Future Planning in the Bullet Journal

5 different ways to handle future planning in your Bullet Journal

Future planning is often touted as one of the weak points of the Bullet Journal system. While I agree that there is not really a built-in way to plan for future events, there are definitely quite a few options out there to get the job done.

Today, I’m going to cover 5 of the more common ones. Sound good? Sweet! Let’s go!

HOW TO HANDLE FUTURE PLANNING IN YOUR BULLET JOURNAL

5 different ways to handle future planning in your Bullet Journal

** One thing to note before we begin is that a few of the following pictures are NOT my Bullet Journal. I’ve adapted the Moleskine that I used in this video to be a “practice bullet journal” of sorts for trying out new ideas/spreads before implementing them in my beloved Leuchtturm1917.

THE FUTURE LOG

The “future log” is Ryder Carroll’s original solution to long-term future planning. Here’s how Ryder explains it:

“This Collection is used to store items that either need to be scheduled months in advance… or things that you want to get around to someday. Set up your Future Log by graphing the pages by the amount of months you’ll need. Two equally-spaced horizontal lines across facing pages creates a six-month calendar, for example.”

Simple Future Log - Bullet Journal

While I love the simplicity of this method, I found out pretty quickly that splitting the months up this way left me little room for my crazy schedule of appointments and events. By the time I had written in birthdays and holidays, I had almost run out of room in each month’s “square”.

That’s not to say that I’ve given up entirely on this method though. I still keep a future log in my Bullet Journal, but I only write in birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. I schedule my future appointments a little differently. (We’ll get to that here in a minute)

Future Log - Bullet Journal

In my version of this spread, I have my 3-month future log on the left, and a “Brain Dump” page on the right. The brain dump is a place where I can jot down ideas and tasks that I don’t have a place for yet in my daily or monthly pages:

Choose this method if:

  • You can easily fit your future appointments into the space allowed.
  • You’re a Bullet Journal purist ;)

This method may NOT be for you if:

  • You have a LOT of events and appointments to keep track of.

THE DIGITAL/ANALOG MASH-UP

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a little sacrilegious when it comes to future planning in my Bullet Journal. Why? Because the way I future plan is by using a digital tool in conjunction with my analog notebook.

My husband and I share an iCal calendar for all of our events, schedules, and appointments. When an event comes up, I simply log it into our iCal calendar. I do this whether the event takes place tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year. The main reason that I do this, of course, is so that Mark always has a heads up as to what’s going on.

5 different ways to handle future planning in your Bullet Journal

If the event or appointment happens to be during the current month, I also immediately write it down on my monthly spread. When I’m sitting down for my nightly planning routine, I reference this page for whatever events and appointments I need to write in for the next day.

If the appointment or event is further out, it just remains in our iCal calendar until that month rolls around. At the beginning of each new month, I take a close look at our iCal calendar and record any events and appointments that are already scheduled into that new month’s spread.

This system works great for me because it’s consistent. The fact that our iCal calendar is shared keeps us both apprised of what is going on. If I only kept appointments in my Bullet Journal, I’m afraid that we’d get our wires crossed along the way. Hence this synchronous blend of digital and analog.

Choose this method if:

  • You need to easily share your appointments/schedule with others.
  • You need to set digital reminders when important events/appointments are approaching.

This method may NOT be for you if:

  • You want to stay completely analog and don’t like the idea of introducing a digital tool to supplement your BuJo.

THE STICKY NOTE METHOD

One method that is often recommended is “the sticky note method”. The idea here is simple:

You keep a sticky note on your current daily page. As events or appointments come up, you simply jot them down on the sticky note with their respective due date/time.

5 different ways to handle future planning in your Bullet Journal

Keep moving this sticky note forward each day. As the date of the event or appointment approaches, you can then include them on your daily or weekly spread and cross them off the sticky note.

Choose this method if:

  • You like seeing all of your upcoming events/appointments in one place.
  • You don’t mind having a big ol’ sticky note slapped onto your current page all the time.

This method may NOT be for you if:

  • You have a LOT of events and appointments that may not all fit on a single sticky note.

THE ALASTAIR METHOD

The Alastair Method (named after its creator, Alastair Johnston) is a great way to keep a list-type log of all future events and appointments without having to worry too much about organization. (Check out his explanation right here!)

The general concept is to draw a series of columns for each month on the left-hand side of your page. I chose to make mine for the next 4 months, but you could easily increase that to 6 or even 12 depending on your needs.

5 different ways to handle future planning in your Bullet Journal

To the right, you simply add in each future event as it is scheduled along with it’s date. Then, put a dot in the column that represents that month.

