Starting a Bullet Journal your own way
I recently got started with Bullet Journalling after debating whether or not to give it a go for so long. I really liked the idea of using it to be more organised with my plans for the shop and blog, and have admired various layouts and styles via Instagram and Pinterest. But at the same time, seeing other people’s kind of put me off a bit really. Some of the layouts are amazing in terms of lettering and design, which is something that I would love to replicate but felt I couldn’t achieve. I’m not an illustrator by any means! Some other articles I read on Pinterest put me off a bit too – especially things like ‘Why you are FAILING at Bullet Journal!’ Erm…failing?! This doesn’t really make much sense to me at all! So after a lot of thinking, reading and considering and what to get out of a Bullet Journal, I put those negative thoughts to one side and went for it – and I’m so glad that I did. Today’s post is about starting a Bullet Journal your own way, and I really think that doing your own thing is key.
Bullet Journal: Materials
One of the great things about Bullet Journal is that you don’t need lots of fancy stuff to get started – any notebook will do. However, if you love stationery like I do then you may want to invest in one of the Leuchtturm1917 originals. I use their teal Bullet Journal and I like that it’s pretty flexible in terms of layout, and I’m enjoying using it more than one with lines. You could use one of their dotted notebooks if you want a different colour – I’ll definitely get a pink one next time!
Other materials that I use so far include these Sharpie fine pens (which write beautifully), some Stabilo Pen 68 for decoration and borders, and some tracing paper for tracing my titles. Yep, I’m not ashamed to say that I haven’t handwritten the titles myself! More on that shortly… You can also decorate with washi tape, stickers or anything else that you fancy. Some post-it notes might also come in handy.
Bullet Journal: the basic principles
So the basic principle behind Bullet Journal is to make journalling a little quicker so that you keep up with it more frequently. The Bullet Journal website refers to this as ‘Rapid Logging’. Essentially, it’s a tool that you can use in whatever way to help you to be more efficient, pr-active, organised or for any other reason that you need it for. For me, I need it to be a place for me to empty my head of my million-and-one ideas that I have at random points in the day. I need it to help me organise my lists so that when I have a little bit of time to work on my blog or my shop, I can use that time well.
What keeps the process ‘rapid’ is the use of short sentences (although this isn’t necessarily what I’m going for personally) and the use of a key to indicate the status of tasks. This is the key in the front of my journal:
It’s suggested that you use the relevant key at the start of each point to help you to work out which order to complete things in. I use some of these symbols in mine, but have adapted them to suit me. The ‘getting started’ post on the Bullet Journal website is great if you want to find out more about the principles of the ‘official’ system.
How I’m using my Bullet Journal
So I’ve taken the basic principles and just adapted them to what works for me, and I really believe that it’s the key to keeping this up. I use my Bullet Journal to write down thoughts as I go, but I do want it to be neat (that’s just who I am!). So I decided to write some large titles in a lovely handwritten script font, and then print them out in reverse so that I could trace them. Then I can just add bullet points in underneath as I go along.
I’ve found it really helpful to have a general to-do list for my blog – I always remember random things that need doing when I’m out and about, and it has been great to have a place to write them all down. You can see in the picture at the top of the post that I’ve been using post-it notes as well, and I created a couple of pages where I can just stick them in to be able to transfer ideas later on. If you like things to be neat and tidy, this is quite a good system!
I’m using my Bullet Journal as a monthly system for now. If I ever get to quit the day job, I’ll switch to a weekly format! This monthly format allows me to focus on what I need to do each month, but without pressure if necessary. Nothing is completely fixed, and I can be flexible about what I can realistically achieve. So for April, I traced the header for the month and made a list with bullet points. As I completed a task, I used the Bullet Journal system of marking it with a cross to show that it was done. In May, I wrote a header again and then highlighted any tasks that were not yet complete by putting them in a box at the top of the first page like this:
So yes, I have full sentences in my journal. And yes, I do like to spend a little bit of time decorating it and making it neat and tidy, which goes against the point of it being a quick system. But this is what works for me and I love it. Since using my bullet journal, I haven’t felt quite so stressed out trying to remember the things that I want to do in the little bits of time that I have to create things. It has meant that I use my time more wisely, because I can focus on what needs doing first or what I want to spend my time on. I actually find that it isn’t hugely time consuming this way – I enjoy drawing the titles and it’s fairly quick to write a list as bullet points anyway. I’ve used the same format for June and I’m happy with how it’s working, but it’s something that I can adapt as I go along if I need to.
Bullet Journal resources and supplies
I’ve already mentioned the Bullet Journal website as a great resource for information if you’re starting out. Here are some other useful resources and places to go for supplies:
There are lots of great videos on the Claireabellemakes YouTube channel (and if you’re interested in other planners too, Claire talks you through her amazing selection!).
Nikki McWilliams also has some really helpful videos on her YouTube channel – there’s a great one about setting up, and she also has a tutorial for ombre hand lettering. Nikki also has her own Etsy shop dedicated to Bullet Journal supplies and cool stationery.
If you’re a stationery addict like me, you’ll love Jennifer Cockroft’s post about pens!
I have a Pinterest board dedicated to Bullet Journal, which is a great place for inspiration.
What are your top tips for Bullet Journal?
Let me know in the comments below! I plan to write up some of the take-away points from Blogtacular in mine over the next week or so. I’ve also written my Creative Manifesto, which I’m really looking forward to sharing with you soon! I’ll keep you updated with how I’m using it and adapting my Bullet Journal as I go.