Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Make Progress in 2018 {and How to Start a Bullet Journal}

Today I'm sharing my Focus Word for 2018, as well as how I've used it to start a bullet journal.

Begin, a photo by Danielle MacInnes via Unsplash
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As with most things blog-related, this post has been rattling around in my head for the past few weeks. I've said it before. I'm not one to make resolutions. But becoming a mother of two has taught me a valuable lesson... to stop putting so much pressure on myself to be Superwoman.

That's why, this year, it's not about being at the top of my game. It's about finding the energy and motivation to just keep moving forward... To make progress with the understanding that progress doesn't mean perfection.

One of the ways I'm encouraging myself to keep going is by keeping a bullet journal. I've talked a little bit about my bullet journal on Instagram (see here and definitely here)... but unless you know me in real life, I've kept the contents of my journal mostly to myself.

Until now. I'm finally ready to share how I kicked off 2018!

Focus Word: Make Progress in 2018 -- Bullet Journal Cover Page | Taste As You Go

I wanted to keep my focus word top of mind, so I gave it a prominent spot on the very first page. This way, I'd have a reminder every time I opened the journal that I am a work in progress... and that life should be about progress, not perfection. So...

If Caroline and I color pictures in the evening but don't pick up all the crayons afterward, IT'S OKAY.

If I manage to do three loads of laundry but wait a few days to fold it all, IT'S OKAY.

If I'm too tired to cook the meal I have on our Dinner Plan and opt for scrambled eggs and toast again, IT'S OKAY.

Keep going, Mama. Just keep going.

Focus Word: Make Progress in 2018 -- Bullet Journal -- 2018 Goals | Taste As You Go

On the next pages, I outlined my major personal goals for the year. As I chip away at them, as I make progress, I can come back and add color and details (like the title of the books I've read) where appropriate.

Since the concept behind a bullet journal was new to me, I wound up doing a lot of research before buying a journal. I did even more research before I committed pen to paper. Even though I was striving for a more relaxed approach to life, my inner perfectionist still held a lot of power.

Focus Word: Make Progress in 2018 -- Bullet Journal -- 2018 Mini Calendar | Taste As You Go

I liked the idea of having a mini calendar next, so I added that next.

Focus Word: Make Progress in 2018 -- Bullet Journal -- Birthday Tracker -- Anniversary Tracker | Taste As You Go

Focus Word: Make Progress in 2018 -- Bullet Journal -- Birthday Tracker -- Anniversary Tracker | Taste As You Go

Then I created some spreads to keep track of important dates all in one place. One was a two-page spread detailing family members' birthdays and anniversaries. (Stephen and I are each part of large blended families, so I needed the space!) Someday, I'll use that tracker to send greeting cards to people, as I used to do.

Someday... For now, I'm all about taking baby steps. After all, life is about progress, not perfection.

Next up? Future logs.

Focus Word: Make Progress in 2018 -- Bullet Journal -- Future Logs | Taste As You Go

It didn't make sense for me to create a future log for January since I was going to create a monthly spread, so I skipped it. I went straight into blocking space for February and then gave each month following half a page. What a great way to get a better sense of future appointments, events, holidays, etc.!

Focus Word: Make Progress in 2018 -- Bullet Journal -- Monthly Log | Taste As You Go

Focus Word: Make Progress in 2018 -- Bullet Journal -- Monthly Log | Taste As You Go

Moving on to the monthly spreads. I've found that's it's super helpful to have the month ahead at my fingertips... Especially since I'm in charge of the family's day-to-day needs and collective schedule.

Focus Word: Make Progress in 2018 -- Bullet Journal -- Daily Habit Tracker | Taste As You Go

Next comes my daily habit tracker. There are many tasks I do on a daily basis and others I wish I could add to the list. This tracker keeps me accountable. It also helps me make a visual assessment of the essentials. Of course, I started January off with the goal of coloring in each space... But there were definitely days when I didn't have the time or the energy to do everything.

The first time I had to fill a space in with black ink rather than colored ink, I felt like a failure. Not even a month into my bullet journal and I had screwed it up. Then I remembered to flip back to the first page -- I am a work in progress. I need to recenter myself, to make progress, not perfection.

Life happens. IT'S OKAY.

Keep going, Mama. Just keep going.

Focus Word: Make Progress in 2018 -- Bullet Journal -- Daily Spread | Taste As You Go

After the habit tracker, I started creating my dailies. (Sorry for the crappy lighting in that shot.) These were my daily spreads designed to help me keep an eye on the current day's appointments and to-dos. But it didn't take long for me to discover how tedious it was to create those daily logs, especially as I was doing it. I had no desire to make time for that every night.

Focus Word: Make Progress in 2018 -- Bullet Journal -- Weekly Spread | Taste As You Go

So I embraced the flexibility of the bullet journal and decided to nix the daily logs in favor of a weekly format. For me, that was SO MUCH BETTER.

Seeing my entire week at once allowed me to identify which days (and/or nights) were fuller than others. Then I just dropped my tasks on the days (and/or nights) that weren't as scheduled or jam-packed. ✓

Yes, my bullet journal took quite some time to set up when I first started. But now it takes hardly any time at all to maintain. Especially since I have a better sense of what I want to track and how. This entire process has helped me budget my time better and to become more efficient.

Keeping a bullet journal has also helped me pinpoint the truly important tasks. Before giving myself a to-do list for the day or week or month, I ask myself two questions:

  1. Is this worth the time it'll take to write down?
  2. Is this worth the time it'll take to migrate tasks to some point in the future?

If the answer to Question 1 is "no", then I don't even bother adding it to any of my lists. If the answer to Question 2 is "no", then I'm okay with letting it go and actually crossing it out. In the practice of bullet journaling, crossing something out means it's no longer important... so stop thinking about it and move on to something else.

Getting used to this type of thinking has been life-changing for me... and, I didn't think it was possible, but I'm even better at multitasking now... I'm even better at balancing everything going on in my world! And I've only been doing this for [almost] a month!

If you've read this far and the idea of starting your own bullet journal interests you... Here's the list of the products I currently use:


To follow along with my progress (see what I did there?), make sure you follow me on Instagram. Now that I've shared this post, I'll be posting pics of my bullet journal spreads over there on a more regular basis.

Do you have a focus word for 2018? Do you keep a bullet journal? Let me know in the comments below so we can keep each other motivated and moving forward!

This post contains affiliate product links. Clicking on the links may result in my being paid a commission based on product sales. Regardless of commission, all opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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One year agoWhere I've Been
Two years agoCachette Bistro & Creperie - Bethlehem, PA
Three years agoValentine's Day -- The Look, The Locale
Four years agoBourbon-Spiked Barbecue Sauce
Five years agoNeptune Oyster - Boston, MA
Six years agoCinnamon Carrot Cashew Bread
Seven years agoTrust the Crust at Plum Pizzeria and Bar
Eight years agoSimple Home Fries
Nine years agoRoasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

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