My Bullet Journal Planning Routine

I'm breaking down my daily planning routine for you step by step today!

Having a solid planning routine is one of the best things that you can do for your productivity. Once I established my own planning routine, I started getting more accomplished in the day than ever before.

I often get asked exactly HOW I plan, so I thought it would be a good idea to break it down for you step by step. Ready? Let’s go!

I'm breaking down my daily planning routine for you step by step today!

MY PLANNING ROUTINE:

My planning routine is broken down into four main areas: The night before, the morning of, throughout the day, and reflection. Let’s dive into each one separately, shall we?

>> THE NIGHT BEFORE <<

A huge part of my nightly routine is to update my monthly trackerUsually around 10:00pm, I sit down with my bullet journal and review my day. The first thing that I do is to fill in my monthly tracker.

My goal here is not to accomplish all of these tasks every day, but rather to track my activity throughout the month on the things that matter most to me.

Those little squares signify my scheduled tasks, or things that don’t happen every day. This is a little signal to myself that it’s ok if that line is looking a bit weak ;)

The only thing I do not log on that day is my sleep time. I always wait until the next day to mark whether I got to bed by 10:30 or not.

IMG_8717After my tracker, I move on to my gratitude log. (I wrote about this extensively right here) This month, I decided to only write down two things that I am grateful for each day. This allowed me to condense my gratitude log into a single spread, making it easier to see all at a glance.

I absolutely love watching this log fill up each month. Special thanks again to my soul sister, Kim (Tiny Ray of Sunshine) for the inspiration on this one!

Once my gratitude is logged, and I’ve taken a few minutes to review the month so far, it’s time to start thinking about the following day.

I turn to the next available blank space or page and draw out the next day’s header.

IMG_8720This year, I added a horizontal time tracker to my daily log. Once that is drawn in, I write out the date. I check the weather and draw that in as well, along with little symbols for sunrise and sunset on the time tracker.

I then color code my time tracker with my plan for the day:

Blue = Sleep
Yellow = Morning Routine
Orange = Boho Berry (my work day)
Purple = Meetings & Calls
Green = Errands
Blank = Unscheduled Time

Next up is task migrationI only migrate tasks if I am moving to a new spread. What this means is that if my new day starts just under the previous day, I don’t bother migrating. I leave all unfinished tasks as open bullets until I either cross them off or move them to a new spread.

Daily Log - Bullet JournalOnce my tasks are migrated, I take a glance back at my monthly spread, as well as my iCal calendar that I share with my husband.

This is where I pull over any scheduled events or appointments for the next day.

Finally, I add in any tasks that I’d like to tackle the following day that are not already on my list. This is usually a pretty short list.

That is intentional. I like to keep my task lists as short as possible so that they are actually attainable. Some days are longer than others but that is just how it goes ;)

Finally, I like to sit for a moment in reflection and assess how my day went. Then I close my book and head on up to bed (hopefully by 10:30).

>> THE MORNING OF <<

Daily Log - Bullet JournalAs the final part of my morning routine each day, I sit down with my bullet journal to plan out my day.

The first thing I do is to add in any additional tasks that I can think of or may have missed the night before.

Once my list is complete, I decide what my top 3 tasks of the day will be.

To me, these are the 3 tasks that  once accomplished, I will feel like the day was a success (even if I get nothing else done).

This is also when I decide on a game plan.

Typically, I start with the most difficult or time consuming tasks like responding to emails, comments, and the like. I get all of my admin-type tasks done in the morning. I am most creative in the afternoon, so that is when I do most of my writing and filming.

 >> THROUGHOUT THE DAY <<

Some of my favorite collections - Bullet JournalThroughout the day, I simply work my plan. I mark off tasks as they are completed and take notes as needed.

When necessary, I break out certain tasks into larger collections. To start a collection, I just turn to the next blank page and get to work.

To the right, you can see a few of my favorite collection pages in my 2015 Bullet Journal.

Although I obviously like to make my collection pages pretty, the bottom line is that they are useful and functional.

Again, I focus on getting my top 3 tasks finished first, then I tackle whatever else I can throughout the day.

>> REFLECTION <<

There are three questions that I like to keep in mind every day. This reflection is a key part of my planning routine. I am constantly asking myself:

  1. What is working?
  2. What is not working?
  3. How can I improve?

By constantly reflecting and making adjustments where needed, I am improving my planning routine on a daily basis. If you want proof of that, take a look back at my very first bullet journal post ;)


So there you have it! That’s my entire planning routine in a nutshell!

