Read the First Three Stories of Strange Happenings for Free (Limited Time Only)

The covers of the first four stories of my serial, Strange Happenings.

This post contains affiliate links from Amazon.com.  If you purchase products from these links, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  To read my full disclosure statement, click here.

The first three stories of my serial, Strange Happenings, are enrolled in Kindle Select. If you have a subscription to Kindle Unlimited, you can read the first three stories for free, along with thousands of titles by other authors! Amazon is running a 30-day free trial for new Kindle Unlimited accounts. My stories are quick reads, between twenty minutes to an hour long each. This is a great chance to catch up with the series before the fourth story, The Assistant, comes out on September 1st!

You can read more about my serial on the Books tab, or by clicking here.

If you take part in the free trial, cancel before the 30 days are up if it isn’t something you plan on continuing to use. Otherwise, Amazon will charge you $9.99 per month.

Important note: I am planning on going wide with Strange Happenings, which means the series will be available to read in even more places. I can’t wait to share further details soon! This means Strange Happenings will still be in the Kindle store, but no longer as part of the Kindle Unlimited program. The first short story, Something Happened on the Way to the World’s Fair, will be the first to leave the program on August 29th. The Blood is Life leaves September 28th, and The Living Metal Man on October 29th. All the stories will still be on Amazon, but no longer part of the Kindle Select program.

I’m so excited about the changes ahead!

To stay up-to-date on further Strange Happenings news, please sign up for my newsletter here. You can also follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or my new Facebook page. Thank you so much for your support!

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The Living Metal Man, the third story of Strange Happenings, is out now!

How to Prepare for Camp NaNoWriMo

How to Prepare for Camp NaNoWriMo

What is Camp NaNoWriMo?

Camp NaNoWriMo is a more relaxed version of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month.) The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words of a story during the month of November. You earn badges and achievements on the www.nanowrimo.org website for completing word count goals and other milestones. Camp NaNoWriMo takes place in April and July. The best part? You decide your goal for the challenge.

Unlike NaNoWriMo, you’re not locked into 50,000 words for Camp. Last April I kept track of writing minutes. Since the only option to track on the NaNoWriMo website is word count, I used the formula 1 minute of writing = 1 word for tracking. My goal was 1,800 minutes writing during the month, so on the website the tracker had an 1,800 words target. If you need to edit a project, you could track the number pages revised or minutes editing for Camp.

Another unique feature of Camp NaNoWriMo is the cabin system. You can search for other writers in your genre or partner with your friends to form an online cabin where you can post encouraging messages and hold each other accountable.

To sign up for Camp NaNoWriMo and more details, visit www.nanowrimo.org and create a profile. If you already have a profile from participating in NaNoWriMo, all you need to do is announce a new project on the website and select the option to associate it with Camp NaNoWriMo.

This post contains affiliate links, including Amazon.com and MasterClass.  If you purchase products from these links, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  To read my full disclosure statement, click here.

How to Prepare for Camp NaNoWriMo

Here are some steps you can take now to prepare for Camp. Even if you don’t do everything on the list, completing some of these tasks will make Camp much more fun.

  • Set a goal. Think about what you want to accomplish during Camp. Do you need to meet a word count goal? Do you need to work through edits? Are you trying to build a writing habit? Journaling might help you clarify what you most would like to work on during camp. After you have a general idea of what you want to accomplish, make your goal as specific as possible. It will make it easier for you to track your progress.
  • If you will be working on a first draft, consider writing an outline or synopsis so you can start the first day of Camp with a clear plan. If you are new to plotting, a book on the topic I’ve found to be helpful is Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody. You can find it here. You could also try the Snowflake Method, where you grow an idea from a one-sentence summary to a full outline. This post has a more detailed explanation.
  • Catch up on your to-be-read pile, or pick up a book in the same genre as your project for inspiration. Use your local library if you’re on a budget. Many libraries are using curbside pick-up right now, and some also lend out e-books through Overdrive and Hoopla. You could also sign up for a free trial of Kindle Unlimited and access thousands of books for free, including my serial. Make sure to cancel your subscription before your trial is over if the service isn’t a good fit for you.
  • Start building a writing habit now. Set aside 10 minutes a day to write so you can ease into longer sessions when Camp begins.
  • Let your friends and family know about your plans to participate in Camp. They can cheer you on and hold you accountable. It also lets them know you have a project to work on and may not be as available for the month.
  • Brainstorm easy meals to make and consider meal planning. Pinterest is a great resource for recipes. If you’re the main cook in your household, this will free up more time during the month.
  • Look for writing prompts for inspiration. Pinterest, Tumblr, and Reddit are all great sources for prompts if you’re feeling stuck.
  • Watch YouTube videos on writing craft. This lecture by Brandon Sanderson is popular with science fiction and fantasy writers.
  • Take an online class. My favorite series of courses are on MasterClass. There are 80+ instructors of all kinds of subjects, including writing, acting, cooking, fashion, music, and more. This is a good way to get an in-depth look at a topic. For writers, aside from the benefit of access to a dozen writing courses, you could take classes related to your project. Notable writing instructors include Neil Gaiman, Joyce Carol Oates, and Margaret Atwood. I recommend purchasing the All-Access Pass because a single course costs $90. The All-Access Pass is $180 for one year with unlimited access to all the classes. Even if you only take three courses, you’ll save money. You can find more information here.
  • Don’t forget to sign up on the www.nanorimo.org website and announce your project!
  • Look for cabin mates, either on the NaNoWriMo website or online.
  • Join the official NaNoWriMo Facebook group for more support. The group is active year-round.

