I love the idea of living a more productive, organized lifestyle – because who doesn’t? But it often feels a little overwhelming to organize your entire life.
So when I first heard about the all-in-one notebook bullet journal system that everyone was raving about, I was intrigued. Could this be the solution to the dysfunctional system I have in place (which used to include numerous notebooks and planners for each separate thing)?
Let’s dive in so I can share what I’ve learned about bullet journaling – and some ideas to personalize it for your life.
So what is the bullet journal?
All-in-one notebook system that can essentially eliminate the need for all your thousands of notebooks and planners. If you’re the kind of person who struggles to keep up with all your planners and notebooks, this is definitely a must for you. (Below is a list of over 25 uses for the bullet journal!)
The Bullet Journal founders explain how it all works in detail and I won’t go too much into the fundamentals of bullet journaling.
But here’s a breakdown of what you’ll need to get started:
What you’ll need
A nice journal: I find that Moleskine journals are amazing for bullet journaling. A lot of people prefer to get the ones with graph paper lines or dotted lines, but mine is just regularly lined.
A good pen: You’ll want a good pen. Personally, I like to consistently use the same pen or two, because I’m weird like that.
Washi tape (optional): Personally, I write most everything in a black pen, so washi tape was a must for me in keeping my pages pretty.
Colored pens (optional): I only use a couple colored pens on occasion, but they can make for great heading colors.
Highlighters (optional): I bought highlighters for my bullet journal, but it’s definitely not a must.
Once you’ve got your supplies, here’s what you need to start with:
An index page: This is a must so that you can easily find everything. You write down the page numbers & the topic that you have on that page. I’d leave at least 4 pages total for this. I only did 2 and I can tell that that wouldn’t be enough for me to get through the whole journal.
A key: You’ll want to keep a key of different symbols you’ll use for your daily logs so you can easily keep track of what tasks fall under which category.
Page numbers: You need to label your page numbers for the index page.
Your phone number & first name: Include this on the first page so if your journal gets lost, someone can call you so they can get it back to you.
What I’ve learned so far from three months of bullet journaling
Not too much structure: I tried separating out space for each weekdays’ logs, but I realized that I didn’t like limiting my space and that some days I would prefer to write out more about my days than others. I didn’t like making mine feel too structured, but I’m sure this is all about preference.
Trial and error: Don’t be afraid to do it your own way and to change things over time. The best part about this all-in-one bullet journal system is that you can change and adapt things so that it works best for you.
If you want to make the most of your bullet journal, I have created a list of potential ways you can utilize the bullet journal. Most of these are things that I personally use for my journal and a few of them are just suggestions that I think would be great additions.
Daily to-do lists
Probably one of the primary usages of the bullet journal are to-do lists. Daily logs of what you plan to do for the day are kind of essential aspects of this journal.
How well have you been sleeping? Keep track of how many hours of sleep you’re getting, and how good quality your sleep has been. This will help you see how your mood is correlated with sleep.
Blog post ideas
For you bloggers out there, the bullet journal is a great space for blog post ideas & outlines. I am one of those people that gathers inspiration from anything at any time, so I love having a journal that goes with me everywhere. That way, I can write my ideas down the moment they come to mind.
I’ve recently started using my bullet journal to log my fitness routine. I include the amount of time I exercised, the machines I used, classes I took, etc. You can also include the amount of calories burned. You might not want to get out your notebook at the gym, so you can always take a photo of your machine (with all your stats) and jot it down in your notebook later.
I think it’s kind of silly to waste a page for grocery lists that will never be needed again, but if you have a grocery list of food items that you repurchase and keep in your pantry constantly – this might be a great idea for you. For example, if you go to a farmer’s market weekly to consistently buy the same items, put it in the book!
Keep up with your monthly habits and goals with a habit tracker. There are so many creative ways you can do this, but keeping yourself accountable as you work toward accomplishing your goals is so helpful for staying consistent.
Goals for the year
One of my favorite things I’ve included in my bullet journal is my goals and aspirations for the upcoming year. I included stuff like how much money I planned to earn, where I wanted to live, etc. I find that you have to be specific and intentional about what you’d like to accomplish.
Goals for the month
On a smaller scale, it’s nice to have goals for each month that you’d like to accomplish.
