Before I go into today’s post, you may be wondering: What is a bullet journal?
The Bullet Journal was developed by Ryder Carroll. It is an analog system of organizing, recording, planning and journaling all in one. For a real breakdown, I recommend you go to BulletJournal.com and get the full rundown from the creator himself. That’s were I started!
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve no doubt seen me posting snapshots of by bullet journal as I take part in the #planwithmechallenge hosted by Jessica at Pretty Prints and Paper, Kim at Tiny Ray of Sunshine and Kara at Boho Berry. First off, these lovely ladies have been such an inspiration to me, their blogs and instagram accounts are #goals. Seriously, go follow them now! I’ll wait here.
Taking part in the January #planwithmechallenge has taught me so much about bulletjournaling. I’ve grown so much in mindset, focus and productivity that I honestly didn’t realize how quickly time flew.
I mean, it’s been exactly six weeks since I started using the bullet journal. Six weeks!! I can hardly believe it. It feels like so much more time has passed because of how productive and amazing this time has been.
Thanks to the bullet journal, I feel more creative and more able to express myself through whichever medium I choose to use. I’m not sure what it is about the bullet journal that’s allowing this flow of creative energy, but it’s amazing and it’s not something I’m going to question or stop!
Today I’m diving into my bullet journal page by page (for the most part ^.^). I’ll be sharing with you the basics of my bujo; what works for me, what didn’t, the layouts and spreads that I like most, and the things that I’ll be carrying over into next month.
So let’s get started.
At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d even like bullet journaling. So I didn’t want to buy a bunch of materials that I was going to end up regretting. When it comes down to it though, all you need is a notebook and a pen (or pencil, whatever floats your boat).
The Leuchtturm1917 is one of the popular choices and will be my next choice in notebooks when I’m done filling up the one I am currently using. However, in the meantime, I’ve been doing just fine with a regular journal. That’s right, I have a normal journal with normal lined paper.
I simply cut out grid paper and paste it into my journal whenever I want to do a layout or spread that would benefit from some gridlines. It’s easy and simple. Doing this allowed me to try out bullet journaling without committing to purchasing anything “special”.
The first step of setting up any bullet journal is establishing a key. I figured that I might want to adjust the system Ryder created so I copied his original key on the back of an index card and slipped it inside of an envelope. (I also keep stamps inside the envelope along with other index cards for when I need them.) Over time, I found that I really liked the original key, so I haven’t changed it. But I do like that I gave myself the option of flexibility, just in case.
This is a trend with me…I like to be flexible and change things that don’t work for me. I’m always willing to try something once. However if it doesn’t serve me and I can’t adjust it to suit me then I don’t want work with it anymore.
The bullet journal is one of the most flexible and fluid planning solutions for creativity and focus that I’ve ever seen. I could shout that I love my bullet journal from the top of a mountain and doing so wouldn’t be enough to express how amazing this thing is.
Anyway, where was I? The key! Yes. Make a key.
Next, I drew out an index over the span of three pages. I figure if I need more space I’ll just add an additional index further down the line if/whenever that comes up.
I don’t do too much future planning at the moment. So I stick to the basic six month layout.
Over the past month and a half, I found that I have little use for the monthly spread and the monthly goal spread. I set both pages up for December but saw that they got little use. Because of that they didn’t make a reappearance in my January set up.
I can’t stress enough how flexible and fluid the bullet journal is. If I want to try something out, then I can try it out for the day, for a week or a month. It’s completely up to me. If I don’t like it, I can change it! No more feeling confined to a box like with old planner systems.
I was determined that I needed to be able to “see” the month ahead, so I created a monthly view. I also made one for January in advance, anticipating that I’d want one. But after the second week of using my bullet journal I realized that I didn’t need to see my month this way anymore.
I used the monthly view to plan by blog posts for a while, but because I’m always changing when I want to post I now use a Blog Editorial Calendar in Trello to do all my heavy lifting. I have Kara at Boho Berry and her tutorial on Trello for helping me with that! Love her!
