Bullet Journal Monthly Layouts - November 2016

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Continuing with our little tradition, the third Bullet Journal Brunch was held this morning. Each month I get together with my sister and good friend for brunch, followed by a mega planning session. We all keep Bullet Journals so we hang out, swap ideas and, of course, share the all-important washi tape. Here's a look at my November Bullet Journal monthly layouts!

Bullet Journal Monthly Layouts November Monthly Overview

I really liked the calendar grid-view that I tried last month so I used it again this month. This time I condensed my next month section to one side of the page and made a little more room for my goals. I've been focusing a lot lately on revamping my goal setting process so I'll be using this area to experiment a little.

November Bullet Journal Budget Layout

This is just my classic budgeting worksheet, with a little autumn harvest twist. If you want to know more about how I do my budgeting, check out my rundown here.

November Bullet Journal Meal Plan Layout

This spread is a new one for me this month!

One of the best things I've done to lead a healthier lifestyle has been starting a meal planning and prep routine. Good decisions are a lot easier to make when you plan them in advance! I only do an hour or so of prep each weekend and then all my breakfasts, snacks and lunches are ready to grab on the way to work. I also make sure I have everything I need for the dinners I pick out in advance. This spread will be a convenient and consolidated space for all my meal planning for the month. We'll see how it goes!

November Bullet Journal Habit Chore Tracker Layout

My tried-and-true habit tracker and cleaning tracker layouts are the same as last month. Of course I have to use some cute washi tape to reflect the season though!

Along with my goal-setting process revamp, I'll be changing up which habits I track. I want to be sure that the habits I'm working on forming in my daily life help me achieve my long-term goals. I haven't finished working out which habits to track yet so they're entered yet, but they'll go in soon!

November Bullet Journal Gratitude Layout

Nothing new for my gratitude tracker this month, but my sister drew some super cute flowers in the header that I'm in love with.

Products Used:

* This post contains affiliate links. This means that I may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase something through these links. I promise I'll only ever post something that I know and love! You can see my full disclosure and policy here. Thank you for supporting Beckasaurus!

Washi tapes were all purchased on Etsy:

Plaid Washi Tape

Acorn Washi Tape

Slim Wheat Washi Tape

Wheat Washi Tape

I'm definitely excited to get to start using my new monthly layouts! Have a good Halloween and see you in November!
What layouts are you trying out this month?

Sparking Joy: The KonMari Method

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Marie Kondo's book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" and her KonMari method have been all over the internet and atop the bestseller shelves at all the local book stores for the last year or so. The book has certainly intrigued me for awhile now, long before I purchased it but I am so glad I finally did.

Three years ago I bought a house and left my little one bedroom apartment behind. Even after several years of living on my own, I was still able to pack almost everything I own into a single car trip. Mind you it was a giant old Suburban with all the seats taken out of the back, but still. Over the years, I've slowly expanded into the luxury of all the newfound space in my wonderful house. I'm still having trouble coming to terms with the fact that I own so many grown-up things, like dining room sets and storage shelving. Who knew you could accumulate so much in such a short amount of time?

While most of my stuff still falls into the "necessary and useful" category, I've found myself fighting for space in the tiny closets someone 100 years ago deemed amply sized. (Really though, how did they fit all those big dresses into these small little closets??) I've been own my own long enough now to have accumulated so much stuff that not everything is really serving me anymore. I'm looking at you, closet full of old party dresses...

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The KonMari Method

In the introduction, Kondo introduces her KonMari method. She touts it as "not [just] a mere set of rules on how to sort, organize, and put things away" but also "a guide to acquiring the right mind-set for creating order and becoming a tidy person." Right away this intrigues me. I'm not naturally a neat person, always favoring tackling some new task over cleaning up after the last one. I know how to get my home into a nice state, but keeping there has been my challenge. Her method's promise to help me change my very nature is exactly what I was looking for.

So let's dive into the basics of the KonMari method!

Rule #1: Discard first, all at once.

One of the biggest messages from Kondo's book is that we simply have too much stuff. Instead of constantly fighting it, arranging and rearranging it, trying to cram it into tight corridors, even if we hardly use it, just discard it! We will never be able to reach a sustainable state of tidiness until we are no longer holding onto all these unnecessary or unappreciated things.