>> Friendly Reminder << 

I’ll be doing my first ever Q&A over on my YouTube channel this coming Friday, January 15th! If you have any questions for me, feel free to comment below and I’ll add them to the list. I’ll be answering as many questions as I can within a reasonable amount of time :)

Update: You can find that Q&A video right here ;)

 

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.

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  • Paulette

    This was very helpful, I use to do the top 3 with colors, Red for very important it needs to be done today, blue for it needs to be done today but is not my priority, and green for the task that can wait until I have a free time :)

    • I’m so glad you found this post helpful, Paulette! I love the color coding idea for your priorities! :)

  • Tara

    I love seeing your process! The time tracker you do daily sounds amazing. I think I’ll have to incorporate that into my journal!

    • Thanks Tara! Hopefully you’ll get some good insight from implementing the time tracker… I know I have! :)

  • So fun to see your process, Kara! I love the questions you ask yourself as part of an ongoing reflection process :)

    As for questions for your Q&A…hm, how about:
    – 5 things we may not know about you
    – Boho Berry goals for 2016
    – Books you want to read this year

    Lovely article, as always, soul sis <3!

  • Anna Meyers

    I just started the linear time tracker on my daily. I like it because I have a LOT of dead time at work, and if I’m not careful, I spend it all on Facebook rather than using it to my benefit.

    • I definitely hear you there, Anna! I’ve become much more conscious of how I spend my time since I started the time tracker for sure :)

  • Varel

    I just discover your videos in youtube and reach here ! :D
    What you do are soo inspiring, and i hope i can plan and achieve many things everyday like you.
    But it just get too overwhelming since i’m new with these.
    Can you tell me how to start to organize and planning things? what’s the first thing to do to those people like me who are new in planning and achieve their target daily?

    • Thank you Varel! I’ll definitely be adding your question to my Q & A on Friday, so stay tuned :)

  • Lucy Furneaux

    I love my bullet journal – I don’t think I could live without it anymore! That said, mine is nowhere near as as beautiful as yours! Thanks so much for this – now I’ve got loads of inspiration! Hope life is sunny where you are :)

    Lx
    http://lucyeyf.co.uk

    • Aw, thank you Lucy! I’m always happy to inspire but just remember that above all else, your Bullet Journal is a tool to help you get things done. It doesn’t have to be pretty to do that :) Much love to you!

  • Todd F

    I’ve become a big fan of your blog and your BuJo. How do you handle notetaking – say from meetings or telephone calls – in your bullet journal? Or do you have a separate notebook you use for taking notes and keep the bujo just for planning/organization? Thank you!

    • Thanks Todd! I’ll definitely be answering your question in Friday’s Q & A so stay tuned :)

  • Kisuinen

    Could you tell more about the “make a mental game plan”?

  • This is my first visit to your blog. Thanks so much for sharing your routine! You’ve given me some great ideas to incorporate into my own first attempts at bullet journaling.

  • Emily Scott

    I’m so excited to see this post up!! I’ve always been a planner, but I’ve never had a solid routine down for my planning. You’ve really inspired me to lay down a solid routine for planning (especially at night!). Speaking of nights, I know you’ve discussed your morning routine quite a bit, but do you have a night routine? Would love to see a post or video about it. I’m good with mornings, but I just can’t seem to get my evenings/nights together. Thanks, Kara!

  • I’m so fascinated by bullet journalling! It seems so fun and awesome. Your handwriting is absolutely beautiful by the way. Do you use a moleskin? I wonder because that seems to be the consensus from YouTube bullet journalists (journalers?). If you ever need anything yoga related check out my blog naturally-amy.com For now I’ll be drooling over your bullet journal posts
    Best,
    Amy

  • Carolyn

    Hi Kara! I started following your blog in December when I was thinking about the year ahead. The snowball effect took over and I not only follow your planning advice but I purchased the Lisa Jacobs book as well! I’m working on completing the exercises now. On Friday 1/15 I embark on the Whole30 food plan. I have two friends who completed it during the months of Oct-Nov. and were so enthusiastic I thought I had to try it. How was your experience on the food plan? Was it worth it? I ask this because I work on my planner every day in the very early morning while having a latte and a bagel, both of which will be out of the question starting on Friday. This is the part of the food program that worries me the most as I have followed this habit for years. I know I will miss it. I am a morning person and find that this is my most productive time of the day. In the beginning of the program what were the tough times during the day for you and how did you manage getting through them and still achieve your goals for the day?