More Resources for Camp NaNoWriMo

In this blog post, I share ideas of preparing for NaNoWriMo in a bullet journal. Even though the demands of Camp NaNoWriMo can be less strenuous, many of the tips can still be applied. You can read the post here.

If you purchase anything from the links below, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I appreciate your support!

I write more about the bundle here, but the Write Publish Profit 3.0 Super Stack is a wonderful resource if you’d like to take your writing to the next level. For $49, it includes my favorite editing software, ProWritingAid (normally $79 for a yearly subscription), classes, ebooks, and so much more, all designed to help you become a successful author. The deal ends on June 17th. You can find it here.

Write Publish Profit 3.0. This bundle ends on June 17th. It includes software, courses, ebooks, and more, all designed to help you become a successful author

One of my favorite courses on MasterClass is Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling. The video lectures are a perfect pep talk if you’re having writer’s block or looking for inspiration. He covers everything from short stories to comics to novels. The class workbook is full of exercises and an extensive list of recommended reading to further improve your writing. You can watch a preview of his class here.

Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling

I already mentioned some of these books in this post, but here are some of my recommendations to add to your reading list. I’ve read and loved all of these books.

Good luck with Camp NaNoWriMo and have fun!

How to Prepare for Camp NaNoWriMo

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Write Publish Profit 3.0

Write Publish Profit 3.0 Super Stack

This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase products from these links, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  To read my full disclosure statement, click here

I’ve bought the Write Publish Profit bundle two years in a row because it comes with a year’s subscription to ProWritingAid, my favorite editing software. The entire stack is $49. Usually, a yearly subscription to ProWritingAid is $79. It’s well worth the cost because it goes above and beyond simple grammar editing. While it doesn’t take the place of having beta readers (I have the notes from mine to prove it 😅), it does help point out weaknesses and strengths in my writing. It has been a huge help in cleaning up my drafts.

Also included in the stack are classes, books on writing, Novel Factory, an extended trial to Campfire, and more resources for writers. Here is a list of what’s included:

  • 19 ecourses ($4,2674.99 value)
  • 11 ebooks ($79.24 value)
  • 3 video masterclasses ($275.00 value)
  • 3 exclusive K-lytics Genre Reports ($111.00)
  • 50% off professional cover design
  • 50% off professional interior book design and formatting
  • 6 month pass to a private writer’s community
  • ProWritingAid Premium (1 year subscription)
  • Novel Factory Basic (1 year subscription)
  • Online eCover Creator (1 year subscription)
  • Extended free trials to premium software and apps like Authorcats, Storiad Book Marketing Platform, Campfire Pro, Kindle Ranker, and more.
  • PLUS: templates, workbooks, checklists, and more…

For me personally, buying it for ProWritingAid alone makes the bundle worth it. If this sounds like something you could use, here is my affiliate link:
https://simplykelseyjo–infostack.thrivecart.com/wpp3/

The offer ends on June 17th.

If you purchase through my link, I earn a percentage of the sale that will help me to reinvest in my writing.

Updates and Changes for Simply Kelsey Jo

Change is coming to Simply Kelsey Jo!

Wow, it has been some time since I’ve posted on here. I thought having both of my boys in preschool this year meant more time to blog and write, but it turned out to mean that life became even busier than before!

This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com.  If you purchase products from these links, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  To read my full disclosure statement, click here.

I have had some personal good news happen during this blog’s accidental hiatus: I’ve ventured into the world of self-publishing! I’ve launched a speculative fiction serial, Strange Happenings, on Amazon. Best of all, if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for free! Otherwise, it’s only $0.99. You can read the first one, Something Happened on the Way to the World’s Fair, here.

I’m thrilled to have my serial live! It’s been a long time dream of mine to be a published author.

