I have been using a bullet journal on and off for years now, some of them have been really creative while others have been more functional. I have now settled into a style that works for me, it’s a mix of creative and functional with the most creative aspect of my journal being the page I dedicate to the month title.
I have never been one for following rules, and the traditional Bullet Journal Method of rapid logging doesn’t really appeal to me so I tend to borrow ideas from diaries and mish-mash them with things that I need in order to function on a day to day basis.
I wanted to share with you my tips and tricks I have learned along the way and how I bullet journal so today’s post is dedicated to this.
First up, let’s talk about the actual “journal”. I want to start by saying that you really do not need to buy any kind of brand journal, any kind of notebook will do. It doesn’t matter if the pages are lined, blank, dotted, graph or grid, whatever tickles your fancy will do nicely! My personal preference is for a dotted grid that isn’t too dark. Brand-wise, you can go with any, I have used cheap books from Amazon (which have no brand name), cheap notebooks from the supermarket, Lechtturm 1917, Scribbles That Matter, Flying Tiger and one that I picked up in my local TK Maxx. The brand really does not matter, it’s what you make it be that counts!
You may have seen people on social media and blogs talking about this pen, that pencil, this washi, those stickers and a whole other myriad of “essential” stationery needs for your bullet journal. My advice… disregard all that you have read. Here’s a list of tools you will need.
- Your favorite pen, ink color of your preference.
- A graphite pencil. Any kind will do.
- A ruler or straight edge.
- A few other pens in different colors, gel or fine liners work really well as do ball pens.
- Eraser, accept that you will make mistakes, an eraser will help to remove most.
- Post-it notes.
Now, before you even start on creating your journal, sit down with a pen and a piece of paper and write down a list of things you want your journal to have and what you want to use that journal for. Each person has a different list of wants and needs and reasons to use a journal.
The main thing that is needed in a journal is diary space for logging things. This can take up several different formats depending on what you want to use the journal for.
- Future log – an overview of several months that you can add information such as Birthdays and other Occasions in little detail. Usually, this will take up 2 or more pages.
- Monthly overview – a page dedicated to just one month where you can log upcoming appointments in a bit more detail.
- Weekly log – this can cover one page or 2 depending on the amount of detail you want to add to each day.
- Daily log – a page dedicated to each day, where you have the whole page to use for recording things.
Basic Set Up
The next thing to decide is whether you want a divider page between each month. Once you have answered that question you can then move on to thinking about the running order of your journal. My personal preference is
- Future Log over 4 pages (title on the facing page then on the double page 8 months, and on the reverse another 4 months).
- Monthly title page on the next available facing page.
- Monthly overview on the reverse of the monthly title page.
- Weekly pages for the month over a double page.
- Repeat 2-4.
This is your basic set up.
There are so many ways to set up your weekly pages, columns, rows, squares, rectangles…a peek at Instagram will show you so many different ways. Decide which layout is best for you. I find that rows and rectangles work best for me and alternate between the two every month.
Other Pages to Consider
Some people like to add a Key to their journal, a page of symbols or color coding that correlates to certain items in their journal, it is useful to add this to the beginning of your journal if you want to use one. There may be other requirements you have for your journal, like shopping lists, trackers and other things. Some pages you may wish to insert into your basic set up are
- Trackers. There are so many different things you may want to track, water intake, medication, sleep, steps, exercise.
- Shopping lists.
- Daily/weekly/monthly reflections.
You can add these things in between your daily/weekly pages or at the beginning or end of the month, or you can have a whole section dedicated just to these kinds of pages. There is no wrong or right way when it comes to placement, remember it is your journal.
Making a Start
I like to start by opening a new Excel spreadsheet, in the first column I make a list of each page number (the amount will depend on how many pages are available in your chosen journal). In the following column, I start to map out how I want my pages to flow, from my Future Log onwards and listing each page as if I were flicking through it. This step gives me an idea of how many pages I will use and helps me to work out how many pages will be used and for what. You don’t really need to use this step if you don’t want to.
I then map out in my journal the first few pages, firstly using post-it notes labeled with the title of the page or the date range those pages will cover so that I can get a feel for how the layout will be. Again this is an optional step but helps me to make fewer mistakes or miss things out.
Creating Your Pages
Now is time to put pencil to paper and map out your pages. Always, always, always start with a pencil! Any mistakes you make can easily be corrected, and once you are happy with the way things look you can then commit to your design with a pen, trust me on this…I’ve messed up a ton and pencil is so much easier to rectify!
You can make your pages as intricate or as plain as you want, play around and have fun creating something that is useful and will be used by you! Use as many or as few colors as you want, be minimal with your designs, be maximal, whatever you fancy!
I don’t really use collections but I thought it may be useful to mention here. Collections are series’ of pages that log certain things. collections can be lists of books to be read, films to watch, bucket lists, travel lists, packing lists, cleaning lists, and rotas… this kind of page is normally placed towards the back of your journal.
Bullet Journal Terms
Here’s a list of terms and definitions that may be useful
- Future log – Overview of the yea
- Monthly log – Overview of the current month
- 2 Page Spread – usually a layout which spans 2 pages, normally a left hand and right-hand page.
- Key – a series of symbols or colors that are assigned to certain events or tasks.
- Week to a page – a week that is contained to just one page of your journal.
- Week on 2 pages – a weekly layout spread over 2 pages.
- Tracker – a little infographic for you to capture information on whatever you want to track.
I hope you found this post useful. Do you currently use a bullet journal? What are your most useful pages? If you don’t use a bullet journal, what would you use one for?