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I’ll bet you’ve been looking at all those Instagram posts of beautiful bullet journal images.
You know, bullet journals?
With all the pretty flowers, stars, and scrolls?
Those people must spend hours and hours writing and all that calligraphy too!
Nobody’s got time for that right?
Maybe you do.
And…. maybe I do too.
You see I thought those Bullet Journals, or BUJO as they are lovingly called, were for people with a lot of time on their hands.
Not really busy people like you and me, with jobs, kids, parents, dogs, oh yes, and the spouse!
But you know what? Those BUJO people are really smart.
They do have more time on their hands than you and I do because they are WAY better organized.
Well better organized than I am.
And in my quest for the simple life, to pursue mindfulness, simplicity and homemaking too, some planning and organization is required.
Oh sure, I love to make lists. I even buy fancy list pads or download list printables. But you know what happens next, right? Yes, that’s right. The lists either – keep on getting made, or they disappear.
I’ve tried generic planners before, but they really added stress and didn’t take it away. So now I’m at a bit of a crossroads, with a daily job, my side hustle blog, spending time with family and friends, and even more importantly, my own self-care!
Well, I’m not sure about you, but my lists disappear. So I’m ready to give this Bullet Journal thing a try. You with me?
This post is going to set out everything you ever wanted to know about bullet journals and then some.
I’ve got lots of bullet journal ideas for you to try!
We will cover:
- How Bullet Journals Got Started
- Why do I need one?
- What is a Bullet Journal Anyway?
The important parts of your BUJO
- Future Log
- Spreads – Monthly – Weekly – Dailies
• What Tools You Need
• Different types of Logs that you can include like Affirmations, Gratitude, and Special Collections for those items that just don’t fit
• My favorite is the Habit Tracker
So right now, you don’t need to do a thing, just sit back with that lovely glass of wine, and read away. You don’t even need to take notes, because we have a FREE ebook for you to download at the end. Cause I got your back, ok?
Let’s get started! I love doodling, and I’ve done a lot of decorative painting, so I really think this is going to be fun!
And you know what? Don’t worry if you don’t think you are artistic. Just don’t. There are lots of stencils, stickers and tools that can be used so that your BUJO will be gorgeous! Promise.
So Who is a Bullet Journal Good For?
Have I piqued your curiosity? Good! You may recognize yourself as someone that the bullet journal is perfect for.
People have a LOT of to-do lists:
Oh boy, this is me for sure! You too? Something about seeing those very long lists, and either crossing them off or checking the box is kind of boring, don’t you think? Maybe that’s why, as I said earlier, I either lose these lists or just get so overwhelmed I have to lie down. I know you’ve been there too!
If you identify that a bullet journal would work for you. First of all, a BUJO is fun to create and maintain, and it has a lot of flexibility. Keep reading and you’ll see what I mean!
People who love journaling, scrapbooking, and really like to doodle!
Do you journal? I do it every day, and I just can’t imagine starting my day without my journal and cup of coffee. Journaling takes me to my happy place, just like Hygge. What’s Hygge? You can read all about it here!
But that’s more about personal stuff, not being organized, and setting out my goals. Bullet journaling is so great because it gives you a blank slate!
Yep, you start with a journal that has either blank pages or little dots to help you form your calendars, task lists, and other cool little boxes. Intrigued? Keep reading my friend.
Your BUJO is your blank canvas to which you can start organizing your entire life, set goals, stay on top of things, and helps to keep track of all the important dates and events. You can really have fun with it. You will use colored markers and pens, something called washi tape, and stencils to get those creative juices flowing. A bullet journal is a project plan that becomes your personal art project!
Preset or pre-printed journals may work for some people, but not you, right?
You are just bursting with creativity, and don’t want to be boxed in.
You know those planners that have the tiny little task lists, that you can never fit your style of writing into?
I’m a big writer, lots of swirls, and those planners just make me crazy.
The BUJO lets us have fun, but keeps our productivity front and center at all times. It doesn’t even feel like planning and never routine!
People who have tried so hard to get organized, but are tired of using ‘work-style’ agendas or calendars:
I’m sure if you relate to this person, you have a real yearning to be better organized and productive, but still be able to find some time for fun in your life!
Every January you order one of those time management style calendars, you know the one right? Big and heavy, and some boring brown color.
You’ve been trying to make this work for years, but it doesn’t, and just makes you feel bad. Bullet Journal to the rescue!
You don’t need to be an artist or a calligrapher. No special skills required. The cost to get started is really low. The biggest investment is time, but you know what? I think you can do it. In fact, I know you can do it! A couple of hours to make your lists, and just dive in. Don’t think about it, just push ahead.
Maybe you’ve never tried any of things I’ve just described. Maybe you see Bullet Journaling as something cool that you want to try to get some control over your life and your activities. Whatever the reason, the time is now.