With that said, I’ve missed my blog. I will be changing its focus to be more writing-centric, since this is the direction my life has taken. I will still be sharing bullet journaling, art journaling, and other creative self-care ideas as well. My hope to inspire other creative souls to find their own outlets, especially during such turbulent times. I haven’t decided exactly what form the blog will take yet, but I wanted to post this update before making the changes.

Stay tuned for more!

Want to try Kindle Unlimited for free? Sign up here for a free trial and start reading from anywhere! Thank you for your support!

NaNoWriMo Prep in Bullet Journal

Bullet Journal Layouts for NaNoWriMo
NaNoWriMo Prep: Free Resources and Layout Inspiration

About NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month is a fun, free event that happens every year in November. The challenge is to write 50K words in one month or on average, 1,667 words every day for 30 days. It sounds difficult, but with proper planning, it is a feasible goal. Anyone can participate, even those who want to write for the sheer joy of it and any genre is welcome. Some people even write fanfiction! There are also NaNoWriMo rebels who write poetry, flash fiction, and other forms of writing with the goal of writing a cumulative 50K words in 30 days. If writing a novel is on your bucket list, read on for tips, tricks, and inspiration for completing NaNoWriMo. (For more information about the challenge, please visit https://nanowrimo.org/.)

This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase products from these links, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  To read my full disclosure statement, click here.

Preparing for NaNoWriMo in my Bullet Journal

Last year, I completed my first NaNoWriMo under a pen name. This year, I created a new account under my real name and I’ve made more of an effort to prepare in my bullet journal. I asked in the official NaNoWriMo Facebook group for ideas for Preptober (the term many writers affectionately call October and is credited to Rachael Stephen.) Using the resources I found through Pinterest and the Facebook group, I’ve made a bullet journal for my work in progress so that by November 1st, I’ll be ready to write. Below are the first few pages of my set-up:

Preptober Goals Page

Preptober Checklist
This is my to-do list for October. It’s a long list but it helps me stay focused on having a successful NaNoWriMo.

Calendars and Preptober Schedules

Preptober calendar
I’m using these two calendars as guidelines for tasks I’d like to get done in October to prepare for NaNoWriMo. I may not do everything on these lists but I like having options.

Sources:

NaNoWriMo Instagram Challenges and Prompts

Preptober Prompts
These are Instagram challenges and prompts I’m working on through October.

Sources for printables:

For more layout inspiration, follow my Instagram account here.

This year’s NaNoWriMo is particularly dear to me because I’ll be working on the first draft of a novel idea I’ve had for years. Though I’ve had the basic idea for a long time, I’m struggling with the fear of my idea turning out to be terrible. I’m determined to get over my worries about writing an awful first draft and finally finish writing my story.

No one writes a perfect first draft.Click To Tweet Any mistakes I make or plot holes can be fixed in editing, after the first draft is written. NaNoWriMo will help me silence my inner critic and focus on getting the story out. I’ll still be working on it in December, as my current outline puts my novel between 90K and 100K words, but having the first half of the draft done by November 30th will be rewarding.

If you are participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to add me as a writing buddy. My username is simplykelseyjo. We can keep each other accountable and send encouragement on the days the words aren’t coming fast enough.

NaNoWriMo Resources

Below, you will find some of my favorite resources for getting ready for NaNoWriMo:

What are your favorite resources for NaNoWriMo? Please share with me in the comments. I’m always looking for more inspiration to keep me motivated while writing.

Preptober
NaNoWriMo Prep: Free Resources and Layout Inspiration for Bullet Journals

5 TED Talks for Daily Inspiration

5 TED Talks for Daily Inspiration
5 TED Talks for Daily Inspiration

What is a TED Talk?

One of my favorite self-improvement routines is listening to TED Talks in the background while I go about my day. Sometimes, if the talk is compelling enough, I’ll pause my daily tasks to sit and listen to the entire talk. I’ll even end up taking notes in my bullet journal or commonplace notebook, whichever is closer.  Luckily, the average video is under 20 minutes, so my day isn’t too derailed if I choose to do that. If you’re not familiar with TED Talks, here is the description from their About Page:

“TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.”

In other words, they are talks given by experts on a variety of topics, designed to be brief and inspiring. If you’re a fan of podcasts, you’ll love TED Talks.

Below you can find five of my favorite TED Talks to listen to whenever I need a boost of inspiration.

All of the YouTube videos posted below are the property of TED and are being used according to their usage policy found here. This does not indicate an endorsement of Simply Kelsey Jo by TED.

TED Talks on Creativity and Life

1.) Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius

Transcripts can be found here.

