Alastair meets Calendex: A Bullet Journal Future Log

When I first started my bullet journal, I created a pretty classic future log on the first two-page spread, with a third of a page for each month. The only modification I made was to draw small calendar grids in each field, although I find I never actually use them; it’s important to me on a weekly or monthly level to see where in the week a date falls, but I find I rarely need that information available months in advance. I used the rest of the space available to log events and appointments as they came up, as recommended on the bullet journal website.

Not sure how to do advance planning in the bullet journal? Try this Calendex-inspired alternative system to the classic bullet journal future log.

While this method has simplicity on its side, I found it didn’t work well for my lifestyle. Most months I have very few events and appointments, and even fewer that are arranged far enough in advance to need recorded in the future log. This leaves a lot of empty space in months where there’s simply nothing to remind myself of, as you can see above.

And then there are the rare months when I do have a lot to record, like this past July. That was the month I got married, so between family members’ flight details, honeymoon dates, and other arrangements I didn’t have anywhere near enough space for everything.

As a result, I’ve been dissatisfied with my future log for a while, and, although I’ve been researching other methods, I haven’t found a single one that seemed perfect. As we move into September, however, I’m finding I need a new log, and after mulling things over a few weeks ago I’ve hit upon the solution that works for me.

Not sure how to approach advance planning in the bullet journal? Try this Calendex-inspired future log.

Alastair meets Calendex

Over the course of my research, there were two methods I considered again and again but that I was never quite sure would work for me. The first was Alastair’s method, which uses a series of columns down the left-hand side for months and leaves the rest of the page free for adding commentary.

This form of rapid logging is one of my favourite aspects of the bullet journal. I use it everywhere – in my weekly logs, in my favourite meals spread, in my monthly retros, and more – so the method held an immediate appeal for me. After all, if this column layout is good enough for my day-to-day events, then surely it should also work at a higher-level, monthly view.

However, I was concerned about space. Like I said before, I don’t have a large number of events in most months, but at the same time I also like to record all the relevant information.

For instance, if one of my colleagues moves on to a new job and invites us all out for drinks, I’ll write something like ‘Kate’s leaving drinks, 19:30, 221b Baker Street, London, SW1 1AA’. Even with only three or four columns down the left-hand side, I’d struggle to fit that on one line.

And so, while I kept the Alastair method in the back of my mind as a possibility, I also considered the Calendex. This one, however, has the same problems as my current setup, in that there would be a lot of empty whitespace with my lifestyle.

That’s when I had the idea to mix the two together, by using the Alastair method to write the bare bones of the event, and including a page number at which I can find more information.

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How it works

It starts with a single page with columns down the side. I’ve used three, so it will see me through to the end of the year, though I imagine you could do this equally well with four or even six columns. The columns are labelled with the upcoming months, and when an event comes or appointment comes up in the future I place a dot in the box under the appropriate month and add the date and a description of event in the space to the right.

Not sure how to handle advance planning in your bullet journal? Try this Calendex-inspired system.

So far, so Alastair.

The Calendex part comes in next. After writing down the date and brief event description, I include a page number that I can flip to with more information, where I record all the relevant details in that day’s log.

Not sure how to do advance planning in your bullet journal? Try this Calendex-inspired future log.

In this way I get the best of both worlds, combining Alastair’s space-saving rapid logging method with Calendex’s capacity for recording detailed information.

Modifications

This method is still quite new to me, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I finetune it and modify in the coming months. Possibilities I’ve considered include:

Colour-coding

This is very popular with Calendex devotees, and could easily be incorporated into this method by choosing a particular colour for the bullet in the month column. The same colour-coding could be carried over into the bullet in the daily log with more information.

Date in place of bullet

Another option, which can be used concurrently with colour-coding, is to write the actual date in the box instead of a bullet. I opted not to do this as I have quite large writing and I didn’t want to have enormous boxes, but for different sized notebooks or handwriting it is definitely an option.

Page number in place of bullet

Likewise, you could easily include the page number where further information can be found instead of a bullet, and again, this can be colour-coded if you prefer to do so.

Tasks as well as events

Future logs tend to be associated with events and appointments – in other words, tasks with a fixed date and time. However, because this system doesn’t actually require you to include a specific date at any point, it can easily be expanded to include tasks that you need to remember in future.

For instance, if your car insurance is due for renewal in February, you might put a bullet in January’s column with the comment ‘renew car insurance, p. 123’, with a reminder on p. 123 to shop around for the best deal.

No daily log? No problem

At the moment, I’m using a daily log as I’m experimenting with Laura from How to GYST’s mindsweeping method (which I am loving so far!), but there have been times I have exclusively used my weekly log as well, and while I’ve talked about recording the detailed description in your daily log I don’t think it’s essential to have a daily log for that purpose.

Including a ‘Notes’ section in your weekly or monthly spread would work as well. Any events that you begin planning during the month of August (or, for a weekly spread, between August 1 and August 7), would have their detailed descriptions on that particular notes page.

I would suggest that colour-coding might be more important if you don’t keep a daily log, if only because you’re more likely to have information about multiple events on the same page. However, if you record the dates and times alongside the events then colour-coding isn’t essential, if you prefer a more minimalist bujo.

While I’ve only recently started using this log, I have a feeling it’s a winner. It combines some of my favourite components of bullet journalling – rapid logging, indexing, and only using as much space/paper as you need – in an easy-to-use format that gives me a quick overview of whether I have a busy or quiet month ahead as well as plenty of detailed information so I don’t have to search my inbox to find a flight number or pub address.

Over to you

How do you plan for future months in your bullet journal? Would you be interested in giving my method a try?

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2 Comments

  1. Brienna

    This is amazing! I had been debating with myself between choosing the Alstair or the Calendex, and I couldn’t figure out why neither felt just right — but the method you propose feels just right! Thank you 🙂

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