Many people have heard about the new phenomenon taking the world by storm, or so it seems. I’m not talking about the United States election. What I am talking about involves a notebook and a writing utensil. This phenomenon is BULLET JOURNALING! I’m sure most of you have heard about it, whether from a friend or through the internet. I first learned about this technique on Pinterest.com, which has many amazing ideas to get you started. Pinterest can be pretty overwhelming, though, so it would be a good idea to find like-minded people who are into the same thing you are into. If you are not so lucky as to have a nearby friend, most people don’t, so there are many Facebook groups you can join (if you have an account), or there are many people on Instagram if you’d prefer to be on there. The main Facebook group page is Bullet Journal Junkies where there are people all over the world sharing their own layout and everyone is very generous.
I would like to share my story of how I began my journey into this marvelous realm of bullet journaling. It started in July of this year (2016), I know it wasn’t very long ago but it has changed my life. I have trouble falling asleep some nights and I toss and turn, not even feeling tired. When this happens, I typically go on my phone until I do start feeling sleepy. One night in particular, in July, I was on Pinterest not doing anything useful. I stumbled upon a couple of pins about bullet journaling. It was interesting because I had no idea that my best friend was into bullet journaling and had been for months. So, she introduced me to the Bullet Journal Junkies group and off I went.
Many “newbie” questions are asked on the group so it was quite helpful for me. Yes, questions get asked more than once and yes, you can use the “search” function in the group but with so many new members added to the group almost daily there are so many more takes on the subjects. I will give you little start in the right direction with a few of the “basic beginner” questions that I’ve seen or asked.
Q: What exactly IS a bullet journal?
A: The best place to start with this question is to visit the creator’s website, bulletjournal.com. He can go more into detail about why he started it and how it has helped him. Anyone you ask will give you different variations of what a bullet journal is but it’s because they have adapted the original format to meet their needs. The website says, “It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.” For some it’s a way to keep track of their work, whether it be teaching or accounting or nursing (which is hard because you can’t just carry a notebook around with you on the job) or even a stay at home mom (which is still a very difficult, very rewarding job). Some people use it to stay on track in school, I personally do that. To put simply, it’s like a do-it-yourself planner. As you move forward in your journey, you, too will learn what bullet journaling is to you.
Q: What items do I need to buy before I start?
A: There are no specific items you need. You just need the two basic items: a writing utensil and paper of some kind. Anything else is just “fluff” that makes your bullet journal even more personal but you can get those later, as you get a deeper feel for your system.
Q: What notebook do I buy?
A: Many people in the group use Leuchtturm 1917 Notebook or the Rhoda notebooks but they can be a bit overpriced and many people will tell you that the best thing to do, especially if you are a little iffy on bullet journals, is to either buy a cheap spiral notebook (the ones that are less that $1 at Wal-Mart) or to use loose-leaf binder paper as your very first bullet journal. I don’t particularly like spiral or paperback notebooks so I went to Wal-mart and saw the perfect $10 journal to start my bullet journal process in. Of course, I waiting and missed out on a few days of what could have been productive so don’t wait to have the perfect notebook or pen, just start!
Q: What writing utensil(s) do I use?
A: What writing utensil do you feel most comfortable using? I have seen some members of the group use pens (of all colors), pencils, crayons, markers, you name it you can use it. The beauty of the bullet journal is there is not specific way to do it so you can use whatever make you feel most comfortable.
Q: What if my bullet journal isn’t any good?
A: The only one who needs to see it is you. Your journal doesn’t need to be the next Instagram model. It’s yours and yours alone. Everyone makes mistakes. People in the group do it all the time, their handwriting may not be what they want (I know I hate mine most of the time), they misspell words, their lines aren’t straight, they aren’t artistically inclined. None of that matters because it’s yours and you’re the only one who needs to like it. If you make a mistake, it’s ok because you’re human and if you hate it that much then you can do what some people, myself included, do and print an inspirational quote or picture and glue it over and try again. Just don’t give up!
Q: What do I include in my bullet journal?
A: Everyone includes different things in their bullet journals to make them personal to themselves. Most people have an “If lost, please contact…” page at the very front followed by an index, so that you can see everything you have ever included in your journal. Other possible spreads to include are: year at a glance, monthly spreads, weekly spreads, and daily spreads. You can even include more lists/spreads that aren’t typical for a planner, like books to read, movies to watch, tv show log, what your toddler says, anything and everything can go in your journal. Its a representation of your life so make it feel like it.
Q: When should I start my bullet journal?
A: That answer is simple…NOW. Many people get stuck in the “I need to wait for the right ___” (You can fill in the blank). I was one of those and I lost time waisting away desiring for the perfect journal. Don’t wait, you can start being productive today. Even if it’s on a Wednesday int he middle of the month, you can still start today. If it stresses you out too much to start in the middle of the week, start with other spreads for a few days and then on Sunday or Monday (whichever day you choose as your beginning of the week) start then.
I can go on and on with Q&A’s but I won’t. You should do some personal research too. You won’t be perfect right away (or ever) but you’ll get better and find your niche as you do more and more in your bullet journal. So, run wild and have fun. Here’s a few pictures of my bullet journal, too. I included my index, year at a glance, page ideas, Pokémon Index, traveling page (what states I’ve been to and where in the world I want to go), my first weekly spread (I don’t do dailies), and next week’s weekly spread with trackers and an area to write all of my school assignments for the week. I have more than this but I’ll have to save those for another time.
What makes YOU want to start up a bullet journal? Where did you hear about it? How long have you been doing it if you already are? What other tips can you give to people who may still be on the fence of doing it or not? Comment below and thank you for reading!