Am I the only one that has been who has been seeing bullet journals everywhere? Or do I just surround myself with people who love organization and writing down their feelings? It’s new to me, but it’s been around for a few years developed by Ryder Carroll.
Here’s my rundown on how to start a bullet journal and some things to keep in mind so it’s not so overwhelming.
My mind works faster than I want it to most of the time and sometimes it’s difficult for my to catch up to myself when I’m motivated. If I get a wind of inspiration I’ll usually start telling myself, “Okay, let’s start this now,” and I’ll drop everything else. Or more likely I’ll say to myself, “I’ll just start a blog post and I’ll get back to it when I think it should be posted.” Or the even less productive option I give myself that I try and make a list in my head thinking I’ll “definitely remember that,” turns out… I usually don’t.
I never realized how much I love writing things down. Sometimes when I’m trying to get my day started and figuring out how to manage my time the most effectively I need to write a list. Lists are my to-go. They are the easiest, most productive way for me to get things done, which is why bullet journal are perfect for me. If you like list or don’t have a long attention span you might love them too.
What are bullet journals? Well, they’re unstructured journals. Instead of buying a pre-design book of monthly/weekly layouts you design your own. The difference between regular planners you could buy pretty much anywhere is that they don’t just need to be full of your to-do list and weekly meetings. Bullet journals are unique to the person writing them, there are endless opportunities for creation.
For me – I just started. Don’t discredit me yet, I’ve learned a few things so far and that’s why I wanted to write this post. I also wanted to have something to look back to at the end of the year after my journal is full. I’d like to share my thoughts as a beginner, as well as how quickly you become aware of your own habits and what it means to be organized and productive for yourself. I started my journal because I realized I never kept up with my regular journal, the one where I kept my thoughts, emotions, and inevitably my failures because most of the time we don’t write down the good things. I never did. I kept hearing about bullet journals and I thought it was the perfect mix between organized and creative.
Here’s the run down on how they work (mind you, there are really no rules,) but hopefully breaking it down will make it less overwhelming. Here’s a couple things you can do:
1. Get a journal with dotted pages, not lined, and make sure the paper is somewhat thick so everything you use doesn’t bleed through the papers. I got mine for $5 at Michael’s and it works great. Find a favorite pen, if you’re into writing you probably already have one. I use Pigma Micron pens to outline and header all my pages so it’s all cohesive. I use the 01, 03 and 05 pens (you can easily find these in a pack at craft stores). Grab yourself some color or it’ll get confusing – highlighters, light brush markers (I’ve got to get myself some Copic markers). Lastly, not as important, but makes outlining a hell of a lot quicker, get a skinny, flat ruler. I say flat because I like keeping it inside my journal or else I’d probably lose it. This way you can travel with your journal easier, less maintenance, more creativity. Ya dig?
2. Make a key or legend – you’re going to want to write down some items to symbolize tasks, for example, a heart for workout, an arrow for youtube filming, etc. Try and plan all this out before you start writing it down, use symbols you won’t be confused by and aren’t too intricate. This allow you way more room for writing, and allowing you a little whitespace for your brain to process what’s in front of it. Plus, let’s face it… writing down the same thing “take your vitamins” every day kind of sucks so just write V♡, or something.
3. Make a year at a glance page/future log – this is just a full layout of all the months in the year and days and dates so if you ever need to refer back to it you can. My year at a glance is spread out over two pages with some room for way in the future events I need to write down. If you’ve got a ton going on I suggest making a separate future log page.
4. Create your first month/week – I made a cute page design for January and on the other side I started my first week. A lot of people map out the entire month with open boxes, but that’s not helpful to me (yet, I’ll let you know how that goes). If you plan things out in advance a lot this might be great for you because ripping out pages sucks, it messes with the spine and ends up messy. As for your first week – on two pages I laid out the first seven days with enough room to jot down some of the things I needed to get done.
Here’s where things get a little up in the air. The idea of a bullet journal is to easily keep your life in order, but it’s also about expressing yourself and storing memories of the year as you go. If you don’t like how you set up your first week then feel free to change it.
As you can see, my first few days into the new year were a little rough, and I picked up my journal on that Friday, but I still drew it out and joined society a few days late.
5. Take it one week at a time – After your first week, sit down on a Saturday or Sunday or whenever you have free close to the end of the week and start planning for next week. Plan out your layout or use the same one if you liked how it worked for you. Then you have to fill in some of the things you need to do for the week. I like to be VERY specific because I have no structure with running my own blog and youtube channel. If I want anything to get done I need to do it.
6. It’s everchanging – you won’t have an exact layout for the whole year. You may realize four months in that you get the same exact things at the grocery store and you should write down something like a master grocery list so you never have to make one again. Or you’ll realize you don’t need two pages every week. Everyone’s different, don’t take it too seriously, but the end of each month you’ll learn what you like for your own productivity.
Now, I’m only a few pages in, but I’ve already learned a ton. My brain is wild. That’s the most important thing I’ve learned. I have the weirdest brain sprints. I could have the shower running standing naked in the kitchen and I just need to write a couple things down real quick before I forget and there I am, 15 minutes later, standing in the kitchen bare ass.
I realized after my first week that you can’t plan too far ahead because you really don’t know how you’re going to feel. If you start prepping for the next month then the journal starts to feel too structured, like the planners you can buy at target, or the ones you got in high school. Gross. Take it one week at a time, change up your design until you feel like you can’t stop looking at it because it’s just so beautiful.
The biggest thing I’ve learned to far is that I need to be very specific with myself in order to not overwhelm myself. This way I cut myself off from getting ahead of myself. I’ve realized that putting things in a specific order is necessary for me. I planned out next week in my bullet journal and I put take vitamins down every day, but I didn’t put it at the top of my list. I mixed it in with other tasks every day as they came to me. It’s aesthetical NOT pleasing, and something I’ll change for my next week. Every time I look at my journal I learn a new way for me to improve my productivity and creativity.
So, getting your journal to be the way you want it, and to be the most effective for you is going to take a couple weeks, maybe even months. Just like anything else, good things take time. I’ll post an update version of my bullet journal in a few months to show you how it’s going so far. Try making your own bullet journal, tag me with some of your journals on Instagram in the process!