Since August, I have been keeping a bullet journal.
Bullet Journals are books in which you keep to-do lists, sketches, notes and diary entries in a creative, self-designed format to help you organise your life.
I have wanted to start one for a while and I am thoroughly enjoying it.
I stole some ideas from various people on the internet and I have changed my set-up a bit having worked out what works for me and what doesn’t.
I bought a lovely yellow notebook with squared paper from paperchase – this notebook comes in a couple of sizes and colours and it can be personalised when buying online.
Some people prefer the dot grid notebooks or even one with plain paper. I find a grid is helpful to keep everything aligned and squared notebooks are easier to come by, but each to their own.
The pages on my notebook have some bleed-through, but it isn’t too obvious, so I don’t really mind. If this bothers you, consider which kinds of pens you use and get hold of a notebook with really high quality paper.
I have a pack of six different sized pens ranging from 0.05mm to 0.8mm. They are by Staedtler and I love them. Staedtler also make fineliners up to 1.2mm and also caligraphy liners as well as coloured fineliners.
I prefer to use black ink and coloured pencils. This partially reduces the bleed-through, because the pencil doesn’t bleed, but some people like to use felt pens or even paints – this would require thicker paper. The pencils I use are WHSmith own brand and they are pretty good quality.
My monthly page layout has mainly stayed the same since I started the journal, with a header with a small quote, a larger quote, a small calendar with key dates, a goals section, notes and a habit tracker on the double page spread.
My August setup had a very small calendar, which I have sized up since and also a work hours tracker, as I had a zero hours contract at the time. Now I am on a salaried job, I don’t need this.
The colours and drawings change every month to reflect the season and key events of the month – my October one, was especially Halloweeny.
The quotes I choose depend on my feelings at the start of the month, with the smaller quote being a sort of bullet journal mantra for the month and the larger quote changing between something silly that I like and something deep depending on my mood when I created the page.
I have had two styles of weekly spread so far – one full double page with the days of the week and notes and now a double page with one side for the days and a budget tracker and the other side as my to do list and spendings for the week.
The initial design was something I didn’t use very well, only writing my pre-arranged events and recording the weather for each day and taking up a lot of space.
The new design still works for these things and also allows me to have a full to do for the week, instead of putting things on different days and being sad when I don’t complete specific tasks.
It also helps me keep better track of my finances, which is something I desperately need as a serial spender!
Originally, I had no way to record my finances in my bullet journal, but now I am earning a salary, I have begun to work on ways to keep track of my spending and saving.
The first iteration of this was a spending and a savings page. The spendings page had a itemised list of what I spent and when and what on and whether it was with card or cash. The savings page had bars that showed what I wanted to save money for, which I could colour in as I saved.
The mess of the spendings page was evident and I often didn’t quite manage to keep track of everything, so occasionally had to update the numbers. The savings page was fine, but now is stuck quite far back in my journal, so I keep forgetting about it.
I tried to do a finances page for October, with a savings in and out bar, budgets for social, clothing and entertainment and all my direct debits/ standing orders listed so I remembered when they got paid. This page wasn’t really helpful.
Now I have incorporated my financial tracking into my weekly page, which means I can check it more often and keep track of a low weekly budget, hopefully meaning I can increase the amount in my savings account quickly before my monthly outgoings increase when I move in around a month’s time.
I saw a pretty cute idea online of recording one thing that makes you happy every day. I started by designing a page to look like it had stickers all over it to do this on, which was fun, but a bit time consuming.
I designed a slightly more stylish grid page, which I prefer, but this month I haven’t done one so far, so I have been simply writing my reasons to be happy on my weekly spread. I’m not sure how I will proceed with this one.
I have done several lists in my journal so far, one of things I want, which is lying dormant now I know I don’t have much disposable income. I may want to resurrect this soon to make a list for Christmas.
I also did TV/ Movie and Book lists, which I haven’t used much so far. I do watch a lot of TV, but I just tend to watch what’s on, not worry about making sure I see something.
I am still terrible at reading enough, so I need a better reminder of which books to read – maybe something to incorporate into my weekly or monthly spreads.
So far I have loved bullet journaling. It has given me a place to store my to do lists, fuel my meticulousness at tracking the weather and my habits and to enjoy creating something in a very casual and easy way.
The only problem can be that I occasionally struggle to keep up to date with it, or I get sad that I didn’t complete my to do lists on time.
So long as I can remain relaxed about this and not get bogged-down in not completing things to my own arbitrary deadlines, it is a fun hobby that helps me get on with the things I want to do.
I am aware that I have reasonable artistic talent, but you don’t have to be wildly creative to have a bullet journal – it’s a case of using it in a way that suits you and adding as much or as little colour/ drawings/ detail to it as you want to. Most of the calligraphy I did was copied off font websites, like dafont. Layouts were borrowed from various online sources (although I did edit them).