In last Friday’s eZine, I shared that I’ve been keeping (and loving!) a Bullet Journal since the start of 2019.
In conversation I discovered that when I started raving about my new, most favourite possession, most people have no clue what I’m talking about and what a Bullet Journal even is and so I promised to write a blog post on exactly that to show you, and perhaps inspire you, to create one of your own.
(It has seriously changed my life!)
So here goes…
Bullet Journaling is essentially a one-stop journal which houses all of your thoughts, finances, schedules, to-do lists, daily plans, and miscellaneous life notes into one single home. It is a way to organise all of those different things you try to keep up with on a daily basis, but perhaps struggle with, because there’s a little bit of everything everywhere! A Bullet Journal is not only fun to create and use, but also super-helpful in reducing overall stress and anxiety about where everything is and keeping up with all the things.
Benefits of Bullet Journaling
First of all, please know that there is really no right or wrong way to create or use one. It is supposed to make life easier for you, not more difficult, so don’t feel pressured to have it organised a certain way or to look like anyone else’s!
Here are some of the many different ways you can benefit by having a bullet journal:
Everything is in one place– First of all, as mentioned, you can put all your different to-do lists, schedules, and notes in one single journal. Many people do have journals or digital to-do lists with this type of information, but to be honest, I have found it getting increasingly complex having different journals and lists for different things! And so this is the perfect one-stop solution.
It is easy to do– A Bullet Journal is easy to put together. You can do this however you prefer, but typically you start by creating the index, then you number your pages if they’re not already numbered, and then… start writing!
You can track your regular habits– As you will be writing in the Bullet Journal daily, you are able to track your habits and see what’s going well and what’s not. It can help you see – for example – that you spend too much money on eating out, or that you aren’t exercising enough, or that you’re not meditating every as you said you would. (I not only track the habits that I wish to do daily, but I also have a separate tracker for my hormones and how my body is behaving throughout the month so I can see any patterns or things to plan for.)
You can use it as a living vision board/goal planner– This is one of my favourite features about the way I have chosen to set up my unique BJo. In mine I have a 2-page vision board spread, my 12 Precious Goals for the year listed out, AND I also set monthly and weekly goal targets in there to track my progress. In the back pocket of my journal I also keep a printed copy of my daily affirmations that I pull out and read every morning. (If you want to see which Bullet Journal I personally use and recommend click here.)
You can use it to plan and organize your days/weeks/months– For various reasons I’ve decided to create a new BJo every 4 months. I find that 4 months is a good enough amount of time to make progress, evolve and find better ways of doing things, and to see significant shifts in my life. For this reason, I plan out my journal with this 4-month period in mind and set out the pages accordingly. For each month I have 16 pages that I put in place and use religiously every month to set the scene for that particular month and get the most out of it (NB: this amount of pages is not normal! But I am pretty thorough as many of you know, and I like to really feel into my month and plan for it well before I start it.) For each week I have a two-page spread to map out the week with all of my to-do items – personal and professional – and I also write down one action step per goal to make sure that I am doing at least one thing per week to move each goal forward.
Choosing the Journal
To start your bullet journal, of course you first need to get yourself an actual journal to use! This can be any type of journal, but choosing one that is thick enough for all your different pages and that feels like the right size for what you want to use it for are your first considerations.
Definitely look for one that can stay closed when needed, but when you open to individual pages, the spine isn’t so tight that it is hard to write in it. Also look for thick pages in case you decide to decorate some of the pages or use a darker, inkier pen and don’t want anything bleeding through.
As mentioned previously, this is the one I currently use. I love this journal because it’s small enough to carry around in my handbag and to put on my desk or nightstand. It also stops me feeling overwhelmed by being smaller rather than huge, and by default it forces to me to be neat, tidy and very considered in what I do and don’t put in there, and therefore pay attention to. The pages are about the right thickness, the cover is super-sturdy, the elastic band means that it stays shut, the index is already created, the pages are already numbered, and the back envelope enables me to file things that I want to keep with me at all times. For beginners there’s also instructions at the back on how best to use it. In short, it’s been especially created to be the definitive go-to BJo for beginners and more advanced BJo users alike.
