For a while now I’ve been trying to find the best way to stay organised. Being in my final year of university, there are so many things to think about. Uni work (both written and practical), events, socialising, money, keeping the house tidy, what I want to do when I graduate, as well as my goals – both short-term and long-term. It all adds up and ends up clogging my brain with so much information that I never want to get anything done.
I’ve tried fancy planners and simple notebooks. The fancy planner is good for when I want to get REALLY creative, but I tend to use it more as a creative journal of my week rather than something I can keep with me as a organisation tool. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I find simple notebooks to be too simple. I realised I needed something that I can be a little creative and imaginative with, but also keep functional and simple rather than being overwhelmed with colour and stickers. The bullet journal does just that. It’s perfect! Read on to find out a bit more about what a bullet journal is, and how I use mine.
My Bullet Journal
What is a bullet journal?
The concept of a ‘bullet journal’ was created by Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer living in Brooklyn, NY. The purpose of the journal is to be simple and functional to help organise your every day life. In the original bullet journal concept, it begins with a key of ‘signifiers’ – for example, a checkbox for a to-do, a bullet point for a note, and a * or ! to mark a task or a note that has a higher priority. There is an index or contents page, and then there can then be a mixture of daily pages of notes and tasks, and what Ryder Carroll calls ‘collections’: these can be a list of books to read, films to watch, or anything that is useful to your daily organisation.
I’m going to show you a few of my pages to give you a better idea of how I use my bullet journal. I use an Emerald Leuchtturm1917 with Staedtler ballpoint pens:
I adore the colour of this book, and the pages are dotted which gives a template when measuring things out (I like things to be symmetrical). The dots almost disappear when the page is covered in text. The pens are simple ballpoint pens, but glide on the paper and feel so nice to write with!
Inside My Journal
One great thing about the Leuchtturm notebook is that the pages are pre-numbered and it has a three-page blank index in the front… it’s like it was made for a bullet journal. Here is my index. To begin with I hated that I crossed things out… now I don’t care!
Next is my monthly spread for February. I’m a bit unsure about this layout, but the beauty of a bullet journal is that you can experiment and change up the layout every month. Next month I may combine my monthly spread with my monthly tracker (see below). This monthly layout is a copy of the original bullet journal spread. The numbers and days of the month are written in a column on the left, and the events happening throughout the month are written alongside. I used a piece of skinny washi tape for a bit of colour. As you can see on the left-hand side, the Leuchtturm has a ribbon bookmark (2, actually!) which is so useful for quickly flicking to a page you need regularly.
This is my February tracker. I stopped using this days ago… it just doesn’t work for me because I don’t always remember to colour in the boxes. As I said above, I may include this in my monthly view for March. I currently use an app called Habitica to track my habits (I’ll be writing a blog post about it very soon, so look out for that!).
Below is an example of my dailies. I began my tracking the weather and my hydration, but I stopped doing that after a few days because it wasn’t helping me at all. I’ve been trying to work out how to keep my journal as functional as possible, and that means stripping things back and experimenting until it feels right.
Here, you can see the icons and signifiers in place: a bullet point is used for a note, and a checkbox is used for a task. If the task was completed it was ticked, and the small right-facing arrow signifies that the task is ‘migrated’ to the next day.
This is an example of a ‘collection’. At some point during this year I want to begin the Couch to 5k programme, and this page is my log for when I get around to doing that. I like this page because it’s packed full of information, yet it still looks simple and functional.
I’ve noticed that a lot of people have a page called a ‘brain dump’ in their journals, where they write down anything that doesn’t fit on any other page. I didn’t like the phrase ‘brain dump’ so I came up with my own. Mine is called my ‘thought vault’:
The final page that I’m going to share with you is my Penpal Record. I’ve started writing to penpals recently – there’s something great about traditional snail-mail contact, sending and receiving letters and finding out about people from all over the world. This page has my penpal Ariana’s address, and I’ll write a little bit about her as I learn more. There’s then a simple sent and received log so I can keep track of our letters.
So, that’s my bullet journal! It’s a great way to be creative and practical at the same time. Some people use theirs as a complete creative outlet, using stamps and stickers and coloured pens and all sorts. I prefer to keep mine simple and black and white, using it more as a functional diary.
Find Out More About Bullet Journalling
To discover more about the world of bullet journalling and to get involved yourself, visit bulletjournal.com. There are guides and plenty of videos to get you started. You can also search on Facebook: there are various groups where people can share their tips and questions, post photos of their pages, and launch discussions about all sorts of topics. The group that I belong to, ‘Bullet Journal Junkies’, has over 20k members!
Do you have a bullet journal? Let me know!
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