You can break this down into:
Then dive into what your goals are and what actionable steps you can do to make them happen.
Important (or even daily) events
What are you doing today? What’s the last movie you saw? It’s all here. I love logging little parts of my day, plans I have, and memorable moments that occurred. You can keep these events in the regular daily log section. I label it, “to do” with the date. And then on the following page, you can go into more detail.
Recipes / food prep ideas
I have recently gone Pinterest crazy for healthy dinner recipes. Recently my mom and I have started making a meal together each Sunday from recipes I find on Pinterest. Though having the recipes online is great and practical, there’s no guarantee that it will still be there in five years from now. So if I come across amazing recipes, I find that writing them in the journal is most efficient.
I wrote all about the daily affirmations that we should use every day to feel better and more empowered. Write your affirmations down. Refer back to them constantly. Live them.
If you’re packing for a trip, planning a party, minimizing your wardrobe, planning your social media, or anything like that, checklists are awesome. If you store it in your journal, you’ll also have the layout for the next time you’re planning something similar.
I’ve started using my bullet journal for business-related stuff too and a mini-business plan. And Twitter plans. And other business-related ideas and aspirations. I’ve broken it down into what I hope to achieve in 1 year, 3 years, and 5 years and what I plan to do to get it to that point.
You only use the first letter of the day of the week & the number of the day. For example Monday, November 2nd would look like 2 M.
Here’s an example of what your layout would look like:
2 M – Justin’s Birthday
4 T – Carrie & Craig’s Wedding
5 F – Hannah’s Birthday
And so on until the 30th. You can also include important dates and events on this page like “Carrie and Craig’s Wedding.”
Work hours log
I do some freelance work so I like to log them in this book to keep track of when I start and end my project. I also go into a little detail about the tasks that I accomplished during that time period.
I listen to the occasional webinar and I like to include my notes in the same notebook as everything else. That way, I can easily access it at any time.
Write down the item, the cost, etc. Look at it every now and then so you can remember what you’re working hard for. You can even break it down into how long you think it’ll take to get the item and how much you’ll put away each month to get it.
I’m always coming up with new ideas on a whim and I used to keep these all over the place. It makes it so much easier to have them in this one notebook where I can refer back to them, expand, etc.
I’ve heard over and over again about the importance of writing down what your grateful for. Morgan even says that it can greatly boost your happiness to pay attention to the blessings you have in your life.
I’m going to be doing a post soon about choosing a monthly focus for each month throughout the year. I think it’s awesome to choose something to focus on for a full 30 days. Write down your focus, what you can do to accomplish it. And then at the end of the month, write down what you’ve learned.
I love doing this in my daily log sections. If I see a quotation that spoke to me that day, I’ll write it in there for that day. You can also create a separate page of your favorite quotes. I plan on doing that soon for a little boost of inspiration on the days that I really need it.
Craft a self-care menu for when you’re feeling down or need a boost of inspiration.
Sometimes someone says something that you need to write down, it was just that good. Sometimes that person was you.
An example of including discoveries or interesting facts: Most recently I’ve added the list of the dirty dozen beauty ingredients that Kelly wrote about avoiding toxic chemicals in beauty products. That’s just one example of interesting findings that you can include on a separate page.
Other examples of new discoveries:
- New TV shows that you’re interested in catching on Netflix
- Playlist recommendations on Spotify
- Important facts about recycling that you want to remember
- New shop is opening in town
When you spend money on a getaway, you probably want to make sure you remember all the magical moments of your trip. Where did you eat? Where did you visit? Who did you meet? What was your favorite parts and least favorite parts? I have the worst memory so logging these events is so important for me.
Friends & family’s favorites
Keep a log of your friends and family’s favorite things. When the time comes where you’re thinking about buying them gifts, you’ll have easy access to all their favorites without relying solely on your memory. Also, it might encourage you to spontaneously surprise your loved ones.
Keep a list of needed supplies, instructions, time it took to complete, etc. This can be helpful for if you want to do a post about it in the future or if you want to remember how to make the project again.
Keep a list of the house chores that you need to do. Separate it by daily, weekly, and monthly chores and by rooms.
Those are just some examples of how you can use the bullet journal. Getting in the habit of writing things down has done wonders for me. And it’s so fun.
Do you currently use the bujo system? What would you add to this list?