Last March, I shared with everyone via my Patreon how I went about journaling, planning my week, and organizing tasks. I also included a video, showed off my various journals, showed off a new planner I had, and had a very color coded and organized system for tackling all of the things I concern myself during the week.
If you think I still journal/plan that way, you’re crazy pants.
Now, part of this is because life is busy. Part of this is because I’ve moved onto different journals. And part of this is because at some point I just… cracked.
Regardless, I still journal, and right now feels like a great time to update all of you with my journaling specifically because it’s the start of a new year, and that tends to be about the time people get their hands on new agendas and planners and bullet journals.
That stated – if you’re reading this in the future, don’t feel like you CAN’T start now because it’s later in the year. I started out with my agenda in May of last year, and used it through the end of the year, to the point that I ordered a new one for 2023. And like, listen, if you’re waiting for the end of the year to start something new, that’s stupid. There’s no better time to start than right now, because you can’t change the past, and started next week means you wasted a week when you could have been getting stuff done.
So let’s talk about it.
Now, in no way, shape, or form do you need to have all of the same items as me. That would be silly. What works for me won’t work for you. But, this is what I use, and so, that’s what I’m going to share.
Except… the pens. The micron pens are a must. But, we’ll get there!
(None of this is sponsored. Y’all know me. I don’t sell out, thanks.)
An agenda is your most basic tool, somewhere to write down all of your things for the days of the week. Whether you use phone apps or a cheap one from walmart or a specially ordered one from somewhere online, that’s all up to you. I used to be in love with Target agendas until I discovered plum paper, and now you can’t take this back from me, because I’m in love with it. Plum Paper allows you to pick out your own layout and add in your own pages as you so desire. I will note that my agenda cost me about 75$ and I think it’s 100% worth it to me now but I never would have bought it at the start because of the price. Yes, it’s a very high price for an agenda. But like… it fits exactly what I need.
Here’s my specific page layout / add-ons:
8.5X11: QUAD BLANK
12 Month Planner
Silver Metal Coil Binding
Dispersed Lined Notes Pages
Dispersed Dotted Notes Pages
Dispersed To-Do List Pages
Dispersed Checklist Pages
I love the Quad Blank because I can write whatever I want in the spaces, and I love just everything about the layout. There are seriously so many layouts to pick from, and this is in general pretty generic, but like… she’s a thicc beast and I love her so much.
I would include pictures but there’s so many beautiful pictures on their website I won’t even try to show y’all the possibilities.
For the love of God and all that is Holy order a name brand one that is at least 120 gsm thick. That means the pages are thicker and stiffer. The dots or lines should also be every half centimeter. For the love of God do not cheap out on this one. I bought one from the exchange, because it’s what was on hand. I hate it. I hate it so much. The dots don’t line up. They’re at weird spacing. The pages are too thin. I’ve ordered a new one from Amazon. I’ll have to redo all of my pages. Don’t be me.
Now I’m sure some of you are like… a bullet journal?
YES. THE FREEDOM OF THE PAGES. THE FREEDOM.
Alternatively you can also get a binder/loose leaf dot/grid paper. I do have this as well. This is for the ones who panic over a lack of perfection.
But so, a bullet journal can be great for saving things, for organizing thoughts, for creating pretty pages, whatever. I also love using the back for pen tests and a washi tape graveyard. Yes, I said what I said.
I’m going to be honest, planning your week basically requires sticky notes… or sheets of paper… or like… something. You need somewhere to jot things down. Random things. Things you need to do. Things that you can’t forget. Etc. I currently have 4 sticky notes on my desk, each one with various social media post ideas. They live on that sticky note until I write it down in a different journal or I decide it’s a bad idea and throw it away.
You can get sticky notes that are dotted or grid, sticky notes with AM/PM, sticky notes with habit trackers… Seriously, there’s so many options out there! I get most of mine from Daiso, which is the Japanese 100 Yen store, but I used to buy a lot of them from Target. You can also shop on etsy.
For the AESTHETIC. Don’t look at me like that.
Same reason. Seriously, cut those eyes somewhere else. The Happy Planner Brand is some of my favorites, but anything will do.
Ruler, Pencil, Eraser, White Out, etc… You’re going to need office supplies, okay? Also a trash can… you should probably have a trash can.
And here we have it, my favorite section. Because we all know I’m pen-sexual. My favorite pens are felt tip pens, in particular, the Scribble Stuff Felt Pens. I use them.. constantly. I also really love the Papermate Felt Pens. I think it’s obvious I love Felt Pens. They just… glide.
