Everything You Need To Know About Starting A Bullet Journal

Whilst I haven’t unlocked the secret of successfully balancing a full-time job, blogging and socialising, starting a bullet journal has brought me a few steps closer.

When I was a student, I used to purchase a week-to-a-page diary and meticulously write in my to-do’s and schedules. This worked perfectly when it came to balancing all my commitments and I was pretty organised back then. For whatever reason, I ditched this habit when I started working full time  and swapped it for sporadic to do lists that would quickly become over-ambitious and overwhelming. This year I finally realised that the time had come to find a new organisation system.

When I posed the question to Twitter, the resounding response was ‘TRY BULLET JOURNALING!‘.

After a bit of research, I decided to start a bullet journal for the following reasons:

  • Starting a bullet journal would allow me to start midway through the year without wasting pages.
  • Bullet journaling offered plenty of scope to customise a system to fit my specific needs with blogging and personal commitments.

What is a bullet journal anyway?

A bullet journal is an organisation system that requires nothing more than a blank notebook and a bit of time.

If you haven’t already encountered bullet journaling, a quick search will show you it’s evolved into an entire community. There are countless blogs, YouTube channels and Instagrams dedicated to showcasing their journals – or bujos as they’re often shortened to.

For anyone thinking of starting a bullet journal, I’d recommend this video from the creator of bullet journaling, Ryder Carroll as a starting point. I’d also suggest reading How To Bullet Journal from The Lazy Genius Collective – it offers a pragmatic, no-frills approach to getting the most out of your bullet journal.

How starting a bullet journal has helped me

Bullet journalling hasn’t made me a goddess of organisation, but its has helped me manage my time by visualising priorities.

Just the act of setting up my monthly layout encourages me to reflect and plan for the new month. Similarly, setting up my weekly spread has become my Sunday tradition. I’ll prioritise what needs to be done that week whilst picking up on anything I didn’t complete the previous week.

And it’s not just in terms of practicality, bullet journaling has been helping my mental health too! I’ve been noting down good things that have happened each day, songs I have on repeat, things I’m grateful for, little things I’ll want to look back on and remember.

Above: My monthly overview spread. I set up each month with 2 schedules; one personal and one for blogging. Planned blog posts go on cut up Post-Its so I can move them around as necessary. Once the post has been published, I’ll write it in in pen. 

Sound great? Here are my tips for getting started…

Bullet journal advice for beginners

Give yourself a test run before you delve in

Bullet journaling doesn’t work for everyone. Run a trial bullet journal for a week or so in a notebook you already have to get a feel for if it’s for you.

Invest in the right tools

Once you’re confident that bullet journaling is for you, it’s time to equip yourself with supplies (this is the fun part!). There are notebooks out there designed specifically for bullet journaling, but I went for a Leuchtturm 1917 notebook. This was mainly because it’s pre-numbered, conveniently sized and has a pre-printed index pages to fill in at the beginning. Moleskins are a popular choice too. I also ordered some washi tape (gold & lace print!) to add a little flair to my pages but that’s totally optional!

Don’t hold yourself to making your bullet journal look aesthetically pristine. 

Most examples of bullet journals you’ll see on the internet feature perfect calligraphy and artful doodles. It’s easy to feel that yours should look similar but don’t forget it can be as off-the-cuff or pristine as you’d like it to be! I know I’m not naturally good at drawing, so I knew that if I expected my bujo to look a certain way I’d just get frustrated. [If you’d like some inspo of a beautifully put together bujo – AmandaRachLee on YT is literally goals].

Get comfortable with the idea that nothing needs to be in ‘order’. 

When I first started bullet journaling, I couldn’t get to grips with dropping in ‘collections’ (miscellaneous lists/logs). I wanted all the weeks to flow consecutively! There were a few weeks where I didn’t fill in my bullet journal at all, but the beauty of the bujo is that you can just pick up wherever you left off. The Index will help keep track of pages for future reference, so just take it one page at a time.

Don’t just use it for tasks, use it as a record of what you did do too. 

I picked this tip up from the Lazy Collective post I referenced earlier, and it’s been a game changer. What sets a bujo apart from regular to do lists is the fact that it’s dated. This means you can treat it like a log. Instead of looking at all that you didn’t achieve on your list, you can record what you DID do. It’s so easy to focus on what you didn’t tick off on your to do list. I’m definitely guilty of berating myself when things don’t get done. But bullet journaling has helped shift my perspective by reminding me of what I am doing.

Would you think of starting a bullet journal? Or are you already a bullet journal convert?

Sinéad xo