Bullet Journal Resources

Some questions have come in from our readers about what you need in order to create a bullet journal system for yourself.  We thought it would be helpful if you took the four minutes to watch the video from the creator of the system itself.

As you can see, his book has a nearly blank page.  It actually has a system of dots on it and this is the type of paper that Amy prefers in her book.  She has previously used the Leuchtturm1917 dotted but has now switched to the larger Moleskine dotted journal. I prefer paper with grid lines on it, so I choose the Leuchtturm1917 squared.  Each of these is in the $20 range.  If you aren’t sure quite yet if you want to invest that much, any blank or lined notebook will do to try it out.  Keep in mind though, that your journal will be going with you everywhere and if this system works for you, you’ll eventually want a nice durable cover, as well as a size that will fit into your purse or diaper bag with ease.

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You don’t need special pens for a bullet journal, but you do need to always have a pen with you.  If you prefer all your lists and notes to have some uniformity, you may want to always have the same pen with you at all times.  It should be one that doesn’t bleed through your paper, and one that has a good stream of ink that is neither running low nor leaving too much on the paper in the form of unsightly blobs.  I have found that when my pens have their own case, they are less likely to get lost and my kids know they aren’t allowed to use the pens in mom’s case.  For those reasons, I choose Staedlter fineliners.  I buy replacement black pens, since that is the only color I have really run through over and over again.

Now, you’re ready to start.  If you’re joining us at our Bullet Journal webinar next week, it might be helpful to have your book and pen at the ready.  If you were thinking about it, we have a few spots left and you can click the button below to register and pay.  It might just be the best $10 you spend this year.

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Bullet Journal Webinar, Or How I Can I Organize My Life?

When we first decided to do a bullet journal webinar, it was because of a few factors:

  1.  We have more than once been asked, “How do you keep track of everything?”  It has sometimes been asked with the tone that might indicate they are politely leaving off the phrase, “and stay sane…” from the end of their question.  We do have 4-5 children each, run nature study clubs, homeschool with babies underfoot, drive our kids to lessons and activities, and regularly (though not necessarily often… but regularly!) shower.  Neither of us currently employ a housekeeper (though, we’d love to!) or nanny (ditto!).  We love to read and go out on dates with our spouses and to relax. We also decided to begin a blog and webinar series in our spare time.  Maybe we are a bit nuts.
  2. We realized that we are able to do these things because of a few small changes in our lives.  We like to talk about them here – using the Charlotte Mason method in our homeschools, making our homes easier to maintain, and keeping organized using a bullet journal.
  3. We like to share these small changes with others because they have been such a blessing in our lives.  It seems wrong to keep this great information to ourselves when some small, inexpensive changes have made such an impact on us and our families.

Well, you see we soon realized that while the bullet journal is the tool we use for organizing, it is really the act and then habit of organizing our days that was the real gem here.  You can use a spiral notebook and a bic pen if that is your preference.  The tool can vary to some degree, but the method is the key to opening up time in your day for you to find joy and contentment as you fill the roles of mother, teacher, wife, daughter, and human being.

So, won’t you join us February 21, 2017 at 8pm EST as we chat about how we use our bullet journals to be better homeschooling mothers, homemakers, wives, and women?  We can’t wait to see you there!

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BULLET JOURNAL “COLLECTIONS” FOR THE CHARLOTTE MASON MOM

One of the best features of the Bullet Journal is that it is a catch-all for your notes, your menus, your ideas. Rather than keeping separate notebooks for all of these things, it’s all in one place! This means that if you are working on your calendar or daily to-do list and your brain wanders to your meal plan or your child’s birthday party or your Christmas wish list, you don’t need to get your computer, an app, or another notebook, you just turn the page. This is the key to becoming better organized and being able to track so many things.

These special pages in Bullet Journal lingo are called “collections.” For the full explanation of collections, visit the official bullet journal site. Basically, anytime you have “notes and tasks that are related by a common theme or purpose” you can start a collection.

