Happy New Year!!!!
Hope you all had a wonderful time these holidays :)
To bring in the new year I wanted to try a whole new planning system. I usually use my iPhone and iPad for reminders/appointments etc but my To Do Lists always end up on random stationary and post it notes as I need them visual otherwise something might disappear to the back of my mind or I might not check a digital “app” of To Do’s for days, so I need it on paper. This can be messy or overwhelming if you end up with too many places to store info and bits of paper/notebooks/apps everywhere. Plus you have to work around your set appointment and daily work to fit in all your other tasks and with too many places to look at it can be crazy.. phew! Wouldn’t it be great just to have everything together?!
Enter the Bullet Journal. “A totally customisable (and totally forgiving) organisation system that adapts to your needs.” It can basically be a combination of all of the following: planner, diary, to-do-list, notebook, sketchbook. Obviously you need to love stationary, DIY projects and the use of an analog system to begin with. You don’t even need to be creative like all the photos you see on Instagram or Pinterest, even a bare bones version of the system would work as the goal should be all about productivity.
I just love that everyone can personalise it to their own needs even if it does initially take a bit of time to set up, depending on what you will have in it and how creative you want to get. The perfect thing is, as it is designed to be used as a planner/diary, unlike traditional ones you buy in stores where the days/weeks etc are all set out for you and you only get the limited/excessive space provided for each day, this is completely customisable. It’s traditionally meant to be used on a day-by-day basis so you can use as little or as much space as you need, even if you skip a day that’s fine. You simply write your next entry under the one you last finished. No cramming things into limited space. No blank spaces. No paper wastage.
My fiancé was sceptical at first and said “what if you have a future appointment in a few months?” Well that is where the genius of the Bullet Journal comes in. All will be explained below but first let’s actually have a look at the Bullet Journal I went with. As it it my first one I wanted to go for the official one from www.bulletjournal.com as it is a Leuchtturm1917 with extras: it has a few instruction pages, 3 page marker ribbons, pre-numbered pages which you need for indexing (saves you the hastle of numbering pages yourself) and it folds out flat as it’s thread-bound. Dimensions: 145×210 mm. The ink-proof, acid-free paper is perfectly dotted with 39 vertical & 27 horizontal dots-per-page.
The Pen Test is the most important first thing you need to do on a page at the back of your journal so you can test out how the paper handles whatever writing material you decide you want to use. This cancelled out a few markers/pens that I already had from being used in this as I know that they would most likely bleed through as seen in my examples below.
The information pages at the back are also useful or you can obtain most of the info from bulletjournal.com and the Bujo community online.
Edit: What I completely forgot to add when I first posted this on the 1st of Jan, is that before I went any further than the pen test I did a crazy amount of pre-planning just in one of my cheap notebooks. Basically asked myself, what do I want to get out of my new Bullet Journal? What sections do I want to have in there? What Collection pages etc? Just look at it one section at a time eg. Your monthly: will it be on a one or two page spread depending on what you want there? Make little sketches in rectangles (like mini opened out bullet journals) to preview different layouts. Once you have decided what you want then number them what order you want them in so when you go to set up your new Bullet Journal it’s less daunting. Just remember, if you forget something like a ‘books to read’ page etc, you can easily add it to whatever empty page you’re up to and index it.
Also, once you’re ready to set up your official Bullet Journal, use a pencil and eraser to map out where everything is going first before laying on the ink, which I mostly did, but I still had to use correction tape a few times hahaha. The sections I wanted ready (or at least headings done for some Collection Pages) before the new year started were: Key, Index, Future Log, 2 page spread of the last week of December (test out a constrictive format), all my random collections (eg. Wedding planning, books to read etc), Jan events/tasks overview, Jan Tracker, Jan Gratitude, then blanks for where the daily pages begin. I don’t think I need a ‘weekly’ as I think the monthly should be sufficient for my needs but if you have more to keep track of, adding a weekly summary page might be helpful,unfortunately I don’t have example of those here. The following is my setup for my Bullet Journal.
