If you’ve been on social media for any amount of time, you’ve probably read people going on about bullfet journals, or “bujos”. You may have – as I did – view arty photos on Instagram with jealous eyes. If you’re loving the idea of having a bullet journal but not knowing where to start, then this is the post for you!
What is a bullet journal?
The bullet journal method was devised by Ryder Carroll as a basic and quick all-in-one system for himself, but since posting about it, the word about the system spread – as did it’s popularity. A bullet journal can be anything you want it to be, but in its basic form it incorporates a diary, planner, journal and to do lists, so you’re only carrying one notebook around.
Instagram is full of gorgeous, arty journals, but it can be basic if that’s what you need. The idea of a bullet journal is that it works for you – there’s no point in creating pretty pages if you’re not actually going to refer to them afterwards.
Where do I start?
You need a notebook and a pen. That’s it. When I got the urge to bujo at the end of October, I felt the temptation to put it off until the New Year, but then I remembered a notebook I’d bought from Tesco and decided to take the bull by the horns.
I quickly realised the bullet journal system was one that worked for me, and I “upgraded” to an Ottergami in mint green, with the dotted pages so preferred by journalists. The dots give you a framework for your designs without dominating the page. The only downside to this journal is the lack of page numbers.
What’s the deal with spreads and collections?
As soon as you delve into the world of bujos, you’ll see these words banded about. A spread is simply a layout that takes up one or two pages. A collection is a page or series of pages devoted to one subject – eg, with bullet journaling, you’ll have a month spread and then weekly spreads for that month, which together makes up the collection for that month.
Collections can also be lists of things you want to record, or track. Trackers can include books you read, movies you watch, weight loss, and savings. I also have trackers for podcasts and YouTube videos.
What do I need in a bujo, then?
This is really up to you. My first bujo, I started with an index, but I didn’t fill this in so I’ve skipped it for 2020. I do have a “future log”, which serves as a calendar where you note birthdays and appointments you’re already aware of. This is because bujos tend to be filled in on a month-by-month basis, so you need one place to keep track of important dates.
Some people keep their trackers and collections at the back, others at the front. You can also scatter them throughout and log their location in your index. Then there are the monthly and weekly spreads – play around with these and see which fit your lifestyle best. Also don’t be afraid to change up whenever you feel like it – bujos are designed to be flexible like that! I’ve seen several old hat journalists recommend doing a monthly review of what worked and what didn’t (as well as reviewing your trackers) though perhaps a quarterly or biannual one will be better. Again, it’s up to you.
Back to trackers and collections. You can literally track anything. For 2020 I have a writing log, reading and TV trackers, health (including a spread for #walk1000miles), money, and household chores. Only track things you need and will keep up to date with. For example, I tried mood trackers and gratitude logs and failed with both. This year I’m leaving a little space for noting these if and when I felt like it.
But don’t I have to be arty?
Take it from someone who isn’t – NO! The idea of a bullet journal is to be organised, not arty. Of course, you can combine the two, but if you’re not that way inclined, you don’t need to. The most important thing to remember is it’s your journal! It’s really easy to get swept away with the incredible pages on Instagram and Pinterest. However what works for one person might not work for you.
If you aren’t arty but want to inject prettiness into your bullet journal, there are loads of ways to tart your notebook up! You can get stickers, washi tape, and plastic stencils from a number of suppliers, or bob onto Etsy and find printable layouts. Or do what I did and find some pretty artwork and trace it in (a lightbox works wonders here and isn’t particularly expensive.)