Kondo also advocates discarding in one big marathon event. She doesn't exactly mince her words about it either. To her, tidying a little every day is "doomed to failure." Rather than fighting an uphill battle slowly and over time, all while continuing to accrue more things, making discarding a special event helps to spur a change of mindset. The big purge will "deeply affect your mind and inspire a strong aversion to reverting to your previously cluttered state."

Rule #2: Keep only what sparks joy.

When you're embarking on your discarding journey, Kondo wants you to "be choosing what [you] want to keep, not what [you] want to discard." Instead of complicated systems for deciding what to throw away, you simply "keep only the things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest."

For each item you come across during your discarding, hold it in your hands and ask yourself, "Does this spark joy?" If it does not, take a moment to appreciate it for having served you well until now, and then set it free.

Rule #3: Discard by category, and in the right order.

Instead of discarding everything in one location at a time, discard by category. Gather everything from the category in question into a single place to get a picture of how much you actually own. If you missed any items when gathering them all up, it's a sign that you probably don't need it. When you come across it later, discard it. Don't worry, she lets you ignore that rule if it was just in the laundry or in use!

The order in which you discard also greatly affects your discarding success. Starting with emotionally difficult categories like mementos will only make the process harder and less thorough. Here is Kondo's suggested order:
  1. Clothing

    1. Tops

    2. Bottoms

    3. Clothes that should be hung

    4. Socks

    5. Underwear

    6. Bags

    7. Accessories

    8. Clothes for specific events

    9. Shoes

  2. Books

  3. Papers

  4. Miscellany

    1. CDs, DVDs

    2. Skin care products

    3. Makeup

    4. Accessories

    5. Valuables

    6. Electrical equipment (cables, cameras, etc)

    7. Household equipment (stationary, writing utensils, etc)

    8. Household supplies (medicine, detergents, tissues, etc)

    9. Kitchen goods (pots and pans, etc)

    10. Other

  5. Things with sentimental value

Rule #4: Designate a place for each thing.

Once all the discarding is done, only then can we begin to put things into a designated place. Each and every item should be given a specific place to live which will make it easy to keep your home perpetually organized. Kondo believes everything of the same type should be stored together in a single location. When storing items on shelves or in drawers, do not pile them but rather store them vertically so that everything can be seen at once. There's no need for fancy, commercial storage solutions. Instead, Kondo recommends plain boxes and shoeboxes which you probably already own.

The KonMari Method In The Bullet Journal

I wouldn't be me if I didn't take what I learned from a book and incorporate it into my Bullet Journal! This particular book was incredibly easy, because it all just boils down to a progress list. Even though Marie Kondo outlines a pretty specific category list and order, I needed to change it a bit so that it better fit me and my belongings. For instance, she seems to look at books much less sentimentally that I do. I, however, am the definition of a book lover. I have an entire room filled entirely with books and a single chair. It'll probably be easier for me to get rid of some of the more traditionally sentimental items than it will be any of my books! Meanwhile, I have next to no printed photographs in my house, so choosing which ones to keep and which to throw will be pretty easy for me.

So much of this book centers around the idea of minimalism that it didn't feel right to make an elaborately detailed spread for my notes and progress checklist. They're both incredibly simple, using my natural handwriting, with no decoration.

KonMari Method Notes
Even my reading notes are very minimalistic.
KonMari Method Bullet Journal
Slowly making progress on my list!

My KonMari Progress

Since I finished reading the book, I've made pretty good progress KonMari-ing my clothes. The only categories left are my socks, underwear, workout clothes, skirts and T-shirts. When I was building my checklist I was honestly surprised by how many different categories you could break down all your clothes into! It's been eye-opening seeing how much I've already gotten rid of. I didn't even realize how many items I had, yet alone how many items I still had around that I didn't even like anymore. Half of my office has been sacrificed in order to hold all the things I am going to donate. Goodwill is going to be very happy here soon! Meanwhile, drawers I've had trouble fitting all my clothes into before are suddenly plenty big enough.

KonMari Method Progress

I hope this helps you to start the KonMari method in your own home! Happy discarding!

On Perfectionism In The Bullet Journal

Saturday, October 15, 2016

This week I want to talk about something a little less "show and tell" and a little more "confessions of a planner addict". Maybe you've been here, maybe you haven't. Either way, I hope you can take something from my mistakes.

What Bullet Journaling Isn't

When I first started my Bullet Journal, I was approaching it as a way to increase productivity and organize all the millions of thoughts I had running through my head. I made lists galore, created routines, schedules and trackers, and meticulously counted the little dots in my Leuchtturm1917 to ensure a perfectly symmetrical layout. With all this structure, it wasn't long before I started feeling pressured to achieve the "perfect" day or the "perfect" layout.

