best planner for bullet journaling because of your ability to customize your entire planner to suite your needs and lifestyle. You can customize everything from the cover, layout and binding to add-on worksheets for dedicated checklists, to do lists, home management, business, lifestyle and education. You can build your perfect bullet journal in a planner.
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How To Bullet Journal In A Planner: The Customizable Plum Paper Planner Makes a Great Bullet Journal

The Plum Paper Planner is the most customizable planner in my ultimate planner comparison and I’ll show you how to bullet journal in a planner so you can achieve the planner peace you seek.

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best planner for bullet journaling because of your ability to customize your entire planner to suite your needs and lifestyle. You can customize everything from the cover, layout and binding to add-on worksheets for dedicated checklists, to do lists, home management, business, lifestyle and education. You can build your perfect bullet journal in a planner.

I’m always in search of the perfect planning system. I think I’m pretty close to planner peace with bullet journaling in my Plum Paper Planner so I thought I would share my how to bullet journal in a planner ideas with you. I hope it helps! 

The Basics of a Bullet Journal

I discovered bullet journaling last summer and it has changed the way I organize the chaos of my scatterbrained mind. The theory of bullet journaling started by Ryder Carroll is simple…jot down your ideas quickly and index your pages so you can always find what you need when you need it. It does not need to be fancy or have a predefined layout, you just go with the flow and what works best for you. Bullet journaling is the ultimate DIY planner, as Ryder says on his blog “all you need is a notebook and a pen” and the rest is up to you.

The basics of bullet journaling is simple: grab a notebook and a pen and just begin. A bullet journal is helpful in creating indexed calendars, to do lists and note collections, it is the ultimate DIY planner.

I grabbed a two subject notebook with pockets* and my Staedler colored ballpoint pens* and tried bullet journaling in it’s purest form last summer. I drew my own key, index, monthly and weekly overview, habit tracker, gratitude log, collections of master to do lists, future planning log and numbered all the pages in my notebook. However, I realized I was spending a lot of time hand writing items I wanted to track. Honestly, if you’ve seen the damage Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) has done to my hands, it hurt to write so much.

I went back to incorporating the bullet journal elements I loved into my Erin Condren Life Planner* (ECLP) for 2015 that I’d already bought. The ECLP was great for paper quality and prettiness but it did not have enough notes pages to corral my ideas and to do lists for my home, family, health and blog.

When deciding on a planner for 2016, I’d heard that the Plum Paper was customizable and found that it would be PERFECT for my regular planning and bullet journaling to meet all my needs. Plus, the Plum Paper colors are gorgeous and the paper is a dream to write on! Be sure to read all the way to the end, there’s a special coupon code to order a Plum Paper Planner just for Mom’s Small Victories readers


How To Bullet Journal In A Planner

I’ll be walking you through my Plum Paper Planner (PPP) in order both so you can see how gorgeous it is and how I use it for bullet journaling. My PPP contains the following items: 

  • Planner , 7×9 Vertical Weekly with Lined Columns  


  • Checklist Pages Dispersed Through the Months  
  • Extra Planner Notes Pages, 30 pages 
  • Sticker Sheets 
  • Blog Planning Section Add-On 

My total planner cost was $50 with shipping in 2016.  

Monthly Notes Pages

Plum Paper Planner Monthly Note Pages at the start and end of each month are great for tracking monthly goals, expenses and reminders.

There are two monthly note pages, one at the beginning of the month and one at the end. I use the beginning notes page to write down my goals for the month for home and kids. If I didn’t have a separate blog planning section, I’d write down my blog goals here too. I also keep track of expenses as I spend them. I’m an avid menu planner but I make what my family wants to eat versus what is on sale these days. I’m hoping tracking expenses where I can see them will help me stay within our budget. 

The notes page at the end of the month is for notes as I think of them and my 52 Weeks to an Organized Home decluttering mission calendars. 


Monthly Calendar for A Gratitude Log

Plum Paper Planner Monthly Calendar. I use mine to track daily gratitude, small victories and a little doodling.

After the first monthly note page is the monthly overview calendar. I found I was not using the monthly calendar to look at appointments so I started using it for a gratitude log. It gives me just enough space to jot down something I’m thankful for or a special memory, those small victories I want to remember. I’m not much of an artist but I do a little doodling too. It helps me remember the small victories in my day before I go to bed.


Weekly Calendar

Plum Paper Planner Weekly Calendar. Color coding my tasks and time help determine effectiveness of my time management to achieve my goals.

I like to color code my tasks and time by category so that I can see how I spend my time during the week. 

Weekly Checklist: I write my goals for the week. My home and family goals from the Monthly Notes page, my cleaning from the Cleaning Checklist using Flylady zones and my blogging goals from the blog planning section.

Notes: The color codes and categories they represent. Blue is for home, green for food/cooking/dishes, red is for family, pink is for self care and purple for my blog.