I’m also a big fan of Pilot G-2s. I’ve been using them for years. My favorite weight is 07. Highly recommend in various colors. My basic go-to pen is the Papermate Write Bros 1.0. It seriously doesn’t dry out if you leave the lid off for days. And, I sign books with the Sharpie Felt Tip Pen. They don’t smear, smudge, or bleed on book paper (but the same can’t be said for others, so yeah).
I mentioned Microns up above. Microns are what you see every bullet journal designer using. They’re… amazing. Get the 8 pack. They’re like ten bucks. Live for them.
And finally, highlighters/markers. This one hasn’t changed. I’m a Zebra Mildliner Girly for life. Love them. Live for them. Use them all the time. I have every single color… some of them I have multiples of the same color. So, yeah.
SETTING UP YOUR AGENDA
We’re going to start with the agenda, because, I think that’s a great launch point. Regardless of how you use your bullet journal, an agenda is set to be daily / weekly, so you can jump right into using this today. That stated, I take a lot of the tips I’ve received from BuJoing and apply them to my agenda to have great success.
Step 1 : Set up a Key
Before you even dive into filling the pages of your agenda, assemble a key. If you have multiple family members, they each get a color. Figure out how you want to mark tasks vs notes vs appointments. What do you want to put where in the agenda. What do you want on which pages? I have a general list that you can see, which I do as a flip out from my journal. It’s taped in on one of the front pages so it can fold out then fold back in, so I can always look at the key as needed.
Step 2 : Fill out Your Non-Negotiables
Something I see a lot of people struggling with is how to tackle the authoring stuff while also existing in a busy world, and typically, the reason why so many struggle, is that they set their authoring things at the top of the priority list without being realistic about time. Go ahead and fill in your non-negotiables each month. First thing to do. Doctor’s appointments. Events. Meetings. Deadlines. Fill in the things that exist and will take away from your time each day to be an author. And always do this first. You can’t plan your time if you don’t know what else is going on around it. You want to set yourself up for success.
Step 3 : Fill out your goals
Somewhere, somehow, you should have author goals written down. Some of these will be a goal for the year, some for the month, some for a week, some for a project. Goals. They exist somewhere. Now write them down in your agenda, specifically, write down your monthly goal in your agenda for the month, and then divvy it up between weeks. Give yourself progress points. Soft and hard deadlines. Don’t wait until the end of the month to look at your goal list and say OH CRAP. No, you want to put the goals down onto paper and tackle them as they come.
Step 4 : Monthly Things
Sort of tied into Goals, but not really, is your monthly things. Write down the monthly things you need to do, for example, your newsletter. Assign what day that’s going out, or days. Same with when you’re going to do your budgeting in the month. Also checking Amazon KDP. Figure out what days you’re doing what throughout the month. The things you’re not doing weekly, but you don’t want to forget. Write it down and assign it. Fill it out.
Step 5 : Weekly Plan
WOAH PUMP THE BRAKES! Your agenda is set up now for success, so like… this is a new section, okay?
Planning Your Week
One of my favorite days of the week is Sunday because Sunday is my planning day. For me, my week starts on Monday, so I do all of my planning on Sunday nights. That’s when I look at my goals for the month and how they’ve been divied up, I look at where I’m at in the progress of my monthly goals, look at my deadlines for the week, and what we already have going on, and I tackle assigning things.
One of my kids is always out of school, it seems, and there’s always after school activities. Those types of things play into my days pretty heavily – I can’t write 8k words on a day that I have two kids home from school. It’s not happening. So I don’t expect that from myself at all.
Also, writing a blog post? That takes time. Those are words. So like… I don’t expect my blog post and newsletter day to be the same day that I sit down and write an epic love scene.
Oh gosh, and social media? Constantly working on planning that, which is just… oof.
Okay, okay, let’s break this down:
Twice a week you should be checking your email and responding to things. Also messages. And like… other things. Twice a week you should sit down and try to tackle all communications. This is important. You don’t want to disappear into a hole and miss something important. You probably also have someone you need to send a message to or an email you need to write… Yeah. Twice a week, that way you don’t get overwhelmed with having to socialize too much.
I also like to tie in one of those days to Newsletter days, that way, you’re responding to what others have said to you, and interacting with past newsletters. That stated, newsletters often require images, which will probably be made on…
This is… my least favorite planning task of the week. Social Media. Now, you will note below if you keep scrolling that I am sharing my Social Media Planner Tracker Thing with all of you, but yeah. Once a week, I make all of my graphics as best I can imagine for various platforms, that way I can be in Canva mode and have them all downloaded and placed into the planner and scheduled if that’s possible. I know that some apps/platforms don’t do scheduling, but, you can schedule instagram and fb posts, tumblr posts, twitter posts, and uhh… that’s it. I really need Instagram to get around to making reels schedulable, but, having them at least exist in drafts with a timer on my phone makes that way more manageable.
