The New Year is a sacred holiday because it’s a time of new planners. With that in mind, I am happy to share my 2019 bullet journal traveler’s notebook set up.
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(Are you confused about why I’m posting on a Wednesday instead of Monday or Thursday? It’s because it’s 2019, and I’ve decided to change my posting schedule. I’ll be posting to my blog and YouTube every Wednesday this year.)
I’ve been using a traveler’s notebook in one form or another for a really long time. My first post on how I learned about traveler’s notebooks is, to date, one of the most read posts on this blog. For a while, I used a personal-size notebook, but ultimately felt it was too small. And if you remember, last year, I was a big fan of a compact Passion Planner in an A5 traveler’s notebook.2019 Bullet Journal Traveler's Notebook Set Up Click To Tweet
But it’s 2019 and it’s time for a new system. Admittedly, I probably thought about this for too long (I’ve been contemplating what I would do since June) and I’m not sure if I’m done thinking about it. So know that everything I’m about to tell you about this bullet journal traveler’s notebook will probably evolve throughout the year. But I do plan to share the changes I’ll be making to this system on my YouTube channel, so make sure you subscribe if you’re interested in seeing how I adapt this system throughout the year, and if you’re interested in seeing what other notebooks I add to this system.
Why a Bullet Journal Traveler’s Notebook?
If you’re a planner, then you’ve been hearing about bullet journals since 2014. And you either fall into one of two camps. You either love bullet journals and would buy stock in Leuchtturm if you could, or you hate the idea of drawing a planner spread every single month/week.
I used to fall into the second camp. I spent a lot of time and money finding good inserts for traveler’s notebooks on Etsy. And I spent a lot of time getting more and more frustrated that people want their weeks to start on Mondays, because I’m pretty sure that’s some form of sacrilege.
The Passion Planner worked well for me this past year. I don’t think I would’ve been as productive throughout the year on this blog and YouTube without it. And I basically wrote somewhere in the ballpark of 150,000 words this past year, so the Passion Planner definitely enabled that.
However, two major things happened that made me realize I needed to step away from the Passion Planner. Firstly, Passion Planner changed their size. They no longer offer the huge planner or the compact planner. There is a size in between both these options. For me, that wouldn’t work because I needed something that would fit in a traveler’s notebook. As a writer, I carry tons of notebooks with me at all times, and I want my planner to be a part of that bundle of paper.
And the second thing that happened was, well. I realized how manic that planner made me.
It started off innocuous enough. I did a post on how I blocked my time using highlighters in the Passion Planner. This technique felt revolutionary to me. I finally felt in control of my time because I could visualize when I would be doing things throughout my day, and it made me more productive than I’ve ever been.
But the downside to that was that I couldn’t stop working. I would see all the time I was spending at my day job, and feel that I needed to make it up later at home. I would see the days in the planner broken into half-hour time blocks from 6 AM until 12 AM, and I would want to use all that time. I found myself squeezing more and more things into my day. And when that wasn’t enough, I started cutting out things like grocery shopping or cooking real food and any form of self-care.Let's talk about the dangers of time blocking... Click To Tweet
I knew I had to make a change, because the way I was using the Passion Planner wasn’t healthy. It was 100% hustle all the time, and it ultimately felt like I was doing a lot of work to spin my wheels on projects that weren’t the ultimate goals for my career. (I mean, I posted 148 YouTube videos last year because the way I used the Passion Planner made me think I had time for that shit.)
2019 Bullet Journal Traveler’s Notebook Set Up
I knew this year, I needed to make a big change, and I needed to create a system that made me slow my ass way down.
Enter the bullet journal.
I love a good bullet journal set up video on YouTube. Who doesn’t? But what I ultimately didn’t like about the planning system was that it felt so loosey goosey. How could the users of a bullet journal get the most out of their day unless they were creating daily spreads with half-hour time blocks? And who has the time to create what actual planners give you in the first place? Ultimately, I felt that people who used bullet journals were space cadets who wallowed in their own lack of productivity.
So I knew it would be a good system for me this year.