This talk is a few years old but I still find myself rewatching the video whenever I’m feeling creatively blocked. I love what she has to say about creativity, genius, and inspiration. Her lesson about the history of the word genius is informative, hilarious, and uplifting.

2.) Anne Lamott: 12 Truths I’ve Learned from Life and Writing

This TED Talk goes back and forth between lessons learned as a writer and universal truths about life in general, all without taking itself too seriously. It’s both heartwarming and unexpectedly funny. The first truth on Anne Lamott’s list has an important disclaimer:

“All truth is a paradox, life is both a precious gift and so heartbreaking at the same time.” -Anne Lamott

3.) Marily Oppezzo: Want to be More Creative? Go for a Walk

If you ever have read about overcoming writer’s block, you probably have heard the advice, “Go for a walk.” This TED Talk takes the idea farther and gives scientific evidence about the benefits of walking. Marily Oppezzo gives five easy, actionable steps that you can use right away.

TED Talk on Time Management

4.) Laura Vanderkam: How to Gain Control of Your Free Time

I know many creative types who struggle with time management, especially when it comes to finding time for their passion projects. This video is also useful for those who need help prioritizing their day to day tasks in order to make the best use of their time. I especially love how Laura Vanderkam emphasizes how we all have the same amount of hours every week. This video is my go-to when I’m working on my bullet journal and feeling like there is too much scheduled in my bullet journal and also was the inspiration for why I make my weekly layouts on Fridays.

“Time is a choice.” -Laura Vanderkam

TED Talk on Frustration and Creativity

5.) Tim Harford: How Frustration Can Make Us More Creative

I purposely saved this video for last. If you’ve ever had a day where it seems like all of your plans are falling apart despite your best intentions, this TED Talk is for you. It’s all about embracing the mess and creating anyway. The first story that Tim Harford tells about the piano player alone makes this video worth listening to.

More Inspiring TED Talks

I hope you found some inspiration in these TED Talks. If so, you can find my personal playlist here on the Simply Kelsey Jo YouTube account, where I curate inspiring and informative videos. Subscribe here for updated content and eventually more videos from me on planning, journaling, creativity, and how those three things tie into self-care.

Do you have a favorite TED Talk? If so, please feel free to tell me about it or post a link in the comment section. I’m always on the hunt for more TED Talks to add to my playlist!

7 Days of Journaling Prompts Renew Edition

7 Days of Journaling Prompts Renew Edition

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5 TED Talks for Creative Inspiration
5 TED Talks for Daily Inspiration

Top 10 Self-Care Activities for Spring

Springtime Self-Care
Top 10 Self-Care Activities for Spring

If winter left you feeling drained and frazzled, this spring try adding a few new activities to you’re self-care routine. With a few simple changes, you can feel refreshed and renewed. Read on for 10 self-care activities for spring.

1.) Rediscover Your City

After a long winter, it’s easy to fall into the trap of only leaving the house when necessary or following the routine of going to the same places you always do. This spring, make an effort to rediscover your city. Whether it’s a new restaurant, shopping at a different store, or simply taking a walk in a different part of town, there’s bound to be something new for you. Best of all, this doesn’t have to be an expensive activity. Museums and botanical gardens have free or reduced rate days. Check out your city’s website or local paper for free and cheap events. One of my favorite weekend activities is to go to the farmers’ market. Not only do I have the opportunity to shop local produce and goods but it’s also fun to people watch and sample delicious food fresh from vendors.

2.) Bring Some Green into Your Life

Whether you start a garden, visit a local park, or make an effort to bring home flowers from the florist, find a way to experience the changing of the seasons. If your allergies make you wince at the idea of spending too much time with plants, consider finding a cute faux plant or make a bouquet out of faux flowers to use as a centerpiece on your table.

3.) Declutter Your Life

When many people think of spring cleaning, they think of going through their house with trash bags and giving their home a good scrub. While that is a wonderful idea, did you know you can also declutter other areas of your life? Consider going through your email’s inbox, deleting unread emails, and unsubscribe from companies that send you too much spam. You could also take a look at your schedule to see if there are any activities that no longer bring you joy and if possible, remove from your to-do list. For more ways you can declutter your life, check out my post on environmental care here.

4.) Get Outside

Even if it’s only for 10 minutes a day, science says spending time outdoors is good for your health. Take advantage of the warmer weather to picnic at the park or if possible, have your morning coffee outside while writing your morning pages. If daylight hours are too busy for you spend time outdoors, consider going stargazing. Even if you don’t know anything about constellations, there’s something magical about spending time looking at the stars. There are apps that can help you learn more about constellations if you’re interested in learning but you may want to experience stargazing unplugged as a way to unwind before bed.

