The Bullet Journal has been a bit of a buzz word for a few years now. The chances are that you can’t scroll through your Pinterest or Instagram feed and not see something relating to the Bullet Journal. And, oh boy, 90% of the images you will see are beautiful – we are talking pristine brush lettering and stunning spread designs with perfectly blended colours – and it is highly likely that will be enough to put you off starting, or persevering with a bullet journal. Because that is exactly what happened to me.
I have been using a bullet journal for almost two years on and off. I say on and off because when I first started my journal I had grand visions of how beautiful it would look, and when I didn’t achieve that I got incredibly frustrated and gave up. But after a while I found myself missing my bullet journal, and I realised that what I was actually missing was not all the prettiness but, in fact, the functionality and versatility that a BuJo offers. So, I started up again but this time I stripped it back to its bare bones – back to what the creator of the bullet journal, Ryder Carroll, intended it to be:
The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.
– Ryder Carroll
Before I continue, however, I feel I should say that even though I struggled to achieve all the prettiness that has come to be associated with the bullet journal, I do still love to spend a lot of time admiring the utterly beautiful, and inspiring, spreads that so many talented people make – many of whom I will be linking to throughout this post.
Starting up again, and keeping everything simple (to start with) was exactly what I needed to fall back in love in Bullet Journalling. A Bullet Journal can be whatever you want it to be – but the one thing it absolutely should not be is overwhelming. The bullet journal needs to work for you – not you for it. If you think you would like to know more about this brilliant system then read on…
WHAT IS A BULLET JOURNAL?
A bullet journal is, quite simply, an organisation method that is completely customisable to suit your needs. There are a few foundation guidelines that it’s advisable to follow – using an index, a key, future log, monthly log, daily logs, migration etc – and these form the skeleton of your BuJo. Beyond that, your BuJo is what you make it. But, before you go diving in and starting your first BuJo I really recommend that you pop over to the official Bullet Journal website to find out about the BuJo concept and how to start. Alternatively, this video from the website will give you a quick overview, and hopefully whet your appetite…
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO START A BULLET JOURNAL?
A notebook, a pen, and your imagination. That’s it. Really.
Notebook -There are a few notebook brands that are highly recommended, such as the Leuchtturm 1917 and Moleskine, but really when you start it’s a good idea to use a pretty basic notebook. My first two bullet journals were cheap A5 lined notebooks picked up from the supermarket. I had fully intended to place an Amazon order for a Leuchtturm 1917 dotted A5 book when I was coming to the end of my 2nd BuJo, but whilst browsing in TK Maxx I found my current journal, a Conceptum grided A5 notebook which has pages for the Key and Index already included – and it was a complete bargain at £2.50.
Pens – Again, depending on how you are going to use your BuJo then the type of pen you need will vary. If you are planning a very simple journal then you can’t go wrong with a ball point pen. But, if you want to start incorporating colour and design elements such as brush lettering (something I would love to try this year) then the options are endless. I generally don’t incorporate any pretty designs, doodles or calligraphy in my BuJo (I struggle to draw a convincing looking stick man!) but I use these Staedler pens to add a pop of colour here and there.
WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR BUJO TO DO?
This is where your BuJo really comes into its own and what makes it completely unique to anyone else’s. It’s important to think about what you want to log in your BuJo. There are so many different collection possibilities that it’s easy to suffer from shiny object syndrome and feel like you need to fill your journal with every collection or tracker you’ve ever seen on Pinterest or Instagram – trust me, I’ve been that person and I can assure you that after I added a section to track how much water I had drunk in a day I used it about four times and then didn’t bother again.
So, think about what you want to use your bullet journal for – if it’s just to log appointments, tasks and important dates then you will most likely only need the original bullet journal set up of future log / monthly spread / daily spread. But if you plan to use your journal for reflection, contemplation and personal growth, as many people do, then you might like to add a gratitude log, habit tracker or mood tracker. The possibilities are endless.
Currently, I have the following spreads & collections in my bullet journal:
Weekly Spread – I use a weekly spread in place of a daily spread as it suits me better at the moment. If I know I will be having a particularly busy or interesting day then I will set up a daily spread for that date too.
Monthly Meal Plan
Monthly Habit Tracker
Books I’ve read in 2017
All you need to do to find some Bujo inspiration is to look on Pinterest or use the #bulletjournal or #bujo hashtags on Instagram. But, be warned, it’s very easy to lose a couple of hours by just scrolling through your Instagram feed – there are so many beautiful and inspiring accounts! Here are some of my favourites:
Boho Berry – Kara’s Instagram feed and website is not just full of prettiness it also contains a wealth of helpful information in the form of blog posts and video tutorials. If you sign up to her mailing list you will also gain access to the Boho Berry Tribe Facebook page, which is full of like minded and super supportive people who just love their bullet journals.
By far one of my favorite spreads in my #BulletJournal last month! Kim @tinyrayofsunshine inspired me to start logging my gratitude over a year ago, and I just love how the practice has evolved since then. – It’s great to look back on, and even more so when times are tough. Approaching life daily with gratitude has been such a mindset shift and a huge part of my personal development over the past couple of years. I find myself looking at the world through new eyes, constantly on the search for new things to be grateful for each and every day ☺ – #bulletjournal #bohoberrytribe #leuchtturm1917 #wearebujo #tombowdualbrushpens #gratitude #attitudeofgratitude #miraclemorning
Kate Louise / Plan to Succeed – Kate has been an Instagram favourite for a while now, but she has recently started a blog too and often has free printable templates available too.
Tiny Ray of Sunshine
Study with Inspo
My Life in a Bullet – oh so very very pretty!
Bujo Aus Life – for minimal bullet journal inspiration.
and, of course, the official Bullet Journal Instagram account.
As someone who has the attention span of a fish – think Dory from Finding Dory – and a propensity for procrastination if I don’t have a structured day planned out, the bullet journal has been so useful in my day to day coming and goings. I also love how it has made me stop and focus on myself, even if it’s just for five or ten minutes each day.
Do you use a diary system in your day to day life? Would you consider swapping over to a bullet journal system? If it’s something you are considering then I hope this post has been helpful!
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