the planner experimentalists – @plannerbynature

Welcome to the second installment to The Planner Experimentalists. If you missed the first post by Dani of @thecursivebird, here’s the link. Check our her Instagram feed where she continues to share her amazing planning journey, and some wonderful planner eye candy =)

You don’t understand how excited I am to introduce this week’s Planner Experimentalist – Jess Russell of @plannerbynature. This lady is a phenomenal planner using her creativity infused with her daily goals and planning.

Hi I’m Jess and I’m a Bullet Journaler. I have even started to define myself in this way to my family, colleagues and friends, which is a big step for me.  Since my teens, I’ve always used a journal and memory keeping has always been important to me. After I had a little girl, some year and a half ago, as a mum I was seeking to re-establish my identity and attempted to claim back some of my “me” time. It was definitely not easy and after a lot of false starts, I managed to find my motivation and my productivity. All with the help of my Bullet Journal of course. Let me explain how.

Simply, I have found the system that works for me. It helps me achieve my goals, supports my schedule and changes when I need it to. I have monthly goals, I journal daily, I go through spurts of creativity and I absolutely love having it all in one system. Memory keeping is a big goal for me. All year round I love going through old journals on rainy days and for me, flicking through all those used pages is bliss. This year I am trying to stick to two styles of planners, my Midori Travelers notebook system or my Hobonichi Cousin. The Midori works for me because it is quite portable, I can remove or add inserts at will, and now that I make my own inserts it’s a pretty cheap option. My Cousin also works fantastically. The multiple sections (dated dailies, weeklies, monthlies and the year calendar) makes planning in advance a breeze (something I am terrible at), the pages are great all for different types of ink and media and the A5 size is ideal space-wise.


In my system, my monthly pages and my weeklies are a bit sparse. I use monthly pages to plan in advance, like events and my exercise routine, and my weekly layouts are usually my meal planner in my Hobonichi or tasks. It could be because I focus a lot on my goals rather than my tasks and the fact I am a massive homebody, I can usually plan my day the night before. If I have a task I know needs to get done later on in the week, I just write in on a post-it note and put in on the next page. My dailies are where all the action lies.

Daily pages are split into sections but with no heavy structure. The first thing I do is separate my daily goals from my tasks. So the goals might appear the same nearly every day, but at least each night I know what I need to achieve to keep me on track for the month. Repetitive, but seriously, it works! Other sections (for this month) include a gratitude log, a health log and what I have read/watched that day (comics, TV shows, or the chapter of the book I am reading and any little comments about them that are noteworthy). Any other journalling pieces can slot right in after all this. Now, those three headings coincidentally are some of my focuses for the year. I’m all about accountability. Even though I love the look of habit trackers and monthly logs, I’m terrible at flicking back through pages and adding a sentence a day. Some days I have more than two lines to write, and some days sadly, I have nothing. That’s why I love the rolling page of the Bullet Journal. Each day is a fresh page or a new line and it can be whatever you need it to be for your system to work and for you to achieve your goals.

I have spent the last 3 months in my Midori but only two days ago switched back into my Hobonichi. The last time I moved out of my Hobonichi it was a space issue. Not that the A5 page wasn’t enough, it was simply too much! The pressure to completely fill the page and spend approximately two hours doing it each night was overwhelming. Time to be brutally honest with you guys. I am afraid of time. I have not learnt to embrace it but I try to jam every second of the day with life and vigour. When I got into goal setting in a serious way, I didn’t have time to fill those pages so I moved into my Midori to reduce the stress of those mocking empty pages. To solve this problem back in my Hobonichi, I have ignored the dates, I only to use the numbers as an index which links to my yearly pages, so my days can roll after each other but I still have to ability to recall important pages with ease if needed.

A massive and incredibly unneeded source of stress to me is switching planners. I hate swapping back and forth between planners and I mumble to myself ‘but at least it’s only the two and I know if I keep thinking of the other I will neglect the one I’m in’. And then I snap out of it and say to myself, ‘this isn’t a problem Jess!’ It honestly doesn’t matter what you Bujo in, it’s whatever works for you at the time! I can’t stress that enough. We all worry about “planner peace” or have planner envy (guiiiiiilty!) but if your system works it doesn’t matter where you do it, as long as it gets you to your goals.

The last thing I want to leave you with is my passion for goal setting; I want to reiterate how important it is for your daily planning. And the Bullet Journal’s flexible system allows you to structure this in any way you need to. My goals list is always bigger than my to do list, why? Every morning I ask myself, is what I’m doing today going to get my closer to my goal/s for the month? If it’s a task that takes less time to do then it does to write it down, I just get up and do it instead. No more wasting ink on annoying/crap tasks that at the end of the month you either won’t remember or won’t care about. For me, goal setting is a type of self-care. I prioritize things I want to focus on and things I want to learn so I feel both accomplished and happy. Sure there are days when I need to make sacrifices and do all the chores and boring tasks, but I schedule in time for it, just like I schedule in time to relax so my days are always balanced.

Every day I feel like a Bujo newbie. Every day I have the chance to try new ways to improve my system. Every day I love the flexibility of my Bullet Journal a little more. Below are links to my IG account where I try and post daily and my very neglected blog. It would be a pleasure if you joined me on my planning journey.

So many thanks to the wonderful Dee who thinks I’m worthy enough to share my Bullet Journal with the world. Thank you my friend, for inspiring this fellow Australian enough to make it work.

Thank you, Jess, for sharing your fantastic planning and goal setting process and I hope that this has provided some insight into new ideas you want to incorporate into your planning system.


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