5.) Learn Something New

A beginner’s mindset can be wonderfully freeing because no one expects a beginner to be perfect, leaving plenty of room for you to explore without fear of judgment. After making a list of things you’d like to learn about or hobbies you’d like to try, look for classes in your area to help you get started. You may even be able to find free classes at your local library. If classes aren’t an option, search YouTube and Pinterest for tutorials.

6.) Change Your Environment

Find a way to make a change to your environment to breathe new life into your routine. Whether it’s a fresh coat of paint, hanging up pictures, or rearranging the furniture, you’ll be amazed at how much of a difference it will make in your mood.

7.) Practice Mindful Walking

Did you know you can practice mindfulness while going for a stroll? You can practice mindful walking by turning off notifications on your phone, being deliberate with your steps, and focusing on your breathing. If you’re planning on walking a familiar path, make it a goal to notice five new things while on your walk.

If going on walks isn’t an option, you could practice mindfulness by taking three minutes out of your day to do a simple meditation. During your meditation time, focus on your breathing and if your mind starts to wander, don’t worry. All you have to do is gently bring yourself back to the moment by refocusing your breathing. I’ve recently started using the free version of the Headspace app to help me get back into a meditation habit. So far, I love it!

8.) Revamp Your Wardrobe

Even if fashion isn’t an area you particularly care about, the clothes you wear should make you feel comfortable and confident. Go through your closet and donate anything that doesn’ meet those criteria. Look for different ways you can wear pieces you already own before shopping for new clothes. If your budget allows it, purchase a few new outfits that make you feel great.

9.) Make Plans With Your Loved Ones

Although self-care is often a solitary experience, it’s important to nurture your personal relationships. If this winter left you feeling isolated, reach out to your friends and family to make plans, even if it’s for something as simple as a picnic, hosting a bbq, or going for a walk. For more on social care, read this post.

10.) DIY Spa Day/Retreat

Make yourself feel physically renewed, take a day or even a couple hours to recharge. Take a long bath, use a facemask, give yourself a pedicure, journal, or watch your favorite movie. Do whatever brings you joy and leaves you feeling recharged.

What are your favorite self-care activities for spring? I’d love to read your ideas in the comments!

If you need help coming up with ideas for journaling as part of your self-care routine, sign up for my email list for prompts and free printables.

7 Days of Journaling Prompts Renew Edition

7 Days of Journaling Prompts Renew Edition

Subscribe for updates and free printables!



Springtime Self-Care
Top 10 Self-Care Activities for Spring

{Affiliate} Win a Set of Enamel Pins

Enamel Pin Competition Hosted by Old English Co.

enamel pin competition hosted by Old English Co
Win a set of pins from Old English Co. (source: www.oldenglishprints.com)

Edit: This contest is now over, but these pins are still awesome!

Do you collect pins or look for ways to accessorize your planner supplies? If so, here’s some good news: Old English Co. is hosting a giveaway to celebrate the newest additions to their line of enamel pins! Scroll down to check out some of their pin collection and details on how you can win your own set of pins.

heart shaped enamel pins
Enter the Enamel Pin Competition hosted by Old English Co. (source: www.oldenglishprints.com)

This post contains affiliate links to oldenglishprints.com.  If you purchase products from these links or enter the contest, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  To read my full disclosure statement, click here.

go get em tiger enamel print from Old English Co.
Isn’t this tiger pin darling? (source: www.oldenglishprints.com)

Coffee First Enamel Pin from Old English Co.
This Coffee First pin speaks my language. (source: www.oldenglishprints.com)

Start Somewhere Enamel Pin from Old English Co.
I love the optimism of this Start Somewhere Pin (source: www.oldenglishprints.com)

To see the rest of Old English Co.’s enamel pin collection, click here.

For more details, check out the competition link here. Old English Co. will be choosing the winner May 30th. Good luck to everyone who enters!

dream big enamel pin from Old English Co.
Good luck! (source: www.oldenglishprints.com)

What is your favorite pin design from the collection? Let me know in the comments!

7 Days of Journaling Prompts Renew Edition
7 Days of Journaling Prompts Renew Edition

Subscribe for updates and free printables!



win a set of enamel pins from Old English Co.
Win a set of pins from Old English Co. (source: www.oldenglishprints.com)

Bullet Journaling 101: How to Start a Bullet Journal

What is a Bullet Journal?

Have you ever thought about starting a bullet journal, but you thought the pages you saw on Instagram and Pinterest looked too complicated? This is the post for you. I’m going to share with you how the original bullet journal is set up and then how I customize the system to work in my traveler’s notebook instead of the traditional Leutturm1917 or notebook. The most important thing I want you to take away from this post is this: anyone can keep a bullet journal regardless of artistic ability, time, or funds. As long as you have access to a pen and any notebook, you can keep a bullet journal, or bujo, as some enthusiasts call them on Instagram.