Daily Columns: Tasks that must be done that day. Once those and my morning habits (in checklist pages) are done, I start working on one of my weekly checklist goals. I try to complete tasks before moving on to the next item. I color in the box with the corresponding category color to show it’s completed or half colored in to show it’s in process. I like seeing the day mostly colored in, it helps me see what I’ve achieved rather than all those blank boxes of unfinished to-do’s. An arrow is drawn through any blank boxes at the end of the week if the task is migrated to the next week’s goals. 

The Key to what my icons mean are in the notes pages at the end of the planner. I track what I’m doing, cooking, eating, drinking, reading and blogging.


I should start each morning by jotting down how I feel. With RA, mornings are usually when I have the most pain and stiffness and the doctor always asks me how long that pain lasts. I’ve been tracking my pain levels with a number from 1 to 10 and the weather because I think weather is a factor for my pain. You can see this noted by the pink “W” in my daily columns. Lately, I’ve been feeling so good, I’ll forget to write it down until later n the day. Any changes in my pain, mood or weather will be noted with a “W” or a pink dot too.


I’m a functional planner, I do not use too many stickers typically so it gives me more space to write. I do like these little round stickers* and they fit pretty well in the PPP spaces. I don’t like some of the preprinted ones though because things like Pet, Dance and Baby/Bridal Showers are adorable but I won’t use them. 

I’ll get some plain white labels* to color and draw an icon myself using this tip for creating my own color coded stickers from Jennifer McGuire Ink. That way they can match the color categories I’ve already picked and I have a little room to write appointment times.

Spaces Between the Daily Columns: I draw in a chronodex, hourly increments from 6 am to 11 pm where I track how I spend my time in 15 minute increments. 

The combination of color coding my tasks and my time shows how effectively I manage my time for the weekly goals I had and what I actually accomplished. 


Checklist Pages Dispersed Through the Months

Plum Paper Planner Checklist Pages are perfect for daily, monthly or quarterly tracking habits and cleaning schedules.

I have a lot of trouble with consistency. Getting into a sustainable routine to make sure I accomplished what I needed to everyday was difficult. I kept forgetting to take my meds, track my pain levels or floss. I came across habit trackers people used for bullet journaling and knew it would be a great way to get me on track. 

In the PPP checklist add-on, there are 4 checklist pages in each month. For January, I have checklist pages for daily habits, monthly Flylady zone cleaning, and quarterly/annual cleaning. 


Habit Tracker

A line for each day with the day and date of the month are written in the first column. Habits to complete are written in the column headings and color coded by the same categories of how I track my tasks and time. Since self care are the habits I forget most often, those are the ones I wrote down first. My focus may change each month and having a tracker has helped me be consistent with my habits, even flossing which I dread. I will copy this tracker each month, adding and deleting habits as needed.


Cleaning Trackers

I adapted my monthly cleaning tracker from Flylady’s zone cleaning lists. While she dedicates a week to each zone, I know it will take me longer than a week to both declutter and then detail clean the zone. So I turned her cleaning list into a checklist without a dedicated timeline to check off tasks as I complete them.

For tasks I do more than once a month like vacuuming, mopping, dusting and changing tablecloths, I just make a smaller checkmark in the box so I can fit 2 or 4 checks in it. I also added my car to the zone cleaning because it needs a good scrubbing pretty often. I will copy this tracker each month.

The quarterly and annual cleaning checklist is to track when these tasks are done. This tracker won’t need to be copied each month.

Since only 2 of the 4 checklist pages are used each month, I’ll have some extra checklist pages. Some ideas of what to do with them:

  • Budget/Expense Trackers
  • Books to Read
  • Reading Challenge Checklist  
  • Linkup Party Schedule
  • Level 10 Life & Goals

Blog Planner

Plum Paper Planner Blog Planning Pages: 12 monthly overviews, stats and income trackers, to do lists and blog post ideas pages.

The blog planner add-on has lots of useful pages which I’ll let you read about on Plum Paper’s site. I enter most of my data into my free blog planner and then copy ideas down at the periodically into my PPP. I like have everything in my PPP but the blog planning section is not as comprehensive as the planner I created so I still have to use both.

Notes Pages for Bullet Journal Key, Index and Collections

Plum Paper Planner Notes Pages are perfect for bullet journal key, index & collections.

I added 30 notes pages for my bullet journal key, index and collections. In bullet journaling, the key shows the icons used throughout the planner. Each of the 319 pages in my planner are numbered and indexed so that I can find what I need easily.

After the key and index are blank pages for “collections”, which can be anything you want to write down. Your collections are given a topic name and written in the index with the page number so you can find the information when needed.

In a traditional bullet journal, you write on the next available page, so you may have your collections interspersed with your daily or weekly to do lists. In a bullet journal, the page numbers in your index are in sequential order and the topics are varied.

