I have tried many varieties of planners out there. I used to always love when the new school year started back again, and I could browse the latest releases for planning out our school year. The problem is that I'm not just a homeschool mom. I have other jobs and other events that require a calendar and scheduling. As much as I love digital versions of planners, I still need to physically see what my schedule looks like to really bring clarity to my organization.
A bullet journal has been my go-to planner for the past three years, and I LOVE it. It offers so much flexibility and helps me track and plan so much more than just one segment of my life. It's like my brain is all in one place. I'm so thankful that it connects all of the things I try to manage in one place, and it's super simple to keep up with. There are so many brilliant layouts on Pinterest that starting a bullet journal can feel overwhelming. So I wanted to give you a peek into my homeschool bullet journal so that you can see that while I dream of making the beautiful layouts, most of the time function and time prevent me from realizing those aspirations. And that's okay.
Function over Beauty
I am always making lists of things to remember, whether it's planning for the next family vacation or getting ready for a new school semester. My bullet journal has the dot grid paper which allows flexibility for any type of information you'd like to include. In basic bullet journal style, you just add your checklist to the next available page and then add the details of the entry to your table of contents. This way you get maximum use out of your journal, but you can still find what you've written. My husband's is crazy messy, but it works for him!
My favorite function is keeping track of my week. I used the spread below all last year. When you cut a couple inches off a page, you create a dutch door effect in your bullet journal. This was awesome because I could keep my week at a glance on the top of the page and then itemize tasks below in box checking style. I used a strip of cute washi tape to quickly elevate the style of the page, and I was good to go. The only problem I had with this layout is that I really only got a half of a year out of my book.
I tracked all kinds of information in that weekly layout though. I took notes from Sunday morning there, tracked what was going on in our world, kept up with blogging tasks, and tracked birthdays and holidays. It was super helpful, but it did take some extra time to set up.
My new weekly layout is a bit simpler, but I've really loved how successful I've been in not only maintaining setting it up, but also in how it helps me not only keep track of my week, but also keeping track of my time during the day. I use the simple bar under each day to layout the time spent in a day. This gives me a visual representation of the free time I'll have in a day and really helps me not over schedule extra tasks in an already packed out day.
It also doesn't take up as much space in my book, so it will extend the life of my bullet journal, which is a good thing!
Unifies All Worlds
Moms really have thousands of jobs. We are managers of a lot of moving parts, so it's really important for our sanity to have a way to not have to hold all of that information in your brain. If you're anything like me, having babies really did a number on my ability to hold bits of information in my brain in a clear way. Things have become foggy, thus I need to write them down!
Aside from keeping track of my day-to-day tasks, I also include big picture vision for my homeschool in my bullet journal. I use color to help me track a variety of items. For example, below in blue are the subjects the kids said they felt confident to work on independently, and the orange shows me the subjects they said they wanted help with. I want to remember those conversations I have with the kids and honor their requests. It might change as the year goes on, but at this point it gives me a good idea of where to start.
I also love to set goals and track accomplishments in my bullet journal. Here are some things I like to keep record of:
- Family budgets or vacation budgets
- Weight loss and exercise
- Daily Bible reading challenges with my daughter
I really just love that all of the things I'm working on or contemplating are all together in one place. It helps me breathe a little easier!
I'm still a girl that has been raised on a traditional calendar. Therefore, when I first get my bullet journal I use my little ruler to create a small calendar at the beginning to track the big picture items. It takes a bit of time to set up, but once it's there, you can quickly reference it for the lifetime of your bullet journal. It's super handy!
I love that it's a place I can look back to find the information to questions that have been asked like: when was the last time you went to the doctor? I hate that question. You aren't limited to doctors visits though for historical records. Why not keep grades, reading lists, traveling information, church events, volunteer hours, dinner menus and so much more in your bullet journal.
You don't have to keep fancy records, just basic information in order to really have a great resource to look back upon for building your student's high school transcript or journaling in your family scrap book.
Make it Your Own
The bottom line to me is to find a strategy that works for you and stick with it. When it stops working, tweek it to something that works. As fun as those elaborate spreads are, they really are not the only way to keep a bullet journal.
There can be times when you need a brain break and feel the urge to doodle, and that's a great time to insert a playful spread. Other times, you just might not have an hour to dedicate to luxurious spreads. Keep it simple and get your lists on paper, then enjoy the thrill of checking off those boxes.
And get fun pens...lots of fun pens. Here are some of my favorites:
- Paper Mate flair pens - I love the color options and the way these pens write effortlessly. You really can't go wrong with these!
- Micron pens - These are excellent for precision writing and keeping things neat and small. They don't bleed through the paper. You'll treasure these writing utensils.
- Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens - At a little lower price, these thin pens come in a huge assortment of colors and come with a case that makes them portable and easy to use.
- I also love my Quiver pen holder that fits on my bullet journal. It's a bit pricey, but you can take it off and add it to your next bullet journal when this one runs out. It keeps my special pens accessible at all times.
So there is a peek into my homeschool bullet journal. I keep a Pinterest board of inspiration for a rainy day, but typically I just keep it simple, which means I keep using it!
Check out my fun ideas that inspired my kids to start using a bullet journal, and my son's thoughts on why students can benefit from using a bullet journal. You can also see my full list of fun bullet journal tools that my kids love to use!
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.