I cannot believe we’re more than halfway through the year. How crazy?
I am going to start this post off by saying that I am in no way a pro at bullet journaling, since I only started this year. However, I absolutely love using my bullet journal and prefer it over any other type of planner or method of planning!
At first glance, bullet journalling may look intimidating, since you essentially start with blank pages and create the planner yourself, but I promise it’s not as difficult as it seems! Over time, the process can become relaxing and serve as a stress reliever.
Although it is the middle of the year, it’s important to know that it is never too late to start bullet journaling! The great thing about the bullet journal method is that it allows you flexibility and creative freedom. You can start your journal from whatever date you want, in comparison to traditional, pre-filled planners. So, let’s get started!
What is bullet journaling?
According to Ryder Caroll, the creator of the Bullet Journal, bullet journaling is an organizational system meant to help you “track the past, order the present, and design the future.” It is essentially a series of logs used to document important dates, accomplish tasks, and track your goals.
However, it also has a reflective aspect to it. Caroll describes the act of bullet journaling as “part organization, part soul-searching, [and] part dream-weaving.”
What you need to set up your journal:
The journal you use doesn’t have to be fancy or anything. I think as long as it has blank dotted pages, you’re good! I use this $7 notebook from Michael’s and it works perfectly for me! Of course, it depends on your needs and how you envision your bullet journal to look like. Maybe you’re more into hard cover journals or want a journal that comes with numbered pages? Get what works best for your journaling style!
You’ll need a solid, black pen to write in your journal. Again, the perfect pen is based on your writing preferences. I use this basic gel pen for simply filling in tasks and events, but for any lettering or doodling, I use this Muji pen.
If you want to get fancy with it:
I highly recommend these Mildliner pens! I love the pastel shades and appreciate that the ink doesn’t bleed through the paper. These highlighters definitely help bring light and color to your bullet journal. I even use them at school, since making my notes colorful and pretty helps me remain focused during long lectures.
Since you are essentially creating the planner yourself, a ruler will come in handy. I don’t know about you, but I am a bit of a perfectionist, so when I try to freehand it and end up with messy lines and crooked titles, it bothers me a lot. Rulers are lifesavers.
I use Washi tape to add quotes and photos to my bullet journal! I think it’s a nice decorative touch for my spreads.
The basic components of the bullet journal:
The first two pages of your bullet journal should be your key and index. The index helps sort the different pages of your journal, as well as keep note of where each page is located. As the year goes on and your bullet journal becomes more full, you can refer to the index to help you find exactly where certain pages are so you can flip directly to it.
The key is also an important page of your bullet journal. It lists and defines all the different characters and symbols you use throughout your journal.
Collections: future, monthly, & daily log
Collections are your future log, monthly log, and daily log.
Your future log typically follows directly behind the key and index, and serves as an overview of your year.
A common way people display their future log is by drawing out the entire year, in typical calendar format. This may seem tedious, but I find it to be very helpful to glance at as the year progresses, since all your events are laid out nicely.
The monthly log displays all the events you have for the month and comes before the daily log.
I personally skip the monthly log and just do a basic title, because I find it to be redundant with the future log. However, for many people, the monthly log is one of the most important parts of their bullet journal. Again, it’s entirely up to you.
The daily log is the section of the bullet journal used the most. Like any normal planner, it’s where you list your daily tasks, reminders for the week, meetings, appointments, etc.
I found it helpful to leave extra space on the sides for weekly goals, to-do lists, and uplifting quotes.
Using your bullet journal as a tool for self-care:
I used to be a total planner snob. Ever year, beginning with my junior year of high school, I’d buy a hardcover Lilly Pulitzer planner, filled with beach-themed stickers and bright, summer-y spreads. But, as I got older and started “adulting”, I realized I needed a different planning method. I needed something that can fit my ever-changing aesthetic, as well as have space for remembering everything, from class assignments and extracurriculars, to grocery lists and random thoughts that come across my mind.
I also wanted a planning method that would calm me down, rather than cause stress, which is why I try to set time aside to strictly work on my bullet journal.
In these bullet journaling sessions, I don’t just review plans for the week or look over my journal, I try to actually reflect on my day or overall week. I turn on some music, document my goals, make random lists, and add doodles that represent my mood.
There are many ways you can use your bullet journal as a tool for self-care! Here are a few of my personal ways:
In my daily log sections, I have a quadrant chart that I fill in weekly with my mind, body, space and work goals. This helps narrow down my focus into four goals and also serves as a reminder, whenever I open my bullet journal to see what I have planned for the week. I got the idea from one of my favorite YouTubers Rowena Tsai!
In addition to my goals charts, I also like to make lists.
I like to list the things that make me happy at the moment, things that calm me down, things to be grateful for, things I learned during the month, etc. I think there’s healing power in focusing your mind to one topic and telling yourself to just chill out for a second and be appreciative for what’s around you.
One thing I have received a lot of compliments on is my affirmations page.
There was a month where I was going through quite a lot emotionally and fell into a slump, that was reflected in my bullet journal. There are two weeks in my journal that have absolutely no color, no doodles, no quotes, no cute lists or goals charts – just black and white pages filled with assignment due dates and appointment times.
Being a big believer of manifestation, I pulled myself out of this slump by writing a list of affirmations for myself. I wrote things like “I am living with intention” and “I am learning and welcoming the new season”. Instead of making another goals chart or angrily telling myself to “get over” my issues, I imagined a version of me that was totally killing it in life, and not laying in bed crying all day long (like I was at the time). I thought to myself,”What would that version of Eliz say to herself right now?” and thus my affirmations page was made.
Though making an affirmations page will not solve all of your problems, creating it can serve as a nice motivator. I suggest dedicating a page of your bullet journal to jot down some personal affirmations for yourself, that you can flip back to when you need a little reminder of your strength, your worth, and your ability to grow and endure everything life throws at you. It’s like your little cheerleader page.
I hope this post was helpful. I love bullet journaling and think it is something everyone should try. You never know, maybe you’ll love it as well!
Also, let me know if this post inspires you to start bullet journaling!