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Bullet Journal Basics and An Overview of Mine

January 21, 2018

Happy Sunday! Today’s blog post is all about the bullet journal, from my explanation to how to start your own. As a heads up, I would get cozy because this is going to be a long read. I recently started my own bullet journal and have been very interested in the whole concept. This is why I did a lot of research to share with you what I learned thus far! I’m hoping with this post, I can convince at least one of you to start your own as well!

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What the Heck is a Bullet Journal?

The original creator of the bullet journal described it as the “analog system for the digital age”. It is a method of journaling that focuses on using bullets (haha), but as users kept developing it, it has transformed into various other useful tools! The bullet journal a compact area for you to put everything that’s floating around in your mind; from little ideas to planning for the future. It can be whatever you wish to be. Whether it’s an agenda, notebook or ideas outlet, its main goal is aimed at making your life simpler. It’s a one-pit stop for all of your daily needs to make sure your days can run as smoothly as possible.

A bullet journal fits around how your personal brain works, which is why no two journals will ever look the same. It relies on flexibility and adaptability to ensure you only keep what’s working for you. Our minds work very differently in the new digital age, but it’s still conducive to use pen/paper over typing on some technology. By using a bullet journal, you are able to engage your brain to encourage a more thorough thought process.

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Why a Bullet Journal and Not a Typical Agenda

The agenda market is flooded with various types of agendas to suit different needs. But there rarely exists one to fit your every need. Instead of buying a typical agenda every year, you can customize your any journal to become whatever’s in your mind. Instead of only being an agenda, a bullet journal keeps everything that’s floating around in your imagination in one compact place. Most agendas on the market today are there for the sole purpose of surviving as your agenda. But there is a lot more to our lives than just planning out day-to-day to-do’s. This is the quintessential difference between an agenda and bullet journal. The bullet journal system boasts of “doing more with less”. With every aspect being customizable to your personal liking, the sky’s the limit.

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How Can You Start Your Own Bullet Journal

Starting your own bullet journal is very simple. You can start by using any journal, even one that’s old and already used! There is a wide range of different types of bullet journals, from super artistic ones to very minimalist ones. Like I said, the sky’s the limit. Your journal can be as complicated or simple as you wish. How much time you want to invest into it is 100% up to you!

In regards to supplies, starting out, all you really need is a journal and pen. Of course, with one simple google search, you can find several other supplies to make your journal glamorous. Bullet journals are also unique in that it’s fill-in as you go. So if a certain spread/layout didn’t work well, then you can easily flip the page to start anew. Your journal can continuously keep evolving to fit your life needs. You are in the driver seat for this ride!

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What Are the Typical Components of a Bullet Journal

  1. index: in the very beginning of a bullet journal, there is usually an index to help you find your way through your bullet journal later on
  2. future/year log: there are usually a few pages devoted to the entire year (say 2018) to highlight the most important events for the year (birthdays, events, vacations, holidays, etc)
  3. monthly log: with the start of every month, there is a page or two devoted to each month outlining the events for that specific month (appointments, calls, errands, etc.)
  4. weekly/daily log: after each month’s monthly log, there will be a pages for the weekly/daily logs, which are sections for each week or day so you can write events/to-do’s for that particular week/day
  5. key: the bullet journal system is focused around making short and simple lists centered around using bullets thus a key can help you distinguish different types of marks/bullets—these marks/bullets can represent tasks you need to do, tasks completed, upcoming tasks, etc

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What I’m Planning On Using my Bullet Journal For

Personally, I am hoping to use my bullet journal for the following things:

  • agenda: since I am still in school, I need a place to write down my homework assignments and to keep track of my school/work/life schedules
  • to-do lists: with so many of my past blog posts on finding motivation and how to get over stress, most of you already know that forming and completing to-do lists are a must to my personal productivity
  • creativity space: I’ve always wanted to hone in on my creativity and to let it flow—more specifically, my artistic skills. Calligraphy has always had a special place in my heart and an area I want to tap into and play around with more
  • trackers: this idea was from the various videos I’ve seen on bullet journals —trackers are exactly what the name implies: to track your daily life, whether it be habits, mood, to-do’s or anything else you may need a tracker for
  • brainstorming dump: I am constantly writing down ideas for things, such as for this blog, everywhere and I’m hoping that my journal can serve as the tool to let me keep all of my ideas in one place

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An Overview of My Personal Bullet Journal Thus Far

I’ve started my bullet journal at the beginning of this year. Because I wanted something more compact, I opted for the Leuchtturm 1917 Medium Size Hardcover Dotted Pages Notebook. Other popular ones include Moleskin journals, or as previously mentioned, any journal works. For pens, I just used my G-2 Gel Pens, PaperMate Gel Pen, random Crayola markers I had around to add some color and my beloved muji pens. The basics a index and key are shown in the pictures above and the following are the rest of the spreads I’ve done:

I condensed my yearly spread to one page because I only wanted to mark birthdays, which means I reserved the other events/holidays/plans to the monthly spreads. Each month will have its own designated color. I colored in January and February’s headers since I already assigned them colors. As I keep going, the other ones will also start having colors, too.

For my monthly January spread, I wanted something quite simple and compact so I put the monthly spread on one page. I redrew the calendar/dates so I can have it all in one place with the events of that month. For my budgeting, I added an expenses tracker on the left side. I want to track all of my spendings, divided amongst cash, credit and debit. On the other page, since I have a concrete schedule for my classes, I decided to dedicate a page towards mapping out my schedule. At a glance, I am able to see my daily schedules and any free time other than class and work.

For my weekly/daily logs, I wanted rectangular boxes because I can then also divide them further to school related on one side and then personal on the other. On the left side, I assigned specific colors to each class and can write assignments there. On the right hand side, I can write down my to-do’s for the day, events and other upcoming tasks. Since I had a little awkward spot with where I divided up the two sides, I decided to fill it up with the daily weather.

Since February is right around the corner, I already started on my February monthly layout. It looks exactly like January’s, except for the color. Instead of a schedule at a glimpse page on the other side, I decided to put trackers for the month. Habits I want to track are: going to bed before 12am, waking up before 9am, reading and more! As for the mood tracker, I wanted to see my overall mood throughout the month. I correlate mood with my mental health and it can maybe help me target those sad/bad days and see what causes them.

In an attempt to change it up, I started branching out of my handwriting and decorating. For February’s weekly/daily logs, the format is still the same, but I attempted to write the headings different. Let me know what you think!

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Other Ideas For Your Bullet Journal

  • break sections into morning/afternoon/night or different categories so tasks aren’t as overwhelming
  • decorate with washi-tape to add more color easily
  • stencils/stickers can easily add more dimension
  • planning for events: birthdays, parties
  • trackers: mood, habits, spending, budgeting, saving, etc
  • place to put pictures: memories/experiences

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The bullet journal community is saturated with ideas and different layouts. I hope you found this post interesting enough to spend the $10-$20 you were going to spend on buying an agenda to purchase a journal instead. Be in charge of your own productivity! Perhaps this can even be your new hobby, as it is quickly becoming mine. I can’t wait to add more pages, memories and see what my future months’ spreads will look like. If you would like to know more about bullet journals or see more of my spreads, let me know! And I would love to know if you already started yours and see other designs!

A million and one thanks for tuning into this super long post today — until my next lil’ thought then!

jen❣️

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