Layouts and my Upcoming Conundrum

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

As an American, it seems strange to be saying that in October.

I’ve been bullet journaling for a couple of weeks now and I’m just starting to settle into the new system.  Overall, it’s much easier and less time consuming than my old system, but I’m still fighting the part of myself that places aesthetics over function (as you will notice from all the whiteout).

I’ve decided to go ahead and share my layout since it will probably never stop evolving anyway.  I’ve adapted my old setup so it doesn’t exactly match the classic bullet journal setup.


  1. Notes/In
  2. Journal
  3. Collections
  4. Reference

In the front of my journal, I have sudoku puzzles for my daily transit rides.  My mom bought be a few sudoku books for Xmas one year which happen to be the perfect size.


My first real section is my “notes/in”.  I’m trying to remember where I got the idea originally, and I think it might have been from this 2011 post by Philofaxy’s Steve Morton.  He describes it as, “the quickest way for me to gather information for processing and then writing it neatly in to the main body of the organiser later on,” which is exactly how I use it.

My original notebook was basically just the notes/in section.  I like to think of it as my brain dump all in one place.


I use this instead of Bullet Journal’s solid dot bullet notes (•) under each day’s entry.  I like the idea of keeping everything in the journal section, but a lot of my little thoughts and notes seem to fall through the cracks that way.

I don’t put anything that is terribly urgent here so I don’t have to review this section every day.  A few times a week, I’ll go through and take a look.  The items will sometimes get turned into to-dos and sometimes will go into a collection.  Once I decide that I have dealt with the note, either having organized it appropriately or deemed it not useful, I scratch it out.

Note: I don’t bother to keep these old pages.  They are usually very messy because I often need to write something in a hurry.  I like the feeling that I’m somehow “cleaning” the page as I scratch it out.  Once a page is nothing but scribbles (very satisfying), I remove and recycle it.


Next section, the journal!


I start with the monthly spread.  I like to use red to show important assignment due dates.  As you can see, I thought the letter for the day of the week was unnecessary but I changed my mind.


On the opposite page is my monthly task list.


Below you can see yesterday’s daily calendar.  I have to credit Josh Medeski for the hourglass signifier.

This illustrates my current problem.  My friend Hannah (insert shoutout here) and I agreed to chat on Thursday.


How will I remember that on Thursday? On Wednesday night, will I remember to flip back through my journal to see the note?  Should I copy “call Hannah on Thursday” to each daily entry until I get to Thursday?  That seems tedious and time consuming, not to mention a huge waste of space.

I can’t add it to my monthly spread because there simply is not enough room for all these kinds of little things.  I don’t want to add it to my monthly task list because that list will end up being extremely long and some of these notes are not actionable.

I even started an “upcoming” collection, but it seemed a bit redundant- like I have two monthly calendars.


So I took my quandry to Google+ to pick some brains and glean some wisdom.  I got many great ideas, but I’m not sure yet which will work best for me.  I love Alisha Corinne‘s suggestion to use separate calendar spreads.

I’m strongly considering adding another section for larger monthly calendars and doing away with the single page monthly spreads in the journal.  You can see below how I started to play with the layout.


My last two sections are pretty straight forward.  My “collections” section is the only one with an index and page numbers.

wpid-img_20141013_110209.jpg wpid-img_20141013_105909.jpg wpid-img_20141013_110020.jpg

My “reference” section doesn’t change much so most of the pages are printed.  I keep my term schedule here along with Google backup codes and some other things I need to look up occasionally.

wpid-img_20141013_110221.jpg wpid-img_20141013_110252.jpg


That’s about it.  Thanks for reading and any suggestions are appreciated (as always)!


2 thoughts on “Layouts and my Upcoming Conundrum

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