Also, yeah, I make a lot of my content all at once. I like saving sounds with a quick video and notes on the video for what I want to do with it. Alexis Maness and N. Cáceres have both mentioned doing this before. It’s a favorite of mine. Also saving a video idea to favorites. Another great one. And then that way, on social media production day… but so, right. Schedule that day. Maybe you want to have one day where you plan the content and a different day where you make it? But yeah. Figure out when you’re going to work on social media.
Did you just open your shop? Are you trying to do things on tiktok live? Are you doing DMCA complaints? That sort of stuff. Schedule that. Figure out when it works with your schedule. Just.. write that down, okay?
Writing / Editing
And finally, that crazy thing we’re actually here to do… writing! Also, editing. Ew.
Listen, once you have your whole week figured out with various commitments, days of tackling other things, etc… it should be pretty clear where writing fits into the picture. Which days are you going to have the best success at writing? Set a word count goal for each day you plan to write, but also set a chapter deadline. Yes, there is a difference. You can say you know how long a chapter will be, but you don’t really know until you’ve written it. But write that all down.
And editing! Ahh! Editing is… I’m not talking heavy edits. I’m talking give your work a good glance for the typos and fixing formatting and making sure you filled in the blanks. I like to go back in a few days later, so like, if I’m working on writing Chapter 5, I’ll be editing Chapters 1-2. Set a page goal. Do a little every day. You’ll thank yourself later.
AND THERE YOU GO
So after all of that, your agenda and your weekly plan should be set up. You know what you need to tackle for the month. You know what you have coming. You know what needs to get done when. You know what other tasks are at hand. And, you’ve got it split up between different days. Now, go and tackle this stuff, or…
BULLET JOURNAL START UP
So you’ve got a new bullet journal, filled with blank pages and dots and a set of pens and oh my god is that the crushing anxiety and the fear of existence and the weight of this blank space in front of you with no idea what to put inside of it? Seriously, just breathe. Here’s how I set up my new bujo. Think of it like a book!
At the front of the book, you want the title page, right? For me, that’s a welcome to 2023 plus some motivational things. A lot of people will do an index at the front where they write down what in all is on each page. I think that’s more meant as a reference. I’ve done it before but I didn’t this time. Just a welcome to the new year, and something motivational, because it felt good.
Next is my 2022 in Review. Well, 2021-2022, because I didn’t want to leave out my first book. I included my royalties and numbers, which, still waiting on some stuff, but also washi tape! Washi tape makes it all feel good.
And then I write down my goals. My goals for releasing and my goals for numbers. Please note, this is not all of my goals, just, what I loosely plan on tracking within this book, which is numbers, my to do list, and word count. That sort of stuff.
A 2023 Calendar, because, that’s what this thing is all about! A 2023 calendar.
And that’s it for me. But, you can add more!
You could add a social media follower tracker. You could add cleaning schedules. Habit trackers. Etc. Things for the year. Big picture things. Organized pages before you get into the slog of it.
This is where we get off the ground going. For me, I like to start with a monthly overview. My Goals and tasks. My habit tracker, which for me, is writing. And then my editing and word count tracker. You can do what you want to do. This is just what I’m doing this month. Keeping it simple.
From there, we also get a weekly page. The calendar of the week. Blank space. I specifically have this space blank because it’s all about, for me, writing down what I’ve written and edited that day, whether it be plot points or just a number or hours or chapters or whatever. It’s all about what I worked on. Also, big boom days. Meaning, big booms of numbers on kdp. It’s a tracker type thing.
Every week will get it’s own set of pages, and then a new month, and rinse and repeat.
The only interludes will be probably release pages for a new book release. I’ll add those in as I go.
The Back Pages
Now, you can do whatever you want in the back, but me? I love a good washi tape graveyard. It’s where I put the little ends of tape after I’m done with them. Also, pen tests. I love pen tests. So, this is where I do my pen tests, in the very back. So, yeah.
These are pages from a previous bujo. So, yeah. Other options for layout, I guess.
And there you have it. Bullet Journaling.
SOCIAL MEDIA PLANNING SHEET
I mentioned above planning for social media, and the simple fact of the matter is… planning your social media content is a never ending cycle of struggle. The great thing is, you can reuse stuff, particularly across platform, but the fact is, you still have to make some sort of content to begin with. So, let’s talk about planning it out, and repurposing.
