It’s been (nearly) three months since I stepped into the world of bullet journalling. When I got into it at the start of the year, I didn’t really have a clue where to begin: how was I supposed to translate all the inspirational spreads I’d seen online into my own designs in my own notebook? It felt impossible. I wanted a way to organise myself that felt conducive with my lifestyle (and let’s be honest, in a way that would look nice too) but staring at a blank page wasn’t getting me anywhere.
I’m sure there are plenty of you out there who have yet to delve into the bujo community – but have a strong urge to do so. Perhaps you’ve already been convinced to jump into the alluring depths of bullet journalling, and now you’re just on the look out for the diving board to get you there; in other words, you know this is what you want, you just don’t know how to get started. If you’re now thinking ‘ohh yes, that’s totally me’ then sit back and relax: this list will act as your metaphorical diving board, from which I’m hoping you’ll feel more able to leap off into your first ever monthly spread.
How you can get started:
Get equipped. If you’re going to bullet journal, you’ll need at least a few items of stationery. I think this first step, which is relatively easy, can actually push a lot of people away: people who have seen the fancy pens and expensive notebooks of other online creators and get overwhelmed. I’ve definitely been there. But I’m here to tell you, it really doesn’t have to cost a lot, and all that’s necessary to start a bujo is whatever notebook and pen you can get your hands on.
My plain-page notebook cost £4 from an art shop, but just a quick scour of the internet brings up even cheaper options:
In terms of pens, I started off with Stabilo coloured fineliners because I already owned them. Since then, I’ve used anything from the cheapest biro going, to pastel highlighters – proving just how cheap and easy bullet journalling can be.
Get inspired. Read blogs, scour Pinterest and scroll through Google images… It’s great to feel that flood of excitement, but it’s important to know how long you can tread water for before being overwhelmed and sinking. If you’re anything like me, inundating your eyes with inspiration stirs up feelings of action and desire only up to a certain point – and then intimidation and a sense of being overwhelmed starts to take it’s place. It’s good to know when this switch is starting to happen and to be able to stop looking up different header ideas before you feel unable to even write your own name.
Switch off. Once inspired, turn away from all likely sources of bujo inspiration and instead, turn to the blank pages of your journal. It is now time for you to give it a go yourself.
Do you. Attempting to replicate someone else’s spread from the pages of inspiration you looked at isn’t going to do much for you. Personally, I feel like the buzz of perfect aesthetics wears off after a couple of days, leaving you with a beautiful, yet unusable, selection of spreads – don’t let this happen. Try to create pages that you’re comfortable with and you can stay feeling enthusiastic about.
Start minimal. Even if minimalism is not your style, find a way to break down your end goal bullet journal perfection into the basics. Much like when sketching a face, map out the features before filling in the detail by working on the structure of a bullet journal style that holds up for you before getting caught up doodling intricate borders.
Experiment. Something isn’t working? Don’t force it into next month’s pages. Seen a layout you like and curious to know how effective it is? Don’t be afraid to mix your designs up and give it a shot. This is your journal, so feel free to take it in whatever direction you want – even if that takes you somewhere unexpected.
Identify your priority. Is this purely a tool for organisation? Or more of a creative way to map out your life? It’s likely that your target sits somewhere on the spectrum between the two, so take a moment to locate where you’re heading for. If you’re unsure about what you actually want out of a bullet journal, perhaps ask yourself whether you’re wanting an arty way to organise your life, or a comprehensive time management tool. Bullet journals are great for both of these things, but the layout will massively vary depending on which end you’re sliding more towards. Knowing where you are on this line can help you structure spreads best for your needs.
Challenge perfectionism. It helps to see a bullet journal as a work in progress, or a physical manifestation of your progression in organising and time management. Some pages won’t work as well as others, some will be so brilliant you’ll realise they needed more space dedicated towards them. Some will become crowded, some will lay barren. This is all very possible, and isn’t something that should put you off. I’ve used acquiring a journal as a way to push against a perfectionist attitude – the world isn’t going to fall apart just because you had to write one word outside your neatly drawn box.
And like any blogger’s list of tips, I’m going to end with have fun. Because yes it’s cliché, but also oh so relevant. It can be too easy to get caught up in designing beautiful pages or writing massively extensive to do lists: a bullet journal works best when it’s bringing into focus the important things and simplifying your thought processes – not when it’s a hassle to keep updated and a stress to stay on top of.
I hope this list is helpful to any newcomers to the bujo community; and to those of you already sketching out spreads, let me know what your top tips are in the comments below ❤
My Social Media Links:
This post contains affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission for each purchase at no extra cost to you.