Work bullet journal spreads: How to achieve any goal

Work bullet journal spreads and goals

Another title for this post could be, “From failure to success, how to get it all wrong but get it right”, because in trying to achieve a goal, so often we get it wrong before we get it right.

We have other blog posts on the website around setting and achieving goals. Post such as:

How to journal your way to success by creating goal affirmations

18 goal journal ideas to create a life plan you love

How to use journaling to track your self improvement goals

I have created a table of contents so you can navigate yourself around the blog post better:

Bullet Journaling

You may be familiar with Bullet Journaling. The bullet journal method of productivity was created by Ryder Carroll who calls is “A mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system”.

How to set up your bullet journal for goal setting success

You can watch Ryder’s video on the best ways to set up your pages here. Open your notebook. Your first set of facing blank pages become your index pages. Turn to the next set of blank facing pages or spreads mark those as your Future Log. Turn to the next blank spread, this is your monthly calendar. Add the name of the month on both pages.

On each new page add a page number. Use the left hand page to mark down all the days of the month. Then use the first letter of the day of the week and add it alongside the date. Use the right hand page as your taks list to mark down important dates. Left of each task mark down a bullet which is simply an empty check box. Go back to the index and add your page numbers.

Now go to your next available spread. This will be your daily bullet journal spread. Every day write out the things you need to get done. Don’t worry if you miss a couple of days.

There are three main kinds of bullets: tasks; events; and notes. Each use different symbols: a dot for a task; a circle for an event; and a dash for a note. To give a task priority, ie if there are important events or a specific task that needs attention, put an asterisk to the left side of the dot.

As you add events to your daily to-do list, be sure to add them to that month’s calendar page.

At the end of the month create the next month’s calendar. The set up is exactly the same but with one further addition. Go back to your previous month’s tasks. If they are done, cross them off, if they are incomplete, move them forward to this month’s calendar. Add a forward arrow in the original month’s entry to indicate that you have moved it forward.

Sometimes task will be related. When this is the case you can create a collection. To do this find the next blank page and give your collection a title and add the page number. Find and migrate all related tasks into the list and add the collection to your index.

Image of a fountain pen and a journal overlayed with blog title text. Accompanies the blog post on work bullet journal spreads

Now let’s talk about how a work bullet journal can help you at work.

Setting and monitoring goals

Most people love setting goals. Some people love monitoring goals. Fewer people yet love doing the work to get to their goals. But we all love the idea of achieving our goals! We know that there is a deep chasm between setting a goal and achieving it.

In fact there is a deep chasm, a jungle, a waterfall, piranhas, a crocodile or two and a desert between thinking of your goal and achieving it. We know this to be true because phrases like “It’s not the goal that is important but the person you become in the process” indicate that there is a challenge ahead that will change you.

The process

“The process”. That little phrase describes the adventure you will go on each time you set a goal. The thinking of the goal is wonderful. But then you need to learn to achieve it. And many of us don’t. We give up because we think that we just couldn’t do it, or we can’t see a way to do it, or it seems to difficult.

We are not taught how to achieve goals. I think we should be. There is no secret. What you do is set your goal and then work at it until you succeed. What we are not taught is how to be resilient and not give up. Also, we are not taught that failure is great. You will fail when you set a goal and go after it. But the failure is what will get you to your goal.

I always thought that they way to get to your goal was to do everything perfectly as you went along. I thought that the only way to get there was one perfect step after another. Any step that wasn’t perfect would guarantee goal failure. I couldn’t have been more wrong! It’s only by failing that you get to the next step.

Of course, you will get some things right in the process, but in general it’s by getting things wrong that you start to get things right. This is such a liberating thought. All those years when I thought I had to do something perfectly (and constantly failed by the way!) resulted in me feeling like a failure. I thought I was a failure. I didn’t even know that failure is not a person, it’s an event.

Woman perched on a window ledge, writing in her journal She has a cup of coffee and the froth is shaped like a heart. Accompanies the blog post on work bullet journal spreads

Failing and achieving at goal setting

Over time, I’ve learned to set goals. Mostly I got that wrong too, but I’m ok with that now. I’ve set goals in all sorts of ways. Some I’ve achieved but they still didn’t give me the results I wanted. Some I failed at and reset myself and am having another go at. Others I realised weren’t that important to me and that I had not set the right goal for myself.

Goals are small and large. You could have a goal of working out every day for a week, or a goal to make $1M in a year and both of those goals could be equally important to you. The goal is irrelevant. It’s who you become that is important.

Laying perfection aside (hurrah) let’s work out then how you are going to achieve any goal. Specifically for this blog post we are going to look at work goals.

The Great Idea

Have you had those lightbulb moments when you think of something that you haven’t thought of before and you feel excited and motivated and energised? They are amazing and we never want to come down from those heights. But there is some trekking to do in the valley, so come on down and let’s trek through the valley together.