Please note, this is not about making the actual content. I have other posts about that. Like… you can go look at other things. No, this is about planning when to post what and where. Also… repurposing.
One of the easiest / oldest tricks in the book is to make something once and use it fifty damn times over. Whether you’re posting from one platform to another or reposting to your story or reposting on your timeline as a flashback… it’s a great thing to do. So, let’s talk options here. Where you can post certain things, or at least, which ones will do well, where.
Videos: Tiktok. Instagram Reels. FB Reels. Hive. Shared to Pinterest. Also can post on Tumblr and Twitter.
Images: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. Tumblr. Hive. Pinterest again.
Listen… you make content in one place… and you can share it all of the places. Seriously. Guys. Just… repost things onto different platforms.
You can even get into new things like youtube shorts or share screenshots to tiktok videos and do things from posts to stories… If you’re not posting marketing across multiple platforms, you’re missing out on a potential reader. And, a lot of these platforms have scheduling. Download your post or image or whatever, and cross post it, scheduled a few hours later, if you don’t want to overlap too hard. Boom there you go.
HASHTAGS / KEEP NOTES
One of the hardest things about posting, however, is keeping track of the freaking hashtags. Seriously. I… I can’t. I can’t keep track. So like… here’s Elle’s hottip of the week. Have a google keep note for every platform. Title it the platform. Have hashtags you can select all. Copy and Paste. Boom. Okay then.
And finally, what you’ve all been waiting for : the planner pages.
Now, this is your reminder that what works for me might not work for you, and what I like to post where and when might not be the same thing as what you like, which is why I’m including the canva link. Make a copy, and then put your own stuff in. Okay? Cool. Cool.
So here’s what I like to use. I’ve only recently assembled this. I’m also loosely considering, rather than either trying to do a dry erase version of this, getting an agenda with 11 lines per day and writing this down, but idk yet. I’m working on it. Regardless, this is what I see in my mind, so, I’m putting it into paper form for all of you, so that you can figure out your own desires.
So, we have the various platforms. Type or Style is a flip through video or a pov video or a image or whatever it is. Give it a type. You can put together your own key for this. Then you have your topic. So like maybe you’re talking about one book or series. This way you can see what you’re concentrating on more or less. Then the caption or topic or just… words. Thoughts. Etc. Write down what time you’re going to post it. Whether or not it’s drafted / scheduled / did you make the image or video, etc, and then… is it posted.
Now this is probably more than you need, but, it still gives you a launch point that you can feel free to edit on your own canva.
And now, we have the weekly planner, where repurposing can really come into play, because… you can draw arrows across. So, figure out what tiktok video you’re posting… and then draw an arrow from there to the other platforms where you’re posting. I like taking a highlighter. Let’s say Monday’s video is a pink highlighter. Tuesday Reels on FB and Instagram both get a pink line. Hive on Thursday gets a pink line. Rinse and repeat.
But one of the biggest aspects of this planning is to figure out time. What time do you want to post. What time works with your schedule, and more importantly, what time works best for your followers to interact with it?
If you have tiktok creative, then you should be able to see what time your followers are most active. The same sort of goes for facebook and instagram if you have a meta business account. It will recommend times for you. Also recognize which types of videos get you the most views and interactions. Post those at the best time of day, and assemble the rest as needed.
AND THEN SET A TIMER. Just because you can’t schedule a post automatically on the app doesn’t mean you can’t schedule it in your mind. Already have the post drafted. Have it ready to hit publish. Timer goes off, and post.
But don’t start this all at once. That’s way too much work on a person. Add in one thing at a time. Right now, I’m doing 1-2 tiktoks a day, two instagrams a day, one facebook every other day, and trying to add in hive. I’ll add in more every week until I get to a better place.
Now, all of this stated… My social media planner probably won’t stay this. I’m… figuring things out, like I said. And I change how I do things and what tools I use regularly. So don’t look at anything I said in this post anywhere and say ELLE DOES IT THIS WAY SO I’M DOING IT THIS WAY – I’m just figuring this out. I’m not an expert. It’s all trial and error. It’s needs of the season. It’s all what fits my brain wave lengths right now.
And I hope that this can help you in some way in whoever your brain functions.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to everyone, and I’ll chat with you all soon.
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ADDITIONAL BUJO PAGES – Added 23 January 2023
As I highly disliked the previous journal I was working with, I ended up buying a new one, and have since designed new pages. Here is my new spread. Take inspiration from this, or do your own thing! This is all just ideas. Track what is most important to you.