Since I have been working full time and working on more projects outside of work, as well as all the work my university has just sprung on me, I've found myself needing to be even more organised than usual. I like to think I'm pretty organised, and I am. I have so many to-do lists and everything is planned out. My problem is that everything is planned out in different places. I use OneNote, the Reminders and Notes app on my phone, my planner, sticky notes and a separate work planner. You can see my problem. I used to keep everything in a filofax but I left it in England when I moved to Germany, for some completely unbeknown reason *mentally kicks myself*, so I thought I'd finally give bullet journalling a try.
And THEN I thought, well I should probably share my experience of it with you, like a good blogger. So here we are.
What is bullet journalling?
As I understand it, it is basically a complicated to do list. Nah I'm kidding. It's a to do list, but much better. A bullet journal can essentially be a daily log, with tasks to complete and events that day, often people also use: an index, a future log, a monthly page and view, a daily log and a key of signifiers. But the beauty of a bullet journal is that it can be anything you want it to be. You can add absolutely anything you want. It's an odd concept to those who love planners, but a bullet journal is so flexible. If you're still confused at the end of this post, I'd suggest checking out these links below, as they have everything you could possibly need to know. It's worth spending some time reading everything you can before you blindly throw yourself in, as otherwise you might just give up.
The Bullet Journal Website
A Brilliant Introductory Post
Another Useful Post
How to get started
This is the really easy bit. Grab a blank notebook and a pen and you're ready. Because I was really keen to get started with it but it was a Sunday morning and I was in Germany, which means every single shop is closed and I couldn't just go buy a notebook, I made a Pinterest board. Then I made a graphic because I enjoy using Indesign too much.
Admittedly, I got a bit carried away. The only things you really need are a notebook and a pen. That's it. The popular notebooks among bullet journallers (not sure if that's a word already or not but hey ho) are either Leuchtturm 1917s or Moleskins. But really it doesn't matter - any undated notebook works. I nearly bought the Leuchtturm linked above in Galeria Kaufhof but it was nearly €20 and my bank card would not be impressed at that, so I wandered over to Paperchase to pick up a cheaper, possibly even better, Kraft notebook, with pockets, lined, squared AND blank pages. I would link it, but I can't find it on the website. Sorry!
Muji gel ink pens are my most favourite pens of all time, and I love that they have such a thin nib, so would defo recommend them if you want to pick up some new pens.
Well, the beginning is as good a place as any to start. Start with an index. The perks of Leuchtturm notebooks is that they're numbered, but I'm tight and didn't want to pay extra for numbered pages so I'm numbering mine myself.
Your index will be an important place. The thing with bullet journals is that there's no structure, so you'll end up with pages all over the place, so an index is necessary to find them. Fill this in as you go, but it's best to leave enough space at the front for it.
A key is also good to have at the front, I've got mine on a sticky note on the inside cover (so I can change it if I need to) but it's up to you where you put yours. Your key contains all the different "bullets". Take a look HERE or HERE and have a look what you can use use. Usually a dot for a task, crossed when completed, a > arrow when it's migrated or a line through it when it's irrelevant. You can make it work for you though. The ones I'm currently using are below:
Next up is your future log. This is useful for planning in advance. If you've got an event planned for the future and you haven't started that month yet, this is where you write it. I keep mine separated into months rather than just a list so I won't miss anything. Then when you come to a new month, transfer your future logged items over to your monthly view page.
Your monthly view. This has events coming up for that specific month and any tasks that need doing, though again, it's up to you. It's a good checkpoint to come back to when you're planning your day so you don't miss any events scheduled and you can see what you've got coming up later in the month.
Then the main bit - the daily log. Your daily log should include:
- Events/appointments planned for that date
- Tasks to do
- Tasks that have been migrated from previous days
But it can include anything! I tend to keep notes for the day too, such as anything that's happened that I'm proud of/happy about/not happy about - you get the idea. If I've got something coming up soon I might have a countdown. Sometimes I might record the weather, or note down how much I've spent. Sometimes I'll have doodles, or a quote or lyrics. It really is up to you.
I love looking back at old diaries, so having a view notes on the day such as what I did and how I felt will be more interesting to look back in, but a bullet journal is what you make of it. Some days, if I'm super busy, it will be just a (long) to do list, others will only be one or two notes. I tend to just think of it as a place to brain dump though.
Is that it?
If you want it to be. But because of the nature of the bullet journal, it absolutely doesn't have to be. You can use it for absolutely anything, and I already have many other pages in mine. Some examples of other things you can include are:
- New Years Resolutions
- Goal trackers
- Habit trackers
- Reference pages
So how is it going so far?
I want to say it's been life changing, but that sounds a bit of an over-exaggeration. In truth, I had something similar to this with my filofax, and kept everything in that, but I realise now that because it was structured it was slightly more restricting. This has been great, and has definitely helped keeping everything more ogranised. I like the fact that I can use it for everything, because sometimes I get a blog post idea randomly while I'm at work, or I think of something I need to do at work tomorrow while I'm at home, and now it all goes in the same place. It's also useful for finding things straight away, previously I kept all my blog post ideas either on apps, OneNote, random scraps of paper, or in my work notebook. Now they all go in one place. I also think it's going to be super useful for planning interrailing soon.
So yes, it's DEFINITELY working well so far and I'd highly recommend it to anyone.
Other things worth mentioning
Have a look on Pinterest for some inspiration by all means, but don't let it put you off! A bullet journal doesn't have to look pretty, like many of them on there look, but it should be practical. I like making mine pretty because it encourages me to look at it more, but if jazzing it up makes it more of a chore for you, don't do it. It doesn't have to look Instagram-worthy! Some of my previous daily logs are full of scribbles and messy writing, they're just not the ones I chose to photograph!
The thing that'll most likely make you give up a bullet journal is because you don't get how to use it (I'm saying this from experience). I guess, the main thing to understand is it is basically a notebook where you date the pages yourself, and you go from there. Use it however you want to use it and make it work for you.
Another thing that might make you stop using it: overcomplicating it. Start simple and add things in when you need them. I chose a spiral bound notebook in the end so I can easily rip out pages that aren't working for me or are just cluttering things up!
If you have any questions, let me know! I will probably post another update soon as I'm really still getting started with it and working out what works and what doesn't.
Note: Here's my update, 1 month after using it! To see all my bullet journal posts, click here
Do you have a bullet journal? Or have you ever thought about starting one?