When you are setting up your monthly spread each month, you simply scan down that month’s column and migrate those appointments into your monthly view.

Choose this method if:

  • You want a simple log that doesn’t require a lot of set-up.
  • You like the idea of having all of your future appointments in a list format for easy reference.

This method may NOT be for you if:

  • You want to organize your events and appointments chronologically.

THE CALENDEX

Yeah, so remember earlier when I explained my method for future planning? Well, I may or may not be switching to a blend of iCal and the Calendex from now on!

The Calendex is a unique blend of an index and a calendar. I had seen this method floating around on Pinterest for some time, but really didn’t give it much attention until it was featured on the Bullet Journal blog last month.

Eddy Hope’s Calendex system is nothing short of genius if you ask me! I decided to take the plunge and implement this into my Bullet Journal this year.

Eddy Hope's Calendex is a great method of future planning in your Bullet Journal!
I decided to use the same color-coding system in my Calendex that I use in my monthly spread.

First, you draw out a table of 12 columns (one for each month of the year). If you’d like, create horizontal lines along each monthly column to separate the weeks.

When an event or appointment arises, you simply jot it down in your daily spread, along with it’s due date. Then, turn to your Calendex, find the related date, and write the page number in the first available square.

Eddy Hope's Calendex is a great method of future planning in your Bullet Journal!
In my daily pages, the color corresponds to the color code on my Calendex. What I love about this method is the ability to write notes and tasks to go along with each event/appointment.

A quick glance at your Calendex now shows you that you have an event scheduled on that day, and you can flip to the page number listed to see what it is.

(For a much more thorough explanation, definitely head over to Eddy’s guest post on bulletjournal.com)

Choose this method if:

  • You like the idea of writing down events and appointments wherever you are in your bullet journal.
  • You’d like to add notes and tasks related to your appointments within your daily pages and still have a central location to view upcoming events at a glance.

This method may NOT be for you if:

  • You like to keep things super simple.

MY BULLET JOURNAL SUPPLIES:

* Those links above are affiliate links. In plain English, this means that I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you purchase something through the links provided. You will never see me post a link to a product or service that I haven’t used myself and love! (Learn more here)
Thank you for supporting Boho Berry!


So there you have it folks! I hope you’ve enjoyed my little walkthrough of some of the more popular future planning methods out there!

Now tell me… which future planning method do YOU use?

Kara Benz
Kara Benz is the artist and author behind Boho Berry, where she inspires her readers to lead a more centered, fulfilled, and inspired life. Kara also runs a successful sticker shop on Etsy – Boho Berry Paperie.
 photo Post Signature_zpsff978za9.png
  • This is amazing- thank you so much! I’d only heard of the Sticky Note method, and for me, it just seemed a bit too clunky. I might try the Alistair method – it sounds great! :)

  • These are amazing ideas! I really like the last two. At the moment I use the calendar on my phone as I can add to it out and about, but I might give the Calendex a go next month. I like how you make the note in your dailies and refer back to it.

  • branycbur

    I’m just getting started with bullet journaling, thanks for all the inspiration. I clicked over to buy the Leuchtturm 1917 and it says it takes 2 months to ship, is that right? Ack!

    • Yeah, depending on the Amazon seller, it can take that long to come from Germany. Another option is to order from Goulet Pens (http://www.gouletpens.com). They are based in the US and ship very quickly :)

  • SirScrapalot

    So many great ways! Currently I use the traditional method for birthday, anniversaries, etc. and then use my iCal for appointments and such.

  • Nicole Look-Christensen

    This is an excellent post! I don’t do much forward planning in my BuJo so I really like the Calendex single spread for all events coming up!

  • Melissa

    Thank you so much for this post, Kara. I found your YouTube channel by a mention from MissVickyBee on YT. I’m so glad I did!! You inspired me to try the bullet journal method and I’m really excited as this seems to really fit my planning style. I spent yesterday getting myself all set up and was really thinking about how to tackle future planning…then voila!, your article today! So great! Thanks again so much for sharing how you’re tweaking the bullet journal method to work for you, it’s so inspiring. And your pages are beautiful! Xx

  • Since I’ve only just started my bullet journal, I started with the traditional future log with 6 months over two pages. However, I added a small spot for “later in 2016” so that I could mark down any things that I will want to remember in the next 6 months. And I’m thinking that I will have to make my next 6 months future log long before I get there, since I love to plan ahead…

    I love the ideas that you have shared here though, especially the Alastair method… I could do a column for 4 or 6 months, and then have one for “later” like how I do my future log now, so I can transfer those to the next 4 or 6 months once the page fills up… Hmm…. I might have to make myself a collection to store these ideas now to use down the road… thanks for sharing!

