Bullet Journaling

You’ve probably seen them on Instagram or Pinterest – those charming little journals with pretty ‘spreads’, calendars, and lists. Now, if you’re anything like me, your desk might be a flurry of sticky notes and day planners and to do lists, and your Notes app is a mess of movie recommendations, half-formed ideas, and grocery lists. You’ve got doodles on the inside covers of novels, five jillion reminders set up on your phone, goals taped up on your walls, and way too many pens to keep track of.

I’ve been journaling on and off for years, but I tend to designate different notebooks for different purposes, which, naturally, has the effect of scattering half-filled notebooks and scraps of paper throughout my apartment. Bullet journalling gives you one single space to bring everything together. And even though I’m no longer in school, I can’t help but anticipate September with the excitement that always comes with a fresh start – it seems like a perfect time to try this fancy new journalling style out. Here’s what I’ve learned starting my own bullet journal, and how to start your own!

So what, exactly, is a bullet journal?

Bullet journalling is a system of journalling that gathers all of your tasks, inspirations, and schedules into one place. You can follow the ‘rules’ over at bulletjournal.com, but personally, I’m taking a bit more of a freeform approach to it.

While it’s certainly not required, most bullet journalers use a dot or grid notebook. This allows you to create your own layouts, and is much more forgiving than lined notebooks and much more structured than blank notebooks.

How do I get started?

At the most basic level, bullet journals track your everyday tasks, weekly to-dos, and monthly goals. Many journals include an index at the beginning and numbered pages to keep track of everything – and if it doesn’t, you can just add your own.

Start with a future log. This is your ‘big picture’ spread. I divided my pages evenly into three, with each section representing a month. This is your year-at-a-glance, and can be filled in as the year goes on! It’s great for long-term goals, remembering or recording important events, and far-in-the-future scheduling.

After this, I have a few pages for a few different things I’d like to track over time – books I’ve read, blog post ideas, movies to see, achievements, etc. There are tons of great layout ideas online.

Next comes your monthly log. This is getting a little more detailed – on the left-hand side of your page, you might list the date and day, like me, or you could even sketch in a more traditional calendar. These track your important dates during the month. You can also add a to-do list, monthly goals, a habit or mood tracker, a gratitude log, or even a section to just jot down thoughts you’re having.

Finally, your daily log. This is your weekly to-do list, your daytimer, and your diary. The whole idea of a bullet journal is to jot down your notes quickly and easily. Most people use different symbols beside their points to designate between to-do items, events, and points that have been moved or rescheduled, but I’m a little more low key than that. I like to fill in circles or squares to indicate that something is completed (I blame standardized testing for that one), or just cross off items that are no longer applicable.

That’s pretty much it! Your bullet journal can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. You can collect inspiration photos in it, doodle, use washi tape and fancy pastel highlighters, practice your calligraphy, or keep it completely minimal and clean. The beauty of the bullet journal is that you can make it completely your own – there are no set rules and no ‘right’ way to do things.

Written by Paige Leigh Reist / thewholesomehandbook.com