How do you do it? Simple! “To create a Collection, simply flip to your next blank spread and give it a topic. Now find and migrate all your related tasks, notes, and events into this Collection. Finally, add the topic and page number of this collection to your index. That’s it!”  *

Because these collections are right there with my calendar and menu plan and the rest of my life, I turn to them much more frequently then if I kept them in another notebook or on my computer.

So what collections do we keep as homeschooling moms?

Our School Children’s Book and Supply List. I organize by subject and I put the book on the left and the supplies needed for that subject on the right. This way I don’t forget that I need a map of Ancient Greece or I need rulers for Paper Sloyd.

Our Morning Timetable. This schedule is fixed at the beginning of the year and is only tweaked a bit. I create my time-table based on Charlotte Mason’s programs and I use the Schedule Cards created by Nicole Williams to do it.

Books Wish-List for my own personal reading. You know, Mother-Culture! The beauty of this is I have my list with me when I’m out shopping or at the library. As soon as I hear a book recommended or one I’m interested in, I jot it down as part of this collection. I think this helps me spend less money too, because I use to go immediately to amazon to add it to my wish list there but would often decide to just buy the book! Now I do less impulse shopping!

A Book Log

I like to keep a log of books I read over the  course of each year. I categorize them by Evening Read Alouds, Fiction, and Non-Fiction because at one point I found myself reading books to the kids that were fiction and reading primarily non-fiction (usually education, parenting, and home related) when I was reading alone. I wanted to add more fiction so I started tracking it, and I’m thrilled to say I read 8 great fiction titles last year.


Our Afternoon Timetable. The afternoon schedule is much more fluid and changes often, so I write out our afternoon schedule every day, rather than having one static page. The afternoons are an important part of the Charlotte Mason method and an area that needs more focus in the Mason community. We hope to blog on our afternoons soon (let us know if you are interested!)

Our Habits. Every few weeks we add a habit we are working on. With 5 children and me to track, it’s very helpful to keep a page of the current habit each person is working on.

(At this time, I don’t put our reading schedule in my bullet journal, but I could see it being helpful.)

Rainy Day activity list. This PR article mentions the idea of having a shelf of toys and activities for children that they just get to do on “wet-days” when they can’t be outside. This led me to create a “collection” of ideas not just for wet-days, but any day that we seemed in a funk.

Inventory Lists

I don’t have many of these, but I did make one for our family games and I love it. Now, if we want to have a game night or the kids need an indoor activity, I can suggest a specific game without leaving my spot. 

Sub Plans. This is along the lines of the rainy day list, but is for any day I’m not feeling well enough to teach. No, sadly, I don’t have a substitute teacher, but I have found it helpful to have a time-table of the types of school activities that the children can do without me. AKA, true self-education days!!

Book of Century List. We add to our Book of Centuries/Century Charts in the afternoon time-table, not immediately after each morning reading. I found that the children had a hard time remembering who they wanted to add by the time the afternoon rolled around, so now if they think of someone they want to add, we add the name to this collection.

Month in Review. At the end of each month, before I begin the new month’s calendar page, I look over the previous month we’ve just lived and jot down on a new page, the highlights. Our work, joys, suffering is entered. Just a word or two as reminder. To see all that goes on in a month, all that we hadn’t planned on at the beginning, has been such a validating thing to do. It’s also valuable before I begin to plan a new month to have a clear sense of what life has been like for us all. By writing it down, I get a sense if we’ve been out of the house too much…haven’t had enough for one child…

Check-lists for Activities. Don’t you hate running out the door for a co-op or nature club and trying to remember everything you need? I have a heading for each activity and a list of all that we need to do and all we need to bring. So helpful! This way we don’t forget our water paint brushes, tick-spray, matches, water bottles, magnifying glasses, binoculars, compass, etc. along with our Nature Journals when we go to Nature Club.

Planning Routine. I plan to plan! It’s true. I have a list of what I need to do each night for the next morning. Each weekend for the following week. Once a month for the next month.

Packing Lists

Whether it is a weekend away or an afternoon Nature Study Club, I write down the items I want to have with me and check the list before I start packing up.


