Be still my beating heart.
Why didn’t I know about this sooner? I have found the creative outlet I have been craving as well as the planner that I needed to be more productive and organised.
I can’t believe I haven’t been doing this for years.
What am I raving about?
Bullet Journaling of course.
How Bullet Journaling began
Bullet Journal, BuJo for short, was developed by Ryder Carroll. It was a way to remain focused and productive.
But it became more than just a tool for productivity.
the Bullet Journal method is truly about: the art of intentional living
I suggest you read about the Bullet Journal here and the story behind it. It is a methodology rather than an actual book
The original idea of the Bullet Journal method has been taken and expanded upon.
Popularity on Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube is enormous. These are some of the people I follow. But be warned you will be intimidated by them. Their styles vary, but that’s what I love about it.
Don’t be intimidated.
Ok! I admit I am intimidated.
And it stopped me from starting for months.
There are some incredibly talented people out there, and I am in awe of them. I love watching their Plan with Me videos, but I have learnt that I need to work on my style and to practice.
It doesn’t matter what it looks like to anyone else. It’s my journal. Not for anyone else to see (except when I share it down below!!!!) It is a great lesson in letting go of perfectionism, something that plagues a lot of us. The idea of creating the perfect page is hard to let go but at the end of the day, it’s about doing what makes you happy and creating a journal that you love and works.
Bullet Journal Basics
Getting started on anything new takes time to adjust. To find your flow and formats you like and use.
It’s easy to get carried away buying supplies that you see other bullet journalists using, but take your time. Buy the basics to get started and find your feet first. Start with a dot grid bullet journal like this one.
I watched videos for months before I finally bit the bullet (pardon the pun) and purchased supplies to get started, only to realise I bought the wrong ones.
Pens that bled through the paper and a blank journal instead of a dotted one. Finally, I started, and I haven’t looked back.
You need to give yourself time to adjust. To work out what you want to do, how layouts work best for you.
My first layouts were appalling. I mean really, really bad, but you have to start somewhere right?
I suggest you follow these steps:
- Check out the original Bullet Journal website and find out about the method
- Watch YouTube and take note of layouts you like the look of (don’t worry about the art)
- Gather basic supplies
- Change what doesn’t work for you, add, tweak and adjust.
You will eventually find the way that works for you. I don’t follow the traditional key, it just doesn’t gel with me, nor does using the index, although I am trying to use that as I see the value in it.
But whatever I am doing works for me and I have become more conscious of my goals and productivity.
How I use my Bullet Journal
I’m still developing my style, but I am finally having fun with it. If I ruin a page, I can always glue them together, stick something on top or simply live with it.
It has been an excellent way to use the art, craft and scrapbooking supplies I have accumulated over the years.
Bullet Journaling has become popular for a reason – it’s versatility and simplicity.
You can use it as a business planner, life planner, art journal, travel journal, garden log, anything you can think of. You can plan, scrap, be creative, journal and whatever else your creative soul desires.
I have learnt to keep my weekly spreads simple, and I don’t care if I repeat the same format each month. I predominantly use my Bullet Journal as a business planner, so it is necessary that the process be quick and streamlined.
I enjoy taking a couple of hours (if that) a month to create the new monthly spread, and I am slowly developing my style which makes things quicker. This is the time I get to be creative. I can paint, scrapbook or simply rule up what I need.
The beauty of a Bullet Journal is that I can change it any time I like. I had a stack of habit trackers in the beginning. I didn’t fill them out. Now I have a straightforward way to track and trackers that I actually complete.
I create blank pages for blog post and video ideas, brainstorming, new projects and to-do lists.
Personalising the Bullet Journal
This year has been particularly challenging for me because of, umm how do I say it?
Oh, ok it’s menopause! Bloody menopause that has been driving me crazy. Not literally, although at times it feels that way.
And the mood tracker I create each month in my journal has proven to be a useful tool in identifying how many “bad days” I actually have. It always feels like a lot more than it is. The Mood Tracker is good for my positivity, a visual representation that things are not as dismal as they sometimes seem.
