2021 planning tools (gasp! bujo drama!)


DISCLAIMER: Any links I provide aren’t sponsored links — I just want those who are interested to be able to find exactly what I’m talking about. 🙂

If you’ve been here for a while, you might know that I’m something of a bullet journal fanatic. You also might know that I recently started college. Naturally, as I expected, my planning habits needed to change to accomodate the sudden lifestyle change. A college student’s agenda is often filled to the brim with countless tasks, but those tasks are established months before they actually happen. It should be a comforting thing, but the sheer weight of daily to-dos felt so overwhelming at first that I didn’t know how to even start. Eventually, I had no choice but to just figure it out. (That’s kinda how college works.)

I needed some way to transfer my syllabus materials into my planning system at the beginning of the year so there were no surprises in the middle. I thought my bullet journal was completely out, and I was already mourning the loss of my favorite notebook because I had no use for it. But wait, there’s more!

At my college bookstore, I found countless planners. None of them seemed right. I couldn’t see myself using a traditional planner like I did in middle school. It just didn’t ever work for me, it felt clunky, and I didn’t like how it was already decorated. I’m the kind of person who covers my notebooks and laptop and water bottle and… everything… with stickers and other stuff. What’s a gal to do?

Then, I saw it. The Moleskine Weekly Notebook. It was a slim, black number with the personality of wet cardboard and the comfortable features of my bullet journal. The pages felt nice and homey, and it had — not one, but two — timetables for my semester schedules! It wasn’t quite a planner because on the opposite side of the weekly page, it had a lined page for notes. This was perfect, and I snatched it up.

Here are all the features I loved: year at a glance, monthly pages with spaces for notes at the bottom, 2 timetables, dated weekly pages that start on mondays (I like to see my work week and my weekend separately), weekly notes section, extra notes space in the back, a built-in pocket, bookmark, sturdy elastic band, and a 13 cm width (for reference, my typical notebooks are 14 1/2 cm).

So, I had that planning part squared away. But what about days when everything felt way to overwhelming? What about days when I had no direction and could see all of the directions I could go? Enter the Bloom Daily Planner. (Note, they don’t sell the version I have anymore, but the linked version has almost the same features and is the same size.) Desk pads are almost always too clunky to use, but this one doesn’t feel that way at all. It’s pretty, and it fulfills a big task: get my life together on days where everything feels like a mess!

It has a lot of goodies: top three to-dos, important times (great for Zoom meetings) a massive to-do section, random notes area, gratitude section, meals tracker, water tracker, and exercise/self care slot.

Alright, so that’s good. Got that done. But does this mean I don’t need *sniffs* my precious bullet journal baby anymore? Nope. I still need my bujo. It carries my hopes and dreams. It holds all my lists, poems, song lyrics, calligraphy practice, collages, journaling exercises, brain dumps, doodles, musings, and literally everything I could possibly need to write down. Lately, my “bullet journal” hasn’t been much of a planning system. I had to let go of the original system I fought so hard to keep. It served my needs for a while, but now, it’s not anything but an idea catch-all, which is what Ryder Carroll intended it to be.

I always heard people say that getting a journal is the most important thing a creative person can do, but I never understood it because I was trying to adhere to what the internet told me to do. I didn’t like habit trackers or massive monthly calendars or anything like that. I realized that I hate structure. Me! Crazy, right? My whole school life has been nothing but structure. But it took a massive lifestyle change to realize that I love freedom, and a no-rules notebook allows me that.

So what am I using? Well, in the past, I’ve had two Leuchtturm1917 journals and a Rhodia Webnotebook. Leuchtturms were a great starting point, just to figure out the baseline and to get used to that kind of notebook. I loved my Rhodia Webbie, and I’ll definitely keep using it until the pages fill up (which won’t be long at the rate I’ve been journaling). But I complain a lot about the dots. I wanted my pages to feel more structured for calendars, maybe some trackers, and other more bullet journal-y things.

I won’t sugarcoat it — I bought a hardcover Moleskine with squared pages. I know! The bullet journal community is quaking! For reasons I cannot comprehend, the bujo community has shunned Moleskines. I don’t get it. I feel no difference in paper quality from the Leuchtturm, and in fact, I think Moleskines hold up better from wear than Leuchtturms do! My last Leuchtturm, Charlie, looks so awful and beat up from a year of use. My Moleskine planner still looks like new, and I bought it 6 months ago.

The paper does ghost, but so does Leuchtturm paper. Frankly, so does the Rhodia paper I’m using now. I’m stepping out into the shunned world of Moleskine with no regrets.

Okay, that was a little dramatic, but I know that bullet journal users are super particular about their planning choices (coming from me!) and would appreciate a little extra pizzazz. Anyway, if you’d like to read 10 ways you can use a bullet journal that you’ve probably never thought of, you can become a subscriber to my blog. I’d like to know how you plan to, erm, well, plan for 2021. Are you a premade calendar person? Digital? Bullet journal fanatic like me? Do tell!

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