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Bullet Journals are a great tool for anyone who (like myself) have busy lives, being easily adaptable for tracking daily and future activities, goal-setting and organising your lifestyle with the use of bullet points instead of repeated lists and complicated organisers. Created by Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer from New York, they have become an internet phenomenon over the last few years and I have developed a personal obsession – it has helped me to developed my own blogging and business strategies and activities, helped me to streamline my working day, become more organised in my personal life, and I can’t get through my week without it.
While they were initially designed to be purely simple and functional, I have seen the development and creativity of different layouts (or ‘spreads,’ as they are known) become increasingly more exciting and detailed, with trackers and overviews now being adapted for every possible activity. However, the beauty and effectiveness of using a Bullet Journal means that spreads can be as easy or as complicated as the creator decides and they can be customised to suit every individual need. To date, there isn’t a diary, notebook or journal available on the market that is suitable for the sort of trackers I use, so it’s easier to create my own. I also find the process enormously therapeutic and fun!
After completing my first Bullet Journal at the end of the year, I decided to start a new one in preparation for 2019. Over the last twelve months I have developed my own style and spreads that work effectively for me, mainly through trial and error, although it’s important to note that these may not be necessary for everybody.
In its simplest form, there are three items of equipment that you need for a Bullet Journal: a notebook, a pencil and a pen. I like to use the pencil to plan things out first, just so I don’t make any mistakes and have to start again, but others may choose not to do this.
There are endless types of notebooks available for Bullet Journalling – plain, lined, squared, dotted and all with different thickness of book and pages. Dotted Journals seem to be the most popular, with the dots providing a guideline but without overwhelming the whole page, but I have seen some great ideas using each type. I use the Dotted Grid A5 Hardcover Scrilibro Notebookwhich is fantastic – it has thick pages which stops most pens from bleeding through to the other side and it comes in a box which means that I can keep it clean for longer. However, the Moleskine Large Dotted Notebook , the LEUCHTTURM1917 Dotted Notebook and the Scribbles That Matter Dotted Journal are all incredibly popular among Bullet Journal enthusiasts.
However, if you want to get a little more creative, there are a number of materials that you can use for making beautiful designs and spreads. A large percentage of Bullet Journals that I have seen use different styles of calligraphy or cursive writing and fineliners and brush pens are useful tools. I bought a pack of Pigma Micron 6 Fineliners because they were recommended for their fast drying qualities and the fact they don’t bleed through the pages. I made the right choice – these were perfect for what I wanted to do and I’m obsessed with them – but there are endless choices depending on your budget and preferences. I also like the Tombow Dual Brush Pens , which are fabulous for calligraphy.
To make my pages and text more colourful, I also use different pens and highlighters. I love the Sakura Pigma Brush Pens, the Zebra MILDLINER Highlighters , the Crayola SuperTips and the Stabilo Pastel Highlighters – they’re easy to use, create a beautiful page and are great for different calligraphy styles too.
And then, I discovered my new favourite thing: Washi Tape. Mimicking the style of masking tape, washi tape is the stuff of crafters dreams and they can be used in Bullet Journals for decorating, sticking in images and as dividers and borders… the possibilities are endless. They’re available everywhere and on average cost between £1.50 – £5 each (although they can be purchased in sets at a cheaper price). I’ve gone a bit washi-mad, buying a whole selection of different colours, sizes and styles, ranging from Cherry Blossoms Washi Tape , stripes, dotted, patterned and Glitter Washi Tape .
Doodles and Designs
I’m not particularly artistic and struggle to draw things freehand, so I use stencils when creating a more detailed design. I absolutely LOVE the MORSLER Bullet Journal Stencils which are ridiculously easy to use and are an absolute bargain!
Key / Contents Page
It’s advised that you create a contents page at the front so you can keep an idea of where everything is. Some find it useful, others don’t. I decided to create one as this is my first Bullet Journal, and in my next I will evaluate whether it is necessary or not.