I love the process, developing productive habits and setting monthly goals. I can track my progress in areas I am working on all the while indulging both the creative and organisational aspects of my personality.
Bullet Journaling for Business
I love stationery. I love the thought of planners. I have started using them over the years and very rarely continue.
Notebooks litter my house. I find them everywhere!
I am yet to find a layout that is not limiting. I love lists, but there was nowhere to create them except in the notes section.
Then everything changed. A business mentor started bullet journaling for life and work.
I was hooked, and as they say, the rest is history.
To create a planner to my exact specifications, adapting it each month as I go along, creating a unique, one-off page as I needed it, was liberating. I could finally create the layouts that worked and add extra pages unique to me when I needed them.
I am more productive and inspired. It has taken me three months to develop calendars, pages and setups that I like and that work for me.
I use my bullet journal for business, personal stuff and I spend a lot of time using it for planning both business and travel.
A favourite weekly spread using – simple using watercolour and pen
As a Travel Planner, ideas for itineraries, places to research, and packing lists pop into my mind constantly. I needed somewhere to write down those ideas and information.
I needed a place to document my goals, create workflows and checklists, tick off milestones and celebrate achievements.
I have notebooks lying around everywhere, beside my bed, on the coffee table, a couple in my handbag. And then I find more, half-used ones in draws, cupboards, even in my luggage.
The problem with a random notebook, and don’t get me wrong I love them, is that there is no format. I begin writing in one with the intention of keeping it for one topic – planning my Camino walk, gift ideas and a gardening log. But inevitably they get partially filled with random thoughts that pop into my head. Then I forget about them.
But with the Bullet Journal, everything in one place. If I have a random idea, and I want to expand on it, I simply create a page for it. That way everything is in one place.
I can choose to use my index if I want, or not.
For my upcoming trip to Italy, I have pages dedicated to – Research, Things to Buy, Blog Post ideas, Packing lists, reminders.
It’s the perfect way to keep all your ideas and reminders in one place. Keep it on your desk when you work, mine is always open to my weekly spread and daily to-dos, pop it into your bag when you head out and keep it beside the bed at night.
I will be taking mine travelling, as well as my dedicated travel journal. That way any ideas for itineraries, contacts I make, and places of interest can be easily recorded and found later.
Another favourite spread. With the folded page it provides a lot of room for organising each day.
Bullet Journal for Travel
I have started creating a Travel Bullet Journal, an ongoing journal that will record all my travels. I decided to do this instead of creating an individual journal for each trip. I figure I will always be travelling and it’s nice to have all the trips in one place. Plus, I would never fill up one journal on a trip. No point wasting journal space.
Starting with a Bucket List, a visual world map that I can complete, quotes and then trips. It will be a chronicle of my travels, dotted with thoughts, ideas, packing lists and beautiful memories.
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The pages for Italy are underway, and I have found immense joy in creating them. I have possibly gone overboard collaging, using washi tape, stickers, watercolour paintings and more. But it doesn’t matter.
It has been pure joy to create, and that is what Bullet Journaling is for me. A personalised way to express me, be creative all the while being productive and organised.
It will include summaries of what worked and what didn’t so I can build on my planning skills and an easy, informative reference. The journal will hold precious memories and photos.
And it will be a way to de-stress. I am travelling solo for the first time; if my nerves get the better of me, if I feel lonely, or don’t want to go out at night alone, I will have my journal to keep me occupied.
Creativity without being artistic
You don’t have to be artistic. There are a lot of products and items you can use.
My advice to you if you are starting – stop watching YouTube. It’s intimidating.
Instead, start with the basics. Perhaps you would prefer a minimalist journal. They look great.
If you can draw, then slowly add some drawings. If you can’t, but want to add colour, then buy a small amount of scrapbooking supplies, some stickers, washi tape and some coloured markers.
When you do allow yourself to watch YouTube videos, you’ll find a lot of the popular Bullet Journalists sell their layouts on Etsy. Check them out; this might be worthwhile doing.
If you want to add embellishments without buying them, you can download a selection of free images from places like Pixabay or Unsplash. You not only find photos but illustrations you can download, cut-out and use.
