One of the best parts about having a bullet journal is the ability to use trackers and collections to organize your information.
There is honestly nothing better than having a collection of your child’s cute sayings you can hold onto for the rest of your life. And it is fantastic to be able to fill in those numbers as you accomplish your weight loss goals.
If you look on Pinterest there are dozens of articles to blogs about what kinds of trackers you should try. For example, Catherine at Pushing the Moon has this stunning article “101 Habit Tracker Ideas for Your Bullet Journal“. Talk about a comprehensive list! And to think, there are so many other posts just like hers out there! Lots of trackers and collections galore for you to dabble with and experiment in your bullet journal.
But… there is something missing. What’s even more curious about it is that most articles don’t even bother to bring up this elephant in the room in regard to trackers and collections. Not entirely sure if it’s related to lack of knowledge in this subject or general forgetfulness. But there’s something else that bullet journals need to consider when utilizing your trackers and collections.
The Importance of Organizing your Trackers and Collections
Personally, this should have been a thing a long time ago.
In my first bullet journal, I’d frequently stick my trackers and collections wherever as I went. Sometimes I put them between weekly layouts. Other times, I put them in the middle of my monthly setup pages.
And let me be clear, there is truly no wrong place to put them. That is a personal choice.
Yet, with my method, it became abundantly clear VERY quickly that it was truly a pain in the butt to remember them.
For example, one of my first trackers in my first bullet journal was about Christmas presents. It was fantastic! I had a place to write down gift ideas for my friends and family, with cost of item and a box to tick if I purchased said item.
I think I only filled it out for about a month.
Why did I fail?
Because this tracker was built at the start of October. It became far too challenging to remember to go back a month (or two) and fill it out as time passed.
I really don’t want you to suffer the same fate of half filled trackers and collections because they were placed poorly. Today, a kind follower on Instagram reminded me of this frustration through their personal journey. It’s clear that many bullet journalers should consider learning how to organize their collections and trackers.
Optimizing Your Bullet Journal
My August Productivity Challenge Tracker!
(A Monthly Challenge hosted by boho.berry)
When looking at your trackers and collections, it’s important that they have a home. A consistent home, too, so you can easily find them and rely on them easily. You don’t want to spend your precious time on something that you won’t utilize for the sole reason of having difficulty remembering to access it. (Now, if you’re not using it because you lost interest or don’t like it, then I’d recommend just cutting your losses. Nothing wrong with this, either, but remember to keep it simple and be realistic! Don’t push yourself to do something you just aren’t going to use.).
So in regard to optimizing your bullet journal trackers and collections, there are a few things you need to think about prior to organizing them.
The first thing to consider is what type of category does your tracker or collection belong to. For the sake of keeping this simple, there are really only two categories to consider to make this point:
- Collection/tracker directly related with your yearly/monthly/weekly tracking.OR
- A general collection/tracker that has no timeline OR is only usable for a set amount of time and unrelated to yearly/monthly/weekly tracking.
Once you determine what category your trackers and collections fall under, then you are capable of starting to optimize and organize.
It’s worth noting that if you have already started your bullet journal and are more than about 1/4-1/2 through, you may have trouble implementing these techniques. However, depending how on you built your current bullet journal, it’s very possible that you could start implementing this right away! Definitely keep reading and make that decision for yourself.
If you don’t feel confident you are able to implement this immediately, and you’d like to try this for your next bullet journal, make sure to bookmark this page! You can access it when you start building your first pages of your next bullet journal.
A Place For Everything, and Everything in its Place
So now you know what categories that your trackers and collections are in.
How do you organize these categories?
For your first category, you are going to build these trackers and collections in your yearly/monthly/weekly trackers. The location will be more fluid than the other category as you will find these scattered within your entire bullet journal.
For the latter category, these trackers and collections have a different home. You won’t place them within your calendar like the category above, instead in an entirely separate section.