Current Pursuits. Just as Mason had a course of study for mothers, I try to keep a list of topics that I am trying to study. Homeschooling with a Living Books curriculum is a rich learning experience as much for me as my children. But I also want to be sure I am learning on my own as part of my own pursuit of culture and fullness so that my teaching comes from the overflow of my own disposition, interest and love. Here are some of the subjects I try to cover in some way:

  • Religion: Spiritual Life, Catechism, Church History, Biography
  • Education/Parenting: Of course, Mason, but I also enjoy reading popular books on parenting and education, along with a classic tome, now and again.
  • Food: I cannot keep interest in cooking unless I have a good foodie book or cookbook 🙂
  • Homemaking: See our most recent post of my favorite books
  • Culture: A book on our Artist or Composer we are studying.
  • Nature: Sometimes on our Special Study topic, other times our Nature Study, sometimes books on Nature and Children.
  • Hobby/Skill: this is probably my weakest area of pursuit 🙂

Having a list like this, spurs me to keep my “Mother-Culture” going!

Would you like to learn more? To see some of these collections and pages “live”?

Sign up for our Bullet Journal for Homeschooling Moms Webinar, now just $10!

Camille and Amy will walk you through setting up your bullet journal and maximizing its potential for homeschooling!

February 21st at 8pm.

We look forward to “seeing you” there!

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Bullet Journal Daily Logs and Weekly Spreads for the Homeschooling Mom

At the heart of the Bullet Journal is the daily log.  This is the page that stays open all day to keep us on track.

Camille and I have tried the many ways of keeping a daily log/weekly spread. Today we are sharing our favorites with the hopes that you will see the flexibility of this method and maybe even find one that fits your life!

There are two things we need to live a more organized and peaceful life: resolution and method.

“The real truth with most of us is that it requires a little more resolution and a good deal more method than we possess to so arrange and carry out the work of the day… (The Parent Review, “Simple Things” by S. F. S.Volume 12, no. 12, 1901, pgs. 958-960).

The Bullet Journal is such a method to arrange and carry out the work of the day! And when we have a method the resolution becomes easier and easier. The method is our way of laying down the rails and then finding freedom. So often we have the resolution but not the method to fulfill it!

But back to the weekly spread!

Amy

This is the main spread that I have used for over 2 years:

Left Side:

The left page is where I do my brain dump of all that is going on in my mind for that particular week. After doing this for a few weeks, I saw that I had a few major categories and divided this page into 5 categories:

Home: Everything that relates to our family life! Reminders to make a dentist appointment, call someone back, send an email, an idea I want to explore.

Work: Everything that relates to my Charlotte Mason initiatives: CM Reading Club, Nature Club, Truth, Beauty Goodness Symposium, the Charlotte Mason Educational Center of PA.

Liturgical Year: I take the time to note any important feast days for us to celebrate that week. This particular week I reminded myself to prep for our All Saints Day celebration and then created a separate page for planning.

Grocery: This isn’t my grocery list, but where I jot down if I notice we are out of one our pantry staples. You know, the things that nag at you but you always forget when you actually sit down to make your grocery list. This week I noted we were running low on tea.

Errands: This is a list of the out-of-the ordinary things I might need to pick up or drop off during the week. This week it was a birthday gift for my daughter’s friend.

Right Side:

Then on the right is my weekly list. First, I write in all of normal weekly events, like basketball practice, choir, violin lessons. Yes, these are on my Google Calendar that I share with my husband and yes, they repeat every week, but I still write them out each Sunday night. When I do so, I feel like I really get a hold of the week and feel so much more at peace. My next step is to then migrate things from the left page over to the right on the day that actually makes sense for me to do them. Its only after doing the brain dump on the left and then filling in our normal weekly events that I can accurately plan when I can do what needs to be done!

Just recently I switched to a new spread and I really like it. I love that my menu, my events, and my to-do are all on one big spread and then I have a column on the far left for my brain dump. It’s small but I found I don’t need a ton of space for the brain dump and that I usually want to create a whole page for many of the items anyway.


Camille

My main spread that I could not get through a week without is relatively simple.  I always set this up on Sunday afternoon or evening in preparation for the week ahead.  I happened to take a photo during a school break week, so I’ve also included one for a school week, though I don’t make a lot of school notes on my main spread.