    • Absolutely! I love the idea of keeping a collection of future ideas :) I have one in my bujo titled “Ideas for the next bujo”… fitting right? ;)

      • Denise

        The first collection I set up each time I move into a new journal is called “Next Journal” to store all ideas for tweaks the next time around

  • First time I saw a Calendex! Might try to do a quarterly one — I still want to see the title of the event/task that needs to happen versus just the page number (but minus the details) :) Thanks for sharing, Kara!

  • Denise

    I used the Calendex for two journals, but now I have a simplified page just called “Future Planning” at the back of my current journal. WHen something comes up I note it in my current daily spread, with all details, then turn to the back and mark the upcoming date, and a brief description, along with the page number. When I’m ready for another month, I scan the list for anything coming up that month. My journals only last me 2-3 months and there’s minimal setup for this; a lot less work that copying over a Calendex each time I move to a new journal.

    • I like that, Denise! I love how easy it is to modify the bullet journal to fit your own needs/usage :)

  • Emily Scott

    Wow! I didn’t realize there are so many ways to future plan! Love it. I’m a fan of using Sunrise calendar because it connects with my Google calendar, Trello, and Evernote. If it’s something I think, “Oh, I need to do that Thursday,” I’ll just use a sticky note and plop it in my bujo.

    • Love it, Emily! That’s one thing I love about the bullet journal… there are SO many ways to personalize it and make it your own :)

  • Alli Megal

    Thanks, Kara! It was like you were reading my mind. I’ve been agonizing a bit on how to go about this. Currently, I use a weekly layout in my bujo but really want to go day by day…I’ve kept a traditional planner for so long I couldn’t figure out a good method to keep track of future stuff. I so need to step out of my little box and get more creative, your blog always helps me with that! I will go week by week and try various methods – first one will be the sticky note method since I, uhm, have a sticky note addiction of sorts! lol! Thanks again

    • You’re SO welcome, Alli! I’m so happy that you found some useful tidbits here! The sticky note method is great because it’s so simple, and who doesn’t need to find another use for their piles and piles of sticky notes? I may or may not have a “few” laying around myself ;)

  • This post makes me so happy. Many years ago I used a paper planner exclusively, but switched to digital as technology became so easily accessible. Just this last year, I purchased another paper planner and started doing both, but it feels a little overkill as I’m doing it now. These ideas are wonderful – I love the idea of using the planner/bullet journal IN CONJUNCTION with a digital calendar (rather than thinking of it as a carbon copy). That was totally where I was hung up! I prefer having a digital calendar because it syncs across devices, is easy to update immediately, & feels iron clad. Using the bullet journal as a daily refresher/reminder of all those things on my main calendar that need to get done during the week sounds perfect!

    I finally feel confident in the possibility that the bullet journal system might work for me, so I took the plunge and ordered a new journal on Amazon. I’m very excited to get started! Thanks!

    • Yes! I see my iCal calendar as a supplement to my bullet journal. The only reason I use it is to set digital reminders of important events and to keep my husband and I on the same page.

      I’m so happy that you found this post helpful, Dani :)

  • Pingback: 2016 Boho Berry Reader Survey | Boho Berry()

  • Leticia Workman

    Love this post! Thanks! Quick question, what inks do you use for your fountain pens? I’ve tried one that came with a Franklin-Covey fountain pen and it bled right through the Leuchtturm 1917 page!!

    • Some inks are definitely “wetter” thank others. On that same note, the pen that you use can affect on the bleed-through as well. I find that writing with my finer nibs works best in my bujo (my medium nibbed pens do bleed through from time to time).

      All of that being said, my favorite inks at the moment are Noodler’s Black (it’s my daily writer in my blog & businedd bullet journal), Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku (that’s the pretty turquoise you see in my bullet journal from time to time), and Noodler’s 54th Massachusetts (it’s a gorgeous blue/black that I’ve taken a liking to)

      Hope that helps you :)

  • Yuka Suzuki

    Ahhh!!!!! You literally inspired me to start my very own bullet journal! And I did :) Your bullet journals are goals and i’ve become so much more positive and organised since I’ve started mine! xx Thanks for your amazing posts, girl!

    http://www.erdalandyuka.com

  • It’s funny how things start to sound more complicated than they actually are when you type them out, isn’t it? If you’ve got a system that’s working for you, I see no need to change it :)

  • Kate McCormack

    I still can’t quite work out what method is calling me to it the most. I think my challenge is that I am looking for a future planner to be more goals and target related rather than birthdays etc as i’ve kind of incorporated those into my monthly spread. Too much choice and too much indecision!

