This week I am giving my blog over to the Bullet and Creative Journals. I’ll be looking at the systems, notebooks, planners, pens and everything you need to start a journal of your very own that you will love.
One of the biggest myths out there is that you need an artistic streak in order to keep a bullet journal. It’s not true. A lot of the journals that you see on Instagram and YouTube are beautiful but are also a combination of the Bullet Journal Method and a creative journal like my own. If you think you would like to start a bullet journal then do! Over the years I moved from a Filofax to a notebook and now back to a ringed planner and I’ll probably move again at the end of the first quarter. You can read about my personal choice and hybrid system here.
To start a journal in under 10 minutes you just need to rapid log and forego the sketching and watercolours that you would see in creative journals. Think headings and rapid logging and that’s all you need to start.
Grab a Notebook
Yip any notebook. Even if you are like me and are a paper snob and you can feel the silky seductive call of 180+gsm paper, you don’t need an expensive notebook to start. You need to discover if using a bullet journal is right for you and you may find out that you actually like a modified version of the system. Take a month using a notebook that you like but would be okay abandoning once you have found your groove and know what you want to look for. Yu can even use an old planner ringed system if that is what you have.
There is no one right notebook for all. There is just the right notebook or planner for you. I’ll post a few of my favourites a little later on this week if you are interested, but if you have a notebook near you that you like then grab it and let’s start.
Grab a Pencil or Pen
Again this is about figuring out what you like so if you have a pen that you like let’s start with that. I’ll be posting later this week on my favourites (yes just like the notebooks) but I started with a pencil because I love writing in pencil. I still do and I keep my doodles in micron pens. You do not need a special pen for lettering and one for drawing unless you want to and that’s moving into a creative journal. For your bullet journal, you need a mark maker, not the most expensive pen or most popular pen on Instagram.
The Basics of a Bullet Journal
Now that you have a notebook and a pen there are a few pages that every bullet journal has. People tend to mix these up and have them in their journals in their own way but I’ll lay out the basics and you can mix and match. Bullet journalling is about rapid logging, condensing what you need for you to carry out your tasks/events etc.
Every bullet journal has a key, is a list of symbols that translate into tasks, events etc. that you can organise your journal by i.e. signifiers. You can use a standard set laid out in The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll (link below) or you can have one that is unique to you. As long as you are happy and consistent and you can read your own notes then wehey, you have a key.
One of the key pages I love is by wundertastischdesign aka Sandra above. Pop over to her instagram for some more inspiring journal ideas.
This is a rather topical page(s), some people use them some don’t. Some journals like the Leuchtturm come with an index page(s) ready for you to fill out and some require you to set it up. Some people like having an ultimate reference page and some people use washi tape or highlighters to highlight similar sections of their notebook thereby negating the need for an index page. Personally, I don’t use one as I use my watercolour paper as dividers in my current journal and I found that I never fill out my index pages in my Leuchtturm.
The future log is pretty nifty, these are the pages that you use when you want to log things that will happen down the line, like a doctor’s appointment that happens 6 months from now. These are the most used pages in my journal and they have everything from all aspects of my life, work, personal, blog, festivals etc. These are the pages that hold me together. I usually back up important or recurring dates in my online calendar but my future log is my quick reference at a glance.
You can set these up just as a list of dates under a month or you can draw out calendars and write underneath if you need to know the days of the week. You can keep these at the front or the very back of your journal, I’ve seen both in use so give it a whirl and see which you are comfortable with. I love the above spread by elzdoodles
The monthly pages are your overall view of your month at a glance. Usually, it’s a calendar or important list of dates and goals for the month. Some people use these pages in combination with their trackers so they don’t use different spreads. I have a pretty minimal one-page calendar usually beside a list of goals but I will normally make an art cover page for the month.
Some people use a grid calendar and write in the boxes and some list dates down the side and fill out each line according to date and tasks.
Dailies and Weeklies
This is the main function of your journal. This is where all your task management happens. There are countless ways to organise your weekly/daily tasks. I use this section to be creative and make some spreads and when I don’t have time I follow the Bullet Journal Method of speed logging with a key under the day of the week as a title.
This is also where you can use your notebook or planner as a journal. I like to keep my tasks and my journal separate which is why a planner works so well for me. I use my journal as a reference or somewhere to brain dump my thoughts and feelings or to get to the core of my knee jerk reactions to things. I can use it as a black journal i.e. a way to trace back to the root of a problem and it has been an amazing tool for my mental health and increasing my patience levels.
I will take the time in the morning and last thing at night to write in my journal either planning the next day or writing my personal notes on the day.
Starting a Bullet Journal in 10 Minutes Roundup:
- Grab a notebook
- Grab a pen
- Start a Key
- Leave room for Index pages
- Start a Future Log
- Start a Monthy list
- Log your Dailies
That’s it you are done in under ten minutes 🙂
Are you going to start today?
For an in-depth look at Bullet Journalling or if you want to take it to the next level then check out the book “The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll” [AF link] or for a free sample of the some of the chapters you can check out her website here. This method only works partially for me, I need a creative journal that has the backbone of a bullet journal as I want to stay organised and on top of everything but I also like to sketch, doodle and paint and I wanted a way to meld my creative side and my need to be organised together.
Tomorrow we are going to take a look at starting a Creative Journal that you will love and also how to combine these two systems together creating a beautiful unique hybrid.