Like many people, I kept a diary as a kid in which I poured out my every thought in excruciating detail. Yet I never managed to keep one for long. (I’m not even sure what I wrote about because my life in elementary school was anything but interesting.) Over the past two years, though, a recent internet trend has become an integral part of my routine: bullet journaling.
If you aren’t familiar with bullet journaling — often called bujo — it’s essentially an organized system for your life. It can be your schedule, calendar, planner, sketchbook and diary in one. Created just a few years ago, it has received massive popularity online. Due to its customizable nature, any journal can easily become a bullet journal.
I post my journal often on my Instagram among thousands of other bujo accounts. From the basics to helpful tips to making more out of your journal for less, I’d love to share my knowledge and experience that I’ve gained from journaling.
(I am not being endorsed by any company to mention their products — I am simply speaking as a consumer.)
Basics & Getting Started
What no one tells you about bullet journaling is how confusing it is at first. Before you get overwhelmed (like I did) get down to the basics. Start off by making a “key” which signifies certain symbols like bullet points and checkmarks to represent tasks, events, deadlines, etc. in your weekly logs. (There are lots of examples online so you can find the best one for you.)
Once you’ve created a key, outline your journal into three sections: monthly, weekly and daily. For example, make a page dedicated to each month of the year (you can jump into bullet journaling anytime and not just the beginning of the year) and map out your goals, events and other important dates. Next, go ahead and make an outlook of your week: general tasks, the weather forecast or quotes that reflect your mood. Finally, take a moment to plan each day of the week with specific appointments, deadlines or tasks.
This is just a basic formula to create your own bullet journal. If it doesn’t personally work for you, it’s okay, it just means you can make your journal tailored to fit your needs.
Don’t be afraid to mess up
It’s a fear we all have when starting out with our journal. However, none of us are perfect. Basically what I’m saying is don’t be afraid to mess up — because you will. It’s just the facts. There aren’t enough post-it notes and washi tape in this world to cover every blemish in my journal (but I’m going to try.)
Get inspired online
You might be asking, what do I even put in my journal? Bullet journaling is flexible to you, and does more than just schedules and planners. Here’s a complete list of ideas you can find online:
- Positive affirmations
- Wish list
- Fitness tracker
- Blog post ideas
- Books to read
- Gratitude log
- Places to travel
- Movies/TV shows to watch
- Bucket list
- Mood tracker
- Birthdays + Anniversaries
- Music playlists
- Packing checklist
There’s a lot you can do with bullet journaling. The possibilities are endless. It doesn’t take long to fill an entire journal.
How to have an Epic Journal for Less
Brand names are just names
If you’re familiar with bullet journaling, you might’ve heard of the most popular companies like Leuchtturm, Muji, Tombow, Moleskine, etc. However, many people aren’t able to spend a fortune, so buying ballpoint pens (I personally love the Pilot G2 fine point) and journals you find at everyday stores are just as good as brand names! Bullet journaling is what you make it, so don’t feel pressured to spend more than you have to on products.
Make a scrapbook
You can make an artsy journal without sketching or drawing. By inserting photos, tickets, postcards and mementos you can make a bullet journal your own special place to preserve the most important moments in your life. Not only are you making more of your journal with the items you already own, but your journal becomes unique to yourself and your experiences.
Be a Minimalist
Many people hesitate to start a bullet journal because I’m not an artist. While you can go all out with colorful doodles and calligraphy, that isn’t for everyone. You can use the bullet journal as it was intended: to keep a schedule and track your daily tasks and goals. In fact, creator Ryder Carroll introduced the bullet journal with a simple, minimalist spread (below) so even though artsy journals may pop up on your Pinterest feed, remember that they aren’t the standard.
And for my final treat, here’s a short clip of me creating a weekly spread for July in my journal. I added some thoughts and techniques as well as products I used in the process below. I hope you enjoy!
There’s no specific method for how I create my spreads, each week is unique and different than the last. This time I included a July calendar, a mini pink envelope, pink post-it notes, and lots of washi tape (some for décor and some to cover mistakes… you’ll never know which.) I added a favorite quote of mine and a list of tasks for the week.
You might be wondering about calligraphy. I’m left-handed — which makes it a little difficult — but I work slowly in order to get the strokes of the pen. If you try calligraphy, I suggest going slow at first as well so you can get used to the motion of your hand. After a while, you’ll be a pro!
Bullet journaling has quickly become one of my favorite hobbies, and judging by social media, thousands of other people as well. If you want to start a journal, go for it! It makes your life a little easier to organize, express yourself or just write down your thoughts. Whatever you choose, making a bullet journal can change your life.