What is a Bullet Journal?
I get this question a lot, what is a Bullet Journal? It’s hard to explain, but it’s this awesome note taking/list making/ground breaking technique that is completely customizable and flexible to your needs. Take a quick minute and watch this video to hear how to start a bullet journal from the mouth of the genius inventor, Ryder Carroll:
At last, when I decided to start a bullet journal system, I started keeping everything in one place and it all started to make sense. With a real system in place, it felt more permanent, more like my notes’ home. Give it a try and you will see what I mean!
What you need to get started
First things first, you need a pen and a notebook of some kind. It doesn’t even need to be a new notebook. As a matter of fact, the bullet journal is perfect for those half used journals that I’m sure you have sitting around. That way the pressure is off you and you can simply experiment until you find a style that you like. Once you have your preferred writing instrument and a notebook, you are ready to dig right in.
There are several brands out there to help you start a bullet journal, and I have tried a couple. Right now I am using the ever popular Leuchtturm1917, which I would highly recommend. I recently started journaling my Morning Pages (ala The Artist’s Way) in a Moleskine, which is one of the slightly more expensive and high quality options. While all of these are wonderful journals, please don’t feel the need to rush out and buy a new one. Literally any notebook will do. You can head to the My Supplies page to see a few different options if you want to investigate further.
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Of course, you can use a bunch of colors and a fancy journal and a bunch of extra tools, like rulers and stickers and washi tape. But for getting started, I suggest you keep it simple. Personally, I like to use my black Micron most of the time and use highlighters or colored ink pens (I use the Pilot Varsity) for a dash of color. If you think color will help you remain interested and coming back each day, by all means, go to town! A great set to fulfill your every color need is the Staedtler Triplus Fineliners.
Remember, when it comes to how to start a bullet journal, there is no right or wrong ways. It’s completely up to you how you style your little sidekick. Again, you can head here to see all the supplies I’m currently using.
Here’s my little sidekick, Summer, helping me demonstrate the icon library.
To start a bullet journal, you need an icon library so you know how to better sort your notations. As you can see here, I have many different icons that I started with. Over time, I’ve really whittled it down to three: the square bullet, the hollow round bullet, and the dot bullet. Of course, I fill in the bullet when a task is accomplished and I use the arrow to migrate them, but everything else has fallen by the wayside. So again, I would suggest you keep it simple. You can have a few bullets and leave room in your icon library to add more as you think them up. Too many symbols can leave a person dazed and confused.
A great customization to start with is to add more detail to your daily entries. My dailies help remind me to keep track of little stuff throughout my day, such as my water consumption and what I’ve had to eat. You could use it to jot down your daily weight, your calories, how many steps you’ve taken, how long you meditated, etc… Your daily spread is as customizable as you’d like. It really is the heart and soul of the bullet journal, so don’t be afraid to take up a lot of space with it. A great way to really spice up your daily spread is to incorporate some beautiful stamps! When I first started, I was shy about using more than a quarter of a page for a single day. I mean, look how many entries I managed to cram into this page! Now I boldly use half a page or sometimes more, depending on how many tasks and events I have.
Once you’ve started your monthly and daily spreads, you are free to add whatever you’d like. You can use pages to keep track of odds and ends, like Christmas gift ideas or restaurants to try. Use pages to doodle or jot down quick poems, or even potential baby names. The possibilities are endless. Whatever your needs, the bullet journal can fill them. Just don’t try to do too much when you are first getting started. Don’t try to write down every list that’s ever occurred to you, as this can get overwhelming fast and make you feel bogged down. The bullet journal is meant to be sleek and simple, so don’t overthink it!
Start Your Bullet Journal Today
Try not to get intimidated by all the gorgeous pictures of other people’s bullet journals. Looking at all that can be inspiring, but it can also make you feel like you can never achieve that sort of beauty in your own journal. You must remember that each and every bullet journal is designed to fit the specific needs of the owner, so their journals won’t work in the same way for you, just as your journal won’t work for them. As long as it fills your needs, it doesn’t matter how it looks. You got this! Now get out there and start planning your inspiring life.
Still a Work in Progress
It has been a long time since I wrote this post, and 3 years since I started my bullet journal. I still use my bullet journal on a daily basis, but my style has changed a ton. Just remember the bullet journal is a flexible tool to improve your planning, not a work of art that has to be perfect. Just remember to always keep experimenting! Not sure what to do next? Here are my favorite bullet journal spreads.
Here are some posts that will help you create the best bullet journal for you!
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