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If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you saw that I asked if anyone had done a Bullet Journal before and to share their thoughts. I received some great insights and the responses were very helpful (even if the answers I got were all over the place). Although it got a lot of mixed feelings, the main consensus was that everyone felt it provided them a lot more freedom, compared to a common planner. Freedom to be creative and make it their own. Almost everyone also thought that it made for less waste (in the sense of paper use, since we all know that you don't use EVERY page of your planner). On the other side, many also felt that it was something that started strong and pittered off because of the amount of work that is involved (you are literally hand drawing/writing your own planner). And a few more felt like it didn't work for them because their thoughts are a bit chaotic or sporadic at times and this was a little too controlled for them.
After weighing it all out, I decided to go for it. As I work through this process, I’m going to share what I’m doing, what I like, what I dislike, what I might change or keep, and if I'm finding it even worth the time. My bullet journal is for my business. I’m going to do my journal quarter by quarter. I don’t want to do it the whole year because...
1. I’m a mom of 5 and I can’t really dedicate a lot of time to prepping the entire year.
2. I want to be able to change things as I go. I don't want to be stuck with something I wrote out in January that does not work for me in March (I am constantly changing things until I can get into a nice groove with it).
Of course, if I find I need to add April or May, I will… That’s the fun part and the freedom it gives, Right?
So, with that in mind, let’s talk about “Part One” of my journal...
I have a bad habit of over-stimulating myself with a lot of information at once. I like to do research, on top of research because I want to make sure I have the best grasp of it . I also like to explore all the different sides to see what might work or not work to help me (hopefully) decide on what would work best for me.
So of course, I did a lot of research on how to do a bullet journal and a bullet journal for your business. I came across this blog post by Amanda Kay and it really got me thinking about how I wanted my bullet journal to look. I’ve tried bullet journaling in the past, but I just copied whatever someone else was saying to do and like every other planner, I pretty much stopped using it after a month. 😞 I didn't really find them to be very forgiving, offer much freedom, or really helpful for my particular needs or how I used it.
But as I went through the “2021 Business Bullet Journal'' blog post, I found a lot of good ideas that I could utilize for my business. What I like about Amanda’s post was how she also explained the "rhyme and reason" for what was in her journal. She explained typical items in a bullet journal, but she didn’t really use them in previous journals so she omitted them. She also explained the new things she added. Things not typically in a bullet journal and what she was hoping to accomplish with the new things she just started using.
My goal this time is to be more intentional with my business and to be able to really hone in on what works or doesn't work. Also, to keep better track of my finances. This time around, I’m starting very simple to keep it easy. I’m avoiding adding too many items to keep track of and lots of time-consuming artwork. I’ve learned from my previous mistakes, where I overdo it and then decided it’s too much work for me. That's part of the reason I'm doing one quarter at a time.
OK, Ready? Here's how I started.
Materials I used
Pens, make sure you use something that won't smudge. I personally LOVE the InkJoy pens they look clean & sharp. Bonus… They don't smudge (you'll see I used other pens at the beginning and there was a lot of smudging).
Bullet Journal, this time I bought a basic black one, nothing exciting since I had no idea if I would continue. But if this goes well and I do it next year, I'm probably buying a nicer/larger one... but we'll see.
Ruler, I'm gonna be honest, I used my son's wood ruler but in the future, I might invest in a nice metal one. If you want to live on the "wild side" 😉 forgo the ruler and draw the lines free-hand (with no straight edge).
OK, So, I got started with a hodge-podge of stuff that I already had (minus the stickers and journal).
What’s inside my 2021 Business Bullet Journal For Quarter 1:
Key (not imaged, to be honest, not sure where I'm going to use it 🤷🏻♀️)
March-Month Review (not imaged)
March - Financial (not imaged)
March - Weekly Planner; with Brain Dump (not imaged)
First pages... I did a password keeper section. This is something I saw that Amanda did, but to be honest, I don't know if I will use it. At first, it seemed kind of nice to have them all in my journal ... but as I will (hopefully) be able to go out and about more with my family, I don't know that I want my business planner containing all my passwords. So I'm almost 100% sure that this is going to be skipped next time around. But... on the plus side... I was able to eliminate an entire group of pens that smudge like crazy (see image below).
