How much is too much when you’re bullet journaling?

How full should a daily task list be when bullet journaling or planning? Well, that depends…

I don’t know if it’s just me getting older, or living in a particular time where it feels as though we’re constantly being pushed to our limits, but I feel like there’s always So. Much. To. Do. Every. Day.

Some days when I look at my bullet journal I feel overwhelmed with all the stuff I need to complete. In this post, I ask: how many bullets (a.k.a. tasks) are too many bullets?

Before we get too far into it, allow me to define what a bullet is: the bullet is the circle or the dash (or a modification of this; I used to use little hand-drawn clocks because I liked how they looked) that comes before the task you need to complete. Pictured above is an example of some of my bulleted tasks.

As of writing this, the short answer is I’m always aiming for no more than eight to ten bullets per day, depending on what the task is.

So, how much is too much?

In going off my last post about managing my stress and health, one of the things I’ve had to learn how to do since high school is manage how much I’m taking on.

I don’t like to say ‘no’ but I’m getting better at it. It’s taken a little more than ten years, but trying is what matters. I am always reassessing to see what works during a certain period of time. What works for your lifestyle can change due to things like vacations, the time of year (I find summer is when my bullet journal isn’t as full)…and so on.

When it comes to your own bullets, always be asking yourself what’s reasonable for you. When I first started bullet journaling, I saw a lot of layouts filled, from top to bottom, with bullet points — it looked so stressful. I knew if I wanted to succeed in keeping a planner, I needed to start small. Ticking off two or three bullets daily for a few weeks felt really good, and I would gradually increase the amount as I went.

Almost a year after starting my bullet journal and, on average, I can get anywhere between eight to ten tasks done well.

Measuring success is personal

What I keep track of includes big work projects, along with all the ‘adulting’ that knits together my personal life. I initially had a number of reasons for starting a bullet journal, but one of the big ones for me was to keep track of my finances. That’s now expanded to scheduling work needing to be done for my blog.

I’ve always included personal engagements and goals for the weekend (going out and enjoying time in my community is more likely to happen if I write it down) so that’s nothing new, and arguably trivial, but writing down any goal you have for yourself and accomplishing that is better than accomplishing nothing at all. I would rather have written down “go for a walk along the water” and check off the bullet than omit it, then not bother to do it.

What if I don’t get it done?

I am fortunate to work and live in an environment where people are reasonable. Things come up. Daily plans get tossed out the window. Emergencies comes up; life comes up. As long as you’re making the effort to complete your tasks, I think you’re winning half the battle. Now, if you’re not using your agenda to the best of your capabilities, you need to ask yourself if this method is truly for you, or if there’s something deeper going on that you must address.

Having a planner should mitigate this issue though, as you can find ways to divide up your time to ensure you get things done.

At the end of the day, don’t be too hard on yourself — don’t put too much on your plate in one go, learn to celebrate your successes and make sure you’re taking a good look at what you’re achieving when you’re trying to plan your daily, weekly and monthly life.

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