Tips & Tricks

Bullet Journal 101

Hiiii readers, happy Monday! Today I decided to grace you guys with a hobby I’ve only recently started, but it’s already taken over my life: the Bullet Journal. I still have loads to buy to fully maximize my BuJo experience, but for now I’m dealing with the same pack of fineliner pens until I can get my hands on a brush pen.

I won’t go into further details, saving all of the main info for the rest of the post, but the Bullet Journal is truly my newest, most current obsession 🙂 Only second to Hamilton, of course. But in this post I hope to: 1. introduce you to the magic of Bullet Journal 2. explain how to get started (as well as what you need) 3. include some tips + tricks to maximize your BuJo experience.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your closest pen + let’s get started. ❤

What is the Bullet Journal

For those of you that don’t know, the Bullet Journal is “a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.” (www.bulletjournal.com) The system was created by Ryder Carroll, after many years of evolving his idea that began to take off across the internet just recently. It’s a bit more complicated than a planner, since you start from scratch + eventually add pages that aren’t always ‘schedule’ related. I’ll go further in depth once I begin explaining how to begin.

Why did I begin Bullet Journaling? I can’t say, really, besides it looked kinda fun and personally I’m their exact demographic: the person whose to-do list is to make a to-do list. In class I’d zone out, just figuring out what I needed to get done. Notes and scraps got lost, and what was fun about a bullet point on a sticky note? Plus in my Bullet Journal I store ideas, simple doodles, lettering + calligraphy practice, & the passwords to my each and every website I really hope I never lose my journal. It’s loads easier than storing piece after piece of paper across the canvas that is your messy desk.

I was exposed to the Bullet Journal primarily by the blogging queen herself Xan at twirlingpages who posted about it on her Twitter. And a few other close bloggers I know were involved in BuJo too, so like Hamilton, it was only a matter of time until I began to journal myself 🙂

Getting Started

I’m not going to sugarcoat it: in the beginning, Bullet Journal is confusing as hell. There’s so much information to intake, and the bloggers online tend to only show their viewers ‘how to doodle in your Bullet Journal’ or ‘what kind of things to put in your Bullet Journal.’ What they don’t tell you, however, is how exactly to begin your journal.

How I began were the sparse but wonderful ‘Bullet Journal for Beginners’ vids on Youtube. There were two in particular that caught my eye, and one of them is a next to perfect model for the BuJo beginners. I’ll embed my favorite one below that just perfectly encapsulates the essence of starting out your Bullet Journal. It can be quite overwhelming, but this Youtuber breaks it down into bits for everyone to understand.

 

What You Need

To start your Bullet Journal you need only a three things:

  1. a journal
  2. a pen (or two)
  3. a ruler (optional, but preferred by me)

It’s really that simple. The BuJo community, I hate to admit, tends to gloss over which items you should buy to start your journal. I’ll recommend some that I use, albeit I’m still pretty new to the whole phenomenon, so keep in mind I’m no expert.

Journal The BuJo community recommends (and honestly, endorses) the Leuchtturm 1917 (couldn’t spell that until day, I admit) it’s larger than a Moleskine journal, but contains one very specific difference: it’s not lined. The inside, to my knowledge, is dotted (and occasionally, blank.) I myself wasn’t willing to spend $20 on the Leuchtturm, even if it’s recommended, due to the expenses of the fancy pens I wanted more. But for you, reader, I suggest using whichever fits your style. Truthfully, any plain spiral notebook works too. The Bullet Journal is all about flexibility.

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Sky Blue Piccadilly Journal

For me, I use is a Sky Blue Piccadilly Journal. I bought it from Barnes and Noble for retail $14.99. It’s pages are rather thin (causing for pen ink ghosting) and the lines don’t align on a spread, but nonetheless it’s become my new companion the color is GORGEOUS. And hopefully your journal becomes yours as well 🙂

2. Pens Ah, this is a tricky topic. When approaching this part of BuJo gathering, I divvied it into 3 categories: black pens, colored pens, + brush pens. I haven’t bought any black pens yet (but I plan on buying a pack of Uni-ball Jetstream, which is apparently the brand recommended for lefties, and considering my hatred of gel pens, I’m in.)

As for now, I use the Staedtler brand for colored pens. They are just glorious, lemme tell you. The ink glides smoothly + dries as soon as it hits the paper. The pack is 2o pens of a variety of colors, so the neutral grays + black suffice for my lack of proper black pens. They are found retail $29.99. (Luckily I paid only half price, but if you don’t need such expensive pens feel free to use another brand.) As for brush pens, I’m pining on a pack of Tombow, but it’s sorta up in the air right now. If you know any decent brush pens (they script calligraphy without the hassle of signature callig pen nibs) with somewhat resistance to ghosting (aka: bleeding through pages) / blend + dry fairly quickly, leave a comment below, I’d love to know!

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Staedtler Triple Fineliner Pens (ft. fairy lights)

Where to Begin

Key

Okay, you have a journal and a pen, and perhaps a ruler. Now what? You wonder. Well, we begin with the key. The key, or legend, is your basis on which your journal stands. Below is a proper BuJo key.