After the contents page, some also choose to write a key to use within their journals. Some are quite complicated in my opinion, so I use a simple system: I colour a square in if I complete it, I keep it blank if I haven’t. As this journal is solely for blogging I don’t need to colour code according to category, but I have seen some use different shapes and colours to represent different aspects of their lives.
Future Log / At a Glance
This is an overview of the year, with the calendar dates written out for each month and a space underneath to highlight important future events that I need to be aware of. I particularly find this sort of spread useful for remembering birthdays, celebrations and important events and I use it to organise myself in advance for my business (ie. when I’m going to be busy) and check it before I schedule things during a month.
Sometimes it can be difficult to see progress made, particularly from day-to-day. However, by writing down my numbers at the end of each month it is easy to see the (hopefully) growth in numbers and highlight areas that may need a little more work over the following months.
For my Blog and Social Media Tracker I have created a set of 12 spaces for the year, one for each month, with a list of the areas that I want to track written at the side. This means that I can see all of my numbers on a single page, and filling each line in at the end of the month only takes a few minutes. At the bottom I have created a space for my starting and ending numbers to see a final total of growth numbers for the whole year.
Other Tracker Ideas:
- Mailing List Subscriber Tracker
- Weight Loss Tracker
- Step Count Tracker
- Word Count Tracker (for authors)
- Savings Tracker
- Spending Tracker
Blog and Social Media Ideas and Tips
On the page next to the tracker I have created a space for Blog and Social Media Ideas and Tips – a page in which ideas and notes can be jotted down throughout the year, collated in a single space. This is particularly useful when I am hit by the dreaded Bloggers Block and can’t think of anything to write, or when I have seen an interesting idea that I wish to attempt at a later point.
- Mailing List Incentives
- Chapter Ideas
- Places for Book Promotion
- Book Marketing Techniques
- Giveaway Ideas
- Decluttering and Minimalism
- Side Hustle and Money-Making Ideas
- Items to Sell
- Places to Pitch and Contacts
I have four different areas of my life that I want to improve on over the year and so I have a dedicated space at the front of my Bullet Journal where I can record the goals I have set myself. These are useful when setting up my habit trackers during my monthly spreads, and I am able to keep all of my goals together in one area, avoiding the risk of it becoming over-complicated. Here are two potential ideas – one is across a double page, the other on a single page – the design of the spreads can be as easy or as complicated as you feel necessary. Click on the images for the full size.
I prefer to use monthly Habit Trackers within my Bullet Journal, but if you have one specific goal for the year then it may be worth creating a spread at the beginning of your journal that you can refer to daily without having to repeatedly draw it out. For example, if your yearly health and fitness goal is to up your daily step count to the recommended 10k a day, you can set up something that looks like the spread below, which will simply require the number of each day to be coloured in should you hit the target. On page next to the Habit Tracker, I have included a motivational quote that will hopefully inspire during the tough days.
Memories and Highlights
This is a rather fun idea that I used last year, and I actually found that it helped when I was feeling low. By recording all of the positive memories and experiences that I’d had during the year, I was able to revisit the list for blog ideas and as a self-reminder of my blessings. It can be created as a mind-map (which I did last year), or separated out into each month, as shown in the spread below.
I’ve seen spreads where photographs are stuck on the pages instead as a montage throughout the year, but you may need more pages for something like this.
Other Spread Ideas for the Year
- Books to Read
- Films to Watch and Release Dates
- Places to Visit
- Bucket List Ideas
- Products to Review
- Self-Care Ideas. I like to create a set of ideas at the beginning of my Bullet Journal to refer to when I am feel a bit low, and it has proven to be incredibly useful!
Further Ideas when Setting Up Your Bullet Journal in 2019
Do some research first! Watch tutorials and check out Instagram images for inspiration.
Map everything out first (if you’re like me, I wanted the whole year to fit into one journal). I made a pencil note on each page what sort of content will be featured to make sure I had enough space.
Draw and write things out in pencil first, and DOUBLE-CHECK before you go over it in pen.
You don’t have to make your Bullet Journal overly detailed or have lots of fancy designs, but I find it lots of fun!
What about you guys? Do you use a Bullet Journal? Are you planning to start one in 2019?
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