Since I’m using a planner where the calendars, blog and notes section are already laid out, I index my pages as I use them. The page numbers in my index are not in sequential order but are grouped more or less by month. The color coded box in my index helps me identify in which category the pages belong.

Ideas for collections pages: 

  • Master to-do list
  • Home decor ideas
  • Travel bucket list
  • Date ideas
  • Mission statements
  • Meeting notes
  • Book notes
  • Contacts
  • Future Planning
  • Pen Testing Page


Supplies I Use

Planner , 7×9 Vertical Weekly with Lined Columns  


  • Checklist Pages Dispersed Through the Months  
  • Extra Planner Notes Pages, 30 pages 
  • Sticker Sheets 
  • Blog Planning Section Add-On 




Want to see how Plum Paper compares to the most popular planners on the market? Subscribe to my newsletter and get your FREE Ultimate Planner Comparison Chart! 

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Subscribe to my Planning and Productivity Newsletter and get the FREE Ultimate Planner Comparison Chart so you can see a side-by-side comparison of 11 of the most popular life and goal planners to determine the best planner for your needs, lifestyle and planning type.


More Productivity Resources and My Thrive with Chronic Illness Planner Now on Sale! 

Get your bundle now!

Today, I’m excited to tell you about something that might help in your quest for gaining more time and managing it well. A bundle of resources created by people (I’m one of them!) who understand that you’re looking for practical productivity solutions that will work in your lifestyle.

It’s called Ultimate Productivity Bundle* and it was created and curated by people with real life responsibilities just like you: they have families, work part- to full-time jobs or run businesses, don’t have personal assistants or the budget for hiring lots of extra help. They want to help you (and themselves) conquer your to-do list, free up more time for yourself, and reach your goals.

When you buy the Ultimate Productivity Bundle you’ll get access to:

  • 5 eBooks
  • 14 eCourses & videos
  • 26 printables & workbooks


I’m excited to announce that my newest product, the Thrive With Chronic Illness Planner + Journal is included in the Ultimate Productivity Bundle* on sale for a limited time! This planner is a labor of love and brings one of my life goals to reality. 

While designed for the unique needs and challenges of chronic illness patients, the Thrive with Chronic Illness Planner + Journal will help you:

  • overcome overwhelm from daily life
  • take charge of your stress, physical and emotional health
  • track your daily health and doctor’s visits
  • identify your health and stress triggers so you can control what you can and let go of what you can’t
  • set realistic, achievable goals
  • get done what you need to so you can have more fun
  • establish a customized cleaning routine and menu plan that works for you
  • track and analyze your budget and actual expenses 
  • celebrate your successes and how you THRIVE each week and every day
  • uncover lessons learned so you can improve your method each week

Check out the entire Ultimate Productivity Bundle* At only $37 for over $1,500 worth of resources, It’s an incredible deal for everything you get and the bonuses for early birds! 


Well there you have it, my organizing and planning ideas. I take the fabulous ideas from the Junkies group and off Pinterest and simplify them for my needs. I wish I could do more artistic bullet journaling but my planning is simple and functional. 

What kind of planner are you? Are you a functional or an artistic planner? What bullet journal or planning tips do you have to share with us? I’m all ears and always looking for ideas to simplify my life and not forget anything! 


  1. This is so smart! I love paper planners (I have a happy planner right now) and while I tried bullet journaling a while ago, like you I found I was spending too much time getting the pages together. I need to try this method!

  2. This is an interesting way to keep track of things. I think it’s quite a bit of work to get started, but I can see where it would be beneficial to do it. it looks like a fun way to do things.

  3. I stumbled upon your blood after researching planners. I have brain fog beyond belief and need to start planning and I do so much better in a paper planner, and bullet journal style intrigued me!

    But finding your blog is so much more…I was just diagnosed with RA last year just a month after having my baby. Reading your story brought back all the feelings I felt as a brand new mom, unable to snap a onesie or unbuckle th scar seat. I am now spendigg my morning catching up on your blog and health issues! Thank you for blogging about this and making people like me, feel so much less alone!

    1. Oh, you’ve made my day Danielle with your kind words! I always hope that my posts are helpful to my readers. It can be very isolating being diagnosed with a condition that not many people know about unless it’s impacted them or a family member personally. No one in my family had it before me so when I first was diagnosed, I didn’t know just the full extent of what the diagnosis meant. I try really hard to stay positive and share my story truthfully but with the hope I still have that I will thrive despite this disease.

      I hope you will subscribe to my blog newsletter so we can stay in touch. I hope that you’ve found relief from the pain. Do you just have one baby? Feel free to reach out to me in the comments or via email if there is something I can help you with, I’ll be glad to share what I’ve learned these last 15 years (I can hardly believe my oldest baby is 15!). Enjoy the precious time with your little one. Gentle hugs…

  4. I love seeing these bullet journal/planner combos. I use bullet journaling in and alongside my Passion Planner. Thanks for sharing your resources!

