A while ago I came across the fascinating cult that is the Bullet Journal phenomenon. For anyone who hasn’t heard of this; firstly, where have you been?! Secondly, you can find out all about it from the original creator Ryder Carroll.
I’ve always found that my diaries and to do lists never quite fit with exactly what I wanted from a planner. When I came across the bullet journal, I was thrilled to try out something different and the dozens of Pinterest boards about the boundless possibilities of spreads, I was hooked!
This post is to show you all how I’ve been using my bullet journal and the basics that you need to get started.
What You Will Need
Below is everything I use to put together my spreads:
Arguably all you need to bullet journal is a notepad and a pen. However, I also enjoy using my bullet journal as a creative outlet and have used other stationary that I already owned – I stress that you don’t need to buy a lot of stuff just to be able to do this!
My notebook is a Leuchtturm1917, A5 dot grid in purple with an add-on pen loop, also in purple. Coupled with a collection of Faber Castell PITT artist pens in bold and STAEDTLER triplus fineliners. I also recently purchased a set of 8 pastel washi tapes from Paperchase.
Once you have everything you need you’re ready to begin!
There are roughly 5 essential spreads to a bullet journal that make it so effective. The first thing you need is an index, because the Leuchtturm comes with a built in index, I didn’t think to include a feature image, but there are plenty for you to browse on Pinterest that look much prettier. This serves the purpose of tracking which pages each of your spreads are on so you can find them with a quick flick back to the beginning.
A key is a vital part of bullet journalling – arguably, it could be said I’m doing it wrong, since I’m not acutally using a bullet. However, I researched a variety of different keys and found that the combination I’ve got below is the most functional for what I needed.
The key allows you to see what kind of tasks and events you have going on at any one time and how many you’ve completed.
This for adding all upcoming dates and tasks throughout the year. I split mine across two pages so that I can guarantee enough space for each month as some are busier than others. This is one of the most vital tools for forward planning in a bullet journal – this is my latter half of 2017 so as you can see it’s pretty empty at the moment!
This is where you can start to make the bullet journal your own. I’ve tried several different spreads for each month and the below two examples are my favourites so far. This is where you can track your engagements that month and any self assigned task deadlines.
This is also where I keep track of any tasks and goals for that month that don’t have a specific completion date.
Similarly, I also keep track of several daily habits that I would like to keep track of and improve on, including how often I read, exercise, meditate, write and if I get over 8 hours sleep. Just things that I would like to ideally do every day, I also find it useful for tracking which days I spend money on.
If there’s room I sometimes like to fill gaps with quotes from my favourite books!
The above is a nice clean way to split your month between personal and professional if that’s what you might need, but the below is also useful for seeing how the month is planned out. I have colour coordinated for birthdays/ holidays against plans, so I can easily see who I might need to buy something for.
As you can see I’ve also started making use of the washi tape I’ve purchased. Using in the above spread to indicate the beginning of a new month, this will make it easy to go back through my journal to see when each month starts.
Weekly/ Daily Spread
There are so many different ways to do these spreads that it really is up to you how to put everything together. I’ve tried several different way so far and I’m always on the hunt for new ones to try!
So, what are the differences between weekly and daily spreads? The former is what I prefer to use, which means every Sunday, I sit down and set out my week. The latter is where you set out your tasks every morning. Because I don’t use my bullet journal for work, I prefer not to wait until each day to make a list of tasks. You can, of course do both if you feel the need to have a pre-determined week, while also having the flexibility to create a to do list for the day.
Here are some of the spreads I’ve used so far:
This first two spreads above show a fairly basic diary design. They offer enough space for the date and that is about it. The second page has also been split into personal and blogging, to see if this would help me keep track of all the things I needed to do for my blog. I didn’t enjoy having to set blogging tasks for a particular day so this spread didn’t last long.
This second spread offers a bit more room for other possibilities, adding in trackers for water, medication, mood and graitude. I quickly decided that I didn’t enjoy the mood and gratitude logs but have since kept the logs for my water and medication – as I can sometimes be bad at remembering to do these!
This is the third spread which you can see I’ve included above and below. It’s the current spread that I’ve been using in the new year and I’m quite enjoying! It has enough space for each day to have a slot, while also having a weekly to do list for my blog and smaller tracker for my blog as well.
There’s also room for what I need to buy and any last minute plans/ to dos for the following week. While also keeping track of my water, meds and what I’m reading at the moment.
Once you’ve created each of the above spreads for your own bullet journal you are good to go! I encourage you to give this a try as I’ve found it really useful for keeping track of lots of things and making a bespoke diary-come-journal for everything I might need.
This post has only covered the bare bones of what a bullet journal has to offer so please see below for other posts on additional things you can add to your journal to make it truly the keeper of all information!
More blogs on Bullet Journals:
Bullet Journal basics- Optional Spreads and Collections (coming soon)
Bullet Journal basics- Inspiration (coming soon)
Bullet Journal basics – Getting Creative (coming soon)
Bullet Journal basics – Blogging (coming soon)