First, I make a mini brain dump of things I want  to remember, do, or accomplish that week.  In the first example, my daughter had a feast day that I wanted to remember because for two years in a row we have either forgotten or been travelling so it could not be properly celebrated. I wanted to make sure we had time to let her choose dinner and dessert, as well as time to buy the ingredients needed, if any.  It was also epiphany week and I wanted to remember our king cake.  We had also been gifted a membership to the art museum and I wanted to go before school started up again.

I then start up a list of what I can reasonably accomplish the following day.  Not grand hopes of things to accomplish, but realistic plans.  These smaller lists for each day also include smaller tasks that need doing, such as errands, a reminder to put away that basket of laundry (so I can’t claim I forgot it…), or phone calls and emails that need to be made.

This particular week, being a week of no schooling, I also had a list of projects I wanted to complete, which is an unusual addition.

In the following spread, you’ll see that while the format is the same, the usefulness changes because I was beginning to prepare for Thanksgiving guests, planning my Advent Term as well as Term 2 for school, and I had a lot of small tasks that needed to be taken care of such as phone calls and errands.

While this is my home base spread for the week, it expands as these tasks get carried out.  For example, I created new spreads for school planning, as well as my Thanksgiving menu, and gifts that needed ordering for birthdays, hostess gifts, and Christmas.

Now, the other part of my Sunday afternoon routine is menu planning, but it doesn’t fit on my main spread and gets one of its own.  That is a post for another day!

We hope you enjoyed this sneak peak into our lives and found it helpful! Please share below any questions you have below!

Next week we will be sharing with you all the Collections we keep as Charlotte Mason moms. Subscribe so you don’t miss a post!

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Would you like to learn more about keeping a Bullet Journal? To see some of these collections and pages “live”?

Sign up for our Bullet Journal for Homeschooling Moms Webinar, now just $10!

Camille and Amy will walk you through setting up your bullet journal and maximizing its potential for homeschooling!

February 21st at 8pm.

We look forward to “seeing you” there!

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THE PRACTICAL GUIDE TO THE BULLET JOURNAL FOR THE CHARLOTTE MASON MOM

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We here at Learning How to Live love the method of the Bullet Journal for planning, collecting, and organizing.

The longer we use it, the more we use it.

The more we use it, the better at “life” we get.

Over the next few weeks, we’d like to provide you with

A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO THE BULLET JOURNAL!

We’ll show you how the Bullet Journal works for managing our homes, our personal goals, our money, our menus, our life.

We’ll blog on how the  Bullet Journal fits so naturally for homeschool planning–book lists, future goals, evaluating our children. It especially works well for a Charlotte Mason approach!

We’ll write about how the Bullet Journal has simplified our routines, organized our lives, and helped us find peace.

But first, we want to talk about why the philosophy behind the Bullet Journal fits with the way we see the world. Like so many of our readers, as we’ve read Charlotte Mason’s life-giving philosophy of education, we’ve learned principles that haven’t just made us better teachers and parents, we’ve become better humans!

So principles first, then practices for a cohesive, integrated whole!

Why is the Bullet Journal such a useful and revolutionary, yet simple way to get a hold of your life?

We believe that its success is because it’s a method, not a system.

The Bullet Journal is a method, not a system!

Charlotte Mason writes on the importance of method vs. system in education and her ideas are all of the same reasons the Bullet Journal works.

So what’s the difference between a method and a system?

A SYSTEM is a machine, like a bodies, like a factory conveyor belt, that breaks down when it comes into contact with our very real, very human life. We are not cogs in a system; we are persons!

A METHOD, like a system, is way to achieve a desired end, yet it provides for “the vital growth and movement of a living being” (Volume 1 page 11).

Method implies two things––a way to an end, and a step by step progress in that way. Further, the following of a method implies an idea, a mental image, of the end of object to be arrived at. What do you propose that education shall effect in and for your child? Again, method is natural; easy, yielding, unobtrusive, simple as the ways of Nature herself; yet, watchful, careful, all pervading, all compelling. Method, with the end of education in view, presses the most unlikely matters into service to bring about that end…Charlotte Mason.Volume 1 page 8.