This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com.  If you purchase products from these links, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  To read my full disclosure statement, click here.

bullet journaling for beginners
Bullet journaling 101

Bullet Journaling Basics

If you’ve never heard of a bullet journal before, go read what the creator of the system, Ryder Carroll, has to say about the system here, and then come back so that I can break it down for you. I think it’s important to read what the creator has to say about it, but there are a lot of technical terms used in the link, so I’ll simplify the key ideas below.

Key and Index

Whatever style of notebook or journal you choose to use for your bullet journal, you need to make sure the pages are numbered so that you can index your entries. If the pages are unnumbered, take the time to write in the page numbers to spare yourself a headache later. Since your bullet journal can be used to record anything and everything, you want to make sure you can quickly locate your entries.

key and index for bujo
The index and key pages for my current bullet journal. I keep it embellishment-free since I need to be able to find what I need quickly.

I’m the first to admit that in my current set up with my traveler’s notebook, I don’t index all of my weekly pages because the insert I record them in is almost exclusively for weekly spreads and has a limited number of pages. I keep separate inserts for my collections (more on what this is later) and journal entries. However, I do index collections.

The key is straightforward. These are the symbols you use on daily and weekly pages to be able to have an overview of your daily and weekly tasks. I use commonly used symbols for my bullet journal. I use a square for tasks, circle for events, and triangles for appointments. In addition, I use exclamation points for important reminders, lightbulbs for ideas, hearts for good memories, and dots for general notes. Below is a close up of my key so you can see how I fill in my symbols.

bullet journal key
A closer look at my key. You don’t have to be artistically inclined to create symbols.

You can use whatever you’d like for symbols for your own bullet journal. They don’t have to be complicated or even well drawn. All you need is are symbols that make sense to you and you are consistent in their use.

The Future Log and Monthly Log

The future log is one of the biggest complaints people have about bullet journaling because it can be difficult to record future plans in your journal if you make your daily and weekly pages as you go. However, if you take the time to make space to make an overview of the year, you can fill in as much of the year you know about on those pages. I like the suggestion of drawing a grid for a six-month calendar on bulletjournal.com’s getting started link here.

The monthly log is a more detailed overview of your month, complete with important events, dates, and a to-do list. As for me, I combine my yearly and monthly log. In my traveler’s notebook, I have an insert with calendar pages and each month has a notes section I use to keep track of important dates, to-do lists, and reminders. Sometimes, I’ll highlight or write directly on the calendar squares, but I find that simply writing in the Notes section is enough for me. Below is an example from April:

monthly log in bullet journal
I love decorating my monthly pages with a theme but you can make your pages as simple or embellished as you’d like. There is no right or wrong way to decorate your pages.

Daily and Weekly Logs

This is the core of the planning part of your bullet journal. You can record your days individually on their own page, a week at a time, or do both. I find doing a weekly layout serves my purposes best because I don’t always have time every day to create a new layout. A key to successful planning is to make a point to sit down once a week to plan out the week ahead. I use Friday afternoon to create my layouts and on Sundays, I reflect on my previous week.

weekly layout in bullet journal
Here is one of my weekly layouts from April. I include a section to make a note of upcoming events and a small habit tracker.

On each day of the week, I use the symbols from the key to record my plans for the day and I check in at the end of the day to fill out my habit tracker. If you are unfamiliar with habit trackers, read my post here.

Migration

Migration is simply the process of rescheduling a task that has gone uncompleted. The act of physically rewriting a task until you get it done makes you think about your priorities. If you are consistently unable to finish a task, you need to think about why that is happening. After rewriting a task a few times, ask yourself if you really want or need to complete the task. If it is important, look at your schedule to see if there’s something you can move to make it happen.

Collections

One of the cool features of bullet journals is you can keep collections of anything and everything you can imagine in them. You can track shows on Netflix to binge watch, books you’ve read or want to read, self-care ideas, savings, Instagram followers, or places you want to see. One of my favorite pages I made in my collections is dedicated to my one little word of the year, Rise. Make sure you index your collections so that you can refer to them later.

One Little Word Rise page in my traveler's notebook
One Little Word Rise page in my bullet journal

The Magic of Bullet Journaling

If you are still feeling overwhelmed after reading about bullet journaling, don’t worry. Your bullet journal does not have to be elaborate. I highly recommend you start simply, with a pen and your notebook of choice. Washi tape is an inexpensive tool for decorating and can make your pages pop without a lot of extra work. If you find that you don’t like your layout on a given day or week, all you have to do is change it the next day. Unlike a planner with preprinted layouts, you don’t have to wait to make changes. There are no rules to how you record your works, only that it works for you.

