Bullet Journaling For Productivity – 5 Spread Ideas

Bullet Journaling For Productivity – 5 Spread Ideas

Most of us have an ambiguous relationship with bullet journals. We love them because they enhance our productivity, give us a place to track our thoughts and tie our lives together in a visual formal. Yet, we envy the presentability and aesthetic appeal standards set by Instagram and Pinterest. For this reason, I would like to preface this post with a reminder: your bullet journal absolutely does not have to look pretty in order for it to be effective. In fact, 90% of my bullet journal pages (in particular, weekly spreads) are covered in unsightly scribbles and take under five minutes to configure in the first place.

The are a couple of reasons for why the bullet journal images you see on my blog linger above the threshold of presentability. Firstly, in light of a pre-planned blog post, I want to create a better experience for my readers. Secondly, hand lettering, doodling and implementing colour schemes on a couple of my bullet journal pages acts, for me, as a creative outlet, which is something I believe most of us need. My study notes or anything destined to remain hidden from public consumption paint a different impression. And as an inherently ‘messy’ person with handwriting that can only be described as abysmal, I need reassurance that I do, in fact, posses a hint of artistic competence (lol). In short: do not be put off from starting a bullet journal because an obligation to make it look objectively aesthetic does not exist, unless this is something you wish to do for your own enjoyment.

Now, this post is a collab with Mia, who runs a lifestyle blog called Beautiful, Inspiring, Creative…Life. Not only is she is a super talented blogger with a very unique style and content (featuring many things including productivity, fashion and life advice), but also the loveliest person with an attitude all of us can admire. We bonded over our mutual love for many things, bullet journaling included, and decided to share our favourite spreads used to further productivity and personal development. You can check out her post HERE.

And now, let us have a look at some of my ideas, which you may wish to try out if you haven’t already.

1. ‘Reading, listening, watching’

Five bullet journal spreads to use for productivity - inaccordance

(Gotta love my attempts to recreate my favourite ‘Brusher’ font, lol)

I know that many people often set themselves a goal of reading more books, whether fiction or non-fiction, listening to particular podcasts or watching interesting films. However, achieving this is tricky unless you are keeping yourself accountable. This is the main reason for why you may want to dedicate a page of your bullet journal to some sort of reading list, whether in the form of a space to jot down books you come across and may wish to read in the future, or a more structured ‘to read’ page with tick boxes next to each item.

Reading list bullet journal

As well as a to-read list for each month, I like to keep a reading/watching/listening log. Reading a book and forgetting all about it days later is easy. It is similarly easy to listen to a podcast episode, while absentmindedly doing something else, and have its central lesson escape your attention. In order to avoid this, I note down both the name of whatever I’m reading/listening/watching. Neighbouring the title is a summary or a few notes about what I found interesting. Of course, notebooks and my trusty Google Docs come in handy if I want to do a more extensive reflection. But a bullet journal is a fantastic place to start outlining anything that enhances your knowledge or influences your worldview as your faithfully stick to your reading intentions to the best of your ability.

2. Monthly/weekly goals mind map

I’ve spoken before about my extensive love for mind maps. Aside from their usefulness as a study technique, they can aid goal setting by allowing you to visualise what you want to achieve within a given time span and how these things fit into the broader scope of your life. In a sense, they act as a compact vision board.

Split your goals up into categories and scribble a few things under each heading, repeating this either on a monthly or weekly basis. When I do my mind maps, I like to be messy, vague and spontaneous, before refining the goals into a neater format on a different piece of paper. And if you’re like me, doodle some cats (or have an actual cat nearby), because the more cats there are in your life, the better.

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Bullet journal goal setting

3. Monthly calendar

I feel like this should have been number one, given that it’s pretty fundamental, but at this stage I hope you will excuse the spontaneous enthusiasm for reading lists that hindered my ability to create a logical order. Anyway, my favourite thing about monthly calendars is how they provide a general overview of the upcoming weeks, major events, deadlines, without ‘zooming in’ on details (the latter is the function of weekly spreads).

Bullet journal monthly spread

When organising your life, it’s very easy to get caught up on the specifics of your day-to-day endeavours without having a clear focus of what you are working towards. In such cases, you may not notice deadlines creeping up. You may lose motivation when your broader goals are not identified. Even worse, you may fall victim to the panic of a last-minute birthday present purchase and scramble to write a meaningful, personalised card. Even if bullet journals aren’t your thing and you do not wish to draw one out yourself, I would highly recommend investing in either a wall calendar or a pre-made planner. I, however, prefer to customise mine and surround it with what I feel like recording throughout the upcoming month.

