How To Start a Bullet Journal
If you haven’t heard of Ryder Carrol’s bullet journal system then you will now!
There has been a huge increase in the number of people that are starting their very own journals if the bullet journal Facebook group is anything to go by.
It was designed as a system where you will use bullets to form lists and have different symbols to represent what is being logged.
It is a notebook where you can plan your everyday life and it has also turned into a place where you can be creative with it if you wish.
Ultimately, it needs to support your organisation and productivity.
Using a blank notebook helps you to make the bullet journal function to your wishes which is what you do not get with any other planner.
I am in love with this system and I love how you can make it your own as you are not limited with space if you have a mountainous to-do list (which works well for me especially as I am trying to train as a teacher).
Although I do not stick with the original system strictly, I think that it is a great way to keep everything you need in one place.
As you are basically playing around with a blank notebook, it gives you the flexibility of using it however you need based on what you are up to.
There is no wastage of paper because if you have a short list day you can just use the remaining space to write the next day at the top.
You also have the option of making it fancy with lots of doodles or take a more minimalistic approach.
I have become too obsessed with this system as my stationery collection has risen considerably from starting this new system.
Who would have thought washi tape and pens would give someone so much excitement?
I have two working bullet journals at the moment, one for blogging and one is a personal/work journal; this seems to work well for me.
Do you feel that this system is something you could try? Then all you need to get started is a notebook and a pen.
There are some misconceptions in the Bullet Journal community that you need a million and one stationery items to start Bullet Journaling.
But this is just not true. All you really need is a notebook and a pen and then you are off.
However if you do want to have a few of the stationery items that you see around the Bullet Journal community, then here is a list for you to choose from.
What You Will Need
You don’t need to pay for an expensive notebook to start a bullet journal; any notebook you have lying around the house is enough.
However, if you want to buy a new notebook there is a variety of different notebooks that you can choose from but some of the communities favourites are:
I would definitely recommend either 2, 3 or 5 because the pages are slightly thicker. That is just my opinion though.
All of these can be found on Amazon; which is where I have purchased these products.
Pens are definitely based on the type of person because there are so many different types, you don’t need a fancy pen, but some of these are my favourites.
Here are some that I use for writing and decorating:
1. Faber Castell Artist PITT Pens
2. Micron Pens
3. Zebra Mildliners
4. Tombow Dual Brush Pens
5. Staedtler Fine Liners
7. Uniball Pen
Again, all of these are able to be purchased from Amazon.
If I had to pick just one to buy I would definitely pick the Faber Castell Artist PITT Pens they are beautiful for writing and doodling- and they don't smudge easily-which is always a bonus.
Washi Tape- Washi tape is a great way to decorate you Bullet Journal and it is also optional to use this.
I normally get Washi Tape from amazon as there is a great selection on there.
Roller Cello Tape- great for sticking in photos!
Stencils- are great to add banners and small doodles.
How to get started using the Bullet Journal
Index and Key
From searching the internet for a while before starting the bullet journal myself it is a good idea to start with an index, this will make it really clear to navigate inside your bullet journal.
An index is pretty self-explanatory; you mark some page numbers in your notebook and then write what is on each page of the journal (bonus tip: the leuchtturm1917 already has an index and page numbers for you ready to go).
The key is also part of the original system where there is a symbol to represent tasks, events and appointments.
I have also added in a colour key as well to make sure I make time in my time tracker to do each of my planned tasks.
It is a good for me to track when I am planning for lessons, in university and making time to work on blog posts.
If it is blank that means that I am free for those hours to do what I want.
There are different symbol for different tasks, how I use them is explained below (by all means change them to suit your needs and add any that you need):
> Task forwarded
< Task backtracked
X Completed task
Cancelled Task-is a line going through it.
Appointment- is a triangle
I have added extra symbols like a CD if there is some music I want to listen to, a TV if there’s a film/TV show I want to watch, a present for birthdays and an iPod if I want to listen to a podcast.
So feel free to play around with them to see what works for you.
The future log helps with having an overview of the year; I fill this out with appointments that I know are coming up and my friends and families birthdays.
It is a good way of planning over the year. There are many ways you could lay this out in your bullet journal but personally, for me, I love having a mini calendar next to the month so that I know what days these are on.
I think 3 per page is a great way to have enough room to write down everything that is going on in that month without wasting too much paper.
You can also make this really simple by writing along the side the number and day of the month then write what you is happening on each day every month.
The monthly page spread is to provide an overview of the month.
I love drawing the whole month and then putting a big to-do list on the side of the main things that need to be done that month.
I also put a blog goals list and monthly goals of what I want to achieve for that month.
I love to have something to work for, it seems to make me more motivated to work for a particular goal so that I can tick it off.
Weekly spreads are an overview of the week, which gives you space to see what you need to get done for the whole week.
I normally make six boxes to represent each day of the week and combine Saturday and Sunday into the ‘weekend’ because apparently, I don’t like having uneven boxes.
I have also been known to put some habit trackers in these, but for the moment I am using a timetable layout of my day using the colour coded system.
I also write out a list of tasks that need to be done during that week so that can be divided onto the daily spreads.
I normally put a quote of the week up there too, so that it motivates me to carry on for the week. (As I am writing this, my weekly quote is from beauty and the beast as the new movie is coming out this month-March- oooooh exciting, and themed!)
Boho Berry always mentions that dailies are the heart her bullet journal and now I am beginning to get where she is coming from.
I used to just do weeklies and never did dailies, but I found with weeklies there wasn’t enough space to fill in all of the to-do tasks that I needed to do in a day.
So I started using dailies as well to give me more room to write as many tasks as I need.
If I have any space left over, I will use the rest of the space to write a summary of my day and actually do some proper journaling.
Collection & Tracker Pages
Collection pages are a great way to write down anything that you want to remember to do that month.
I use these for any hobbies that I want to complete. Trackers are great for tracking daily habits that you want to implement into your routine.
There are so many collections and tracker pages you could include in your bullet journal here are some examples:
#1 Books to read
#2 TV Shows/films to watch
#3 Art doodle pages
#4 Money Saved
#5 Social Media follow pages
#6 Habit Trackers
#8 Spending Tracker
#9 Sleep Tracker
#10 Meal Planner
There is an endless amount of page collections and trackers that you can use, you can make any that suit your needs.
It is great to have a planner that can be so flexible.
Please don’t feel that you have to do every one of these things to be doing the bullet journal system ‘properly’ as like I said at the beginning it is meant to be a flexible system that works for YOUR needs; so use it to benefit you.
So these are the main things that are used in the bullet journal system.
If you are inspired to start straight away after leaving this blog then there are always places to get inspiration.
You can check out my Instagram for daily updates of my pages, planningroutine.com is my go to for seeing how to set out my spreads as her posts are so minimal and Boho Berry’s blog is also a good place to check out too.