If you are unfamiliar with my explanations or are new to bullet journaling, I’ll go a little more in detail.
Trackers and Collections With a Distinct Yearly/Monthly/Weekly Time Frame
This categories location is going to vary based on how long the tracker will last.
Yearly/Bi-annual: If your bullet journal has a yearly (or bi-annual) section (generally this section has a future log, a yearly goals page, etc…), you will place trackers and collections with a yearly time frame here.
An example of this type of page would be ‘My Year in Pixels’, shown below.
Check out this awesome example from stanleyanne from Instagram…
(in fact, she seems to have it in her yearly tracker, too!)
Why here? Because you don’t want to find this page 2 months into your bullet journal. It’s doable, but it’s mighty inconvenient.
Monthly: For monthly spreads, if you want to track behaviors or habits for entire month, it’s best to place them within your monthly layout. Same concept applies with collections. If you are collecting information for a month (books you’ve read, for example), it’s best to place them here.
Page example: No-Spend Monthly Tracker.
Check out shayleesbujo on Instagram for other fantastic images!
The reason why it’s best to put them within your monthly layout is that they are all contained in one place. You know exactly where they are and how to find them. And once the month is over, unless you are using them to observe data, you aren’t going to utilize them anymore. It also keeps your weekly sections less cluttered.
Weekly: Some people choose to track or collect data weekly. General these trackers and collections are brief and don’t require more than half a page to use. However, you should always place this information in a similar location for each weekly spread. This way you always know where to find and expect them. Like above, if you go back to look at this data in the future, you’ll be able to find everything easily.
Page example: Weekly Habit Tracker.
Check out this stunning weekly tracker from BuJo_Beginner on Instagram!
Every Other Collection and Tracker
Start from the back!
Ok, first off, you’re probably wondering what everything else is. Let’s clarify this, first.
A general collection/tracker that has no timeline: Typically these pages are more likely collections than trackers. It may house information you want to access later, or general information you want to write down whenever the need arises.
Page Example: Cleaning Routine Page.
Take a peek at this FANTASTIC cleaning list on Tropical.Sloth.Bujo‘s Instagram
A collection/tracker with a random, ill-defined time frame: These trackers may be utilized less for less than a year/half a year, but more than a month. AND you also desire to keep this information in one, easy to find place.
Example Page: Instagram Follower Tracker.
My personal Instagram tracker! – Planning Mindfully
Now that I’ve defined them a little better, let’s address your other question.
Start These From the Back?
First, I know very few people who dutifully fill entire bullet journals. Heck, I’m one of them! There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to complete an entire month as you’ll run out of pages, but at the same time you want these pages to have a purpose.
You also won’t have to limit the amount of pages you use if you start from the back compared to if you dedicate a set amount of pages to these other collections and trackers. Again, what’s more annoying than setting aside 20 pages for this task only to find out that you need more than 20!
If you want to get really creative, you could even create a table of contents for your collections and trackers. The last page can serve this well. As you create your trackers and collections, you can write down their label and page number in this separate table of contents.
If you choose to utilize this method, you should determine how many pages on average your monthly layouts (including the weekly spreads) utilize. When you start getting close to having the calendar section and collection/tracker section meet, count your pages to ensure you have the space you need for an additional month. If you don’t have enough pages, then use the remaining pages for your calendar review and final collections/trackers. This is a great time to consider migrating to a new bullet journal.
There you have it! I hope that these two incredible suggestions help you better organize your trackers and collections.
Do you have a method that I didn’t suggest? I’d love to hear about it! I’m all for optimizing all the things. I’d love to try some new methods of tracker/collection organization.
PS- Did some of the lingo make absolutely no sense? If you’re not familiar with bullet journals, I don’t blame you if some of the information went over your head. I recommend checking out my “Bullet Journal Glossary” post so you can learn a little more! Then come back to this article to read again with your newfound knowledge! It will make MUCH more sense.