Monthly spread bullet journal

4. Affirmations

Now, I have to admit that I find it difficult to find quotes which truly resonate with me on a deeper level, mostly because it is difficult to find any that have a direct relevance to my life without a considerable amount of extrapolation and the removal of vagueness. However, what I like to do is make a list of affirmations based on my individual experiences.

Bullet journal positive affirmations

What does this have to do with productivity, you may ask? Well, in times of doubt and fear, which we all have as an inevitable part of the human experience, having a ‘safety blanket’, our guiding principles written out in concrete form to pushes us forward whenever we feel like slacking. I think reaching goals requires a mixture of discipline and motivation, and while the former is a habit you acquire through practice and consistency, the latter sometimes needs a boost to maximise your productivity. Moreover, my affirmations contain some items which are not directly linked to productivity and reaching goals, but mental and emotional wellbeing. This keeps me grounded and focused on the bigger picture whenever I start to get dismayed by day-to-day setbacks and nuances.

Bullet journal positive affirmations

Of course, an entire page dedicated to affirmations on a weekly basis may not be for everyone. Going forward, one for each month could be a likely scenario in my case. A smaller box for weekly reminders, positioned in the corner of any page of your choice, is a much more realistic idea.

5. Writing plans

Bullet journal for writing

When I am studying, I like to do my writing plans in subject/topic specific notebooks. I also have a separate planner dedicated to my blog. However, I think that my bullet journal will come in handy when, for example, I wish to plan a written piece on a lengthy commute and reduce the weight of my bag. In the future, I may even invest in a writing-specific bullet journal because I think the size is perfect for a rough essay/blog post outline and the dot format delivers the freedom to scribble things down outside the constraints of lines and squares.

Bullet journal writing plan

I hope this post has given you some fresh ideas for what to track, especially as February is only a couple of weeks away (am I the only person who feels like the pace of January has been a strange mixture of fast and slow?!). Be sure to let me know in the comments – do you like to bullet journal as a means of staying productive? And if you are not a bujo person, how do you like to organise your life on a weekly/monthly basis?

Five bullet journal spreads to use for productivity - inaccordance

Productive bullet journal spreads

Lots of love, Maria ♡

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65 Comments

  1. mastermanifest January 21, 2018 / 7:48 pm

    Awesome take on bullet journaling! I’ve known about the trend/practice for sometime, though not in this much depth. I still use my phone calendar for commitments and a (very pretty) project calendar I bought from walmart for goals/projects. 🙂

    • whatismaria January 21, 2018 / 8:58 pm

      Thank you so much! If you find any spare time, you should give bullet journaling a go for sure as it’s very relaxing and effective. Glad to hear you have a system that works for you though!

      • mastermanifest January 21, 2018 / 10:05 pm

        I just might one day! It does look like fun 🙂 XO

    • whatismaria January 21, 2018 / 8:59 pm

      Thank you so much!! I’m so glad you think so xox

  2. SimpleSerenity January 21, 2018 / 8:21 pm

    The more cats, better your life is. Can’t agree more girl, I’m such a cat lady, love them so much. I had really similar cat to yours in my childhood, black and white mister, he was incredibly handsome lol. xx

    • whatismaria January 21, 2018 / 9:01 pm

      Cats are amazing aren’t they?! I’m so glad we got Pearl (the sweet baby featured in this post) because she always carries so much light and positive energy 🙂 xox

  3. Alys January 21, 2018 / 8:29 pm

    Your spreads are so so beautiful! And very inspiring 🙂

    • whatismaria January 21, 2018 / 9:01 pm

      Thank you! I am so happy you think so xox

  4. Lana January 21, 2018 / 8:31 pm

    I had never heard of a bullet journal. All my notes are in documents on my Mac and I use Apple Notes on my phone.
    Ps affirmations don’t work – take it from an ex new ager 🙂

  5. lifeofangela January 21, 2018 / 8:44 pm

    These are all such great ideas! I’ve always been torn about bullet journals for the reasons you’ve said, but lately I’ve been doing some basic pages, and it’s really fun!! I like the idea of an affirmations page, it’ll be nice to look back on when you’re having a bad day 😀

