I’ve always been a planner. I like having a plan. I like being organized. It’s just the way I’ve always been. And I’ve had a physical planner for as long as I can remember. (I actually still have most of them tucked up in a box somewhere. I blame my father for my hoarding tendencies.) It keeps me on track, it keeps everything in order, and it allows me to venture into the past to see the things I’ve done and a peek into the future at what is to come.
For the longest time, I was balancing a number of different notebooks along with my planner and it got to the point where it was all getting a little too much to carry around so many different thought containers and that’s how I stumbled upon bullet journaling. The official bullet journal website describes it as “a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.” And it is really that. Your bullet journal is completely customizable to your taste, it can be your everything or just one or two of those things combined, it’s all up to you.
This post is not a how-to guide to bullet journaling but my experience with bullet journaling so far. This post (link) is an actual guide to bullet journaling and one that I read up on when I first started out on this journey. You don’t have to follow it to a tee, I didn’t, but I did get the basics to how to create my own organizational system from it.
Supplies & Tools:
I went with the Leuchtturm1917 Medium A5 hardcover notebook with squared pages for my bullet journal (about $24CAD). You can use any notebook of your choice, this is just the one I went with it. I did debate for a while whether to go with the Leuchtturm1917 or stick with a Moleskine journal, which I had been previously used for the past four years. What ultimately tipped the scale in favour of the Leuchtturm1917 were the number of pages it boasted (249 pages) and the slightly wider width of the A5 notebook. It has 2 page marks, a gusseted pocket at the back, and elastic bound closure. Personally, I would have gone with the dotted pages Leuchtturm1917 notebook instead of the squared pages but that was the only one available at the time. The pages do bleed when it comes to colour markers or inky pens, I’ve found, which isn’t uncommon and has been documented by others. (If you’re Canadian, Chapters-Indigo carries the full line of Leuchtteurm1917 notebooks as well as the Moleskine notebooks.)
I’m very particular when it comes to pens. The finer the point, the more I tend to like the pen. 0.5mm and a smaller point are my preference when it comes to my writing utensils and I have amassed quite a bit over the past few months in regards to bullet journaling. You don’t have to use any of these, it’s just what I’ve chosen to use. For a lot of the decorative sections of my bullet journal I’ve used a mix of Copic sketch markers (for washes of colour and highlighting) and Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pens (for calligraphy, shading, outlining, etc.). In terms of writing and colour coding different parts and tasks I use a mix of the Paper Mate Flair markers, the Pentel EnerGel X pens, Sharpie fine line markers, and Stabilo bille 508n pens. (The Stabilo bille 508n pens are my favourite pens of all time but I believe they been discontinued, unfortunately.) A pencil is also really good to have on hand just to sketch out everything before going over it in pen and making it permanent.
I’ve found stickers the best way to customize my bullet journal since I’m not the best artist in the world. I’ve seen some amazing drawings and sketches in some bullet journals and it blows me away but I do not have the skill to even attempt such a creation in mine. The majority of the stickers covering the outside and inner covers of my journal come from Red Bubble and depict many of the things I love and enjoy. The stickers that litter the inside of my journal come from Michael’s. Etsy also has a huge selection of stickers, stamps, and stencils that you could use to help customize your own journal.
Other tools and supplies that I’ve used throughout my bullet journal are washi tape, post-its, a good eraser and a ruler. A ruler is really important. Washi tape is a great way to section off different parts of your journal, as well as a way to decorate pages. Post-its are really important, they’ve helped to section off different parts of the journal allowing me to flip and find things easier.
Customization is one of the biggest draws of bullet journaling, it’s why I decided to switch to bullet journaling and the set up of your bullet journal is completely up to you. I cherry picked how I wanted to set up my journal. There are a lot of things I kept and a lot of things I discarded. My bullet journal is on the simpler end but I’ve seen others that go far and beyond and they are absolutely incredible as well. It’s all up to you as the creator on how you want to set it up.
Key: The key is a type of legend and important part to bullet journaling and a part that I took no part in. I’m used to colour coding using different colour pens and such and I didn’t feel like I need to have a key to keeping me organized so I didn’t create one.
Index: Luckily for me, the Leuchtturm1917 comes ready with an index at the beginning of the notebook letting you jot down and organize the different sections of your journal. All the pages of the Leuchtturm1917 come numbered as well, making the indexing of the journal that much easier.
Motivational words/quotes: I have a page of quotes at the beginning of my bullet journal. These are some of my favourite quotes and quotes that I do try and live by and are a good inspiration going forward in my life.
Miscellaneous: I have set aside a number of pages dedicated to my blog (brainstorming ideas, a roll of blog posts created, planning, etc.). Having this section in my planner was one of the major reasons as to why I switched to bullet journal planning. It allows me the flexibility to have everything in one spot that conventional planners would not allow. I also have a page dedicated to my 2016 challenges and my 2016 50 Book Pledge.
Future log: This is where I have all the months starting from August 2016 to December 2017 written down. Since you have to create a monthly spread for each month, having a future log allows you to mark down important dates, birthdays, etc. You can keep track of everything that happening in the coming months as well as having a calendar to look at when you are creating your monthly spreads. I have mine sectioned off and dates colour coded to keep everything organized.
Monthly log: This is where I have each month sectioned off. I have a calendar for the month, a tracking page, a monthly goal/to-do-list, a brain dump (a place where I can write or just jot things down during the month), a section for my blog, as well as weekly spreads that are similar to ones that you would find in conventional planners. This is really where you can customize and play with how you setup everything for each month, week, day and there are many different ways you can go, it’s all up to you. For me, it was a trial and error process to figure out how I wanted each month/week set up and it has changed each month but I think my current set up for November is the best one so far.
Bullet journaling is becoming a larger and larger section of the planning world and there are a lot of blogs, Pinterest accounts, Instagram accounts, and YouTube channels dedicated to it. Listed below are the Instagram accounts and YouTube channels that have inspired my own bullet journal.
I love the customization and flexibility of having a bullet journal and will be continuing with it for the foreseeable future. It allows my to have my organized side as well as having my creative side all contained in one vessel which honestly makes life a lot easier. It definitely takes a while to get into the groove of how you want your journal to be set up. I spent a lot of time figuring out how I wanted my journal to be set up, how each page would look like, how each spread would look like, etc. before I even bought my journal, which is something I recommend just to get use to the idea of it. It’s definitely a trial and error process, at least it was for me to figure it all out and it can change as you go on which it has for me. This journal is mine and is reflective of me and where I am in time and where I am planning to go which really makes it the best planner.
I hope this helps any of you who are thinking about taking the plunge into bullet journaling. If you’ve got any questions, you can always leave the down bellow in the comments or hit me up on Twitter. 😘