Don’t get me wrong. I still want to get shit done. In fact, I want to write 200,000 words this year. But you know what I don’t want to do? Create new projects for myself that don’t mean anything. Engage in activities that don’t support my overall goals. Maniacally generate content like some kind of robot. Write about work-life balance eve though I’ve fallen so far from it.
And, as a way of forcing myself to be a little less Type A, I’m even posting this on the second day of January, instead of a week before.
I LITERALLY MADE MYSELF TAKE A WEEK OFF. LOOK AT ME. MAKING STRIDES! CHANGING BY LEAPS AND BOUNDS! BASICALLY A SANE PERSON!
With all that in mind, here’s what I’m using for my planner this year.
Traveler’s Notebook: This is the backbone of the whole system, and I’m using this super cheap one. I know, in the past, I’ve come at you with super expensive Chic Sparrows, but not this year. I wanted something that would be thin and light, and wouldn’t allow me to add layers and layers of stuff.Check out this super affordable traveler's notebook! Click To Tweet
Inserts: My traveler’s notebook came with a ton of inserts, and so far, they are all in my notebook. My notebook came with a blank paper notebook, a grid insert, and a lined insert. There’s a kraft folder and a plastic zip pouch too. I’ve linked to what Amazon has to offer, but know that Michael’s has a ton of traveler’s notebook inserts these days, and you can even get actual planner inserts too.
Wallet: We need to talk about Galen Leather, and the awesome products they make. I’m super excited about this wallet, and shout out to my parents for getting it for me for my birthday. I like how minimal it is, and how easily it fits inside the traveler’s notebook. And the best part is that it has places for receipts, which is important when you gotta save them for tax purposes.
Ruler: If you want to bullet journal, you gotta get yourself a small ruler. This one fits in the plastic zip pouch, and I’ve already used it a ton.
While using the Passion Planner, I never looked back at the previous week and assessed how it went. I’m not sure why. I even did this post about why you should write down bad stuff in your planner so you can go over it. Like, I knew it was a good idea to go back, but I just never did.
I was always obsessed about what was coming next. It wasn’t uncommon for my to do lists at the bottom of the pages to be so full of stuff that I knew I would never accomplish it. Like, you can’t write 10 blog posts, film and edit 4 videos, write 10,000 words of fiction a week, and still show up for your day job. But I didn’t care.
So, instead, I’m going to approach planning differently. At the end of every week, I plan to sit down and reflect on what I did the week before. I want to think about what worked for me and what didn’t. I want to see where I need more time to complete a task, and where I need more downtime.
I’ll be using a future log to keep track of what’s coming up, and I’ll keep that in a notebook with my freelance writing deadline tracker, as well as my blog and YouTube editorial calendar. This notebook will evolve, and be used to hold collections, instead of peppering them throughout the planner the way traditional bullet journals do.
Then, I’ll have a notebook that’s specifically for planning. This is where I’ll write to do lists and use monthly and weekly spreads. This will change the most over time, just until I get a system that works the best for me.
I’ll also have a tarot journal. Tarot is something I’ve been using to slow myself down. And the more I get into it, the more I love it. I mean, it makes sense, right? Archetypes really appeal to us writerly types. So I’ll be using this notebook to take notes about card meanings and spreads and things like that.
I’ve also moved my wallet into my traveler’s notebook. So now my everyday carry stuff is a lot more compact. And my purse is infinitely lighter. Going from an A5 and a wallet in my bag to a standard-size notebook that also contains my wallet has been a game changer. It’s so light, and everything is all in one place.
How Will This Change?
Honestly, I have no idea what my planner will look like next week, let alone at the end of the year. But I do know this: I want my planner to work for me, not the other way around. I want to be more intuitive with how I approach work, and give myself what I need, and not what I think I should do.
I hope this practice enables me to listen to my self. I hope it makes it easier for me to see when I’m spinning out of control because there won’t be space for the extreme hour tracking and to do lists. I hope I slow down a lot more and really think about what I’m doing. I hope this planner helps me achieve what I really want, instead of a bunch of tasks.What planner are you using for 2019? Click To Tweet
Tell Me About Your Planner!
What planning system are you using this year? Were you stressed about the Passion Planner size change? What do you need from a planner system more than anything? Do you find yourself getting manic when you see empty spaces in your planner? Let me know in the comments!