My friend Rachael Morin from www.planningwithmaggierae.com wrote a wonderful article to learn how to track the important in your bullet journal. In the blog post, she mentions the trackers that she used but never filled out and the trackers that she actually used through the year.
When I was starting my first bullet journal I was so intrigued by the concept of “tracking the past, organizing the present and planning for the future”. That’s all I had wanted to do in my previous planning endeavors! I wanted to figure out what was working to make me more productive so that I could do more of it. I wanted to have a place where I could write down tasks and stay on track. And I needed a place where I could outline goals and set up a plan to work on them.
The bullet journal sounded like the perfect tool to finally get all of this in order and increase my productivity substantially. But when it can down to it, figuring out how to set this up is a bit harder in practice.
When you look up bullet journal tracker there are tons of layouts, spreads and ideas of what to track and one of the traps that I fell into was tracking things because everyone else seemed to be. I researched and added in a bunch of trackers and collections to start my journal not knowing how beneficial they would be. I was sure it would be full but it didn’t happen.
It was only about 4 months later that I realized that half the collections and trackers I had been so excited about creating didn’t get any use at all! For example the quotes and wishlist trackers in the picture above.
My brain dump here in March didn’t get used all month If you track these things and it makes you happy awesome, you keep doing you! This is just my experience so far.
I could have been bummed and felt like a failure or changed them in the hope that I would try and add to them consistently but when I thought about it, those trackers just weren’t important to me.
When I realized this I stopped researching things to add to my set ups and started to think for myself about what was going to be helpful for me to have in my journal. When I reflected on my trackers the things that weren’t useful for me were:
- TV show trackers
- Extensive habit trackers that included brushing my teeth and drinking enough water
- Quotes page
- Recipes to try
Things that I did want to focus on tracking and becoming more effective with:
- Goal setting Project tracking
- House chores
- Fostering Specific Habits
For ideas about trackers you’ll actually use, you can read this blog post.
Figuring Out the Important Stuff to Track:
Some of these things we obvious. The blank space in my journal showed me what wasn’t working in terms of trackers or spreads. But it took time for me to figure out the important stuff. Those things that I didn’t realize were awesome until I had them. I listened to those times that I said to myself “I wish I had a _____ page” or “I wish I had a place to write ______ down”.
When those thoughts started to crop up, I paid attention then started to figure out ways that I could incorporate them into my bullet journal. If you’re in a spot where you also have a bunch of trackers and it’s either stressful to fill them out or you just flat out often forget, then that generally means that it’s not working.
I’m a fan of having few focuses so that I can give the important my attention and make sure that my best is given. It’s much harder to try and do a bunch of stuff all at once than it is to try and do one thing at a time and check it off as well go (Yay Endorphins!).
How to Track the Important in Your bullet journal:
In order for you to track the things that are important I recommend the following:
Find out what’s important – What trackers do you have and love? Which do you have but never use? Is there anything that you find yourself wishing for?
As an example, I’ve seen a ton of habit trackers that have everything from brushing your teeth and packing lunch to drinking water. For me, it doesn’t make sure to track these things since they are habits that I do without thinking about them. My habit tracker is a way to put extra focus on accountability for the habits I’m trying to build, not the ones I have already established. I have found that there were habits that I wished I was tracking (ex. not spending) and I’ve added those in and taken out ones that I just didn’t ever use (my mood).
Besides your monthly trackers some important things that you might want to keep track of towards your goals. This could be in the form of completing your holiday shopping or completing a school or work project.
In order to track your progress on these types of important tasks first set a SMART goal for what the end product looks like à “By Christmas Day I will have a present and a stocking stuffer for everyone on my list that is useful to them and under my budget of $50 a person.”
Next, break the goal into its parts
Maybe drawing a four-column chart with names of the people your buying for and one for each the stocking stuff and the present with the last column being used for the total spent. You could even include another box with a time line for when you want to have half your shopping done or all of your stocking stuffers bought by. Other helpful inclusions could be when you need to have things ordered to make sure they ship on time or ideas of items to keep an eye out for.
You can also track long-term important goals throughout the year but creating a series of goals spreads.
Start with a small list of big goals to accomplish through the year. Then break each goal down into milestones that you can schedule throughout the year. In order to accomplish X by December, I need to have ABC done for July and EFGH done by March etc. Include an overview of your breakdown on the opposite page of your goals.
Next write out an action plan for accomplishing the first part of the overview, in this case EFGH by March. Use this plan to set goals for the months of January-March when you’re setting each month up. Also make sure to do an end of month reflection to see if you’ve accomplished it all. If there was an unexpected challenge to account for or an adjustment to be made make sure to use that information when building the next segment of your plan.
By continuously building your month around your plans for achievement through the year you will certainly get closer to your goals if not completely accomplishing them. This method of tracking your progress towards goals enables you to stay focused, understand what’s working and what’s not and allows you to be more effective and productive in your approach to hitting your annual goals. For more on setting action-oriented goals, check out this blog post.
The biggest thing about tracking the important is what you do with the information. You can have all the trackers in the world but if you never look at them on a larger scale than a box to fill in, you’re missing what the intention behind it is. That’s why reflection is so important.
Once you find out the important things that you want to track make sure to look at your progress on at least a monthly basis, so you can see if something is helping or hurting. Once you know what’s making you feel great and achieve more, make sure you find ways to foster those habits and keep up the good work. Likewise, if you find that you always try to work on a passion project for 3 hours over the weekend but never actually get anything done, try breaking it up into 30 minute daily intervals instead and see if that increased your productivity on it.
The bullet journal is a wonderful tool to cultivate your productivity and tracking your goals, habits, and progress. So find what things are truly important for you, customize your trackers to foster good habits, planning, and reflection so that by filling in your trackers you take those steps towards hitting your goals.
I hope Rachael Morin’s guest blog post helped you think twice about the layouts you create on your bullet journal.
Popular Blog Posts:
- FREE Art, Lettering, and School printables
- Ideas to Decorate Your Bullet Journal
- Digital Planner Tutorials
– Let’s Connect –