I am a big lover and advocate of self-improvement, which means every year around the Christmas/New Year period, I always look for resolutions or goals to take on for the year. Whether you are someone who has umpteen resolutions each and every year, or you are someone who purposely avoids resolutions because you don’t believe in them, I think Bullet Journalling, something I stumbled upon last year, is something you should try.
So… What is it?
The best place to learn about the true, raw Bullet Journal is to go to the official website, but in my own words, my bullet journal is my life.
In short, it is a notebook.
The longer answer is that it is my primary tool for all of my to-do lists, accountability for getting tasks done, tracking habits, events and moods, organising my life, and helping me declutter my brain, to name a few things.
How do you use it?
The way in which people use their bullet journals is completely personal to each individual, but for me, I try to stick with the main ideas behind the bullet journal:
- Index – a table of contents (typically at the front of the book) that allows you to see where each of your pages/collections appear in your notebook, similar to a contents page.
- Future log – a yearlong calendar for you to mark up important meetings, events and tasks over the upcoming months.
- Monthly log – a month-long calendar that allows you to mark up tasks to get done on certain days, meetings/rendez-vous with friends or family, lists of things to buy in the month, and anything else you might to remember associated with that month.
- Daily log – a typical to-do list. Categorised into bullet points, it makes viewing your tasks easy to see and manage and quick to write down.
- Rapid logging – the art of getting all of the thoughts down into your journal in a quick way.
- Collections – pages that are used to contain different lists/ideas, e.g. films to watch, books read, holiday packing list, budget, savings aims, etc. The possiblities are endless.
There is also a ‘weekly log’ that a lot of people use, but I find that all of the above plus a weekly log is too much for me to be focussing on per month, which is one of the good things about a bullet journal: you can make it work for you. If there is something you don’t like about a bullet journal, change it. Don’t include it. Include something else. Go wild! The above ideas are only recommendations in using a bullet journal; the beauty is that it is completely personalisable to you.
How do I start?
The only two things you need for a bullet journal are a notebook and a pen.
However in the bullet journal community, there are favoured notebooks and favoured pens to use, based on the thickness of the paper and the amount of ghosting/bleeding of pens through the pages. (Ghosting: being able to see the lines of a pen on the other side of a page. Bleeding: having ink from one side of the page ‘bleed’ – come through – to the other side).
Typical favoured notebook brands are:
- Leuchtturm 1917s
- Peter Pauper Press
There are four different variations of the types of paper that I see a lot:
- Plain – no markings or guidings on the pages, giving complete creative freedom and ability to make writing as small/large as desired
- Lined – horizontal lines running across the pages, making writing sentences even and level without sloping up or down the page
- Grid – squares filling the page, making it easy to be able to draw tables/boxes and providing a lot of structure to those who might need it
- Dotted – similar to squared, but providing dots instead of boxes. This is possibly the prefered choice for many people, as it allows the creative freedom given with plain paper, while providing reference points to ensure lines are straight and boxes are even
Typical pens are:
- Staedtler Triplus Fineliners – available singularly and in packs of 10, 20, 36 and 42, these pens have some ghosting but minimal bleeding and the array of colours found within the packs can really cause a bright and exciting feel to an otherwise minimalist page
- Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners – similar to the above fineliners but a different brand, generally available in packs 10, 12, 20, 25 and 40 (though you can buy them in smaller packs if necessary)
- Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen – these black pens are used a lot for the main body of writing as they come in different nib sizes from XS (0.1mm) to 1,5 (1.5mm)
- Sakura Pens Pigma Micron – again, these are similar to the Pitt Artist Pens but a different brand, and a typical pack of 8 varies from a 0.2mm nib size to a 0.5mm nib size, with a brush pen and graphic pen included
- Pilot V5 pens – used as you would use an Artist Pen or Micron pen, these have a 0.3mm tip and come in blue, black or a variety of different colours
- Fountain pens – a wide variety of fountain pens are used in the Bullet Journal community, but the one that springs to my mind if the Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen, which I personally found to have minimal ghosting and bleeding.
But what if I don’t have the time?
It is quite easy to look at inspiration for a bullet journal and marvel at the amount of artwork or creativity some people put into them, but that can also be discouraging to those who either aren’t naturally artistic or who don’t have/want to put that time into their journal. I know it was very overwhelming and a little disheartening to me when I first looked into bullet journaling, but as mentioned above, the good thing about bullet journaling is that you can make it suit you. It doesn’t have to be colourful or artistic.
Minimalist bullet journals can comprise of only a notebook and a pen, and this is perhaps the best idea for people with little time to spare who want to bullet journal. In fact, I’d say a bullet journal could be set up within 15 minutes, and used on a daily basis in 5 minutes, depending on what you want from it.
But for people with more time, who perhaps want to show their artistic flare, there are a lot of different ways to introduce colour and vibrancy into your journal, including using the different journal/noteook variations and coloured pens mentioned above.
There are also a number of different collections you can put into your bullet journal, to monitor your mood, track your health, maximise your productivity and log your reading habits, among some of the many possiblities, but I will be going into these at a later date.
Who is it good for?
Simply put, the bullet journal can be good for anyone, if you’re willing to give it a go. But if I were to categorise people it would be good for, I would have to say it would be good for people who:
- Love stationery
- Forget tasks, appointment times and meetings
- Want to hold themselves accountable for their goals
- Have a lot of open notebooks but don’t ever get around to filling them up
- Use planners but find they are limited by the amount of space/structure that is provided for them
- Are busy
- Have free time
- Want to remember certain events or whether the new restaurant they went to last week was any good
- Aspire to be better
Bullet journaling can seem a very overwhelming concept to first look at it, but I promise you that the more you dive into it, the clearer it becomes and the easier it is to regain control of your life and make it work for you.