Time for you to get on the bullet journal train, find out how much fun folks are having. And not just with their journals, but from the extra time they have discovered, and the peace of mind they have found.
Keep reading, lots of great bullet journal ideas to come!
What is a Bullet Journal Anyway?
The Bullet Journal was developed by Ryder Carol, who wanted a system to help him focus, as he was diagnosed with ADHD. Over the years his ADHD went away, but he kept the system going. There is a very powerful TEDx TALK that I highly recommend you listen to.
Ryder recommends doing a memory dump of 3 important areas:
- Need to Do
- Should Do
- Want to Do
From these lists, you will have a place start to build your journal.
Here’s what mine looks like so you get the idea. Easy Peasy!
Take those three lists, and let’s just put them aside for now. OR you can pin the graphic for later!
Why Do I Need A Bullet Journal?
This is a great question! And the next one might be why do I want a paper journal or planner of my activities?
Let’s talk about the benefits that you can get from using a paper bullet journal.
Remember what clarity feels like, like knowing what the plan is? I’m not sure if I do, but you have so many things on your plate right now, and you probably feel like you are falling further and further behind, right?
Enter clarity. Because after you do that memory dump like I mentioned above and create the three lists of Need To Do; Should Do; and Want To Do, it will all be there, crystal clear, right in front of you on paper.
And that’s where the fun will begin when we get to the planner and setting it up! But hang on there’s a bunch more stuff we need to talk about because I think to be successful at this Bullet Journal idea, we really need to understand it.
So let’s talk about other benefits like,
2. Stress Relief
You know how stressful life can get right? When there are so many things to think about, that you just want to lie down, or walk away? Yes, my friend, I’ve been there many times.
Doing that memory dump, creating those three lists that gave us so much clarity? Well, this little bullet journal is going to relieve our stress too.
And be mindful, that we are not going to add to your stress by requiring you to be a BUJO artist! Just do it our way, right? Good.
3. Organizing your Life & Your Family – remember those TODO lists?
You are probably thinking right now, ok Judy, “I can’t get organized” or “I can’t fit everything in”!
I know what you mean! Only 24 hours in a day. But you know what I learned about time from Laura Vanderkam, right? If you haven’t done so, please go and watch her Ted Talk, and then come back ok?
There is a real connection between hours in a day and hours in a week. I learned that we all get the same amount of time.
Makes sense right? It’s how we choose to use that time helps us get organized so that we can do the fun stuff!
4. Financial/Household Management
Ugh. We know what this category is all about right? Paying bills and cleaning the house, right?
But wait! With our bullet journal planner, what about setting some savings goals?
You know that trip you want to take or those amazing new jeans you’ve had your eye on for a while now? Yes, that’s right. This is where we plan it out, and then….more fun!
5. Setting Goals and more importantly – achieving them!
So what you’ve probably realized by now, (I hope you’re still with me!) is that a Bullet Journal is your very own, beautifully personalized Project Plan. That’s it really! Not complicated at all. It includes Goals, Targets and the Steps We Need to Take To Reach Our Goals! Yeah! And what a great feeling when you reach one of the goals you’ve set out for yourself, right? But Hey! Please remember to share them with me!
Paper vs. an App on Your Phone: Some folks ask why do I want to use a paper planner vs. an app on my phone?
Well, the popular thought is that writing down your goals, activities, habits, meal planner – anything at all really is intentional and will be easier to remember.
Remember studying for exams and writing out the questions and answers?
And what happens when you are on your phone? Yes I know, me too. The distractions are just too many and the Planner app is long forgotten.
I’ve tried Wunderkind, Evernote, and a bunch of others. I’m sure they work really well for some people. But just not for us right?
You: Ok, Judy, I’m convinced.
How Do I start a bullet journal?
Bullet Journal Supplies
When you are just starting out with your Bullet Journal, I would recommend putting your budget into the pens, washi tape, stencils and a glue stick.
The actual bullet journal that is recommended is called Leuchtturm and you can get one here on Amazon. They come in a rainbow of gorgeous colors and have a hardcover.
The pages are filled with all of those lovely little dots that help you create your planner!
You do have choices though, and that’s where the good old Dollar Store comes to the rescue!
I often get beautiful journals for just a couple of dollars. Size is important, however. Since most printables are half the size of a regular 8 ½ X11 piece of paper that means it needs to fit on a 4.25 x 5.5 journal!
Lots of folks use printables to get started, and there are so many beautiful designs that you can get for FREE!
Washi Tape is my new best friend!
I love these free printables from JustBrightIdeas.com!
Index and Key
We need to set up the important pages in the Planner. One of the most important is the Index. This is like a Table of Contents, where all the parts of your planner are categorized, and color coded. See I told you the fun was about to start! We’ll spend some time setting this up because I want you to be set up for success. The index is something you will refer to over and over.