If I wanted to start a new collection in my Bullet Journal, instead of creating it right away, I put it on a growing list of collection ideas. There it sat with the others, waiting for me to come up with perfect layouts. I couldn't even keep my collections list as a proper collection in my Bullet Journal! I relegated it to a sticky note stuck on inside cover of my notebook because I couldn't come up with a cute header. I'm sure I'm not alone here either. After all, we all know what it's like to have this shiny new notebook and be terrified of ruining it with one ill-planned layout or doodle.

Perfectionism in the Bullet Journal lead me to creative paralysis, even when just adding necessary collections. This is how I overcame the my fear of imperfection.
My poor little list of potential Bullet Journal collections, all off by itself in a sticky note at the front of my Bullet Journal.
Even my habit trackers started to become more of a daunting reminder of imperfection than a friendly nudge. Slowly but surely, the guilt grew. The quest for perfection was slowly eating the joy of Bullet Journaling alive and leaving me creatively paralyzed.

But perfectionism isn't what Bullet Journaling is supposed to be about.

Accepting Imperfection

Eventually I stepped back and realized how afraid I was to put pen to paper and how anxious I was starting to feel about my habit trackers and daily task lists. I knew I needed to adjust my priorities.

With all the amazing Bullet Journal spreads on social media, it's incredibly easy to feel the pressure to create "Instagram-worthy" layouts. Don't get me wrong -- The Bullet Journal community has been both extremely helpful and hugely inspirational as I've begun this Bullet Journaling adventure. I'll probably still occasionally spend good chunks of time creating detailed spreads with lots of decoration. However, I am also going to work on remembering that it's completely acceptable to just throw something onto paper when needed. Form follows function, after all.

As for all my routines, schedules and trackers, I am learning to view these as guidelines rather than strict dictators.

In particular, this past week took a very different path than I originally envisioned. Nights I planned on being home ended up spent elsewhere and other events ended up cancelled. I spontaneously took a day off work to go to a popup Luke's diner (a Netflix Gilmore Girls reboot promotion. SO. EXCITED.) and then spent the rest of the day shopping. I skipped a planned workout and was late publishing last week's post because I missed my writing times.

My chore tracker from last week. The boxes indicate the days I'm supposed to do which chores. As you can see, most of it was done on the "wrong" day.

But you know what? I had one of the best weeks I've had in awhile.

I saw friends I hadn't seen in a month, picked up some things I've been desperately needing, got some cute new autumn outfits and had a couple great dinners with some wonderful people. And in the end, I got everything done that I needed to. I did my household chores on different days than normal, and I had to write well into the weekend, but it all worked out. I enjoyed the spontaneity of the week without the guilt.

Abandoning Perfectionism In The Bullet Journal

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go."-- T.S. Eliot
Conquering the tendency toward perfectionism won't be easy. I'm sure I'll occasionally get sucked back into past mindsets, but I hope to put some measures in place so that I remember to see the value in the unexpected. Instead of tracking only tasks and events, I am going to make a point to note moments. Not just happy or good moments -- anything of significance, whether good or bad. As I've mentioned before, I have been trying to live more mindfully. Taking time to write down my experiences and feelings will not only help me be less task-oriented but will also be yet another way to incorporate mindfulness.

Lastly, I want to encourage myself to take more creative risks. I used to do a lot of drawing for university classes, but I stopped during my last few years. I think one of the best ways to vanquish this creative paralysis is to just jump right back in. Take a dive off the high-board right into the deep end, shall we say. I am going pick my drawing habit back up. And just to really drive home the importance of creativity for creativity's sake, I'm going to do it in my brand new, pristine, unsullied Bullet Journal. Wish me luck!
What kinds of things do you do or remind yourself of to keep your planning from overtaking your life?

Mindfulness in the Bullet Journal

Friday, October 7, 2016

Have you ever been looking back on a day only to realize that you don't really have any idea what took up all your time? Lately I've been having that feeling quite often, and I hate it. I have very little free time as it is, and I certainly don't want to lose it all because my mind has been on autopilot. Things have certainly improved some since I started my Bullet Journal. I'm better at knowing what I'm going to tackle each day, but the time that hasn't been planned still tends to get lost to memory. To help remedy this problem and reclaim my free time, I've started looking into different mindfulness techniques and how to incorporate mindfulness in the Bullet Journal.