    • whatismaria January 21, 2018 / 9:03 pm

      Thank you for your lovely comment Angela! It can be quite intimidating at first, but once you get over the initial uncertainty, it can be a really great way to keep track of your life:) xox

  6. K.M. Sutton January 21, 2018 / 11:26 pm

    Girl I loved how real you are with this! I also had to laugh, because as bloggers we always have to have the perfect picture (I mean I drink copious amounts of coffee…But only take pictures of the prettiest latte art 🙂 That said, I loved how you designed your pages and your tips. <3

    • whatismaria January 22, 2018 / 2:33 pm

      Haha I will always be real about what goes into a pretty blog photo! And I can relate on a spiritual level – 90% of my food is too ugly for anyone to see other than myself 😂 thank you for your lovely comment ❤️

      • K.M. Sutton January 25, 2018 / 6:57 pm

        I love that! Keep up the realness! 🙂 Bwahaha Usually I am to hungry and halfway through I am like crud I should have taken a picture! Awe you are most welcome sweets! Hope you have an amazing day! <3

  7. Beyoutiful January 22, 2018 / 12:34 am

    This is awesome, great ideas girl!!

    • whatismaria January 22, 2018 / 6:55 pm

      Thank you! That’s very kind of you 🙂

  8. kittyp0p January 22, 2018 / 12:48 am

    Love these and love the color scheme you’ve got! Very well done (:

    • whatismaria January 22, 2018 / 6:55 pm

      Thank you! Hope you have a great week:)

  9. Sarah January 22, 2018 / 1:18 am

    This is awesome, I love the way you’ve done the headers. I’ve been testing my hand at using a Bullet Journal, I bought myself a cheap book. I find it difficult with my personality though as I want stuff to look perfect, even if it’s a messy look I want it to look perfectly messy 🙈 Yours is brill though 🙂

    • whatismaria January 22, 2018 / 6:55 pm

      Thank you Sarah – so glad you like it! I know exactly what you mean, but I think after a certain point we should just accept the inevitable and allow our messiness to shine through with pride :’) xox

  10. anoekreintjes January 22, 2018 / 7:10 am

    I just started my bullet journal For the next month I will definitely add some of the page ideas that you shared today! Thanks❤️ Have a beautiful day!

    • whatismaria January 22, 2018 / 6:49 pm

      I’m glad to hear you are starting out your bullet journal journey too! So glad you found this inspiring. And I hope you do as well:)

  11. crystalsandcurls January 22, 2018 / 11:09 am

    Awww you’re the sweetest! I love all your spreads – and your hand lettering is AWESOME! This was such a fun collab idea; we should definitely do another one 🙂 xxxx

    • whatismaria January 22, 2018 / 2:35 pm

      Ahh thank you!! The lettering was so fun to do :’) and I know, it had so much fun putting together this post! Xx

  12. Siyana January 22, 2018 / 12:11 pm

    Maria, your posts are always so beautifully written and inspiring. I especially love that you managed to keep the same style, my pages are super messy and often end up in the bin 😀

  13. hell0chloe January 22, 2018 / 12:44 pm

    I feel like I’ve been saying this for 200 years now but I NEED to get a bullet journal – this is so aesthetically pleasing!! xx

    • whatismaria January 22, 2018 / 5:57 pm

      Haha it took me a few months since I first discovered bullet journaling to actually try it myself!! Thank you lovely xox

  14. Rasya January 22, 2018 / 1:34 pm

    Your bujo looks so well though. After seeing yours, I’m thinking to add a reading log section on my planner (I used mine as bujo too)

    x Rasya

    • whatismaria January 22, 2018 / 5:57 pm

      Thank you! And you should try it out for sure – it has come in handy multiple times 🙂

  15. J | thenellybean January 22, 2018 / 4:24 pm

    Hahaha “the more cats in your life the better” – preach!! Also I think half the fun of bullet journals is doodling and decorating them and being so proud of your artsiness xx

    • whatismaria January 22, 2018 / 5:56 pm

      Lol I am capable of speaking the truth at times I guess!! And I know – the doodles have to be my favourite part xox

    • whatismaria January 23, 2018 / 7:36 pm

      Wow this means a lot to me! Thank you very much 🙂

  16. Rosinalee January 22, 2018 / 8:02 pm

    Wow, your bullet journal is amazing! I really love your writing and doodling! (kinda jealous, I tried bullet journaling once…failed miserably😂) xxx

