I am constantly trying to be more organised and fighting whether to use digital tools or good old analogue notebooks. So I decided to see what all the rage was about Bullet journaling as I have heard lots of things about this topic.
I also like the idea of getting away from a screen as most of my life is spent in front of one for work or writing this blog. So how did I get started with my bullet journal and most importantly how have I found it?
What is Bullet Journalling
Before we get into the detail it might be best to quickly go over what the Bullet Journal method actually is.
Bullet journaling or BuJo for short is a method devised by Ryder Carroll that involves organising and planning with a notebook (journal) and a pen. Its also described by Ryder Carroll on the Bullet Journal website as a “mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system”
The Bullet Journal System involves creating the following
- Key or Legend
- An Index
- Different Spread or Pages (tracking tasks, events, notes, etc)
There is one key feature of bullet journalling and that is to use bullet points, short phrases and keywords to quickly capture the information in a concise and organised way. Some of the most coming spreads include:
- Daily Logs
- Weekly Logs
- Monthly calendars
- Habit trackers
- To do lists
- Collections (these are dedicated pages to a specific topic)
These can all be customised to meet your preferences and other things such as goal setting that you want to track.
Benefits of Bullet Journaling
There are a number of benefits that you can get from taking up bullet journaling, with some of the main reasons for starting a bullet journal being;
- Time Management
- Goal Setting and Tracking
- Self Reflection
- Mental health benefits
It can also be a great creative outlet for the more creative amongst us who let to decorate their journals and pages. It is also seen as a good way for people to be more mindful and be more present in their everyday lives. Which can only be a good thing for people’s mental health.
There are some physical bullet journal supplies that you will need before you can start your own bullet journal.
- A Journal or Notebook
I found that this is really all you need to get you up and running with your bullet journal. So which ones am I using?
First up let’s talk about the notebook I went for. I have tried many a notebook in the past including a firm favourite of many Moleskin. However, this time I wanted to try a new notebook the Leuchtrum 1917 official bullet Journal notebook.
This is a very popular brand for bullet journaling. I went for the Offical Bullet journal notebook because it all comes with some of the key things laid out such as the Index pages, numbered pages as well as a booklet on the bullet journal system itself.
It has a hardcover which I love as provides a solid base for when you are writing things and not at a desk. There are also other little bits that make it nice and easy for when you are making your monthly spread and pages, on the pages themselves there are marks that are measured out into 3rds and halve so you can split your pages without measuring.
This journal also has really high quality paper (80g acid-free paper). This is great as I sometimes like to write with a fountain pen and find that in other notebooks it would leak through the paper but not with this one. I also find that using a dot grid notebook is a lot easier for setting up different spreads and pages for bullet journaling. Unlike other journals, the Lechttrum comes with 3 ribbon bookmarks so you can easily access your most used pages.
This is currently my pen of choice and I am only using one as I am keeping my Bullet Journal nice and minimal. This is one of the best pens for me because it’s not too thin a nib (0.8mm) and it writes really nicely which is all that I am really looking for in a Pen.
I only really write in black ink as I think this keeps things looking nice and tidy and generally just prefer the look of it in my notebooks.
Setting up your Spreads & Pages
So now that you have the essentials you can start to create your spreads (Pages) in your Bullet Journal. This will essentially be the systems that you choose to use, below are the spreads that are mostly associated with the bullet journal.
This is kind of the starting point for your bullet journal system and where you will keep track of the different pages and spreads that you create along the way. This is another reason why the Leuchttrum1971 is really useful as it already has page numbers in there.
So once you have created a page or a number of pages for one specific topic you can add the page numbers and this acts as your table of contents for easy reference.
This is the first thing that I set up in my journal. This is basically a year view set across 4 pages at the beginning of the bullet journal. Its really easy to set this up using the marks on the pages in the Leuchttrum1971 notebook and a ruler, just split the page into 3 and then write the Months at the top to give you a monthly calendar view.
I am using this view to capture key future events such as birthdays and half-term dates. It is useful to have them at a glance but I am still working out what else I want to or need to capture in my future log.
Monthly Spread (or Monthly Log)
After my future log, we come to my monthly view, this is really straightforward. I write the month a the top of the page and then the number of days of the week down the page followed by the initial of the day of the week next to it.
I then take the events from the Future Log such as birthdays and add them next to the actual date. I also capture other things that I have on for that month such as appointments and key activities e.g. when to start my next month’s spread.
Monthly Task List
As I am trying to keep things minimal this is just a page that has my to do list for the month or another concept that I am trying to embrace, my could-do list for each month to help me achieve my goals.
These are more the bigger tasks that I want to get done rather than daily tasks for instance one of my tasks is to plan out my blog posts for the month.
This may be sounding to start a bit repetitive and I thought so as well to start but each of these spreads does serve different if only slightly purposes. This is set up in the same way as the future log with the page split into the days of the week.
Each section will have the date and the day and within that segment, I will capture the daily tasks for that day. I will look at my monthly calendar and add appointments etc into the weekly spread. This also acts as my daily to do list.
My additional Pages
I am still working out exactly what else I want to capture in my bullet journal system as I want to keep track of the things that I need to and not over complicating my journal. So I only have two additional pages and a collection.
This is a new one for me as I have never tracked habits before but have been interested in starting so I decided to add a page to my bullet journal. Similar to my monthly log I simply put the dates and days down one side and the habits like exercise, and journalling that I want to track along the top. I also added a key at the bottom as I only use the initials for the activity/habit I am tracking.
I have a couple of collections going on in my bullet journal which is focused on a specific topic. One of them is my Video or Blog page which is where I capture what I want to capture in a blog post or YouTube Video so it acts a bit like a checklist and a quick capture for new ideas for those videos and blogs. This is also known as rapid logging in the bullet journal method.
The second collection is my Journal, I did have a separate notebook as well as my digital journal but I decided that I wanted it all in one place. So now I just have one notebook for everything. I am still experimenting with my Journal in a notebook as I so enjoy the digital app that I use.
So is bullet journaling for me? I am still on the fence as it’s only been 30 days since I took the plunge and opened my blank journal and just got started. I like that it’s not digital and is one less screen to manage. And I think that this is one of the big benefits for me as it helps me to be more present and thoughtful about what I need to do and what I am writing when journalling.
It is also not expensive to start a bullet journal, all you need is a pen and a blank notebook it doesn’t even need to be one of the best notebooks. You can be as elaborate as you want to be with your pages, it’s your own page to express yourself on.
I am going to continue on my bullet journaling journey and will tweak and tailor it as I go. Somethings may end up going back to digital tools but I certainly feel that there is a place for a bullet journal in my life. I would certainly recommend that you give it a go, it may not be for you, but it might just be what you have been looking for when it comes to organising and managing your life.
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