  5. I’m a little late on reading this but I’m switching to paper planners to enhance my electronic one. I love bullet journaling. I actually jumped over from a post you posted about time management on the wonderful Wednesday blog hop and I’m glad I did!

  6. Loved the article! I just tried using a bullet journal again after last year trying it for awhile and liked it, however I found myself essentially recreating my PPP and it lasted two days until I decided to go back of my planner. Lol. I love being able to use add ons and additional notes pages for my collections!

  7. I am a functional planner for sure! I am intrigued by bullet journals but know that I will probably always want to have a 3 ring planner. I’ve gotten some incredible inspiration for creating inserts from bullet journalers though!

  8. Thank you Tanya for sharing this awesome article with us at Inspire Me Monday at Create With Joy.

    I’m so happy to share that you are one of our Featured Guests at this week’s Party (#213)!

  9. I’ve been curious about Bullet Journaling. I’ve heard good things, and I love that you’ve combined two of my addictions – journals and planners – into one idea!

  10. Loved hearing more about the bullet journal. Recently started doing something similar but with recipes. Since I blog about recipes I have a lot of ideas running through my brain and they just randomly happen, while watching tv, using fb, going to the grocery store…ect. I started something like this a few days ago by using dividers for the different meals throughout the day I’m thinking about. So far, it’s amazing!

  11. Love the lines in this planner! I see a ton of people using the bullet method, but for some reason I don’t think it has enough structure for me. I could see myself using it in addition to my regular planning though! Possibly as a way to corrale future ideas 🙂

    1. I’m with you Mar, bullet journaling didn’t have enough structure for me. I kept drawing it myself and turning it into a planner. Bullet journaling definitely helps me with corraling ideas and tracking habits. Thanks for stopping by.

    1. Amen! It’s a never-ending battle to accomplish everything on my zillions of lists but at least I can easily see what I’ve done and what’s still left to do. Thanks for stopping by!

  12. I love seeing inside other people’s planners because I spend so much time organizing mine! Stickers and colors are my priorities with mine, they make it so much more aesthetically pleasing!!

    1. I love Peeking inside planners too Molly. There are so many great ideas people have that I can adapt to help me achieve my goals. I love stickers and colors too, it makes planning fun. Whatever makes you stick with it and feel inspired is great in my book. I’m a scrapbooker at heart, I just don’t make time for it.

  13. Oh wow this in depth! I could totally use some planning classes. 🙂 I currently have a Lilly Pulitzer planner, I’m still learning the ways of planner planning. I love, love, LOVE that you have set aside a space for gratitude!! I do that weekly on my blog, but I think I should do that in a journal for those more personal things I keep to myself. 😉
    Thanks for sharing!!

    1. The Lily Pulitzer planners are lovely! You know I used to have more gratitude in my weekly Small Victories Sunday Linkup posts. It comes and goes but I do love having a place to record gratitude and small victories, it really does help my mindset. These pages will go into our family photo albums at the end of the year.

  14. !I’m really intrigued by the idea, but it seems like there are so many moving parts I’d never be able to figure out how to keep it organized. I’m glad it’s working for you!

    1. Lol. It took me awhile to nail down a system that worked for me because there is so much I want/need to keep track of. Most of it is a necessity to keep my sanity 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Nichole.

    1. Yes it adds up quick especially because of all the parts I added to it so I could have everything I need in one book. I tell myself it’s an investment and definitely helps me keep all my roles/goals straight. I agree it’s so important to focus on gratitude and kindness these days. Thanks for stopping by Ana.

  15. This is a wonderful tutorial, Tanya! After looking at the Plum Paper planner and add-ons, I can appreciate even more your tremendous examples of how to use them effectively. I have used a notebook for planning my second blog, but I have really only used a computer calendar for planning of blog posts. Since I am beginning to schedule more reviews this year and participate and organize events (like an upcoming readalong), I am really ready to try a new, more flexible planning style like this. Thank you, as always, for sharing your amazing organizational skills and tools.

  16. This is a wonderful post and an amazing planning tutorial, Tanya
    Now that I’ve looked at the Plum Papers links and seen the blank planner and add-ons, I am going to go over your post again, on my computer. (I’m writing this on my phone.) I did some planning for my Northern Lights Reading Project in a dedicated notebook, and I have used to do lists when I overhauled my website, but I don’t generally plan my blog activity beyond using Google calendar. Now that I am accepting more scheduled book reviews (on two blogs) and planning to organize readalongs in March and July for Travel the World in Books, I think I am ready to explore more flexible planning tools like this. Thanks so much, and thanks for the coupon! 🙂

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