How should you use your bullet journal key? Here are five ways to be sure you are getting the most out of your key, and keeping your bullet journal organized.
So Many Symbols
When you are starting your bullet journal for the first time, you might be overwhelmed and confused by all the symbols and icons used in your daily logs. There are boxes, arrows, lines, dots, circles, stars, exclamation marks, envelopes, light bulbs…. what do they all mean? How should you use them in your bullet journal? I’m going to show you not only how to pick the icons that work best for you, but also how to keep them straight with the help of a bullet journal key. Ready? Let’s go!
What Is A Bullet Journal Key?
A bullet journal key is simply a convenient place for you to keep track of what all of the various symbols you use in your bullet journal mean. The key is typically one of the very first pages in your bullet journal, so you can easily reference it at any time if you forget what a specific symbol means.
Why Should I Keep A Bullet Journal Key?
No matter how good you think you are at remembering what a symbol means, if you use your bullet journal long enough, you will forget one. When that happens, you’ll be thankful you took the time to create a key.
Keeping a bullet journal key is especially useful when referencing an old bullet journal that has been out of use for a while. Additionally, keeping a key allows you to use a wider array of symbols and indicators than you otherwise would be able to use if you had to remember everything.
4 Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Bullet Journal Key
Keeping a bullet journal key is pretty simple, but people often get tripped up by how easy they are to create. So here are five tips to help you get the most out of your key.
The best advice I have for you is this: keep it simple, sweetheart! You don’t need a ton of different icons because you can really boil it down into only a few basic ones. When I first began my bullet journal a few years ago, I thought I needed specific symbols for every specific task: send email icons, make call icons, research icons, purchase icons, etc… But, I discovered pretty quickly that I didn’t care, and they were unnecessary. When you’re rapid logging, you don’t have time to draw out a little icon for every small task. You can successfully plan and organize with only the basics.
Here’s what I used on a daily basis!
Yup, that’s it! A total of nine icons to see me through the chaos of my life. It’s that simple!
#2 Personalize to Your Taste
Of course, you don’t have to use my exact bullet journal key for your planner. Mix it up if you like! I know some people don’t like drawing out the boxes for tasks, so they do a dot instead. When the task is complete, they put a big X through it. I feel more accomplished when I fill in a box, but that’s just my preference. You might prefer an arrow instead of a bullet for a note, or an exclamation mark instead of a star for importance.
Do whatever feels right for you! One of the biggest strengths of the bullet journal is that it is flexible, and allows you to make adjustments as you go.
#3 Put it All in a Bullet Journal Key
If you keep your icons simple, you likely won’t need to keep a bullet journal key. But it is nice to have a key for a few reasons.
One, it makes your bullet journal feel a tad more official. Two, it’s a great option if you’re nervous about the first blank page of a journal. And three, it allows you to play with a style or new pen – and who doesn’t love that?
#4 Jazz Up Your Key
I feel like the bullet journal key is often so dull. So I like to jazz it up! I’m always looking for an excuse to try new watercolor techniques. My bullet journal key ended up being a guinea pig for crazy watercolor drips, and I love it! I’m using a Rhodiarama soft cover notebook, and the paper handled it beautifully if you were wondering.
I just used my Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus watercolors and Pentel Aquash Water Brush Pens to apply fat drops of color at the top, and I tilted the journal and let them roll to the bottom. It’s super easy if you want to try it! Just go slow and have a few paper towels on hand to clean up any stray droplets. It also helps if you use a pen that won’t bleed when it gets wet for the icons. I’d recommend Pigma Microns for precisely that reason. They’re superb with watercolors, and they’re great for just about anything else, too!
#5 Consider A Simpler Option
If you don’t want to make your bullet journal key take up a whole page, you could simply stick it in the back for easy access. Take a piece of paper, draw out your key symbols, and tape in on the inside of the back cover with your favorite washi tape. You can flip it out when you need it and remove it later if you decide you don’t need it. Easy as pie! Here’s an example from my Weekly Bullet Journal spreads post.
This method allows you to quickly and easily access your key without having to flip to the front of the page. Additionally, you can quickly move it to your next bullet journal when you migrate or update it as you add new symbols.
It doesn’t have to be complicated or elaborate. Your bullet journal key is just a great thing to add to your bullet journal, plain and simple. It can help you with those tricky first pages, boost your confidence by letting you play with techniques, and generally help you streamline your bullet journal process. And it’s perfect for a bullet journal newbie or an experienced veteran. All you have to do is pick up your pen and start!