I’m sure most of us have heard about bullet journalling or seen a bullet journal video somewhere. If not… you have arrived at the correct article!
The two links above are already very comprehensive, but speaking from experience, it still wasn’t simple or direct enough. HENCE, let us simplify the process today to make it ultra doable!
I’m really into journals and diaries but I have never kept up with any long enough, ending up with many barely-started notebooks and small bits of memories everywhere.
I’ve always been unhappy with the standard formats of journals/ schedulers available on the market, or when I find one that I like, it is usually too expensive to spend on… Hence, finding out about Bullet Journalling was like finding an oasis in a desert for me… I jumped straight into it. I ordered a moleskine grid notebook online and couldn’t wait to start!
I followed the guidelines and instructions to a tee and looked for youtube videos for inspiration.
Source: @studyclarity on Tumblr
Source: @bluelahe on Tumblr
Source: @bluelahe on Tumblr
Source: @bluelahe on Tumblr
Source: @acadaemic on Tumblr
And I reeeeeally wanted mine to look just like theirs too!
So for my first Bullet Journalling attempt, full of hype and inspiration, I kept it up for a good… month.
With breaks in between.
Truth be told, even though the system is supposedly foolproof, I found it very, very, very difficult to keep up with it. Instead of making my life easier by having everything in one place, I found it gave me extra work to do! Hence, after this first wave of hype, I found myself with 1. no pretty spreads like those I’ve seen and 2. no more motivation to continue.
And so, the notebook was cast away to the depths of my room and never to be touched again until… I started following studyblrs (read: study blogs) on Tumblr and got to see really, really pretty spreads again!
I was so inspired to start once more, but because I’ve learned some lessons from the previous time, I now know what to do and what not to do…
There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but here are some things I’ve learned along the way…
1. Start simple.
Don’t get overly ambitious at the start, as tempting as it may be. Lay down the foundations and make it fully functional first. The aesthetics can come later…
If you have not looked through the links at the start of this post (you should!), here’s what the backbone of a bullet journal looks like:
1) Index page
To tell you where everything is; for easy navigation and reference.
As you can see, my index is pretty plain… because I haven’t got that many pages yet, but it’s time to start updating everything!
p.s. you’ll need to number all the pages to keep track in the index 🙂
2) Future log
Overview of what your year/ next few months look like. It should be event-based and concise, without much detail.
3) Monthly spread
Overview of the whole month. Can include events or special dates, also without much detail.
You can do it like this, in a list.
I eventually settled with the common monthly view because this is what I’m used to. I went through an entire monthly scheduler for the year of 2016, my first time seeing it through the whole year!
Just did this up a couple of days back! A little late for July, but better late than never… 🙂
4) Weekly/ daily spread
This is the body of the book (in food terms, it will be the carbs). It probably contains mostly to-dos, events of the day or pen-downs of your thoughts.
2. Keep things flexible.
The good thing about the bullet journal is that it can be anything you want it to be.
You can add anything and everything you want into your journal! Doodles, books to read, movies to watch, inspiration, goals, habits and mood tracker… Basically whatever you need, you can find a way to incorporate it into your journal!
Do not be worried about making mistakes though, every new page is an opportunity to start over! (in the picture below, look @ the part I correction-taped away… kinda ugly, but no worries about it!)
Here I tried to do a “Goals” page because I really wanted to pen down what I feel really excited about now, and motivate myself next time when I forget about it, or need it again.
If you wrote something wrongly, either tape or stick some paper over, or simply strike it off (artfully, if mess bothers you).
If the design doesn’t turn out the way you pictured it, try again a few pages later or keep at it until you get it just right!
Same with the format – I’ve tried a few different layouts and finally settled upon one that works best for me! And there is still variation every now and then, depending on my mood 🙂
Yes, of course I want every page to look perfect, but if it turns out otherwise, so be it! That’s life anyway… 🙂
Keep exploring until you find the best system for yourself!
3. Perseverance is key!
Even on the busiest days, you should still take some time out to log in to your bullet journal, be it just a few words of how you feel, what came to your mind or something interesting you saw on that day.
If not, you could just use it to improve productivity. When finals came around, my journal was used to plan my study schedule and I would list down chapters I had to go through, then strike them out one by one.
During internship, most of my pages were to-do lists and some little jot-downs of feelings/thoughts and also random doodles.
It doesn’t have to be coherent, but consistency should be there! Hence, the first two points are really important – come up with a functional and useable system that you can use for a long, long time.
After settling into the system, I also try to liven it up and doodling, adding colours, etc.
After everything we’ve explored together, I hope you see that bullet journalling can really be fun, too, on top of helping you organise, plan and improve productivity!
Here’s some that I’ve attempted to do, and also some more inspiration! ❤
Source: @wendystudies on Tumblr
Source: @studyrose on Tumblr
Source: @journalsanctuary on Tumblr
Source: @stvdybuddies on Tumblr
Source: @beverlymarshs on Tumblr
Happy bullet journalling, guys ❤