I vaguely remember hearing about bullet journals about a year ago but at the time I just never got around to looking into how they worked. Plus, I didn’t know anyone who actually used one, so I couldn’t just ask a friend over coffee. So I let it lie until, naturally enough, I saw some posts of beautifully laid out and illustrated journals on Instagram.
By which time I had no time to set one up myself. Periodically I went back to Instagram and Pinterest to see what everyone else was doing with their journals, and then just didn’t start one. Finally, the new year came around and I ordered the perfect notebook – a Leuchtturm1917 A5 dot gridded notebook in azure. I admit to shopping for this notebook for longer than I really needed to but I kind of have a thing for stationery.
Then, I got started. If you’re not familiar with how bullet journals work, the best place to start is the official site. Approximately, though, you have 3 types of page:
Your Index goes at the start and means that if you suddenly realise you need 8 pages for something you only allocated 6 pages for, you can just list the pages it appears on in the index to find it easily later. There’s good reason to resist the temptation to try to fill it all in as you go, so my Index so far only contains: Future Log (2-5); January (6-7); Books (10-11) and Happiness at work (14).
The Planner is a little more like a traditional diary. You start with your Future Log, which is kind of a year at a glance. Mine’s pretty sparse at the moment, it doesn’t have much beyond birthdays and major events, and there’s almost nothing after March.
After the Future Log comes the monthly log. This has each day listed down the left-hand side of the page, with very brief descriptions of any events scheduled for that day. It’s a little more detailed than the Future Log, but still not super detailed. The opposite page contains major to-dos. My to-dos for January were:
- Finish thesis corrections
- Send meter readings
- Renew railcard
The last part of the planner is the Daily Log. This is a more detailed daily to-do list and log. I’ve been using it mostly as a to-do, but you can put almost anything in it, including events, plans, and ideas. Just whatever works for you. I’m still kind of figuring it out, so what I put here will probably change as I go along, and that’s fine.
Finally, you have the Collections. This is the stuff you’re most likely to see on Instagram and Pinterest because people get really creative with them. It can be anything at all, really. I see lots of pages of sketches and ideas, but people might also use them to log meeting minutes. Most often it’s stuff you want to keep track of: Books read, money saved, Movies watched, recipes, etc, etc, etc. Anything that you might want to put in a notebook but which isn’t part of a calendar or diary could become a collection.
I’m starting my Bullet Journal as simply as I can. I love good stationery, pretty doodles, bright colours and beautiful hand-lettering but I know if I make it too complicated I’ll either never use it or it will take up every spare minute I get. Neither’s good. So I’m starting out just using a pencil, in case I change my mind about anything I write. I’m adding occasional colour with coloured pencils, and I’m saving the pretty doodles and fancy calligraphy for when I’ve been using it for a couple of months and I know exactly what I want.
So far I like it. It’s a system of almost infinite flexibility and the collections make it (for me) as fun as it is useful. I’m not yet carrying it everywhere I go because I haven’t felt a need to yet, but I’ll play with additional uses soon and maybe that will mean slipping it into my handbag eventually.
If you’re thinking of starting a Bullet Journal the best place to begin is on the official site, but more ideas can be found on Pinterest and Instagram. If you already keep one, let me know! What has worked? What ideas have you abandoned?