For a while I simply wrote out each day as they began (all the while testing out designs and my limited art skills). Side Note: you absolutely DO NOT need to be artistic to start a bullet journal. I wanted to challenge myself to be more artsy and the bullet journal allows for this creative expression.
Writing out my dailies at the beginning of each day gave me room to write out as much or as little as I needed to.
But over time, I realized I was writing less on my dailies as more of the things that had piled up around the house were getting done and I was learning to prioritize my daily tasks (i.e being intentional about the things I wanted to do for the day).
So I migrated to a system where I wrote out the week over a span of a couple of pages. Incorporating a “Review” of the previous week and a “Weekly Goal” section for the week ahead.
Right now this is the system that works best for me on a daily basis because it gives me a little bit of wiggle room for future planning. For example, if something is coming up for that week I just skip ahead to that day.
Bookish/Book Blogging Layouts
As any good bookdragon, I have to keep all my bookish things somewhere!! I have a page for “Books to Review”, “Books to Read”, “Books to Listen To”, and “ARCs to Read and Review”.
Being the tag queen for a while, I made a layout for tags that I had been nominated for and my progress on those tags.
Not being able to help myself, I also made a layout for the tags that I saw and wanted to do and tag others into. However, since I’ll be giving tags a break for the foreseeable future, these layouts will be out of commission.
Other layouts I have and continue to add on to as I go:
Trackers and Logs
I have a hard time keeping track of all the things I have out there and am waiting on a response for. Drawing inspiration from Kim at Tiny Ray of Sunshine, I created my own “Waiting On” spread for critiques that I’m waiting on.
One of my biggest additions to my bullet journal was the “Gratitude Log”. I had already been writing down at least three things I was grateful for on my daily pages but I wanted to be able to see them collected in one place. So I borrowed from two of my favorite bullet journalists, Kim at Tiny Ray of Sunshine who created the Gratitude Log to begin with and Kara at Boho Berry and drafted up my own.
Keeping a gratitude log has not only helped me be more appreciative of all the amazing things and people in my life but it has also helped me tap into my creativity and unleash potential that I didn’t realize was lying around unused. Being grateful for the small things does wonders!
I keep a weight tracker to help motivate me. I don’t do it daily because sometimes I forget, but doing it daily can help me be more mindful as the day goes on and watch for trends. For example, if over the course of a week I implement a new habit I like to look back and see what effect that had (if any) on my weight, that kind of stuff.
I also love my habit tracker. I like to look at it more as something to look back on all the things I did rather than the things I didn’t do. It’s nice to see all the colored in squares and motivates me to get more done!
I also have chronic migraines so being able to track the headache free days is good for me and my doctor.
To help me see my progress and achievements each month, I set up two separate stat-trackers, one for my life and one for the blog. I think it will be really neat and encouraging to watch the personal growth on these pages throughout the year!
Living a More Productive & Fulfilled Life, One Day at a Time
At the beginning of the year, I set out some big dreams! I knew that I wanted to really reach for them this year, to really make those dreams come true and never before have I been more motivated to make things happen, to get out there and pound the pavement to make dreams into reality.
My bullet journal has been instrumental in keeping me accountable to those goals that I set out by helping me track my progress, by helping me celebrate the victories (big and small) and by helping me get more important stuff done!
After one month of using my bullet journal I am more productive, more intentional, more present, more creative, more grateful, more patient, more joyful, and more passionate. I feel more alive!
By getting things straight on paper and by following up those plans with precise action, I’ve achieved more than I’ve ever achieved in such a short amount of time. That’s what I call a victory!
I hope that I’ve inspired you to start your own bullet journal and motivated you to start on your own journey of increased productivity, creativity and gratitude.
Do you have any questions about bullet journaling? Let me know in the comments! I’ll do my absolute best to answer any questions that you have!
Keep Reading and Keep Writing,