How I Got Started
Before I created my first journal on 1st January 2019, I was already aware of what bullet journals were but hadn’t yet got into the nitty-gritty of what actually goes into them. I self-educated by buying a copy of this book by the original creator of the Bullet Journal, and I watched lots of YouTube videos by searching on the term “Bullet Journal” and also looked at a lot of gorgeous photos by searching on #bulletjournal within Instagram. (The Instagram pages are SO inspirational, it’s incredible what some people out there are creating – definitely check them out if you want to be wowed…)
Personally, while I am naturally artistic and would love to create a journal that looks like a modern work of art, I simply don’t have the time or inclination! Instead I chose to go the middle route – meaning that I didn’t just distil my BJo down to words-only like the original creator did, but I also didn’t go into full-blown Picasso mode, either!
Instead, I chose to cut and stick images from cards, magazines and those I printed off the internet, to create title pages and my vision board. I also cut beautiful sturdy envelopes in such a way that I could stick them in my journal and use them as mini folders for “orders for the universe”, written intentions, and such. I even stuck in greetings cards and wrote in them whatever I felt most important. (The one in my newest journal is actually a letter to my BJo about my intention for it and us, but in my previous one it was a letter to myself.)
The more I personalise my Bullet Journal the happier I feel. Yes, it always takes a day or more to get it set-up just how I want it, but what better thing to do on a rainy Saturday than to create something beautiful and functional that will benefit you in untold ways for the next 4-12 months of your life?
I have honestly never felt more organised!
Definitely a wise and wonderful investment, and worth every single moment.
As previously, there is no right or wrong way to create a Bullet Journal. The whole point of creating one is to customise it in the perfect way for YOU. For me, my preference is a combination of super-practical and visionary. I use my BJo as a way to know what I’m supposed to be doing every day, to track my progress, and to hold myself accountable. I also use it as a way to inspire myself every morning and evening as part of my morning and evening rituals. It truly is my one-stop shop!
We are all different and all have different needs and priorities at different times in our lives, so if you go ahead and create one, you might choose to make yours more focused on recording notes from books you’re reading or programs you’re participating in. Or you might choose to create one page per child/friend/sibling/family member and write a wish list for all the things you want to do or experience with them over the coming year. You might use yours to write a list of all the films you want to watch, or have watched. Or all the date nights you want to have. Or all the places you want to visit when you go on your next holiday. Or all the books you want to read. Or all the steps you need to take to build your business. Or THE place to plan your meals and reflect on your health journey. Or to track workouts, debt reduction or house renovations.
As you can see the uses and possibilities literally are endless! And you can include as many of these and other ideas as you wish – don’t just stop at one!
In summary, I would say: start with your intention in mind. Be clear on how specifically you want to benefit from your journal. What do you want it to be for you and do for you? What are the things you want to record, measure, keep track of, plan for and improve? And then make a list of those things so you know what pages you want to set up.
Also, ask yourself, how do I want to feel when I look at, pick up or use my BJo? For me, I wanted to get excited, be inspired and to feel really in control and organised.
And this is EXACTLY how it is! In fact, every time I look at it I feel all of these things and more. It’s like the most precious gift I could have given to myself at this point in my life because I have so many goals, projects and dreams I am working on, plus I simply have a passion for simplicity.
So… do you already have a Bullet Journal? If so, what do you most love about it and what tips would you share with others who are new?
If you are new and are considering creating your own, also let me know! What about the BJo speaks to you? And do feel free to ask any questions in the comments section below.
As you can probably tell, I would definitely say that this has been one of the best things I ever did for myself around my own personal organisation. After many years – if not decades – of trying SO MANY different pre-printed planners and looking for “the one”, I have finally found it. I just never knew that it would be me who was creating it! And I’m pretty sure you will feel the same way too.