  • You have such an incredible routine! Thank you for sharing it with us. I know that I need to plan my days better and find a system to do so. I’m now inspired to actually sit down and do just that. I’ve heard of bullet journaling, but I haven’t investigated it much. Looks like I need to. :)

  • I love this, Kara! :) Your headers are so beautiful as always.
    As far as your routine goes, I love these ideas and steps! They seem to keep you so organized and efficient.

  • Allison Roorda

    Thank you for your always-lovely pics! I received my Moleskine bullet journal today (I know, not your favorite — haha), and I’m just waiting for my new pens to come in before I start my first bullet journal. I can’t wait to begin as this will prompt me to access my creative side on a daily basis. My question is what sort of artistic training have you had?

  • Alli Megal

    Your articles are so inspirational and helpful! Both my daughter and I have started a Bullet Journal this year and are doing the Miracle Morning 30 day challenge thanks to you and your blog! Love the photos too! Thanks, Kara!!

  • Kate Walton

    I LOVE this concept… right now I don’t get around to filling in blank pages (learned the hard way) so I’m sticking with the more scheduled/standard calendar… but I do hope to get to this point. I may pick up the gratitude log and the daily tracker thing. I could throw those into some place in my Create journal!

  • Great post. I love how organized you are and how that serves you so well. Keep up the great work and live unstoppable!

  • Kendra

    Hi Kara! I recently learned of you on Pinterest and have been devouring all of your expertise and creativity for the past week. I feel like my younger-self again! I used to LOVE writing, doodling, keeping diaries, and filling in calendars when I was young, and bullet journaling takes me back to those days – only more fun and productive! I haven’t been able to purchase the journal and pens yet, but maybe soon. In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying your awesome website and podcasts. So looking forward to Friday!! Thank you so much for ALL that you so freely share! P.S. And thanks for introducing me to Hal Elrod and MM!!

    • Love it, Kendra! I’m so happy that you’ve found some inspiration here :) Thanks you! :)

  • Foy Update

    My questions are not bujo related, I’m curious who designed your website and how long you have had it in this style? Did you start on a free wp or blogspot?

    • Hey there! I wasn’t able to squeeze this in to the Q & A, but I’ll answer here for you :)

      I designed my own website. It’s self-hosted on wordpress.org, and I used a template that I purchased and then modified. I did start out on free WP, but quickly moved to self-hosted in order to make it my own.

      Hope that helps!

      • Foy Update

        I’ve long out grown blogspot and I don’t really have any good excuses not to move on to a self hosted platform. Mostly it is the fear of how much time it will take.

        Always good to know that others have made the transition before me!

  • Melanie Johnston

    I’ve recently got back into bullet journalling, after going through a really hard time maintaining my motivation and focus, and your posts have been an absolute inspiration for me to make journalling a fun process rather than a chore. Thank you so much for sharing your insights and providing tips! I don’t think of myself as a creative person, but your page layouts make me want to try my hand at making my journal look beautiful. All this gushing is really just me attempting to convey my appreciation for your hard work, so thank you!

  • KiraPepper

    Would you have any bullet journaling tips for a student? I am thinking of getting myself a bullet journal so i can give it a go, but i have come up empty handed for practical tips for students when it comes to bullet journaling.
    Also, any tips for someone with not so nice handwriting?

  • Ali

    Kara, I started using the time tracker thing as well this month and I’m wondering if I’m reading the above post correctly. Are you tracking yours before you even start your day? I haven’t been filling mine in until that night after I’ve done everything.

    • Hi Ali! Yes, I color mine in before my day starts… for me it’s a way to plan out my day, gives me some structure to go off of since I work from home now.

      If you prefer to fill it in at the end as more of a time log, that’s a perfectly good use of it too! The beauty of the bullet journal in action: you can do what you want and make it your own :)

  • Katy A

    One of your videos came up recommended to me on youtube so I watched it….oh my, I am hooked! This is just fantastic!!! I am a planner addict and this is just awesome to add to it! I am really loving your ideas! Thanks so much! :)

  • Keltie Neville

    ok so I’ve binge-read/watched all your stuff in the last month and wanted to send you a big thank you! I’ve always had a planner but it never really worked for me as well as it could have and there were no goals so really the last year or so was just making in through the week. Using lots of your spreads as inspiration, I already feel so much better prepared for the year! Goals! A plan! I’m so inspired and jazzed to be part of your tribe :)

  • Amanda Aguilar

    This was a great post! Ive been moticing that i struggle with when to layout the day and when to write everything down. I want to do gratitude log also but keep messing up the time so it doeant get done. I also love the three main tasks. I will try to implement this routine for the next week and see what happens! :)

    • I really hope it helps you, Amanda! Let me know if it does :) Thanks for stopping by! :)

  • Beth Schramm

    Hi Kara! I took tomorrow off, as it happens, and am excited for your video! I just got my first bullet journal yesterday! I love my TN as my daily planner, so my plan for my journal is more monthly goals, lists etc. My question: where do you put your list pages? In other words, you have your daily pages and then decide to do a ‘books to read’ page – do you just put that in the midst of your daily planning pages? Or, do you skip a bunch of pages and then start your list pages? Thanks and looking forward to tomorrow!