    • whatismaria January 23, 2018 / 7:36 pm

      Ah thank you so much! The lettering was so fun to do. And I highly doubt you failed – bullet journaling is very hard to get wrong because there isn’t a ‘correct’ way to do it:)xx

  17. Emily May January 22, 2018 / 9:37 pm

    Fab post on bullet journalling! I’m now starting to get into it myself, so this is handy, thank you x

    • whatismaria January 23, 2018 / 7:37 pm

      Thank you very much! Best of luck with your bullet journal 🙂

    • whatismaria January 23, 2018 / 7:38 pm

      Thank you! It’s one of my faves xox

  18. breannahnycole January 23, 2018 / 5:19 am

    I love the writing spread! And your whole bullet journal is beautifully designed! I tried to do one, but I couldn’t keep up with it🙃 I want to try out a new one for 2018

    • whatismaria January 23, 2018 / 7:38 pm

      Thank you so much! That’s very kind of you. And I agree that it’s tricky to be consistent, but we have to give it our best 🙂

      • breannahnycole January 23, 2018 / 11:43 pm

        You’re welcome and so true! It’s worth a shot!

  19. chloeburford January 23, 2018 / 12:56 pm

    This is the prettiest thing ever!! I am so hooked on everyones bullet journals! xx

    • whatismaria January 23, 2018 / 7:39 pm

      Thank you Chloe 🙂 And me too – they are always so satisfying to look at!

  20. AnjaGe January 23, 2018 / 12:59 pm

    Great post!

    This year I have made my planners myself, as last year I really didnt like the format of the ones in stores. And so I got three notebooks and divided my life into three areas of planning and here we are few weeks later and I love them sooooo much!
    All the best!

  21. Veronica M. January 24, 2018 / 9:03 pm

    I have to try that writing log spread! Ive been reading quite a bit lately and don’t want to forget the gems you often discover by reading. xoxo

    • whatismaria January 24, 2018 / 11:20 pm

      Couldn’t agree more with you – it definitely has come in handy! Thank you for your lovely comment 😊

    • whatismaria January 26, 2018 / 5:52 pm

      Thank you for letting me know – I will look into it:)

  22. simplycarinaxo January 26, 2018 / 9:02 am

    I always start the year with a new burst of energy for bullet journaling, and then there’s one week or two where I don’t have much time, or rather don’t set aside time to fill it in and it all falls apart haha! So thank you for sharing this and reminding me I need to work on my bullet journaling skills some more 🙂 Your layout and design is beautiful by the way <3 xo

    • whatismaria January 26, 2018 / 5:57 pm

      I’ve only been doing it for a couple of weeks and can definitely say that I’ve had a few days where I haven’t been entirely consistent, but if that happens I guess the best thing to do is just leave those few days/weeks blank and keep going 🙂 Thank you for stopping by and your lovely comment xox

  23. holliesongbird January 26, 2018 / 10:27 pm

    I also journal too! But not as nice as that! I might start organizing the way you do it. I have a Lecuhtturm1917, and for this year I’m going to be more consistent with my entries. This is such a great post! 🙂

    • whatismaria January 27, 2018 / 7:33 am

      I’m sure your bullet journal is gorgeous and it’s great that you are looking to be more consistent! Thank you very much for reading 🙂

  24. Gluecksgeist January 27, 2018 / 1:52 pm

    Your bullet journal is just a dream!! So amazing xx

    • whatismaria January 27, 2018 / 9:02 pm

      Aww I’m very happy you think so! Thank you for your lovely comment xx

  25. Euphine February 4, 2018 / 6:43 pm

    tEACh mE yOUR aRTISTIC wAYS <333 love it! ive been stalking your blog for hours lmao 😀

    • whatismaria February 5, 2018 / 3:42 pm

      Haha thank you! I’m sure your artistic skills are on point already 🙂

  26. honeynoo February 6, 2018 / 5:23 pm

    Your bullet journal is incredible! I too have one but find it so difficult to be consistent, and to actually like my spreads (often comparing them to the ones I see all over pinterest). Your blog is awesome, too!
    honeynoo.wordpress.com ♡

    • whatismaria February 7, 2018 / 11:10 am

      Thank you very much! I think focusing on doing as much as we can in our own circumstances and determining whether we find it useful regardless of what it looks like is important 🙂 thank you for reading!

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