  • Jeff Jessie

    I am using the Alistair method as I feel that it is the easiest for me to maintain. Simple layout and easy to migrate to the new monthly when it comes around.

  • Diana Steel

    I like the calendex idea. It allows for identification of future events with the ability to provide further details elsewhere. Since I have several “hats” to wear I am able to use it to avoid scheduling events over each other. I do use a digital calendar as well, but that is mainly for my husband’s peace of mind so he knows where I am when I am meeting with clients.

  • Haha, thanks Leslie! I love my EF (extra fine) nib on my TWSBI. I find that I like the finer nibs in my bullet journal :)

  • Pingback: LiebLinks-Montag {01.2016}()

  • faith

    I was completely inspired to start bullet journaling by you!!

  • Is it a hardcover Leuchtturm1917 that you use?

    • Jess

      Yes- pretty sure she has a hard cover. One of her BuJo posts covers the materials she uses… but I don’t know which one.

  • Jess

    …I think you may have just convinced me to try out the Calendex. I love the way you incorporated color coding. Part of my worry was in setting up my monthly spread, I would need to flip to the page AND THEN search my daily logs for the appointment I’m looking for, rinse and repeat. I considered making the “bullet” the date of the appointment so it stood out… but color will make it super fast to scan! Excellent point about appointment related tasks also… Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Janet Good

    I’m a huge future planner and this was THE one scary area to tackle in trying out the bullet journal method. I’m super visual and one thing that has always been my go-to with other planners was a monthly calendar over two pages so I incorporated that. I drew out a 2-page (one spread) calendar in my dot grid Leuchtturm1917 for six months, January-June. I can plan all I like and keep on track with work, 2 kids, home, all the way through the end of the school year. I also added a list style future planning spread to dump anything that falls outside my initial 6 months. It’s working like a charm and I can’t see changing it anytime soon.

    I also added some colored tabs to the month sections only so they’re super easy to find. :-)

  • Sophie Gist

    I love your posts Kara! I have tried various future logs, and the original doesn’t work for me as with 2 jobs and a young son, I have alot on. I’ve recently started a hobonichi style future log. This is 2 months vertically per page, with enough room at the bottom for 5 or 6 notes. Definitely feels better! It’s also enabled me to completely drop the monthly layout, I now just have weekly and daily, where I live most of the time anyway… So the Hobo style future log would be the only extra one I’d recommend for others to consider…

  • Pingback: Bullet Journal: A Possible Lifesaver - Live, Love, and Learn Gracefully()

  • Amanda Aguilar

    This may be redundant but I would like to clarify if I understand it correctly. So with the calendex you write an appointment in your current daily then put the page number in the calendex. So when the day comes up you check your calednex and go to the page with the details you need. I was confused at first but I think i understand now. lol Thats a pretty awesome idea then. I also use my google calender for events to remind me its coming. Thanks for your help!

    • Yes, you’ve got it 100% right :)

      • So, what if you have a future date to mark on the Calendex? Does that always wait until the daily is ready? Example: I have a conference in late April that I could tick off on the Calendex, but I won’t have that daily spread started for weeks.

        Maybe I’m thinking about it backwards… :-D Thoughts?

        • You would just write down that future appointment or event on your current day. Write in all the details (date/time/etc.), and then index that page in your calendex on the date the event is going to occur. :)

          • YES. That makes total sense (and I watched one of your videos about it that helped immensely, too). I ended up writing the future appointment on my future planning 6 month spread and figure when the appointments’ weeks/days roll around, it’ll get pulled into the weekly/daily spread pages.

            Thank you!!

  • Pingback: Future Planning: Eddy Hope's Calendex | Boho Berry()

  • Pingback: How to Get Started with a Bullet Journal - Girly Planners()

  • Rebekah Ferry

    I am in the same boat with needing to share my schedule with my husband. Now that you are using the Calendex, do you add all appointments for the year to both your calendex and ical?