The key to successful bullet journaling is that you take the time to check in with it every day for at least five minutes. I like to do this at the beginning of my day after morning pages and right before bed. Even if you only have time to look over your daily to-do list in the morning, you’ll be better prepared for the day ahead.

Tools to Start Your Own Bullet Journal

If you need further help deciding if bullet journaling is right for you, check out my post 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Bujo. Ready to get started? Below are several supplies to begin your own bullet journal. You can also check my resources page for more tools.

If you purchase anything from the links below, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. I appreciate your support!

If you have any questions about keeping a bullet journal, ask me in the comments. I’d love to help you get started!

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how to start a bullet journal
Bullet Journaling 101

How to Use Your Bujo for Self-Care: Reflection

Welcome to Week 8: Reflection of the Bullet Journal Challenge series! In case you missed it, the #BulletJournalChallenge announced on www.bulletjournal.com is the perfect way to find inspiration for all the ways you can use a bujo for self-care. The details of the challenge are here. My post about Week 7, professional care, can be found here.

This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com.  If you purchase products from these links, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  To read my full disclosure statement, click here.

Reflection on the bullet journal challenge
7 Ways to Use Your Bullet Journal for Self-Care: Reflection

This week, I’ll round up a few of my favorite ideas from the challenge and share how the challenge has helped me decide which habits I want to keep track of in my weekly layouts.

Personal Care

Journaling

My favorite way to use my bujo for personal care is the journaling section of my traveler’s notebook.  Sometimes, I’ll decorate the pages, but this space is supposed to be for my benefit, so if I only want to write, I’ll use the pages either for a brain-dump or a regular journal entry.  If I’m feeling stuck or looking for inspiration, I use a journaling prompt.

Personal Care pages
Here’s my insert for journal entries in my traveler’s notebook.

Physical Care

Morning and Evening Routines

I’m not a huge fitness buff, though I enjoy doing gentle yoga and going on walks when the weather permits. I chose morning and evening routines because I think the way we start and finish our days has so much impact on our emotional and physical well-being.

If you’re at a loss for morning and evening routines, here are a few of my favorite ideas:

For mornings:

  • Morning pages
  • Eat breakfast
  • Prayer/devotion/mantra/setting intentions for the day
  • Exercise (walking, yoga, dancing, YouTube workout, etc.)
  • Spend five minutes reviewing your bujo and plans for the day
  • Listen to an inspiring TED talk (either as you get ready or on your commute)

For evenings:

  • No screen time two hours before bed
  • Journaling
  • Coloring
  • Reading
  • Exercise (walking, yoga, dancing, YouTube workout, etc.)
  • Morning pages”  (if your mornings are truly too crazy, you can write your pages at night)
  • Prepare for the next day (lay out clothes, prep meals, pack bag, etc.)
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour

Psychological Care

Make a Not-To-Do List

Are you someone who needs to quit worrying about something or are you a chronic people pleaser? If so, this suggestion can be a powerful tool to help you. Make a page dedicated to all the things you want to stop doing. For example, you could write “I’m going to stop worrying about what people think of me” or “I’m going to stop putting myself last.” You could also use the Not-To-Do List to help you with a positive self-image and write “I’m going to stop feeling bad about my body.” The stories you tell yourself are more powerful than you may realize. Make sure the stories you are telling yourself help you become your best self.

Psychological Care
When creating your Not-To-Do List, it may help you to remember your “Why.”

Emotional Care

Mood Trackers

There are a few different ways you could incorporate mood trackers in your bujo. You could choose to record your mood in a tracker on your daily pages, weekly spreads, monthly pages, or make a separate page for tracking your mood for the entire year. I was inspired to use the My Year in Pixels idea that can be found on Pinterest and Instagram. Every day, I color each square the corresponding shade for each mood and as the year goes on, it’ll be fun to see all the different colors. So far, it has been a colorful start to my year!

My Year in Pixels
My Year in Pixels was already turning out to be so colorful even in February. I can’t wait to see what it looks like by the end of the year!

Environmental Care

Cleaning Schedules

There are a few ways you could use your bullet journal to keep your cleaning routine. You could make a separate page to refer to your master cleaning schedule for weekly and monthly tasks. I find it helpful to have my daily cleaning tasks as a part of my to-do list in my bujo, mixed in with my other action items for the day. Alternatively, in your weekly spread, you could make a checklist of all the cleaning tasks you want to accomplish that week and check off each item as you complete them. I personally can’t make my cleaning routines a floating list because I know if I don’t schedule my tasks for a certain day, I won’t get it done.

