I’m a stationery junkie, and every chance I get, I buy pens and notebooks. I can’t help myself, but I’ve always been drawn to art supplies. I wouldn’t say I’m an artist – more of a doodler. So a year ago, when I accidentally stumbled upon the concept of bullet journaling, and all of the beautiful pages they contain, I was intrigued.
So what is a bullet journal?
First off, if you like to know exactly what a bullet journal is, I’d recommend watching THIS video. The creator of the bullet journal system, Ryder Carroll, not only shows you how to utilize it, but he also explains what it is. If you’d prefer to hear my explanation, then keep reading.
The way I’d explain it is that it’s a planner, diary, sketchbook, and record keeper – all in one! Different people use it for different reasons, but those seem to be the most popular. The system is designed to help you be the best you (sorry if that’s a little corny) by helping you be more productive in all areas of your life.
Is bullet journaling right for you?
I think anyone can customize a bullet journal to be whatever they need it to be, but not everyone will do it the same way. Ryder’s style is more minimalistic. He does this because it helps him use the system fast and efficiently. Other people, myself included, love the artistic and creative aspect and you’ll see lots of color, drawings, doodles, and fun lettering.
The trend in bullet journaling (or bujo for short) is big and beautiful illustrations, but yours doesn’t have to be like that. You can keep it totally simple. Use it just to help organize your life! However, do take a few minutes to search on Google, Pinterest, or YouTube, and you’ll see that no two bullet journals are alike. You’ll quickly see what style you are drawn to.
How this Momma is using her bullet journal
From the very beginning, I knew exactly how I was going to utilize the whole bullet journal system. I had some main goals. Here they are:
- Keep track of events
- Make t0-do lists
- Organize my thoughts and doodles
- Do quick, daily journal entries
- Jot down family memories and funny quotes from my kids
- Record blog stats and post ideas
- Brainstorm on paper
- Combine all my random notebooks into one
Basically, I wanted to have one book to “rule them all!” Seriously though. I just needed one notebook in which to keep everything in my life, instead of carrying around five books and losing four of them! (for real)
Are you ready to dive in?
If you think this system might work for you, then now it’s time to get started. Like I said, I actually became interested in bullet journaling a year ago, but it wasn’t until last month that I did thorough research and ordered my current notebook and pens. I will use my knowledge of the system and what research I did in order to help you get started with your own bujo! I’m so excited! Let’s get to it.
First, choose a notebook
Any notebook will work as a bullet journal, but I have noticed that most people use the same kind – the Leuchtturm 1917 notebook with dotted pages. This particular journal costs about $20, and comes in a variety of colors. It measures 5.75×8.25 inches, has two ribbon bookmarks, and an expandable pocket. The product description says the paper is ink proof and acid-free, and it apparently even comes with stickers!
Most bullet journalists would highly recommend this notebook, and if you’re overwhelmed with notebook options, this would be a great place to start.
After seeing numerous videos, blog posts, and pinterest images, I decided to ignore all the recommendations to use the Leuchtturm and do my own thing. So, in the midst of doing a search in Amazon, I discovered this adorable notebook called Scribbles That Matter. I just fell in love with it – those adorable imprinted doodles on the cover, though…
At just $20, I felt it was comparable to the Leuchtturm 1917, but it was WAY cuter! There are a lot of the same features with the Scribbles That Matter notebook. You can see by the photos below that it has an elastic strap for closure, two colored ribbon bookmarks, expandable pocket, and numbered pages. Oh, and this notebook actually has an elastic pen holder. Love that so much!
And speaking of the key and index…
Setting up your bullet journal
My Scribbles That Matter notebook not only has a key, but it also has a “colour code” column. I’m not sure if I will use it, but I love that it gives me this option. I love color, so having it organized in a code might be beneficial for me. 🙂
Bullet journaling is all about rapid logging, so the key is super important. You can use whatever symbols you prefer, but most people stick with the same general ones. For example, a task is represented by a dot. When that task is completed, you cross it out with an X. If the task is in progress, just draw one slash through the dot. Refer to the picture above for other ideas for your key.
The next thing you’re gonna want to do is add your future log on the first TWO empty two-page spreads after the index. Basically, the future log is a yearly calendar with some space to write key events or things to remember for each month. I started mine this month (May 2017), so I was easily able to fit all eight months between these two pages. Another thing people also do is write all twelve months out on one page – just as a reference.
Now, remember that index? Once you have your future log (yearly calendar) all written down, then you turn back to your index and record the page numbers they’re on. For me, it was pages 1 and 2. You can see how I wrote it down above.
Next, you’ll want to decide if you want to include a monthly, weekly, and/or daily log. I haven’t decided yet what I will ultimately use consistently, so I’m using this month to experience.
So far, this is probably my least favorite spread in my bullet journal, and obviously I had a pen bleed through from the following page. Still, it serves an important purpose. I’m able to see everything I have going on in the current month – so helpful! I wanted this spread to be one that I refer back to constantly, so half of it is designed for my business, too.
Like I said up above, one of my goals for this bullet journal is to record quick, daily journal entries. Some people create a “One line a day” collection, but I wanted to include more details in mine. So, my daily log is more of a diary!
Here you can see how I started my entries. In the future, I will not dictate ahead of time how much room to give each day, because I don’t want to feel like I can only include a certain amount of information. Also, did you notice the matching washi tape behind the “20” on Saturday? I made a boo-boo, and to fix it, I just covered it with the tape and wrote right over it. Thankfully, the color matched perfectly!
After you have created your monthly and daily logs, make sure to go back and record them in your index. Now’s the time for all the fun.
Create trackers and collections
Think about things that you might want to keep track of and make some trackers. Some people like to record how much water they drink, how many hours of sleep they get each night, or making sure they are creating healthy habits.
Then there’s my personal fave – collections! With collections, you can organize similar things into groups. Some ideas include favorite restaurants, movies watched, birthdays, recipes, vacation plans, daily routine, bucket list, brain dump, quotes, and so many more.
Remember, always be sure to go back and record page numbers in your index. This is so important so you can find things later!
Lastly, if your bullet journal doesn’t already have a pen test page printed in it like these Scribbles That Matter notebooks, then make sure to create your own. The last thing you’re gonna want, is for your spreads to get ruined because your pen ink bled through the page or the marker was dying – so disappointing! Try every pen and marker out before adding to your journal. You can also do what I did, and write the names down so you remember what colors look good and which ones are your favorites.
So that’s it!
I’m so excited to add more and more to my bullet journal. I feel like it’s going to be my Indiana Jones’s dad’s little leather notebook (shout out to anyone who knows what I’m talking about). Please follow me on Instagram @momma_wren to see more of my bullet journal spreads!
Anybody else in love with bullet journaling? Let me know in the comments below! <3 Interested in knowing what supplies I use in my bujo? Check back soon for a complete list of resources.