  • Aimee Barnes

    This is really helpful! I’ve been very interested in starting a bullet journal recently, this is exactly what I needed to get started!

    aimee-barnes.blogspot.co.uk

  • Loving this post! It is great to see an actual “How to” plan :) I like routines, so naturally I LOVE seeing the routine of other planners too. And yours is just inspiring <3
    xx Ronja
    http://www.sothisiswhat.com
    { CREATE THE LIFE YOU LOVE }

  • Sarah Smith

    Do you ever incorporate “diary-style” entries into your Bullet Journal? Or do you keep that separate. If you do incorporate it, do you have it in a different area? What does it look like to add this to a bullet journal?

    • I don’t “journal” much in my notebook. If I do, it’s usually just a quick paragraph about something that happened that day, and I’ll just add it in to my daily page. For the most part though, my bullet journal is a planner and not a diary.

      Hope that helps :)

  • Jenny Lens

    Hi Kara, are you going to post yr Jan 15 Q&A on youtube? Pls say yes. Thanks in advance.

  • Michelle

    Kara, I’m from Brazil and I am just discovering the art of journalling! I am amazed by your creativity and focus! Since it’s something kind of new for me, and for brazilians in general, I believe, many doubts are always in my head! First of them… Do you use a regular planner besides your bujo? Or do you take your bujo with you wherever you go? Hope To get na answer back when possible! Kisses and love your site!

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  • Kathryn

    Kara,
    I just discovered you over the weekend. SO GLAD I DID! I have been reading several of your posts, watching your YouTube videos and checking out your boards on Pinterest. So basically, I have been stalking you. In a good way! I am a planner junkie and am looking forward to trying my hand at bullet journaling. After reading your post about your planning routine, I found myself having an aha moment! I have always struggled with my Top 3! Always feeling pressured to come up with them as I get started. Your simple suggestion of writing out your to dos for the day AND then choosing top 3 really resonated with me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas. I can’t wait to get started!
    Kathryn

    • Awesome Kathryn! Those “aha moments” are what I aim for with my posts, so I’m happy that you had one! If I can manage to break things down to make people’s lives easier, then I am one happy camper :)

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  • upserstar

    Hello! I have just stumbled across your blog and journaling techniques. Something that has frustrated me constantly about most “plan your day” posts/planning examples is there is little room for individual needs. I love that your examples are so open. I work rotating shifts (so two or three 12-hour day shifts, two days off, and then two or three 12-hour night shifts). My boyfriend and I have struggled for years trying to get tasks done since we aren’t always around to help each other out. I also find I am the bookkeeper and “deafult” task master. This on first blush, seems like finally what we need to accomodate both of our work schedules and styles of task management – thank you!

    • Thanks so much! I’m so happy that you found it useful. Feel free to reach out if you ever have any questions :)

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  • Mascha

    Hi Kara! Thanks for this great post. I’m only reading it now, because I am still quite new to your blog. It’s all very inspirational and although I really love digital tools, the way you do this so much appealed to me that I also started a bullet journal myself. Now I have the following question: I see that you migrate tasks when you start a new spread and this makes much more sense to me than waiting until the next month (as I understood from Ryder Caroll in the original bullet journal video). But what do you do if there are too many open tasks in the previous spread and they can not all be done that next day? Do you still migrate them all to that day so you won’t ‘lose’ them and then later migrate the ones that you didn’t do again to other days? That way you will often be looking at a very busy first day of every spread, isn’t it? At least I would, being a very ‘ambitious planner’ ;-) Looking forward to your ideas about this!

  • This is great, thanks! I’m just getting started with this (just found out about bullet journals a few days ago), but I’m loving it already… totally my style. Your journal is beautiful!

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  • Jennifer Reed Schonberger

    As a woman with a Traumatic Brain Injury a daily routine to check a schedule is THE MOST important accommodation I have found. I’m using this in conjunction with the Rituals for Living journal is completely a magical and productive event. THANKS!

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