To simplify my cleaning routine, I follow Clean Mama‘s routine. As a blogger, writer, and mother, I don’t have a lot of time to devote to cleaning my house, so her easy-to-follow schedule helps me stay on track even on my busy days. I won’t go into her whole system because she does an amazing job of explaining it here.

This book has changed how I look at cleaning (and I’m not a domestic goddess.) If you purchase through my link, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I appreciate your support!

Social Care

Collections

There are a few different collections you could keep to help you with social care. My favorite way to do collections pages is to keep lists. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Keep a contacts page with the names of people in your circle who support you. You should keep their contact information next to their name so that you can send them thank-you notes for their help.
  • While on the subject of contacts, you could keep a list of your immediate friends’ and family’s birthdays and other meaningful dates so that you can plan ahead.
  • Make a list of all the ways you show love to yourself, either through a written list or sketches.
  • Keep a page of happy memories to reflect on. You could either make this a written list, or if you’re feeling artistic, you could sketch the moments on your pages. You could also add photos to your page of happy moments.

Professional Care

Trackers

Depending on what your career is, there are many ways your bullet journal can help make your professional life easier. If you’re a project manager or engineer working on an assignment with several deadlines, you could create a tracker for your project’s key milestones. If you’re a fellow writer, I find that keeping a submission tracker helps me keep up with not only who I submitted my work to, but also when. This makes it so much easier for me to keep track of when I need to follow up with a piece I’ve submitted.

Other tracker ideas for helping your professional life:

  • If you’re on the hunt for a job, keep a tracker with the names of places you’re applying to and leave room for the date you first contacted them for the position. You could also write down relevant information about the company or the job on this page.
  • Bloggers, you could make a tracker for your page views, social media followers, and so much more! Blogging has so many numbers involved that having a tracker will help you so much when you’re looking to work with a brand for sponsored content. As time goes on, it’ll also serve as a record of how far you’ve grown.

For more tips on stress-free habit trackers, check out my post here.

Reflection on the Bullet Journal Challenge

weekly layout in bullet journal
A weekly layout from the beginning of April.

My biggest takeaway from the bullet journal challenge is that there is an infinite number of ways that I can be using my bujo to help me take better care of myself. After completing the challenge, I thought about which habits I most need help with keeping track of, and for the time being, I’ve narrowed it down to these five:

  • exercise
  • breathe
  • fiction
  • read
  • declutter

I still have been struggling to keep up with exercise, but for the purposes of my tracker I count dance parties with my two young children, yoga, and going on walks as exercise. As long as I do one of those things, I get to check off the box for the day.

I put “breathe” as one of my habits because it’s a simple, effective way to help me be mindful when I’m busy or stressed. This is especially useful if I don’t feel like doing a longer meditation. Sometimes, taking a minute to only focusing on breathing with the phone on silent and the tv off is all I need for a reset.

“Fiction” is on my list to help me remember my why. My first love is writing fiction and it’s easy for it to fall by the wayside as I work on the blog and get caught up in my everyday routine. Having it as part of my habit tracker holds me accountable.

It feels strange to have “read” on my list since I love reading so much, but lately, I’ve needed the reminder to read for fun. It’s nice having a relaxing hobby on my to-do list.

The last item in my habit tracker, “declutter,” is so important but can be difficult for me to remember to do sometimes. I struggle with the idea that decluttering doesn’t have to take a long time, and so what I’m trying to turn into a habit is setting a timer for 10 minutes and seeing how much decluttering I can get done in a short amount of time. This is an area I’m still working on but I’m confident my habit tracker will help me reach my goal.

Did you participate in the challenge? I’d love to hear your thoughts about it, especially if it inspired you to change how you use your bullet journal. Tell me about it in the comments section.

The Bullet Journal Challenge Series

If you’re interested in participating in the challenge on your own time, I’ve listed each week’s topic here:

If you’re on Instagram, make sure you follow the hashtag #BulletJournalChallenge for inspiration! Also, if you’re reading this long after the challenge is over, I encourage you to do the challenge anyway.  Self-care is so important to your overall well-being, and it’s never too late to start taking better care of yourself.

More Tools to Use Your Bujo for Self-Care

If you’re looking for more inspiration for using your bujo for self-care, sign up for my email list to receive free journaling prompts and printable quotes for your bujo. I’ll be adding more freebies, so check your inbox for updates!

7 Days of Journaling Prompts Renew Edition
7 Days of Journaling Prompts Renew Edition

Subscribe for updates and free printables!




Reflection on the bullet journal challenge
7 Ways to Use Your Bullet Journal for Self-Care: Reflection