Next, I did a Social Media Section (really a hashtag section). This is really helpful for me. I plan on writing in all of the hashtags I currently use via Instagram and highlight the ones I used where images did better.
Next is a Year at a Glance and a list of Birthdays that I want/need to remember. I'm not sure how much I will use this, but every bullet journal I saw had one, so... I figured I would try it out. If nothing else, hopefully, it'll help me remember important birthdays. LOL
I might find a need for more pages next time around too, but for now... since I do design a lot of hats, and I'm ALWAYS looking up the different sizes for hooks and needles, so you all know what size to grab or buy. So this chart is going to be very helpful for me as I’m blogging. I usually go off the mm, but many of you use the US size, so I try to make sure to have both up (and I definitely don’t have them memorized).
Under the hat sizing chart, I left some room in case I think of something else I might want to add to this. I'm not brave enough to design sweaters yet... but maybe...someday... or not.😂
I think next time I'm going to have a measurement conversion section for cooking, after all, I do offer recipes on here too. 😉
So, after the fiber info and the hook and needle size chart, I have a list of collabs and a to-do list. This year is the first year I have quite a few plans with Indie-dyers for collaborations and I am super pumped about it! But I also want to make sure I'm keeping track of when the yarn is being promoted and my pattern deadlines. The hearts in this case will be the checkboxes.
The To-Do page is to basically go with the “Collab” page. It is to help me make sure I get everything done for that particular collaboration.
OK, back to the bullet journal.
The To-Do on the left was really a continuation from the previous page. I wasn't sure how much space I was going to use, so I decided to err on the side of caution and leave some extra room.
The next page is the start of my Business Goals for this year. I have them separated by Year Goals, Quarter Goals (that should help me get to my year goals), then each month. The monthly goals are there to help me achieve my quarterly goals.
So, as I said before, I'm doing this quarterly, so in the middle of March, unless I see a need to do it sooner, I'll work on Quarter 2.
OK, now we’re getting down to the first quarter. The left page is a breakdown of Quarter 1. The main reason I'm only doing it a quarter at a time is that I might find my goals don't go with my ultimate brand goal, or I might shift my business based on what is happening (I mean... we are going through a pandemic). The beauty of a bullet journal is if I happen to find I need to plan out April... I will.
Clearly, the January Title page is self-explanatory.
So, when I started this, January was pretty much at an end. So, I didn't really feel a need to go back and write out what I already did (I definitely appreciated this part of doing a bullet journal over buying one. I mean "waste not, want not", am I right?) I basically wrote in my goals, checked off if I made it or not, and wrote in my income and expenses for the month. Easy.
So, In February, I have the month’s goals, a section for my Blog Planned Posts, Social Media (outside of the ones needed for my blog posts) and some New Pinterest Pins to add for the month (I actually plan my Pinterest pins through the year, so I only need a few new pins every month to fill in so I have 1 pin every day).
On the right is a simple Month at a glance. It's just to give me a good idea of what I'm doing for the month. I use colored dots and symbols to represent each item that I need planned or posted.
I also have last month's stats so I can easily and quickly review them each month and figure out if what I'm doing is working, or if I need to change something up.
The very last thing is a list of newsletters to get out for the month. I like to try and theme my newsletters so they have rhyme and reason to them.
This is pretty explanatory, but it's the financial page. All my expenses and income for February.
I’m not sure yet… but I’m thinking about having a Quarterly Financial Review, and a Stats review before the 2nd quarter. But we’ll see.
This page is the same for all 4 weeks. I like to start my calendar on Monday. So I broke up the page evenly for 6 days and added Sunday to the right page. The “Brain Dump” I decided to try and see if I needed it for every week. I heard & read a lot of people say they had a hard time if they had ideas in the middle of already having it done. So I thought I would put a “Brain Dump” at the end of each week for those random ideas.
Well, that's it. March looks exactly like February, and so far, I'm liking it will likely make 2nd quarter very similar.
I'll keep you all posted as I go.
With a Grateful Heart,
All images © 2021 Jenn Smith of Smith Country, LLC