In the most traditional senses, I’m neither extremely organized nor particularly artistic. It’s too bad the concept of Bullet Journaling entices me to become these two things that I naturally am not… because I’ve nearly completed my most encompassing journal to-date.
If you’re not familiar with the bullet journal system, let me introduce you. Our gracious specimen today will be this guy pictured: my latest Bullet Journal.
The Bullet Journal was created by Ryder Carroll and is, in its simplest form, list-making on steroids. Carroll more eloquently/effectively describes his system as, “a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.”
For me, the best Bullet Journal resources have been the official Bullet Journal site, YouTube videos (here’s a link to my growing playlist), and the Bullet Journal subreddit. Instagram is great, too, for layout inspiration.
My favorite aspect of this system is that it’s forgiving, customizable. It lacks the structure of a prefabricated planner and it possesses all the good intentions of that angel on your shoulder. In the past, I’ve started, stopped, and started again (and stopped again) within different journals, with different layouts, and with different intentions for my journal’s purpose for me (I’ll visit this later in the post). However, this latest iteration of my BuJo endeavors has led me here, to my most complete journal thus far, spanning the first six months of 2017. Let’s take a tour! Got your Andy Capp’s Hot Fries ready?
If I wasn’t clear before, let me be very clear now: I am not innately artistic, crafty, or even particularly patient enough to make a pretty BuJo spread, but as Instagram would encourage, I attempted. Despite my “artistic” attempts, I really tried to pare down the supplies I toted about with me to create these spreads. At least once a week, I would use everything shown above.
I try to keep all my writing utensils from clanging around in my pencil case, so I have this small pen pocket/pouch thing to contain my main pens: my three Pigma Microns (in 01, 03, and 05), my Muji black ink 0.38, and a Derwent Graphic pencil.
To add just a bit of mood-dependent color to my spreads, I use several Tombow Dual Brush markers.
For my fanciest of BuJo moments, I use the rose gold LAMY fountain pen that Manuel bought me. It has an extra fine nib and we loaded it with black Noodler’s Ink.
My journal of choice was different from the BuJo community’s go-to, which is the Leuchtturm1917. This journal is the Rhodia “Webbie” Webnotebook with 96 pages of super smooth 90g Clairefontaine paper. It’s bound in Rhodia’s signature orange cover. I keep a straight edge of some sort in its back pocket at all times and have adorned it with various stickers from front to back to inside.
For the most part, I stuck to the suggested content structure found on the Bullet Journal site. This includes
- the index, or table of contents;
- the key, or series of symbols that make “rapid logging” a breeze); and
- the future log, or the most big-picture view of the upcoming six months, which are shown next.
Next, I did stray a bit from the traditional monthly spread: I created a two-page calendar in most instances because I’m more of a visual person and have always viewed months this way on a traditional calendar. Sometimes, I really started fresh with new monthly spreads by dedicating a single right-sided page to just the name of the month…so basically an intro or cover page.
And then to the beating heart of the Bullet Journal organizational system as far as planning is concerned: the daily log. In the past, I have played around with weekly and more structured daily spreads, but I’ve found the most success with the standard BuJo daily log so far. Every day that I work, I make a to-do list. Previously, this was done on a yellow legal pad, and then on copy paper on a clipboard, then on scratch paper, and from time-to-time I still make digital lists in Evernote. However, I feel most organized filling out a daily log. Sometimes I write down a lot; sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I accomplish a lot; sometimes…you get the idea.
Collections, or lists, are the other half of the Bullet Journal system’s function. I am an avid list-maker. My thoughts, grouped together in spreads whose organizational schematics make sense to only me? I was an instant fan. Below are some of my most notable collections, including my wishlist, study guide, handwriting log, exercise guide, an an extreme example of a really long daily log that I consider borderline collection.
Other spreads mapped out my thought processes with the intent of more minutely molding my behaviors. I can’t say that these routine spreads have been effective yet, but again, the intent is there.
With the various supplies I introduce into my Bullet Journal cinematic universe, I wanted to document how they fared with the paper, and the following “material log” spread served as a reference for supplies I’d consider using for certain spreads without having to test them on the actual spread.
After over a year of this Bullet Journal experience, I am confident that I will continue. I’m already setting up a new journal which I’ll detail in posts to come. However, before I started my new journal, it was important to me that I identified how the system worked for me, how I intended it to work for me, and how I would utilize it in the future. A couple of times in the past six months, I took moments to review what worked for me in my Bullet Journal and what didn’t. Then, before I began my new journal, I defined my new journal’s purpose as well as what I didn’t want my journal to be.
For me, Bullet Journaling best serves its function as a collection of lists, thought processes, and even personal journal entries or illustrations of expression (which I didn’t picture here, just because they are quite personal). I enjoy that it’s a multifunctional journal. I enjoy that it’s almost an extension of my mind, my goals, and my delusions at times. I enjoy that it’s imperfect (in hindsight), and that each new page, new spread, and new log is a fresh opportunity to improve, not to perfect.
I hope you enjoyed this long walk-through and that it encourages you to consider the Bullet Journal system for yourself, whatever your purpose may be. Maybe analog isn’t the path for you and you want to utilize the system in OneNote or Evernote. Maybe you can get away with a pocket Moleskine or 100 table napkins stapled together and stuffed in your purse. Maybe you think this is a waste of time and would have rather read my diary.
More Bullet Journal posts are planned, including a walk-through of my new July – December 2017 journal. Until then, ciao!