How I Use a Bullet Journal to Run My Blog
I haven’t talked about it at length before, but I have one super valuable tool for blogging: a bullet journal. It’s not terribly hard to find one for yourself and make it work for you, and it’s so easily customized given just a little bit of time, effort, and colorful embellishments (from crayon to fancy watercolor, up to you)!
And because I like using it so much, AND because we have a new year hovering just around the corner, today I’m going to lay out exactly how I make my bullet journal work on behalf of my blog!
(I’m also using this opportunity to introduce the mascot for Dragon’s Den Discussions, the lovely red bookwyrm above. He doesn’t have a name yet, but for the next day and a half, you can vote on Twitter to decide his fate!)
A Classic Bujo Disclaimer
Before we get started, I feel like I probably should give you all a little warning: a bullet journal does not fix EVERYTHING. It hasn’t fixed most of my life problems, even though I seem to keep buying notebooks in an attempt to make that happen, and it can’t do all the fun stat calculations that I love in Kal’s master spreadsheet for blogging. Love that spreadsheet, cannot possibly recommend it enough!
Sometimes you just have to put pen to paper and make something for yourself. The satisfaction of creating something you can use is just fantastic, and if you don’t like it, you’re not stuck with it. It changes! It adapts! At the end of the day, you are in charge of your bullet journal, and you get to adopt whatever systems work best for you.
So here are the bujo spreads I use most to keep my blog in order.
Easily one of the most important spreads, and a way for me to stay away from Goodreads, I love my book log. I can tell at a glance what I’ve read so far this year, when I read each book, and what ratings I gave. It’s simple and clean, and it gives me an excuse to use my shiny gold gel pen! Plus, I don’t have to deal with Goodreads’ terrible search function, or the way it always seems to pin my review to the wrong edition of the book.
Will I still use Goodreads? Yes, because it helps with books I haven’t read yet, and I cross-post reviews there. But the less I have to use it, the better. And with this spread, when I’m writing a review, I don’t even have to be online! The log guarantees I’ll have the title, author, and rating right at my fingertips. No Goodreads temptation, no internet rabbit holes to disappear down. Only a bujo spread and the review in front of me.
Kal’s wonderful spreadsheet does some fancy stuff and gives me some beautiful graphs regarding my blog stats, but I still need something simple. This spread is peak simple, too, with just a few features: the month, and the numbers for my blog, Twitter, and Instagram at the beginning and end of each month. Filling it out as the year passes will be so satisfying (it was last year!), and I’m hoping I can bump that blog number in particular over 500.
I will say that this may not be a spread for you if you already track stats elsewhere. I love the simplicity and at-a-glance utility of it, despite loving more detailed data, because it’s good for thinking in the big picture. When I want to get lost in the weeds, then I hop over to the spreadsheet.
Instagram Photo Challenges
I don’t talk about Instagram very much on the blog, but I’ve found that I really like running a bookstagram! I also love participating in the photo challenges other bookstagrammers run, partly because it takes away the stress of deciding what to post.
This spread is set up to tell me what I’m taking a picture of, what day I mean to post it, what challenge hashtag(s) I’m planning to use, and if I’ve even taken the photo. January here looks a little empty because of the time I took on hiatus, but February will fill up nicely!
Alternating which lines I highlight is possibly my favorite part of this spread, too. It’s so easy on the eyes, and keeps me from getting overwhelmed by how many pictures I’m planning to take!
Admittedly, this is an idea I had AFTER completing my January spreads. Next month, I’m going to list specific books on my goals page, instead of a goal that reads something like “read 5+ books this month.” It doesn’t lock me into any specific order, which my mood-reading brain hates, and it helps me stay on top of ARC deadlines. I’ll start placing a star next to high-priority ARCs just to drive the point home. And maybe I’ll add a dagger next to books that technically don’t have a deadline, but should be read soon?
If I can implement this in my February spread, I think it’s going to be a massive help in the Pondathon, hosted by CW @ The Quiet Pond! It’s not too late to join, and it’s a readathon that runs at your own pace, so I can’t recommend it enough! Also, you get to make a cute little character to represent your blog, and I adore mine. Their name is Hornet and they are very good.
Even if you’re not doing the Pondathon, though, this kind of spread could be useful to anyone trying to stick to a planned TBR.
Bookish Bullet Journal Spreads
As I write this post, I’ve read all of a book and a half this year. The blog redesign has taken up a ton of time, and left very little for reading. That said, it’s my intention to fill the extra space in my bullet journal with all kinds of bookish joy! Quotes, doodles, aesthetics, you name it: I want to cram them in wherever they’ll fit. I might even do entire two-page spreads for books I really enjoy, just to immortalize my love for them on maybe not-so-immortal paper. What better way to use a journal than to fill it with things that make me happy?
Planning Blog Posts
Believe it or not, this is the one thing I barely use my bullet journal for. I keep a separate notebook for all of my hastily scribbled ideas, because I like a tidy bullet journal. Scratched out notes go on scrap paper, and finalized ideas belong in the journal.
That said, when I have a post scheduled for a certain day, I make it a task for a day or two prior. This very post, for instance, appears underneath my header for January 23rd, labeled with a check box and “finish bujo post.” It serves as a reminder that I have a post in need of polishing, and makes sure that I get everything posted on time.
Plus, I have a notebook hoarding problem. Using my bullet journal for tidy, final draft style content is awesome. Using an old notebook for the hectic scribbling? Also awesome, and finally puts all that paper to good use.
So if you’ve been wondering how I keep my head on straight, this is it, the big secret! It’s a bullet journal! A good calendar and color code system can go a long way, plus all the other little bits and bobs I’ve mentioned. But how do you do it? Are you a bullet journal fan too? Is Google Drive more your speed? Could you even be one of those mythical folks who can keep it all straight in their head? No matter how you organize your blogging, let’s chat!