    • Yup, I still add it all into iCal. It can seem a bit repetitive sometimes, but it helps to keep us both up to date :)

  • Pingback: A New Bullet Journal for a New Life – To Color My Life()

  • Pingback: My Bullet Journal – LivLife()

  • Pingback: PhD Tips & Tricks pt 2: Scheduling Your Time | Ramblings of a Struggling Academic()

  • Pingback: Bullet journals zijn de nieuwste planning hype()

  • Pingback: Il Bullet Journal secondo me - Plan with Nica()

  • Pingback: Bullet Journal 101 - The Basics | Boho Berry()

  • Fran Jotpunkt

    Hi Kara,
    I love your BuJo 101 series, it’s really helpful and you have tons of handy tips and tricks up your sleeve – thank you so much for sharing them! <3
    I've got one question about the calendex: where and how do you note events for a month that's far in the future? Let's say you have a doctors appointment in March 2017 but of course your daily logs are still September this year. Do you use both the calendex and future log for that purpose?
    Thanks and best wishes from Germany,
    Fran

  • Pingback: Le sezioni del Bullet Journal: Future Log - Plan with Nica()

  • Pingback: Series #3 Bullet Journaling The Future Log | Elizabeth Roebuck-Jones()

  • Kara, this is great! For some reason the Eddy Hope method really registers in my brain well. We must think alike :)

  • Pingback: Future planning in the Bullet Journal by BohoBerry - Plan with Nica()

  • EverythingIsNerdiful

    Thanks so much for such a concise comparison of different methods for future planning! Love the post.

  • Pingback: Reflection Planning… – Planet Plan It()

  • Yee Wai Theng Esther

    Thanks for all the explanation. I have a question about future planning for tentative appointments with options. For example I may be told to keep 4 dates aside for a meeting but the specific date will be confirmed closer to the date. my problem is not in the pencilling in of those 4 dates but in releasing the other 3 once the date is finally fixed. Hope there is a good solution for this

  • Beth

    Hi Kara, just wondering how the Calendex has worked out for you, and whether you will be using it again this year (2017).

  • Pingback: 2017 Set Up - amazinglymarvelous()

  • Megan Torres

    I can see where the calendex would be useful, and I want to understand it, but honestly it just makes no sense whatsoever.

  • I have a simpler use for the Future Log. I don’t use it for holidays, events, appointments or anything else. It’s a place to note to dos for future months that haven’t been written down yet or to plan long-term projects. Then I check the Future Log as I do each new month, adding to dos as appropriate. So I do usually keep a full year, considering doing 13 months (but you could just write them at the end of your twelfth month). I’ve been surprised that I haven’t seen anyone else mentioning doing it this way. So a few generic examples:

    – I sign up for a service that will eventually need to be renewed, say next year or in six months. I’d add “renew X” (or “cancel x?” for a trial membership) in the appropriate month.
    – “Schedule health appointments” (I try to do all in my birthday month or half-birthday month, as appropriate.)
    – Add sub-projects for a long-term project in each month or quarter of the upcoming year. For example: Set up website in January, tackle social media in February, newsletters in March, launch a course in June, etc.
    – “Follow up with X”
    – “Make Christmas list” in September so you can try to find things on sale
    – “Touch base with pool guy” for the month you want to open your pool
    – “Plan garden for next year” in September while it’s fresh on your mind from the current year
    – “Check status of class action lawsuit” (For example, I was part of a food lawsuit, and I checked for updates on their website every 3-4 months, and there were usually only 1-2 updates per year for a couple of years.)
    – Someone tells you there’s a neat summer event you’d like to remember, but you only know it’s scheduled sometime in June. Make a note to look it up in May.

    • Now that I went and learned about the Calendex, I’d say this would incorporate really well into the system I’ve been using. I like the idea of being able to write to dos and notes under it, which I wouldn’t do in a Future Log. In that case, I’d probably note the event in my current page like the Calendex does, then put a box in my “regular” Future Log with the page number inside and a date next to it. Then when I made my monthly/weekly page, I could mark the note (box and page number) in the appropriate place. Maybe that’s what I’ll try.

  • I’m curious if you ever figured this out! I’ve been doing the ToodleDo/MYN thing for several years. I loved it. But after my life got turned upside down for a few months, I fell off the wagon and have been off for over a year now. There’s just way too much stuff in it now because I would still brain dump things in there until now, but with all the scheduled and repeating things, it has turned into a monster. The way I see it, BuJo is a paper alternative to ToodleDo, and I think they would be too overwhelming combined. I’ve just started organizing my life again, starting fresh with a BuJo. I figure once I get things back to some semblance of organization, then I’ll go back to TD to see what needs to be imported. I’ll probably keep my account though as a brain dump spot, but I’ve started experimenting with a paper-based brain dump for a few specific projects (just a legal pad with one page dedicated to each of 6-8 projects).

    • I’m so glad to find someone else who uses a similar system to mine!

      My biggest problem is clogging up my system with things I procrastinate about. I feel sure the system would work well if I would just man-up and do those big, high priority things I haven’t done.