My key (although I cannot provide a picture) is as listed:

  1. task (empty box)
  2. task started (slash through box)
  3. task completed (check marked)
  4. task cancelled (horizontal line through box)
  5. task migrated (arrow through box)
  6. event (open bullet point)
  7. note (closed bullet point)
  8. deadline (exclamation)
  9. meeting / appointment (clock)
  10. irrelevant (crossed through)

 

 

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Not my key, but is a proper (albeit specific) example for a BuJo key

Index

The index is simply the pinnacle of your journal. It’s where each page / spread will be documented + organized. Every time you add a new section of your journal, jump back to the index + jot it down. Eventually you will fill up the page. Leave a page or two for the index, because trust me, you will need it.

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My Index (ft. ill-located bookmark + fairy lights)

Now, from here on out, I’m going to describe how I bullet journal, not how you’re supposed to. Okay, so that makes it sound like I’m doing it wrong, but really, I’ve learned, there is no wrong to the Bullet Journal. The only wrong, I believe, is quitting. Just wanted you readers to note that this is going to get a little less generic and a little more personal-based.

Now that we’ve established the index which you actually can’t edit until you’ve added a page to your journal, so leave it blank for now. When conceiving my journal I arranged my first priority in such order:

  1. Index
  2. Future Log
  3. Monthly Log
  4. Weekly Log

Future Log

There’s no need to explain the index any further, so let’s move onto the Future Log. The Future Log is simply a view of your year in advance. You can draw tiny calendars for each month, or just simply jot down events + birthdays + etc. throughout your spread. Keep in mind you don’t need to wait until a new year begins to start your Bullet Journal. As you can see below, I began in August 2016. There’s no need to hesitate!

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2016 Future Log (ft. fairy lights + the ‘ghosting’ of my index title on the opposite page)

Monthly Log

This spread is used to plan out your month in advance. You can be a lot more specific—from holidays to birthdays to appointments. For me, in addition to a calendar of August, I added books I want to read, goals to accomplish one which included improving my Bullet Journal skills  and tasks to complete during the month. The rest—for the most part—is pretty self-explanatory.

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August Monthly Log Spread (ft. fairy lights)

Weekly / Daily Log

Now, let’s get down into the most customized portion of your Bullet Journal. I’ll be honest, my weekly logs have no order. I doodle the names of the weeks as I’m feeling without much care for consistency. The daily log can include the following:

  • events
  • tasks
  • homework assignments
  • deadlines
  • notes a very generic term, I must say, but necessary
  • announcements

The daily log, essentially, is the essence of the scheduling system at which the Bullet Journal stands for. It can be inconsistent, messy, and jumbled—OR it can be neat, doodled, and organized. Choose whatever approach suits you. If you aren’t comfortable doodling and sprucing up your pages, that’s perfectly alright! The system was created very brief and simply, if I can recall. Remove any hesitation you have due to the belief that your Bullet Journal needs to be a perfect work of art. It’ll save you in the long run.

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Weekly / Daily Log (ft. fairy lights) the right page is a habit tracker, but we’re going to gloss over that for now

Perhaps you can tell I tend to approach the daily log with a rather artistic view. Naturally I’m an artist + visualizer, so it just happened that way. Lettering + calligraphy is another current obsession of mine it’s still third to Bullet Journal + Hamilton though.

If you’re anything like me, your schedule contains more tumbleweeds than bullet points. On the Monday space (that was my first official BuJo day) I found very little things to note. By Tuesday I was trigger-happy, listing everything under the sun on my daily log. I’d name simple tasks like ‘shower’ and ‘read book,’ and a week later, nothing has changed. Albeit I keep adding deadlines that I’m currently procrastinating, so writing it down every day does kinda PUSH those deadlines in your face. Like a punch.

Alas my Bullet Journal walk-through has come to a close but don’t close your journal just yet, ahaha puns. Once you’ve established all of the sections above, the rest is truly up to you. From here on out I will list tips + tricks to know, as well as examples on what exactly you can add to fill up your blank journal. . .and in style 🙂

Tips + Tricks

Here are a couple of things to aid you in getting used to your Bullet Journal, as well as what I wished I knew when I began!

  • Deal with mistakes accordingly

You can either doodle over the mistake which is actually what I did this morning when I drew a line too long or you can simply brush it off like it’s nothing. On my first day, I had contemplated tearing out a page of my journal because I messed up. FACT: I would’ve too, if I hadn’t numbered my pages already smh  this is a trap you never want to fall into.

  • Don’t add an end page on your index for your daily log

OKAY, OKAY, that made no sense. LET ME EXPLAIN! So I explained the index, and the importance of documenting each page / spread you create. However, since chances are you’ll add various, non-schedule pages to your journal, your daily log will be granted no predetermined end. Therefore, when you jot down (Insert Month) Daily Log in your index, write ‘6-‘ (as in page 6, where I began my August daily log) indicate an indefinite end with a ‘-‘ trust me, it’s for the best.

