It seems like everyone these days has a bullet journal. I first read about it in Buzzfeed last May. And then I started seeing them all over in Instagram and Pinterest. Touted as “The Analog System for the Digital Age” (see the details here), there have been countless articles written about the Bullet Journal, or BuJo. A lot of people use them for productivity. Some people use them as calendars. If you know me, you know I maintain a series of lists of work tasks already, and update them weekly. I also have a big House of Doolittle calendar that I buy yearly and drag with me everywhere:
Additionally, I keep my hours and a short task list of what I’ve done during the work day in an excel chart. Did I really need a third way of tracking all of this information? I mean, there are a lot of nice things about the journals. I love a nice notebook, don’t you? And I have a good sized collection of fountain pens, washi tape and different colors of inks. I often find myself scrolling back through my Instagram photos to see what I was doing or what the weather was like a year ago, but I don’t take photos every day so that’s kind of hit or miss on what I will find. Ultimately, I decided to start a Bullet Journal to track things outside of work that have meaning, and use the BuJo as a bit of a creative outlet as well.
Now, there are a million ways to set these up, and I encourage you to look around online, especially on pinterest, if you are looking for ideas. But here’s my set-up.
Monthly Goal Pages
Each month I set up a goal page. It has a tiny calendar on the top so I can see how the weeks flow, a quote about the weather or the month or something inspirational, and three boxes for tasks, joy and resolutions. The task box is stuff I need to accomplish or projects I want to get done. March is National Crochet Month, so I need to keep that in mind and make sure I have goals set for those projects. I also want to finish sewing a purse I cut out months ago. I just started working on this page for next month, so I haven’t added all of my tasks…honestly, I’m likely going to add some of the February tasks that I might not get done this month. The joy section is a small list of things I can look forward to in the upcoming month for when I’m feeling a bit blue. These are not big things, just small things that could bring a bit of daily joy (did you know a small Shamrock Shake only has 150 MG of sodium?). The resolutions aren’t really big new years resolutions, but things I resolve to do/track/work on during the month.
Monthly Tracking Log
Next to the monthly goal page I keep a monthly tracking log. The top portion are good things that I want to track (doing a great job on the daily letters!) and the bottom portion are things I don’t want to or shouldn’t do (like take ibuprofen every day). In an ideal world, at the end of the month the whole top portion would be filled in and the whole bottom portion would be blank. I don’t necessarily track the same things every month, and normally the items on my ‘resolutions’ box from the monthly goal page are in the tracker.
Next up are my weekly spreads. I tried a number of formats before I settled on this. And every week is different…that’s where the creative outlet comes in. I try different hand-drawn fonts, or add different washi tape bits or stickers. Sometimes I try drawing something. I always put the sunrise/sunset times (right below the weekday), and the average and actual temperatures (at the bottom of the day). At the end of each day, I draw an indication of the weather…partly sunny, rain, snow, etc. I do note in the meetings I have for the week, as I now wind up taking the BuJo home to work on at night instead of dragging the calendar along. I don’t really write my task list for work, though. I also have a section where I write something I’m grateful for each day, and then there’s a small note section as well. Here’s next week’s page spread, themed for Twin Peaks Day:
I have a number of other special pages for things I want to track over time. There is one for my stand-up paddleboarding and one for crochet projects. I have a page for craft project ideas and a list of birthdays so I can remember to buy cards. I have a sun seeker page where I track days with some measurable sun, and a page for garden and nature observations (thunderstorm on January 17, the starlings returned to their nest on January 30). I have a page where I am keeping track of who I write to each day, so I don’t seem like a nut and write to the same person twice in a week.
There’s not much to a Bullet Journal…a notebook and a pen would work. But if you go to Michaels or follow boards on Pinterest, you’ll quickly learn that there are a ton of supplies you can use for your BuJo. Here’s what I use:
- Rhodia notebook, dot grid, 5.5 x 8.3 inches. I have a number of Leuchtturm notebooks as well, but I find that some of the inks show some shadowing or even a bit of bleed through. The Rhodia doesn’t.
- Pens/Ink – this is another area where I can use my fountain pens and ink. Since I first do the designs in pencil and erase after inking, it’s always helpful to test on something else if the ink will smear. The Noodler’s ink always smears no matter how long it sits. All of the black is done with Tombow 62038 Fudenosuke Brush Pens (2 Pack from Amazon). They don’t smear, they don’t bleed and they have a nice bit of flex. Love them and at $8 for the set, it’s totally worth it.
- Markers – I have the Kuretake Pocket color brush set in 12 colors. Sometimes I want more colors, but I deal with what I have.
- Colored Pencils – I use a large Crayola set. They aren’t great, but it’s what I had and I don’t hand draw much. You could probably get a better set.
- Washi Tape – At first, I didn’t understand it. Now, it’s an addiction. I use it on the BuJo. I use it on my envelopes for letter writing. I love it, and have many rolls in many different themes.
So that’s it. Are you thinking of starting a Bullet Journal? I’d love to hear about it!