Tips for Setting up Your Index
1. Keep enough space – at least 3 pages to start
If you need more room, then just continue your index at the back of the journal. No problem!
2. It’s Your Bullet Journal!
Set it up the way that you want, not necessarily what you’ve read or the ‘experts’ say. Remember we want this Bullet Journal to be your guiding light, for you to achieve success with it. So if linear lists make you happy, or chunking it out in categories is better, go with your instincts
3. Pick Clear names to label your pages
This just makes sense and will help you find things later.
4. Make your Bullets Fun!
Now you get to create your own colorful bullet system for collections or lists that are unfinished, completed, or have been moved to another page or another journal.
That’s kind of it for the INDEX. Here is what mine looks like, and I’ve included a bunch of really great examples for you to see.
Here’s my index, I’m just getting started, and I’ve left three pages, so hope I don’t run out of room!
Here is a great Bullet Journal Index setup video from Boho Berry, she makes it all look so easy!
Great job! OK, now let’s look at the rest of the sections to your Bullet Journal. This is where the magic happens. Remember those lists I asked to write out? Let’s look at those and see where we can fit everything in.
What are spreads? Well not like, cream cheese or jam. Sorry, that’s what I think of when somebody says spreads. Spreads are how we set up our Future, Monthly, Weekly, and Daily Logs in the BUJO. Spread across two pages or more…
I think this will be my favorite section! Recently I had the chance to hear Laura Vanderkam speak about Time Management. Have you heard about Laura? Well if not, once you have a minute, head on over to her Ted Talk. It will change your life! And the ideas she shares are really ‘timely’ (sorry for the pun!) for helping us to set up our Bullet Journal.
Future Log will help you plan any number of events, that you may know are coming up, or for those, you would like to include! You know, things like kids camp, a special conference you keep missing, or what about that special vacation you and your partner keep wanting to take, but don’t have a plan? Yep, it all goes here. This will be our first ‘spread’.
Keep about two pages, write ‘Future Log’ at the top of each page and divide them into three months, so that you have a six-month Future Log goal at a glance. Ok? Be sure to include page numbers, and add the Future Log to your Index!
Your monthly log will contain items from the Future Log and everything else you want to accomplish or must do. Let’s have a look at our three lists, ok? This is where you can spread out your Need to Do, Should Do and Want to Do ideas! There are lots of ways to set up your monthly log spread – but let’s spread it across two pages, to make sure we have lots of room to write our tasks lists down the side, or across the bottom. Again, every time we create a new page or log, we need to enter it into the Index! Here are a few samples for you to look at:
Weekly Calendar Spread – Here’s where we really get to spread out and let our colorful selves go crazy!
You can include appointments, lunch dates, personal stuff – don’t forget your pedi! And the weekly calendar goes right after the monthly and gets recorded in the Index.
Got a date with the Teacher this week? No problem, just write it all down here. Need to get the car in for an oil change? Same.
If you pick up some stencils, you can doodle away!
Daily Log – While this isn’t a definite requirement since you already have your weekly log, stuff happens right?
And the Daily Log – again spread over two pages if you wish, is the perfect place to catch everything that you either a) forgot about or b) just popped up!
Now just be careful though that you don’t overwhelm yourself here, and create a TODO list as long as your arm. But if you do, that’s ok!
That’s the beauty of the bullet journal. Those tasks that didn’t get completed, just get transferred over to the next day so you don’t lose sight of them. I know!!
Back to our new friend Boho Berry and a great video on Daily Planning. I love this stuff, she has great bullet journal ideas!
Now, this video is a bit longer than most but just jam-packed with so much great information. You really could set everything up just from these videos alone.
Is her BUJO gorgeous or what? Don’t worry, we’ll get there too!
Here are some more great bullet journal ideas for you to use! Remember, I promised 30 Bullet Journal Ideas right?
30 Bullet Journal Ideas
- Habit Tracker
- Mood Tracker
- Personal Goals
- Health Tracker
- Events and Appointments
- Shopping List
- Sleep Tracker
- Food diary
- Fitness Diary
- Weight loss goals
- Tracking your measurments
- Spring cleaning notes
- Daily cleaning to-do lists
- Weekly cleaning to-do lits
- recipe list
- Food ideas
- Meal plan/meal prep
- Favourite movies
- Favourite TV shows
- Favourite songs and artists
- Books to read
- Places to see
- Bucket list
- Favourite quotes
- Personal affirmations
- Crafts to try
- Funny quotes from your kids
- Date Night Ideas
- Family game night ideas
I’ll bet you can’t wait to get started! Let’s compare notes in about a month ok? I’ll share my experiences, and I’m looking forward to hearing about yours.
FREE BULLET JOURNALING EBOOK
Be sure to CLICK this image to get your FREE ebook OK?
All the best,
Other resources: From the place where it all started, here are some excellent tutorials!