Before I dive into the everyday workings of my life, I thought it would be best to explain my most vital tool: the bullet journal.
Bullet Journal was invented by Ryder Carroll, and it’s the simplest, yet most ingenious system I’ve found. If you’re anything like me, it seems pretty much impossible to find a planner, agenda or journal that exactly fit your needs. For me, I had no use for an appointment book. Yes, I had meetings at work, but not enough to require it. My job as a marketing coordinator is filled with endless to do’s and monthly or quarterly scheduled projects. It seemed daunting to find something that actually worked.
I had actually created a planner for myself using the Arc by M series from staples, but despite many redesigns and adjustments, it still wasn’t quite what I needed.I still felt disorganised. Information was split up into categories and found in multiple areas — and what do you do when a task lands in many categories? Where do you put it?
Enter the bullet journal.
I started in February 2017, so I still have a lot to learn and a lot to practice. This is why I think this post is ideal for many. One thing you need to do: just dive in. I spent so much looking for ideas on Pinterest and reading blogs about how to do it. I felt overwhelmed not only by not knowing where to start, but the pressure to make them look as pretty as some of these amazing journals you’ll see online! All you need is a notebook and a pen. That’s it. Don’t worry about the fancy notebooks, the high-quality pens and markers, the washi tape (unless you want to!)….just get yourself a regular old notebook and a pen, and go!
Setting up your bullet journal
If you have purchased a journal intended for bullet journaling, such as Leuchtturm1917 or The Bullet Journal Notebook, these pages will already be available to you. If you are using any other notebook, you will want to set aside a few pages to be your index.
This is simply a table of contents. You will write your topics (headers for your pages, monthly or daily layouts, collections, etc.indicate) and the associated page numbers. This is a major reason why the bullet journal is so handy. Simple details make the difference.
While this isn’t a section shown in the original Bullet Journal system, it’s one that I find extremely handy. This is where you will set up your symbols that you will be using.
A simple dot “•” indicates any actionable item or task. You then will “x” through this dot when an item has been completed. You can also use “>” to indicate that you’ve moved it to the next day, or show that you have designated to another specific date. Draw a small circle to indicate an event or holiday. Dashes represent notes.
You can also use signifiers, which are placed immediately left to your bullets. You can use an exclamation point for something inspiring, a star for something important or an eye for something you need to research further. These suggestions are from the official Bullet Journal website but feel free to use your own creativity and create whatever symbols you’d like!
3. Future Log
This page is a quick overview of your year. It allows you to see important dates in one look. I personally opted to do a full year, but many create future logs for three or six months at a time. I am putting a focus on my finances this year, so I laid out every payday and bill for the entire year. This lets me see, at a quick glance, what I have coming up. I also included holidays and birthdays.
I opted to create my future log as a calendex, as you can see below. This is just one example of a layout, but a simple google search will give you endless ideas! Many opt to use their spread to divide into six larger sections, only writing the important dates.
4. Monthly Log
I’m sure this seems fairly obvious, but the monthly log is to have a slightly more comprehensive view of the entire month. It will have more detail than your future log. This is where I list my appointments and times (showing an event symbol only in the future log), create my habit tracker (completely optional!) or any other information you might need in a monthly view!
5. Daily Log
This is where the magic happens. The daily log is exactly as it sounds. Write down today’s date, and start logging! Add events, tasks, notes, anything you want!
Some people like to lay out their entire week in a spread at the beginning of the week, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll have no idea how much space you need in a day. I prefer to just write today’s date, log all day and not write in the next day until the morning. Do it exactly how you’d like, though!
That’s all there is to it! Bullet Journaling is incredibly helpful, a tonne of fun and quite frankly, addicting! You can do as little or as much as you want to your journal. Some only do the five categories you see above, others add trackers and collections and brain dumps and countless other things to their journal. You can be minimalist if you’re not artistic (or even if you are) or can go as crazy as you’d like. It’s all up to you.
I am new into this realm, I’m just learning this as well! If you have any questions at all about this system, please don’t hesitate to contact me! If I can’t answer it, you can be damn sure I will find out!
I spent months ogling pictures of bullet journal spreads on Instagram, Pinterest, Google…. without doing anything about it. I constantly thought, “well, I don’t want to mess this up. I’m going to research to find out more about it” but let me tell you, I stayed in research mode. You could probably wind up in limbo there forever. I can’t stress this enough: just do it. Go. Grab a journal now. Whatever you have is fine: Leuchtturm1917, Rhodia, Hilroy…any old paper pad lying around — it doesn’t matter. All you need is some paper and a pen. If you mess up, just deal with it and do better next time. I learned more in my month and a half of bullet journaling than I did with ALL the research I had done. I found what work best for me, what was unnecessary, the style I like to do my layouts. It’s worth it. I already feel more organised!
The reason I chose to start off with a bullet journal how-to is that of two reasons. First, because I will be sharing much more of my “bujo” in this journey because it’s SO much fun, and secondly because a lot of the items in my life I’d like to discuss will somehow wind up in this bullet journal one way or another.
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