If you know me, you know I love organisation and writing lists, I find that for me being visual is the best way to be productive because I am forgetful and I also love how satisfying it is to cross items off your list throughout the day. Technology is amazing and I use it frequently, but when it comes to most aspects of my life I am old fashioned and a pen and paper girl. I have got through countless planners but I find it hard to be able to make lists in planners and it always looks too messy, so I end up making daily to do lists on scraps of paper and in various notebooks. However this wasn’t the best set up either because I would always either misplace the list, or throw it away at the end of the day even if there were some tasks unfinished. Towards the end of last year I saw the bullet journaling craze going around, and I immediately fell in love with the concept and decided that in the new year I was going to give it a go. You do not have to start at the beginning of a new year (you can begin whenever you like) however I like the feeling of ‘new year new me’ and a new planner goes well with that mindset.
In order to understand how the concept works I watched so many videos and blog posts, so I thought it was only right that now I have been using the journal for over a month I can share my opinions with my audience. Many of the people who read my blog are of my age group and are therefore students, so I think this is helpful advice that could be of use in the run up to exam season. From what I saw of other people’s videos, they are all very creative and artistic but although I love them it’s not my style. I think if mine was colourful and pretty I would spend so much time trying to make it perfect, and therefore not being productive. Yes I know mine isn’t a work of art, but it’s practical, serves a purpose and I think is a nice balance between scribbles and some of the beautiful journals that have been created.
The bullet journal that I chose was the classic a5 Leuchtturm 1917 notebook, and from what I have seen this is the book that most ‘bullet jounrnallers’ use. I picked a navy blue but comes in so many different colours, however I couldn’t find any patterns. I quite liked the plain colours though, because I stuck a little quote on the front with Washi tape. Washi tape is a good idea if you are indecisive, because you can easily change the picture on the front if it is stuck with tape but if you glue it down it is a lot harder to change. The notebook itself was quite expensive in my opinion (around £10 from Amazon) but I chose to invest because I will be using it all year and I wanted the quality to be the best it could be. However if you don’t want to buy the ‘official’ book as it is quite expensive, make sure to buy a notebook with numbered pages as that is key to being able to make a contents page.
Something that is key about bullet journals is the fact that this notebook has Dotted paper. I found that bullet journals are usually squared or dotted paper, and because I had never seen dotted paper before I thought to give it a go…. I think it’s changed my life! It’s perfect for drawing tables without it looks messy but still having a straight structure to write on. On top of this, the dots seem to ‘disappear’ with writing as they are so faint, so it looks very clean and not overpowering. I have even ordered some a4 dotted paper to use for some of my revision notes, honestly I can’t believe I have never tried it before!
As soon as you open the book there is a card first page with a space to write down some contact details, in case the book happens to be lost. I wrote down my name on one of the pages and I also included my email address right at the beginning of the book, so if I am at college and lose it someone will be able to find out who it belongs to. Underneath this I also wrote one of my favourite quotes, as I think it is nice to have a long passage to read sometimes, I love quotes and find them inspiring and quite uplifting.
‘Sometimes you meet someone, and it so clear that the two of you, on some level, belong together. As lovers, or as friends or as family, or even as something entirely different. You just work, whether you understand one another or you are in love or you are partners in crime, you meet these people throughout your life out of nowhere and under the strangest of circumstances and they make you feel alive. I don’t know whether that makes me believe in coincidence, or fate, or just blind luck but it makes me believe in something’
The key is the main part of the bullet journal, which is potentially what differs this style from any other organisational system. This is a way of filling in a square next to your to do list, to easily classify which tasks have been completed, cancelled, started etc. Some people have so many different symbols but I knew I wouldn’t use them so I stuck to 6 that I knew would be helpful and that I would easily remember. I would recommend a small number to anyone starting out, and I might build on them next year depending on how much I use them. I use
- Needs to be moved
- An event
Not only was this planner needing to focus on college and academic studies, but also this blog and the background work to that. I like to keep organised when it comes to my blog because although it is my hobby, I prefer to be strict with myself or else I easily get overpowered by the levels of work and do not prioritise time to write. At the beginning of the month I always like to write down the posts that I want to write throughout the month, so I have a basic plan unless something comes to me spontaneously (in which case I like to write about it ASAP whilst I am inspired). I always used to write blog post ideas on paper or on the notes app on my phone when an idea strikes but (like everything) I always seem to lose them. I decided to create a table where I can jot down basic ideas throughout the year, so at the start of the month when I go to properly plan it is easy to see my ideas unfold. This way if I have an idea for later on in the year (a Halloween post for example) I can easily write it in so I do not forget. This setup and style of table could also be used as a future log or birthday tracker, but I have another notebook that I keep birthdays in so it wasn’t necessary for this journal and it wouldn’t get used.
I saw this ‘one a day’ table on numerous inspiration photos and videos and I couldn’t wait to recreate it. I love reflection (this blog is one big reflection and diary of my life) and I think it would be amazing to look back on this table at the end of the year to see what the main colours are and any trends. Basically every day you colour in a square that represents your main emotion of that day, you can choose any feelings that you would like but I picked
I like that every day it gives me a moment to actually think about the day and notice my emotions, because sometimes it is so easy to be caught up in the present that you don’t consider everything that has happened in the day.
Similar to how I mentioned earlier, this book is also used to help me with my blog. I love looking at analytics in the background of my website, although numbers do not mean everything it always makes me smile to check in and see the numbers grow slowly… Especially considering it is something I work hard on and love knowing that x amount of people have seen something I am passionate about to. I wanted a way to track my analytics, but because it is quite a specialised and rare thing to want to record, regular planners do not have a feature that works to record these. I decided to create this page to cross off and write down the date whenever I reach a whole thousand, because I am curious to see the time difference between the ‘milestones’ and it keeps a record of how my blog is performing. I want to find a way to record my Instagram page views as well but I haven’t thought of a solution to that, as it changes every week and isn’t just a total.
So they are the ‘main’ first pages of the journal that I will refer to often throughout the year, and now the day to day list pages begin. I haven’t found the ideal layout yet so I am experimenting with different types of tables to arrange my lists, but overall I adore the system. It is so easy to see what you have achieved and what needs to be moved, and it makes everything so simple with the key. I think the layout will just depend on how busy my weeks are, because if I need more space I can just create a larger table to write in.
So despite me only trying this style of organisation for a few weeks, I have already fallen in love and know I will use it for as long as possible, I would honestly recommend it to anyone who needs a little bit of order to their schedules without it being so structured like a traditional planner is.
Do you bullet journal?