  1. We all need a way, a path, a step-by-step guide to achieve the end, the idea, the object we have in mind.

This is true in education, but it also true for menu planning, party planning, homeschool planning, list-making, tracking appointments, wish lists, recording memories, collecting ideas, brainstorming for the future.

If we don’t stay on the path, we will get lost in the details or lose a detail. We miss  appointments, stack up library fines or forget to pick-up more vanilla and toilet paper at the grocery store. Without a method, we feel stressed and anxious.

The Bullet Journal allows you to create a way, a path that is flexible, meeting your individual families needs and the way you think.

2. We all need a way, as Mason says, that is “natural, easy, yielding, unobtrusive, simple.”

The Bullet Journal is just that. A simple Pinterest search will show you the thousands of different ways people set-up all the things you might ever need to track, all in one place.You can doodle, add art and stickers, or you can be plain Janes, like Camille and me! If you need to change your weekly spread, you can!

The blank page of the Bullet Journal is key.

The problem with other planners, apps, or systems is that they operate on creator’s ideas but may not work with your world.

Take the example of Meal Planning. You want to meal plan and make your grocery list on the same page. You only want to plan dinners but your planner has a 3 row by 7 column grid. Or you like to have your menu list in your calendar on that day of the week, you don’t want a whole separate table, but the cells aren’t big enough to hold your to-do list, your appointments, and your menu. So you have different notebooks, papers all over the house, sticky notes, apps. You end up needing a system to keep track of all your systems! Or you just give up!

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3. The Bullet Journal, as a Method, is “watchful, careful, all pervading, all compelling.”

We use it for everything–work, family, creativity, home-making, holidays, journalling. And it helps us to be more “watchful [and] careful”!

A great example is planning for one of my children’s birthdays. When I create the monthly calendar and fill in my child’s birthday on the 9th, I immediately turn to the next open page and create a new page titled, “Birthday.” Perhaps, I also had that nagging thought that she wanted new shoes and I had an idea for a great theme so I jot them down and then head back to the calendar. The “Birthday” page is there for me to come back to and create menu plans, wish list, shopping list, RSVPs, etc, etc!

4. As an analog method, the Bullet Journal also helps us be more “careful.”

With technology we can move at such a fast-pace that we often let details slip. As we are forced to slow-down and write out our plans and ideas, we ruminate on them. This plants our plans in our minds, new ideas grow, and we feel at peace.

5. The beauty of the Bullet Journal is that once you figure out your method, you can turn it into a system.

But if that system stops working, you can try a different method, but you don’t need a new notebook or a different approach. The Bullet Journal allows for you to change as you need.

Mason tells us that “There is always the danger that a method, a bona fide method, should degenerate into a mere system.” Volume 1 p 8.

Since the Bullet Journal is just a blank book, we can always turn to the page and start again as we need. After trying different weekly spreads, for example, I have one I mainly stick to week after week, but if it’s a very different week, Christmas or illness, I can change it up easily.

Method…aid[s] the many sided evolution of the living, growing, most complex human being; but what a miserable wooden system does it become in the hands of ignorant practitioners!

We are living, growing, complex human beings. In the Snell home, there are 7 of us, living growing, complex human beings! No wonder wooden systems have failed before.

If a human being were a machine, education could do more for him than to set him in action in prescribed ways, and the work of the educator would be simply to adopt a good working system or set of systems.

But the educator has to deal with a self-acting, self-developing being… (Volume 1 page 10).

Thus, a bullet journal is needed.

So how do we Bullet Journal? What do we recommend? Would you like to see how we keep track of our curriculum as Charlotte Mason mamas? Subscribe today so you don’t miss out future posts!

Would you like to learn more? To see some of these collections and pages “live”?

Sign up for our Bullet Journal for Homeschooling Moms Webinar, now just $10!

Camille and Amy will walk you through setting up your bullet journal and maximizing its potential for homeschooling!

February 21st at 8pm.

We look forward to “seeing you” there!

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