What is Mindfulness?

First of all, I suppose I should clarify what I mean by 'mindfulness.'

Simply put, mindfulness is just being aware. Nothing more, nothing less. It's a fancy term for recognizing and acknowledging your feelings and thoughts while you're in that moment. It's not about controlling or changing any of those sensations, just perceiving them.

Practicing Mindfulness

So how do you go about becoming more mindful? Well, just like everything else, it requires dedicated practice. When a runner trains for a hurdling race, she works on not only her speed, but her form and technique too. She then puts them all together and ends up with a better performance all around. Similarly, you have to develop and strengthen the building blocks of mindfulness first, and then you can apply them to your everyday life with greater results.

Typically, mindfulness is practiced through meditation. I had always thought that meditation was this inaccessible practice with lofty goals. I was surprised to learn that it's much simpler than I thought! If being mindful is just the state of being aware, meditation is simply spending time practicing awareness. At it's core, meditation is just sitting and observing. Of course there are a multitude of meditation approaches and goals, but I was previously unaware that such simpleness existed in the context of meditation!


When I first started looking into mindfulness and meditation, I came across a service called Headspace. Andy Puddicombe, the founder, has definitely had a very interesting life. He left school to become a monk, hoping to learn to calm his indefatigable mind. After practicing in several monasteries around the world, he transitioned back to regular life in order to get a Circus Arts degree. Who even knew that existed??

I bought his book, Get Some Headspace: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day (This is an affiliate link, which helps me get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for the support!), in order to get a base knowledge of the practice of meditation. I liked that the book didn't put on any airs about the subject of meditation. Things were kept simple, direct and unpretentious. He also incorporated a bit at the end of each section for scientific studies regarding meditation and mindfulness. The facts-oriented approach definitely helped get me on board.

The Headspace Approach To Meditation

Headspace recommends starting with ten minutes a day of meditation.

When you begin, you start by checking in with your body and mind. This helps your brain calm down and gets you prepared for the practice. You start with a soft focus of the eyes, taking in what is around you. You can then shut your eyes and note the sounds around you. It doesn't need to be silent to meditate; sounds can actually help you in your practice. You can then begin to scan your body, observing what you're feeling in each area. You're not meant to alter anything, but rather just observe areas that might be more tense than others, or areas that are particularly relaxed. All of this is simply an effort to get you to actually stop and realize what state your body is actually in, as too often we're going through our days without even really paying attention to our bodies.

After checking in with your body, you now move on to simply watching and observing your breath. You don't want to change your breath, which tends to happen when your think about your breathing. Instead, just notice it's natural state. Is it shallow or deep. Slow or fast? The goal is to keep your focus on the breath and the sensations your breath causes in your body. Thoughts may come and go still. Meditation isn't about preventing or squashing the thoughts, just about letting them pass by like cars without mentally running after them. If you lose focus on your breath, you just have to refocus once you realize. After all, once you've realize you lost focus, you're already being mindful and aware again.

The book had several other tips and practices, as well as sections on how to apply mindfulness to your daily activities. They even developed an app to guide you through a ten minute practice for ten days! I've downloaded the app and my first few sessions have been going pretty well.

Mindfulness in the Bullet Journal

Now that I have a basic idea of mindfulness and meditation practices, I've been looking at ways to incorporate it into my Bullet Journal. One of the biggest challenges when starting to incorporate a new habit is, as Andy Puddicombe put it, "remembering to remember." To help with this, I'm adding meditation practice to my weekly habit tracker. Seeing it each time I open my Bullet Journal with help keep it front and center in my mind.

As for the actual meditation practices, the book includes a small worksheet for each practice session to help you record how you felt. Having to write down your feelings requires introspection in order to actually know what to write, so it's a great tool to help kickstart your mindfulness habit. I'll be creating a spread in my Bullet Journal to record how my meditation sessions go, and maybe even for periodic checks throughout the day.

I still do think that just keeping a Bullet Journal has made me much more aware of where my time is going and what I'm doing with my days. It's been an integral part in recognizing how I can live in accordance my goals. However, I am now also going to work to include more mindfulness in the everyday, mundane tasks. After all, life is about the moments that make it up, not just the big events. The good and the bad and everything in between deserve equal acknowledgment and appreciation in order to see the big picture of our lives.
What are your favorite ways to incorporate mindfulness into your lives?