It can be a lot of work trying to find the perfect journal to keep all of your sermon notes, Bible studies, challenges etc. in and it can take a lot of money to find something that might not even be what you are looking for.
I recently cleaned out my office so I could actually start using it. If you are a planner/journal/stationary girl like I am, you know exactly what I found… notebooks and planners piled up on bookshelves and in drawers. Some of them had scribbles that went all the way to the center binding, others had a couple of pages worth of notes. Why do I do this to myself? Why do I spend so much money on paper? I'm a device person, it's literally what I do for a living but when it comes to my personal life I want paper and a lot of it. I need to be able to be creative but I want structure, I want to feel like it is working for me and not against me.
I've spent a good amount of time and money trying to figure out my perfect way to plan and in the midst of this journey I found my perfect way to Bible Study. Before we get into that, I want to share with you some of the methods I tried before getting to this method.
What I've tried:
- Bullet Journaling – Moleskine Notebook
- Bullet Journaling – Moleskine Cahier
- Bullet Journaling – OneNote
- The Simplified Planner
- Kate Spade Spiral Bound Planner
- Kate Spade Zip Planner
- Target horizontal planner
- The 12 Week Year – Digital
- Trello – Digital
- Asana – Digital
- Google Calendar – Digital
- Outlook Tasks – Digital
- Traveler's Notebook
- Regular Spiral Notebook
- Thin To-Do List Notebook from Target
- Whiteboard To-Do List
- Standard Horizontal Happy Planner
What Was I Looking For?
- Small enough to fit in my bag but big enough that I wouldn't have to squint to read it
- Paper thick enough that my pens wouldn't bleed through
- Space to hold:
- Sermon Notes
- Bible Study Notes
- Printed version of the book of the Bible I'm reading
- Spare Notes Section
So yes, I was asking for a lot but I had been through enough versions (listed above) to know EXACTLY what I needed.
Disc Bound Realization
After trying my hand at traveler's notebooks and liking the customizability aspect, I knew I wanted to try the Happy Planner that I saw everywhere. I watched a video from Sea Lemon about disc binding and making my own notebooks and had to have one. After I bought it however, I realized that what came in it wasn't what I was looking for at all. Luckily, I grabbed one that was a horizontal planner instead of the blocks, which ended up working out (as you'll see later).
So initially, I'm bummed because it's not what I was looking for. Then I start looking on Pinterest and decide I'll use the spare discs I had to make a notebook for Bible Study. It was the regular paper size 8.5″ x 11″ and I made covers out of cute files I found on clearance at Target. Unfortunately, this didn't meet my first requirement, it was massive. It was big and wasn't something I would want to just carry around with me in my bag. It was also pretty flimsy so I couldn't use it for sermon notes either. Strike two with the Happy Planner disc option.
That's when it dawned on me… I don't have to use the Happy Planner the way it was designed, that is the entire point. So I took out all but the current and next month planner inserts and started working on my new book. When I bought my Happy Planner, I purchased a hardcover because somehow I knew I would need it and I'm so thankful I did. It's what really helped this book come together along with free printable items.
- Paper Cutter
- Happy Planner Hole Punch
- Happy Planner Hard Cover
- Happy Planner Month Inserts (Current and Next Month)
- Thicker Printer Paper
- Bible Book Printable – Ephesians
- Bible Study Printable – Word Before World [Well Watered Women]
- Dot Grid Printable – Savor + Savvy
- Decorative File Folders (Optional)
- Happy Planner Faith Stickers (Optional)
Steps – Printable Items:
- I took out all of the inserts I knew I wasn't going to use leaving this month and next month along with the yearly view calendar
- I popped on the hard cover
- I went to the printable website and selected to print it
- If it is something that is on a Word Doc you can actually specify the sizing (The size for a standard Happy Planner is: 7″ x 9.25″
- If it is an item that is in a PDF form or another file type that doesn't allow you to specify exact page size, use 84% in the print sizing option (Here’s a great post/videos about resizing)
- I printed dot-grid paper and wanted it to be on both sides so I put the pages back in to the printer to print the design on both. Some printers have the option of printing on both sides but mine didn't want to for whatever reason but I made it work.
- Once you have printed your items, use the paper cutter to trim it down to size
- After you have trimmed it down, use the hole punch to punch the pages
- Pop the pages into the area you want them in
Steps – Dividers: I wanted my items separated so they would be organized and easy to access.
- Cut the file folder in half using the paper cutter
- Line up one of the dividers that came with the Happy Planner and mark it with pen/pencil
- Cut the file down to size
- Punch holes with the hole punch
- Use faith stickers to decorate the front of the divider
- Pop them into the discs
- Pop the paper into the proper section
Things I Learned About My Style:
- I can have my work and personal stuff separate – some methods suggest having everything together and I tried desperately to do this without any success. I'm sure it works for some people but it doesn't work for my brain. All of my meetings are on my Outlook Calendar and tracking them in multiple places doesn't make sense to my day-to-day.
- I need to have my Bible studies handy so that I will do them during my actual spare time. There are times when my 'Word Before World' challenge is done during my lunch time because I know it's the only free time I'll have that day. It also helps when I meet with someone from Church because I can just whip out my book and write down their wisdom.
- If something is TOO structured I won't do it but if it relies on me doing a ton of work I won't do it either. For example, if it is a specific track x,y,z every day for 21 days and it isn't a high priority for me but it's in the notebook I'll never do it. Something in me (being a child of wrath and all) doesn't want to be forced to fill something out that isn't important. I know I don't 'have' to but if it's on the page it's something I feel the need to do. On the flip side, if it's something where I have to re-write everything everyday (looking at you BuJo) I won't do it either. It just isn't something I'll take the time to do and I'll miss a day and just get frustrated.
- I like to have all of my Bible Study items together. Some people have a separate notebook for sermon notes, a binder for Bible Study etc. but I was finding myself not doing any of them if they were all over the place.
Tips, Ideas and a Freebee:
- You can use coloring book pages in your book as well. Cut them out, punch them and add them into your book.
- A paper cutter will be your best friend. No lie, we tried cutting the pages the first time with an exacto knife and vices holding the paper in place… seriously that's what we did.
- Use washi tape to mark the dimensions on the paper cutter.
- Just because you don't like the way something is out of the box, it doesn't mean you should chunk it all out. I ended up using the horizontal planner pages to do daily scripture writing and it's the perfect size.
- If something isn't working for you, change it. It's all about what is going to work for you and what you need to be closer to the Lord.
When I first started studying the Bible I didn’t really know what I was doing. I just bought some study guides that had answers to questions and started reading. If you are looking to start studying the Bible, Jen Wilkin’s book “Women of the Word” is a wonderful place to start.
Fill out the form below for a free printable of her 5 P’s to studying the Bible.