  • If you’re at a loss of inspiration, or simply require an idea boost, don’t hesitate to explore the BuJo community

The Bullet Journal communities are scattered all across the internet. You can find them on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest. I tend to frequent Pinterest + Twitter the most, though. If you’d like someplace to explore the high and lows of Bullet Journal, check out my BuJo Pinterest Board HERE. It’s where I go when I need a little boost.

* BONUS *

Pages You Can Add to Complete Your Journal

OKAY this will be a conglomerate wow who thought I’d ever use that word? of pages included in my journal as well as people on Pinterest I’d spotted before.

  • habit tracker (which, clearly, tracks your habits (i.e. ‘go to sleep by 11 pm’) using a dotted graph)
  • bucket list (go hard or go home)
  • food log (if you’re moderating your diet, jot down each day what you eat, then reflect on your habits)
  • monthly / yearly / semester tbr (which means ‘to be read’)
  • follower tracker (I’m a social media nut so I track 5 accounts of mine, one being my blog)
  • recipes to know
  • movies you saw this year (I really like this one, and it helps to collect ticket stubs to aid you in creating the page)
  • things to buy (get as specific as you want)
  • fitness / weight tracker (I’m not involved in the fitness aspect of BuJo, so I suggest further research if you’re interested)
  • blog posts to write
  • web address keeper (if you want to risk it, it keeps all of your passwords in one place, but make sure it stays out of the wrong hands)
  • quotes + inspo (if there’s a specific quote you want to see when you open your journal, take up a page + admire it everyday!)
  • ‘I want to Learn to’ (fill in as accordingly, for ideas I’ve written ‘drive,’ ‘play guitar,’ + ‘cook’)
  • brain dump (whatever million dollar idea just hit you, scribble that sh** down)
  • songs you’re listening to right now
  • a list of Bullet Journal spread ideas THE FOURTH WALL HAS BEEN BROKEN
  • spending habits
  • checklists (i.e. packing for vacation or things you need for school)

So. . .that’s it! I hope I introduced + described the process well! Maybe I cleared up any possible misunderstandings you had about the Bullet Journal? If it makes you readers feel better, I ‘began’ the system a week ago, and I’m already writing a post about it! Jill, you gathered ideas + supplies the entire month of July, you only physically began in August.

Before any of you click away, I just want to say the Bullet Journal will become your companion, your second half, and your equal okay, wow, way to go light on the subject. Just remember the journal is a reflection of you as a person: Do you prefer order or chaos? An artsy journal or a curt schedule? Consistency or arbitrary? The Bullet Journal truly reflects what you make it. And make it amazing 🙂


Do you Bullet Journal? Why or why not? If you have any further questions, leave them below!

xoxo,

Jill

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23 thoughts on “Bullet Journal 101

  1. I have a funny expercience with BuJo.
    Lately (as for the last year) I have been slightly obsessed with organization and I started doing my research. In Januray I started my BuJo and I just couldn’t do it. I thought it was a big time consuming for me and I just couldn’t do it in general. However, I think that was because I was on holidays and I didn’t have anything really important to take note of.
    I have been trying other ways of organization but this month I decided to give BuJo another chance and so far so good (though we are roughly two weeks into August). I’m experimienting, trying to find my own style and seeing other posts of beautiful BuJos.
    Other planners I have been interested but haven’t had the opportunity to try are Happy Planner and the Kikki K/Kate Spade/Filofax type of planner.
    Great post!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been wanting a planner sort of thing for ages now and this has really helped out!! I can’t wait to start my own bullet journal, I’m so happy I stumbled upon this!! Your journal is gorgeous btw, I’m not really an artsy person so we’ll see how mine turns out!! 🙂

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    1. Ah there’s no shame in using the BuJo for scheduling, it’s actually how the journal was first created 🙂 And I’m so glad I could help urge you to start! If you ever have any questions feel free to contact me (there’s a page on my blog somewhere with all of my social media. . .)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Woah, I’ve always wanted to try this but have never really sat down to make one, or go as far as you did! This looks amazing. If I had discovered this post before buying my Study Planner from Pinkfoot, I would be doing this right now. There’s always next year 🙂

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  4. Woah…I really want to do bullet Journaling because of the fancy pens and pretty colors 🙂 it just confuses me a lot. So you basically get a blank journal, create an index, write down things to do and (maybe) create your own calendar? It looks like fun! If I start, I’ll have to come back here!!!!

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  5. What a great post! I love this! I’ve just discovered Bullet Journalling and am slightly cross with myself for dismissing it months ago! I never looked into it you see! I searched for BUJO posts and yours came up! Great ideas and tips! Thank you! I’m following for sure!

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    1. Aw thank you Madison! I can’t believe my post came up for bujo! It’s super fun and a bit confusing at first but I’m sure you’d get the hang of it, I know I did ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. So it’s the end of December and my New Year’s Resolution is to keep a journal. Bullet journals have always been scary to me, all the pages and colors and symbols. It’s all so structured and confusing when you first look at it. Right now I have a brand new magnet-shut journal with the index, my “cette année” pages (that’s “this year” in French), January’s plan page, my first weekly, and the Key Page all set up. I’ll start it on New Year’s Day!

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