullet Journal – and there are a couple of popular brands that many people recommend:


Leuchtterm 1917

Rhodia WebNotebook

Dot:Grid Designbook: A5

{I am an Amazon affiliate – any purchases made through these links will result in a little commission for me and probably fuel my coffee fund.  You don’t have to order through my link, but I would certainly appreciate it if you did!}

I personally own a Leuchtterm 1917 and Love. It.  I do prefer the hardcover and the back internal pocket, as well as the 2 bookmarks and quality of the paper.  (Yes, I am a paper & pen freak, so I pay attention to these little things…)  The paper holds up to a wide variety of pens without a lot of bleedthrough.  I love that.  I am actually using this particular journal to record Essential Oil information – details about oils & blends, recipes, recommendations & warnings, etc.  It is a work in progress.

I also own a cheaper version with dot-grid pages (and thinner paper) which I am currently using as my Bullet Journal.  Now this baby is what is keeping me sane.  And the more I dig into it, the better my systems are working together!  Currently, my lists include:

  • Budget / Bills
  • Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner ideas (especially helpful for school!)
  • Recipe section (so I can find my go-to recipes in a flash)
  • Tasks & To-Dos (this is essentially my Brain Dump section)

I have created “dividers” of sort by using Washi tape along the edges of 1 or 2 pages taped together so that I can find each section easily without making the edges stick out and get ruined in my purse.  Because I carry this Bullet Journal in my purse everywhere.

I have chosen NOT to use it to outline my schedule in any way.  I have found that I can’t settle on a way to map out my schedule in this format, so I’m skipping that altogether.  I have a weekly page that I use on  my fridge – so the hubby can see it, too – and I use a Happy Planner (which I will probably talk about later at some point) for schedules and work projects.  Frankly, my phone is my primary scheduler, mainly because I can utilize digital appointment reminders and alarms.  But once it is in my calendar on my phone, I pretty much rely on my written schedule for reference.

I will show pics tomorrow so you can see the list sections for yourself!

Really, there are TONS of ideas out on Google or on Pinterest if you are interested in seeing some Bullet Journal styles and formats, and you can even find printables to use, as well.  This, just like so many things, has fostered Facebook groups and Instagram hashtags, so keep an eye out if those are your preferred social media streams!

This is the book I own for my Bullet Journal Now (Amazon link – I’m an affiliate so I could earn if you choose to purchase via this link)


How I Bullet Journal {aka My Dot Grid Reference Book}

Like I said yesterday, I am using a dot grid notebook to get myself organized for Back to School.  Obviously, you could use a notebook of any kind, a composition book, or some app out there on your phone.  For me, this is something tangible that I can fit into my purse along with my phone!  It is my Dot Grid Reference Book for Mom!!!

Basic look of my Dot Grid notebook

Basic look of my Dot Grid notebook

This is what the dot grid layout looks like leaveing a lot of room for designing my own pages and layouts! The grid is helpful for both rows & columns.

I am not bound by lines and can draw lines however I want do, if I even want to.  I find a blank page too abstract and a lined page too confining sometimes – so this layout is just about PERFECT for me!  Like I said, I have a couple of them and find that I am consistently using them for their designated purpose and not just writing on a couple of pages and then losing track of where the notebook even is.  Not that I’ve ever done that before.


Breakfast ideas in my dot grid journal - sorry it's a little blurry!

Breakfast ideas in my dot grid notebook

This is a really blurry picture of my Breakfast Ideas list. Honestly, mornings are hard enough without me having to scrambling to think of things for my kids to eat. Mom is barely functioning before coffee, so this little reference list will help me not only plan for grocery shopping, but with helping me prep and make suggestions to my kids in the morning when we’re not quite awake but quite hungry!  And if we’re ever running late, I think it will be a handy reference for any of us to look at in a pinch.  I dont cook breakfast on school days – except for maybe oatmeal – and sometimes it really does come down to looking at a list and making a selection!

Lunch Ideas - listed out so I can have options to choose from!

Lunch Ideas – listed out so I can have options to choose from!

Now this little gem is my Lunch Ideas section. I have set aside 4 pages for specific lists to help me take ideas from my Pinterest Board and add it to a reference so I don’t have to get online to come up with lunch ideas. I have been a COMPLETE and utter failure with lunch planning. Not beating myself up – this is a fact, Jackson, so I decided to review my Pinterest boards and make a list of ideas for suggestions when packing lunches. This is something we will do together – not just me, not just them – and again, depending on what’s in my pantry, we have suggestions for “Roll-ups” or putting items together in a way that is appealing, healthy, and satisfying.

Frankly, this is all written down so I don’t have to do any major thinking and tax my brain in the morning when the morning clamor takes over.  One thing I have learned and am working to accept about myself is the way I shut down in the midst of “clamor”.  My kids have learned to get louder and louder, and I can feel myself shrinking away and shutting down – leaving them to do pretty much whatever they want.  NOT good for any of us.

This little Reference Book is designed to help me stay intentional in the middle of the clamor and focused on what I can do, and not feeding the behaviors my kids have adapted to… So not only is this a practical reference book, but I think it might become an essential tool to help me improve my ability to engage with my kids in a meaningful way.

Oh – and tomorrow, I’m going to show you how I decorated the cover to make it TOTALLY ME!!!

Share your favorite Go To tool for helping work through your morning clamor!

P.S. – A couple of other tools I have used as a basis for building my Dot Grid Reference Book is Makeover Your Mornings and Makeover Your Evenings.   Check out the sidebar (to your right) to click over and find out more about how these books from Money-Saving Mom, Crystal Paine, might also help you! (Yep – I’m an affiliate for these really great books, so if you purchase anything from my links, I’ll get a small commission – which will help keep this Mama stocked with coffee!!!)