Bullet Journaling may be old news to you or something you’ve never heard of. For me, three years ago when I started Bullet Journaling, it was life changing. I went from being a planner decorator addict to forgetting to use planners to having sticky notes ALL over my house and being a MESS to having everything in ONE place: my Bullet Journal. This system is actually super simple to learn and you make it work for you. I’m so excited to show you How I Got Organized with Bullet Journaling.
If you’ve seen Bullet Journals on Instagram, you may have immediately thought “holy crap! That’s intricate and daunting and HOW do these people also have a life?” Well, let me tell you, the point of using a bullet journal is to organize your life and feel on top of things, not to feel like you’re drowning in your system.
Plus, I’m convinced that the people who post their bullet journals on Instagram are the 15 year olds that really DO have that kind of time. So, now that we have that bit of speculation out of the way…
What is a Bullet Journal? Basically, it is supposed to simplify your life by eliminating the need for a large planner, post-it notes, endless lists all over the house…everything is in one place instead. You write out the whole thing yourself so you are creating a system that serves you. I only amend this to say, I also buy a super basic weekly calendar every year too, to fill in with future appointments so I don’t miss any. So, I carry around a bullet journal and a basic overview calendar (because I make a lot of doctor’s appointments), and that’s it.
My bullet journal is crazy simple. I promise.
Here are a few ways I organize:
I first look at my super basic weekly calendar, and take note of any appointments.
I usually only fill out my bullet journal one or two days in advance. So, Monday night I’ll fill out my list for Tuesday and maybe Wednesday, and that’s it.
If I’m using a daily “tracker,” I’ll write that in first. Then I pour out EVERYTHING in my head that should make the list for the next day. I only use a daily tracker if I currently am having trouble remembering to complete tasks that should happen everyday (ie take my vitamins, finish a workout challenge I’m doing, drink more water, feed the dogs, etc). Once I use it as a daily tracker for a couple weeks, it usually becomes such a habit that I no longer include that tracker (example: I seriously had to create check boxes for feeding my dogs when my days got busier because I could never remember if I had or not. After that became re-ingrained in my brain, I stopped putting it on the list).
Then, I also make sure if I had any monthly goals or a goal for the year that I can tackle, I add that to the list too.
I don’t usually do ANY monthly trackers because they distract me, but this year I wanted to try an Oprah-recommended method of writing down one thing I’m grateful for every single morning, so that’s the only monthly list I have.
I do NOT:
Create complicated monthly trackers for things like mood, sleep, steps, habits, etc. Those just get to be too time consuming and then you’re stuck to your bullet journal allllllll day long.
You can use your Bullet Journal to: track fitness goals, fill out meal plans, make lists of books you intend to read, make lists of books you read, keep track of who gave you gifts and who you need to thank, keep lists of things that fly into your head that you need to order online, make lists of people to email…getting the gist? Anything that would go on a sticky note on your desk or anything that you’d feel a need to carry around separate notebooks for, it goes in the journal.
Fundamental Bullet Journal symbols I use:
I use a closed quick dot for anything in the list.
For an appointment, I draw an open circle.
To indicate that something was completed, I “x” through the dot or appointment.
If I need to complete an item tomorrow, I use a “>” through the dot.
If I decided I’ll never do it and need to stop putting it on the list, it gets a “—“
How to get started:
First of all, buy a notebook and just jump in. The most popular types for a Bullet Journal are: the Midori Traveler’s Notebook, a Lechtturm 1917 notebook (grid or dot grid), or a Moleskine. It’s easier to bullet journal in a grid or dot grid, so keep that in mind. You can also find beautiful traveler’s notebooks by local crafters, like these by LittleBindery.
You can create a list of goals for the year and/or month for the start of your notebook. I like to create a huge brain-purge of goals, wants, things to order, people to email, blog post ideas, etc in the first few pages and even leave blank space to fill in over the months. You could/probably should leave the first page blank to make an index for the entire journal. That way, when you have a random page with a list, you add it to the index, and you can easily jump back to it in a month or two. Then, jump right in with the current week and get going.
To start my first Bullet Journal, I watched YouTube videos by Boho Berry (who is also on Instagram) just to get ideas on making this a system that works for ME. She has a TON of ideas, and I started with a few. Then, as that first month went by I could tell which habits were helpful and which were holding me back. I simplified and went from there.
Here’s a peek at a page from one of my journals from LAST YEAR. It was a hectic time, I kept things as stripped down as possible and kept my lists succinct.
The point is to make it work totally for you. So if you don’t want to include a picture of the expected weather for the next day or a tracker to make sure you take your vitamins, then DON’T. If you want to plan 3 days on one page and then take notes from a webinar on another page and then have a grocery list going on the next page, DO IT. Having everything in one place and knowing your own system will only make your journal more valuable to you.
I also follow people that currently inspire me to use my bullet journal in MORE ways on Instagram, like user bonjournal_. I’ve followed a lot of journalers over the years, and once they make me suddenly feel overwhelmed instead of inspired, I just unfollow and move on.
Let’s talk fun stuff real quick: accessories.
You don’t NEED anything but a pen. Trust me. But things are more fun if you make them fun, so if that means stocking up on washi tape, colored pens and cute paperclips, then by all means, knock yourself out.
I use binder clips and paper clips to bundle away pages I don’t need to see anymore (finished months or unused paper) or even mark pages I want to quickly flip to (a monthly tracker page or a page where I’ve written a list of people I need to send “thank you” notes to…). I find clips that appeal to me at Paper Source, Target and Michael’s. I’ve also collected most of my washi tape from Michael’s and my pens from Paper Source and small local stationary shops.
I hope this inspired you. I remember feeling like I NEEDED this system but I was also scared of it. Kristen of Dine and Dish seriously told me to just put my pen to the paper and start because I couldn’t mess it up if I never started it. Truth. Ready to get started?