The very first page is the Key which came with many of the typical symbols filled out already and then I added a few others as per below.
The Index page is where you reference all the main pages in your Bullet Journal, items are added here as you go and not in advance. This Bujo comes pre-labeled with “Index” above 4 lined pages.
The next important pages are the Future Log pages. This one comes pre-labeled with “Future Log” across the top of 4 dotted pages. So logically I worked out 3 months per page. Some people have even less depending on their needs and how fast they go through Bullet Journals but as this is my first one I wanted to cover the whole year and just see how I go. In the meantime I have only input public holidays, birthdays, observances, charity days and random fun days eg. Star Wars Day – May the 4th be with you ;) I probably have more birthdays I would like to add as well as appointments as they are made. Each months items are then migrated over to the “monthly spread” as you get to that particular month and then from the monthly items are migrated to the “weekly/daily”.
Firstly after the Future Log, I decided to do the last 8 days in December as a 2 page spread just as a test and also to somehow fill the 2 pages before all the random Collection Pages I wanted to have before January began. Many people in the Bujo community do plan out a whole week spread in their Bullet Journals and most of them look amazing. It really depends on what works for you. Traditionally though when this system was created it was meant to be used on a day by day basis which I’m planning to do from January 1. This means I can use as much or as little space as I need for one day. I can fill a page with journaling or doodling or even skip a day altogether. When I start adding in the next day there will be no crazy gaps or blank spaces as with typical dated journal/diaries. No page wastage. Otherwise you either don’t have enough room for journaling or end up just filling the blank space with a quote or doodling or something as I did below. Unfinished tasks won’t be migrated on a day to day basis as I will skim over the whole spread daily if there are things still to do or re-evaluate. Instead as many people already do, I will migrate unfinished tasks as soon as I start a new day on a brand new 2-page spread.
Next came all my random Collection pages just so I could have them all towards the beginning. Nothing wrong with adding one down the line though as you can always index them. I mainly set up the headers, but most of these will be a simple “list” format anyway although I was thinking of writing the “books to read” as a picture of book spines on a bookcase and the “painting ideas” as boxes in proportion to the canvas sizes I have to use up.
Next is the all important Monthly Page/Spread housing all your events/birthdays/appointments/tasks etc (from the Future Log) and any other additional ones you decide to add throughout the month.
Immediately after this I have set up my monthly tracker. Will see how much of this stays around next month. I think it’s quite fascinating although to some it might look crazy and overwhelming. You have to remember though that although a few of the items are “daily” trackers some are more like “weekly” or even “monthly” depending on the task. IT is really more of a “when was the last time I did this” type of tracker.
The next monthly spread is for Gratitude. Something that many people have been putting in their Bullet Journals. I really think it’s a lovely idea of writing in a thing or two that has made you smile that day. I will definitely be nice to read through at the end of a month or even to look back on in times when you’re having an unfortunate day.
Lastly is my blank page which will be the start of my January daily entries. One day at a time to make the most of it. I can still be creative with my day headings if I want e.g. “Sun Jan 1” as a banner style or cursive font etc. The rest I want to mainly keep as easy to read to-do’s for the day. The Monthly Spread will be used on a daily basis to see if any events etc need to be migrated over for the particular day as well as which task I would like to tackle. Again, if it’s not complete that day it stays in it’s spot and I have until the rest of the 2 page spread to have it completed. Anything not completed by the end of the last day on that spread then gets re-evaluated, marked as irrelevant or migrated over to the next day at the beginning of the next 2 page spread.
I hope this has helped or inspired some of you in your Planning pursuits or thoughts on diving into the Bullet Journal world. So far I am loving it but will provide an update in a month or so as to how everything is going. Stay tuned :)
Leave any comments or suggestions below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
If you’d like to watch my You Tube video on this, please see below: