When I first started reading about bullet journals I instantly fell in love with them. They’re what I always wanted to try but never knew how to do it. So, I wrote this bullet journal hacks article at the beginning of the year and I just couldn’t help but get my own journal started. And now, with a couple of months of experience, I decided it was time to share some thoughts about bullet journaling.
That being said,
If you read the previous bullet journal hacks article, then you’re already familiar with what a bullet journal is, but I think a quick recap could be useful here. So, the basic idea of a bullet journal is either use it as a planner, a to-do list, or a diary. Or even all three at once - which is what most people do, and what I did as well.
When I discovered bullet journals, I already had a 2018 planner. So, what to do now? It was actually quite simple! Since the planner I have has only a monthly log and a small daily space to write tasks, I bought a separate notebook to work on:
- Weekly logs
- Cleaning logs
- Mood trackers
- Therapy notes
- Monthly expenses
- Work out sessions
- To-Watch lists
- Semester Classes
Of course, at first I didn’t really know what I was going to add on my journal, I figured it out as I went along. The work out sessions, for example, were an addition I made just a couple of weeks ago (when I realized just how much of a couch potato I was being, but that’s a different story), and surely I’ll still add more as I keep going.
Basically, here are a couple of things I feel like might help those who are just getting started with their journals:
Define Your Essentials
Defining your essentials means: think about what you absolutely want to have in your journal. For me, that was:
- To-watch movies list
- International dates list
- Year in pixels
- Journaling prompts
After you decide your own, you can prepare your journal so those items stay on the first few pages, making them easily accessible - that’s the tip here! Since these lists were going to be things I needed to constantly look for, I made them as practical as possible.
Test Your Pens
I had bought the cutest set of colored pens to start my journal only to find out after designing the index page that the journal pages were too thin and the ink bled through and marked a little bit of the next page. So I had to start all over again with a new notebook (because for me it was easier to find a new notebook then a new set of pens). Still, this time I made sure to test the pens on the last page and see how it went before actually getting started on my designs.
Leave Perfectionism Aside
As a perfectionist myself, I know how hard it is to leave it out, but when it comes to bullet journaling, you just need to let it go. This is the best part, if I must say. It feels so good to just let the mind flow and create something not perfect, but really truthful to yourself.
More than that:
Don’t compare your journal to others! It’s important to keep it personal and adapt it to your own style and needs, so if you keep comparing yours to the inspirations you see online, it’ll just make you unhappy - and then make you feel like you need to keep perfecting it.
It doesn’t really matter if you have the talent for drawing and painting because that’s not what doodling is about. It’s more about just going with what comes to mind, if you feel like drawing a circle, draw a circle and see where that leads you to. This is one of the best ways you’ll find to make your creativity flow and de-stress from a busy day. What I like to do is pick a famous quote and doodle around it with flowers, hearts, stars, or even just dots. Trust me: it’s worth it!
Check It At Least Three Times a Day
Checking your bullet journal is kind of like checking your phone, only instead of taking a look to see if there are any new messages every now and then, you’ll check your journal to see if you forgot any tasks. I have this journaling ritual where I take about 30 minutes every night to prepare the following day. This ritual includes:
- Preparing my work to-do list
- Writing down what I need to study for college
- Schedule the cleaning of the week
- Logging the expenses of the previous day
That’s basically it for the night ritual. But, as I said before, you need to check it at least three times a day. Which means, checking it when you start your day to see what the priorities are, then once again in the middle of the day (I usually check at noon, right after lunch). Both of these times shouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes since you’re really just checking, maybe adding a note or something like that on something that has been done or something that will need to be rescheduled.
Bonus: my cat decided he also wanted to be on the photos while I was taking them, so here’s a look at my baby.
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