Today I’ll be talking about a new “hobby” I’ve been obsessed with for the past few weeks (months, actually…). Now, if you’ve been following this blog, you know that I’ve already briefly introduced the subject of bullet journalism, but I haven’t exactly explained what it is. Of course, I’m a bit late on that bandwagon, since the trend started last year, but I needed a few months to test out whether or not bullet journalism was for me. So, here’s my version of what a bullet journal is, and what I thought about it.
Personalisation Is Key
A bullet journal, is basically a journal, but instead of its contents already made out for you, you’re the one that has to make it up. Where the yearly planner is already made, you have to design it yourself.
The journal itself can be made up of any notebook, but the one that’s highly recommended by many professional crafters is the dotted notebook. Of course, I didn’t have a dotted notebook to start with, so I just used a regular lined one, but now that a new year has started, and I can actually use it, I have to say that it’s so much better! It’s easier to handle and it is a lot more open, for my creative juices to flow (although, I have seen some squared ones, and I’m sorely tempted to try those ones out!).
To Be An Artist, Or Not To Be An Artist
In terms of design, there’s so much you can do. You’re only limited by your own imagination…and in some cases (like mine) artistic skills. By no means am I an artist, I can barely draw a stick figure, let alone some doodles to dot the pages of my journal, but I’m slowly learning. If you’re not an artist (which I can sympathise with), there are other ways to decorate your journal.
You can use washi tape as backgrounds or borders. Or, you can use sticky notes to highlight important information, events and tasks. You can even use stickers to replace doodles and random patterns other artists may use. It’s all about being creative, about being creative (no it’s not a typo, read it slowly, you’ll get it). So, if you’re not good at art or doodling, try adding different textures, stickers or fabrics, it’ll definitely make your journal more interesting.
Now, if you are good at art, or if you’re trying it out, you can do all sorts of things with a pen and pencil. You can create patterns for borders, use banner drawings for headers and titles…Essentially, you can go crazy with your bullet journal! For those of us who are into the lettering community, you can practice your calligraphy styles. If you’re into adult colouring books, you can make up your own crazy colouring patterns and fill them in. In my journal, I’ve been trying to get back into drawing manga (since I used to draw them back in my school days), and I’ve been practicing my calligraphy styles as well.
As I said before, you’re only limited by your imagination, so let it run wild. It doesn’t matter if a page tears here and there, you can always work around it. I think I’d probably make it look like an animal tried to eat the page, so I’d probably add some water to crinkle the edges and make the page look dog-eared. You can colour the entire page, or two pages, to make it more dynamic. It can be neat, or it can be messy, it’s all up to your own personality and what works for you.
Beginners At The Ready
Now, if you’re just starting your bullet journal, or if you would like to try it out, but don’t know how, then start off simply. I know it’s tempting to dive in and start decorating with all these little doodles you’ve seen on Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr or Instagram, but ignore them for now. The decorations can come later. It’s best to start off with the basics, and the best way to do that is to figure out what you want from your bullet journal.
Ask yourself these few simple questions:
1. Am I doing this as a personal journal, or is it for work?
2. Is it for studying or a project?
3. What habits do I really need to track?
Once you have these answered, then you can get started. Find a layout that works for you. If you like working with borders around your lists, or tasks, then draw straight lines to break up your sections. Start off with bigger chunks, then break them down. First create your monthly page, then your weekly ones, and if you’re brave enough, or detailed enough, break it down to days. After that, it’s just a matter of routine.
Every bullet journal comes with a set of rules, just like any journal. You start off with the biggest chunk of all, and that’s the year in a simple spread. In BuJo (easier to say than bullet journal all the time) terms, this is the Future Log. It goes on the first few pages of your BuJo, after your contents page (and if you’re showing your BuJo to others, your key page, so they don’t get lost). Then you can get started. Start off with the month coming up, so since this post is out in February, then set it up for March (it’ll give you a nice, clean start).
Set up a monthly page, where you can write down your goals and tasks for the month. After that, it’s up to you, you can break down the month into weeks, or days. Now, since I’ve started a new BuJo, I’m working with weeks, but next month, I might just change my mind, and start doing daily logs. With these pages you can be as routinely as you want. You can add habit trackers, meal plans, and other things that could take up the whole section or page, it’s up to you. That’s the whole point of a BuJo.
Now, if you track a lot of things, and have a lot of lists to get through, then you’ll need to find a place to put all of that. Ok, this is the tricky part. Many people start from the middle of the journal, with these trackers. I, personally, start from the back, since I don’t know how far the actual journal will take me. These lists and trackers can be as personal or as work related as you’d like. For me, I mix up my journal, it’s both personal and for projects, so I’ve added personal lists, like books I want to read, how much money I want to save up this year, what TV shows I will watch, and what crochet/knitting patterns I should try. I’ve even added a New Year’s Resolution tracker. Of course, I won’t be tracking those resolutions rather closely. In fact, I’ve decided to take a look at them once a month, to remind myself what I had planned at the beginning of the year, and ask myself if I’m at all close to achieving those goals.
Once you have those core elements in place, you can start doodling. In fact, I’d recommend saving a few pages for any doodle inspirations you may have. You can create your own colouring page, or find inspiration in decorating your BuJo, while you explore the world of doodling. Otherwise, you can be inspired to experiment with other types of hobbies. I delved into the world of calligraphy and lettering, thanks to my BuJo, and the inspiration I took from websites like Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram.
My Final Thoughts
In all honesty, I enjoyed my first BuJo. It was difficult to navigate, since I was working with a lined notebook, but it gave me a sense of structure to my plans and projects. I was finally working towards a goal with them, and I only regretted not being able to draw or use more intricate designs for my BuJo, but I know that in time I’ll be able to do that with ease. After all, practice makes perfect!
So, for those of you who’d like to be more organised this year, even though it’s already been a month, I’d highly suggest creating a BuJo for yourself. It’ll definitely help with decluttering your mind, and get you to do the things you need to do. Of course, you’ll need to work hard at it, and not just put it away once you’ve created the spreads. It’s a journal after all.
Well, that’s it from me today. I know I’ll probably have more to say, about my BuJo, and one day, I might go into detail about the things I do for mine, but that’s a conversation for another time. For now, what do you think? Do you have a BuJo? Is this your first time making one? What do you think of the process and the upkeep? Leave your tips in the jar below, and I’ll see you soon!
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