Planning in the digital age looks different for everyone. Personally, I’ve always preferred to do things pen-to-paper, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take my laptop wherever I go. If you’re under thirty-five and grew up in America, I image you remember being forced to use a physical planner for most of your school years. For most of the kids I knew, this method didn’t do much to encourage active planning and was probably just a huge waste of paper.
Finding a method
However, planners and planning are actively ingrained in academia and beyond with any layout under the sun available: wedding planning, food tracking, fitness journals, goal tracking, etc. If the physical planner isn’t for you, all of these layouts are available through apps like the fitness apps listed here. This kind of planning has a mass produced structure that works for a lot of people, but unfortunately I am not one of them.
As I said before, I’m a pen-to-paper kind of gal, and try as I might, full digital planning has never worked for me. This lead me through a variety of planning situations, none of which ever worked long term. I bought the cute Target planners, I tried the Happy Planner (and spent an embarrassing amount of money on stickers), and I even looked into designing my very own planner at the low price of $60 or more.
Nothing really worked for my full-time class schedule, meal planning, two-to-four part time jobs, and attempt at a social calendar kind of schedule. So, like any rational person, I did a Pinterest deep dive into bullet journals. This was followed by at least two months of debate on whether or not I was creative enough, whether it was going to be too time consuming to design my own layouts, if it was cost effective, if I could handle the despair of having a foot high stack of Happy Planner sticker books left unused. The musings were endless (and so is my bullet journal Pinterest board) but eventually I said Fuck It and bought this bullet journal from Amazon.
Making it work for me
Life changing is a dramatic way to describe buying a journal so I won’t say that, but I absolutely CAN say that anyone can bullet journal. I’ve never been much of a creator when it comes to visual arts, but the nice thing is that no one has to look at it if I don’t want them to. I spent so much time worrying about getting a specific layout down that I forgot what the purpose of the bullet journal was in the first place; to be whatever I needed it to be. So now it’s my agenda, calendar, journal, scrapbook, and notebook all in one. Here’s some of the spreads from the past four months that I like most.
These are not all the most cohesive spreads, or even the prettiest in my journal, but they were fun to do and useful as hell, which is the point! The best part is if I’m not doing anything drastic I just have one pencil bag and my journal to take with me, and on more minimalist weeks, not even that much. The outlet to be creative and design the best workspace for ME has not only been a great addition to my lifestyle, but also so much easier than I thought it would be.
Nothing is perfect of course, and I still rely really heavily on my Google and Outlook calendars to keep me up to date with reminders and appointments. The nice part though is that this combination doesn’t feel overwhelming, or like a chore. My journal is for personal use, for lists and references and memories, and my digital calendars keep me on schedule. So try it out, look it up, and do what works for you.