The first tentative steps into a new hobby can be uncertain and daunting, sort of like walking down a muddy hill: either your feet might slip and things become a little tedious and overwhelming, or things turn out to be fine and, dare I say, enjoyable. This uncertainty over how things might turn out is a pretty good summary of how I felt entering the
crazy and obsessive world of bullet journaling a year ago. January is definitely a time in which many people contemplate trying new things; one such thing you may be considering is bullet journaling. So to make things easier for those of you wondering whether the bujo is that new hobby or not, here’s a condensed beginner’s guide.
What is a bullet journal?
In very simple terms, it is a notebook in which you can plan and organise your life events in a personalised way. In the original description on the official website, things get a little more technical: specific symbols are suggested for different categories of things and there are suggestions for how to present the different aspects of a bullet journal. However, this method has since evolved and there are a multitude of interpretations out there to get inspired by. It is now possible to follow the original method, find other online designs to base yours on, or unearth a happy medium.
…and all the bujo lingo?
There are many specific words thrown around in the bullet journal community which are explained on the site linked above. Spreads are pages in your notebook dedicated to something specific, so a weekly spread would typically be a double-page with space to write the events and things to do for the upcoming week. A log is a page for detailing future events as a brief overview. Tracker pages are designed to keep tabs on a specific habit or activity – such as your sleep pattern. Other useful terms will become familiar to you as you become acquainted with the community.
Why keep one?
I published a post about this a couple of days ago, but in case you missed that: the basic rundown is that it can offer a good balance of creativity and organisation.
Who is it for?
The short answer: anyone! The longer answer: anyone who feels they need a way to plan events (and whatever else) in their life but would like to keep their method versatile with a dash of creativity.
What supplies do you need?
At the very beginning, I’d advise sticking to a minimal selection of apparatus: a notebook, a pen and perhaps a ruler and pencil to create grids/guidelines/etc. If this feels a little boring or basic to you, start building up a collection of different coloured/widths of pens for titles/borders/highlighting sections of your journal. Then it will feel less overwhelming to introduce paints/tape/extra things to your box of supplies at a later stage. See what bujo stationery I relied on in 2018.
What do you include in a bujo?
The honest, but perhaps unhelpful, answer is that it is completely customisable – the whole point is to use it to plan things that are important to you. Most people’s basic setup would involve a future log (an overview of the coming months with space to fill in future events), monthly title/calendar pages and weekly spreads (a layout of to-do lists for each day of one week all on one double-page). But if that’s not enough, here are…
…ideas of extra spreads for your bullet journal
- Goal setting
- Finance/budget tracker
- Books read or to be read/films watched or to be watched
- Various wellbeing trackers – physical and mental health, moods, exercise, etc.
- Academic/work timetables or daily schedules/tasks
- Outlining important university/school assessments
- Holiday packing checklists
- Memory collages of holidays/special occasions
- Gratitude log
- A line a day – a space to write down one nice moment from each day
- Generic grocery list – things to buy regularly
- Meal plans/recipe ideas
- Blogging stats/ideas for posts
There are so many possibilities for bujo pages, it really does come down to what you want to focus on in your own life.
Where do you get inspiration?
Pinterest is a wealth of creativity but also A LOT to take in – not great if you’re trying to realise your vision for the first time. Instagram is a little more accessible for beginners I think, as it delivers images in more bitesized chunks. (Unashamed plug for my new bujo/art account here… follow @alys.bujo if you like what you see!)
Google images does the job too. But reading other blogs is what helps me to get into a new month of spreads – something about the chatty conversation accompanying the pictures helps add an element of ease to the process.
How often do you update your journal?
As the bullet journal is so versatile (are you sick of hearing that yet?), I’d say this is very individual. I normally spend less than an hour each week setting up the next weekly spread and then a little more time at the start of each month to add those extra monthly pages. All the arty pages I do are extra on top of this, as and when I have the time and desire.
How do you stay motivated and make journaling a habit?
At first, having a bujo may seem unnatural or too much effort. I think the first few weeks require a conscious effort to get yourself to sit down and do this thing that feels so foreign (and, in all honesty, can be easily forgotten). If, after a while, you still feel reluctant or find yourself skipping your journaling time then perhaps you are not utilising the spreads most suited to you and your situation. Switch it up a bit or decrease the intensity and see if that helps.
I found that I was tracking certain habits in my life just because it seemed like the thing everyone was doing – I didn’t enjoy it though and it wasn’t helping me at the time. So I dropped this out of my spreads and that works a lot better for me.
Any final tips?
Really only one thing to share here: don’t overthink it. If you have any sort of urge to give bullet journaling a go then try it out. There’s really nothing to lose.
Any questions I didn’t cover? Let me know and I’ll do another post on this theme ❤
Come say hi:
Photography Instagram (@alysjournals)
Art/bujo Instagram (@alys.bujo)
All enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org