Woman sitting curled up on a sofa with ear pods, reading her journal. Accompanies the blog post on work bullet journal spreads

The Twelve Week year and the bullet journal method

In the Twelve Week Year you are introduced to the concept of taking each twelve week period and treating it as a one year period. You don’t think of it as twelve weeks, you think of it as a year and you orient all your thoughts and actions around goal setting for that specific period of time.

The Bullet journal method is also a productivity system which will help you set, monitor and achieve your goals. You don’t need to use just one system to accomplish you goals. You can use whatever system works for you, and if you want you can use two or more complimentary systems alongside each other. I don’t think there is one system that holds all the answers.

Setting the goal

Let’s go back to your great idea. Whatever it is for you let’s start there. In one sentence what are you going to call it? It doesn’t have to be the external name of the goal. For example if you are creating a course, it doesn’t have to be the course title, it just has to be the idea of what the goal is.

Setting yourself up for success – creating a structure

For this project I would start a new bullet journal. You can use an existing bullet journal but for this specific goal let’s use a separate bullet journal.

In the front of your journal write the goal. Then write your timeline. For the purpose of this blog post your timeline is the next twelve weeks. And this is your new entire year. So whatever goal you set needs to fit into this timeframe.

At the start of this blog post I listed out how to set up your journal if it is your first bullet journal. Below is some additional information to help you create a structure that will help support you as you go about achieving your goal.

Woman sitting on a bed writing in her journal. There are lots of cozy blankets on the bed. She is in casual clothes: jeans and a baggy petrol blue jumper. Accompanies the blog post on work bullet journal spreads

Creating your work bullet journal spreads

Creating your monthly layouts

For your bullet journal set up a monthly spread for each four weeks, so you will end up with three spreads. Label them with the months if you are starting on the beginning of a month, or label with weeks if you starting a new week but not a new month. So spread number one could be called January or it could be called weeks 1-4.

Creating your weekly layout

After creating your monthly layouts next create your first weekly layout. You only need to create one of these. After each week you will migrate your weekly spread to the next week’s spread. It will become part of the pattern for achieving your goal.

Creating your Daily log

Your daily log will contain all the ideas, daily tasks and thoughts that you have during the course of one day. Because we are setting this journal up specifically for your one great idea it should just contain your thoughts that relate to this goal.

However random thoughts are going to appear during the day and you need to keep track of them so just pop them down in your daily log and then, at the end of the day, during your reflection, you can move them off to another place.

Brain dump / Collecting all the information

We want to make sure you capture all the information you need and a brain dump is a great way to to do this. so take two pages of new spreads in your beautiful bullet journal or two A4 sheets of paper side by side as a two-page layout and get all your thoughts out on paper.

Start with the goal or idea in the middle of the paper and write all the ideas and thoughts you have the relate to this goal around the rest of the blank page.

Creating your to-do list

From your brain dump or mind mapping you can create your big todo list. It is going to be massive but don’t feel too daunted. There are going to be so many items that to put them on your daily log will be impossible. So at this stage it’s a good idea to group your to-do list.

How you do that is personal preference. You can do it by timeline, what needs to get done first, second, third. Or you can do it by grouping different kinds of tasks together. Whatever you do, you need to end up with a timeline so that you can see how long it is going to take (no more than twelve weeks!) and what you have to do each week to get there.

Creating trackers

You are now ready to create trackers for yourself. A tracker is simply a way to keep track of what you are working on. A tracker can take any form, it is often in table form. An excel spreadsheet is a way of tracking. You can create a handwritten table and fill it in. That’s tracking too. Whatever it is, just make sure you do it.

Work + tracking = success

Learning to track

If you read the Twelve Week Year you will be left in no doubt that what will get you from your big idea to achieve your goals is learning to track your habits. This is where bullet journaling will help you. There are so many great examples of bullet journal ideas for tracking. And that will come in the form of a habit tracker. You can read the book, or google ideas. Bullet journaling is great for tracking inspiration.

Decide what you are going to track

Be specific about what you are going to track. Write out what you are going to track. Is it number of blog posts written, videos created. Or is it number of products created, or dresses made, or canvases painted? What trackers are you going to use for your marketing, sales and production? Everything will come down to this: doing the work and tracking it.

Your work schedule should be full of the work you are going to do that will enable you to track better. From a bullet journal perspective you can use your daily spreads and weekly spreads to be tracking your work. If you are doing project work, then you will probably benefit from weekly bullet journal spreads. If you’re not using the bullet journal method then a double page spread each day with your trackers marked out and room to journal will be enough.

If you are using a bullet journal method then you can use your index pages to track your journal entries and don’t forget the page numbers which will help you find things.

Bullet journal collections are for specific projects. You can keep your projects in your daily, weekly and monthly logs but with a big project you will be better off with a specific journal for the project.

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