Sign up for Canva free. Check out what they have regarding free images, illustrations, and text. Don’t worry about not knowing how to do calligraphy. Cut out lettering, purchase stamps you can use or buy sticker lettering.
Or keep it simple.
Yes, you can go crazy, but take your time, find what you like to do. If you do want to get creative, then start small. Or buy another notebook, a cheap one, and practice.
You can draw up layouts ideas, practice drawing, painting, sketching or lettering.
Utilise what you already have
Years ago, I sold Scrapbooking Supplies at local markets. I also made hand-made quilled cards. I have also been to art lessons, learnt how to paint (not well) in different mediums including watercolour and acrylic paints.
I am not an artist, nor do I have a passion for being one.
I am creative. I always have been from the time I can remember. My favourite book as a child was “100 things to make and do”. And I did! From puppets to hand-sewn dolls, collaged pictures, tapestry, cross-stitch, rug making and model building and everything else in between.
In later years I scrapbooked my travels, loving the layering and textures you can add to pages. You can see an example of my Greece scrapbook in this post 5 Beautiful Travel Journal Ideas to Create.
I was in awe of the vast array of embellishments you could use and the stamping techniques you could try. I loved it all.
So recently when I cleaned out all my old supplies both from my collection and new products left over from the market days, I was excited all over again about what I could create.
I didn’t even think at that stage about adding them to my bullet journal. And then I realised what I could do with it all. And I haven’t stopped creating since.
This is the best of both worlds, journaling and scrapbooking. No rules, no right or wrong, just what I want to create.
If you take a look at all the Bullet Journalists on social media, you’ll realise that everyone does it their way. They have adapted Bullet Journaling to suit themselves.
Follow the basic guidelines of Bullet Journaling to get you started, particularly if organisation and productivity are your priorities. Then add you. Whether that’s painting, drawing, sketching, collaging, doodling …
Whatever takes your fancy.
Materials and Supplies
I have checked out the supply list of the top bullet journalists. I am envious, so envious. I could quickly become addicted to stationery and art supplies.
But I wanted to keep things simple, and after my initial purchase of the wrong notebook and pen, have found supplies that have not cost the earth. Instead of buying packs, I buy one or two new pens, markers or clips as I go.
I have been able to use art supplies I already had like my Inktense watercolour pencils and my watercolour paints, which are mainly Winsor and Newton but with a few other brands thrown in. I also have a small Winsor & Newtown Cotman Watercolour Set (Sketcher’s Pocket Box) that will be handy to take with me on my next trip.
The colours are bright, and instead of using the brush that comes with it I will take my small watercolour brush. I won’t be painting while I am out, perhaps a quick sketch, but more than likely just work quickly from a photo.
Team that with a double-sided tape I had, acid-free stickers and papers from the scrapbooking supplies, with a few stamps and ink pads I have had a blast getting reacquainted with my creative side.
Pens & Markers
I already had some Artline pens in varying sizes that I am using but I will eventually buy Micron pens. My Artline pens are almost done, and the microns are popular because they achieve great results, no bleeding or smudging.
I have started to collect the Tombow Dual Brush Pen Art Markers under the advice from one of the most popular bullet Journalists, AmandaRachlee, and bought a cheap set of Super tip Crayola Markers which has been a great way to start.
Both have been great to use, and I can see myself building my collections of colours of Tombows.
I found an Otto dotted notebook at OfficeWorks. They have not picked up on the popularity of Bullet Journaling and only sell a few dotted journals.
One of the most popular journals to date and the one that BulletJournal.com has paired with is the Leuchtturm 1917.
It is more expensive but has more pages than the one I have, and I have to say that I am in love with the Emerald colour. Guess what’s on my Christmas List this year?
I have started to collect interesting papers, ribbons and other items I can use.
My New Obsession is Here to Stay
What can I say, I have found my new obsession. But rarely has an obsession fit been so successful in all areas of my life.
I am looking forward to going into the new year with a new journal, renewed inspiration and productivity and a way to indulge in my love of stationery and creativity.
I think I will need to create some space for all the new stationery I will be collecting in the new year.
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