In this blog post, I want to share some tips and tricks for bullet journaling. For those of you who don’t know what a bullet journal is: it’s a personalized calendar and summary of all the lists you have to enhance your productivity and to express your creativity. Hopefully the following tips will help you to design your own journal or inspire you to start a bullet journal.
1. Know your own needs
I started my bullet journal in the beginning of 2018. I used to go for way more simplistic designs, which saved time and probably are the right thing for people who only want to use the bullet journal as a to-do-list. Nowadays I often spend some more time on my spreads, because I love drawing and because it’s very meditative to me. Listening to a audio book or podcast while drawing makes me the happiest person. However, it is completely up to you how much effort you want to put into your bullet journal. From minimalistic to little pieces of art – your choice.
In general you should keep one thing in mind: a bullet journal is a personalized calendar and a summary of all your lists and to-do’s. Instead of keeping 1000 different small papers, the bullet journal method wants to combine all of them to enhance and optimize productivity. Many use a so-called habit tracker to keep an eye on their (good and bad) habits. However, I’ve realized that I usually forget to keep it up-to-date after half a month so I stopped using it completely for now.
To summarize: generally a bullet journal should help you to enhance your productivity and/or to express yourself creatively. Choose a design that fits your individual needs and suits your personal time schedule.
2. What do you need for a bullet journal?
Essentially, all you need is an empty notebook. However, I highly recommend using a dotted version. I personally use the Leuchtturm Bullet Journal* and I love it. Though, there are plenty of other notebooks which are dotted. Checkered, lined and plain notebooks are not ideal because they make it either look confusing or hard to draw straight lines.
I want to mention first that you don’t need 5000 different pens to have a beautiful bullet journal. In the beginning I highly recommend you to use what you have at home. A black fineliner is completely sufficient to start out. Over time I bought some special pens though, which I really like to use for my spreads. I will list them in the following:
- Tombow WS-BS Brush Pen Fudenosuke*
- Tombow Dual Brush Pen, Black *
- Tombow Dual Brush Pen, Pastell colors *
3. Find inspiration for bullet journaling
I often get asked where I find the inspiration for my bullet journal spreads. My July spread is strongly inspired by a design I found on Pinterest. Pinterest is one of my favorite sources for inspiration when it comes to creative stuff. Just have a look under the hashtags #bujo, #bulletjournaling or #bujoinspo and I am sure you’ll find something! Alternatively you can follow my Pinterest-Board. I regularly pin inspiring designs there. Another option is to search Instagram for the hashtags mentioned above – there’s plenty of inspiration out there.
Oftentimes I search for inspiration but still develop my own design. For beginners it might be easier though to find a preferred spread (which suits the own needs) and simply copy it. With time you will be able to come up with own ideas automatically! What I find really helpful is to choose a theme for the design, e.g. nautical, plants, minimalistic or like in July very specific sunflowers. Also find out whether you want to keep it black and white or you want to use colors.
To give you a better impression, here are some of my designs from this year:
What I also like to do it to put some inspiring quotes into my bullet journal, often as some kind of reminders. I find them through Pinterest or Google.
4. When and where?
Before a new month starts, I usually take the time to come up with a design. Many times I choose a sunday evening to sit at my desk and prepare for the next month. Bullet journaling is very relaxing to me and also some kind of mindful practice. To the preparation of a new month belong usually a monthly spread as well as weekly spreads for each week of the month. I keep the same design for all of them.
If you don’t have the time to do it all at once, you can also prepare the weekly spreads at a fixed day in the week before e.g. sunday evening. It does make sense though to really choose a fixed date and time to make sure you stick to your routine and keep your bullet journal up-to-date.
5. Bullet journaling in every day life
I use the monthly spread to keep an overview on upcoming events, appointments, meetings with friends and other important dates. Moreover, my spread always includes some space for setting monthly goals. Before the new month starts, I sit down and think about what I would like to achieve in the next month. Usually I come up with 2-5 goals which I write down. I feel like this is the ideal number because it doesn’t overwhelm you but still keeps you motivated to achieve something.
My weekly spread carries all important events for each day (e.g. birthdays, doctor appointments, meet-ups with friends, …). Usually I make sure to sit down the evening before a new day and quickly think about what I have to do the next day. I then put it down as a to-do-list in the respective field. The goal here is to concentrate on what’s essential and not on filling the to-do-list with as many items as possible. If I don’t manage to do it the evening before, I do it right after getting up. Moreover, my weekly spreads always have some space for notes, so I can write down something independently of the days.
I really hope you were able to find a few helpful tips. In case you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below and I will get back to you asap 🙂 Of course you can also share some own tips, if you want to add something!
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