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Beginner's Guide to Bullet Journaling

A simple and unique system for helping you remain organised, and with plenty of chances to get creative, Bullet Journaling has taken off spectacularly. If you've been curious about this journaling method but been scared off when searching Instagram and Pinterest about the system because of the myriad of photos of intricate art, graphs, and layouts, then don't worry! This article is a great way to help you get started with this much-loved and easier-than-you-think organisation technique.

What is it?

The Bullet Journal (or BuJo) was created by Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer and author in New York. Due to being diagnosed with learning disabilities in his early life, Carroll needed to find alternate ways to be productive as the standard methods weren't working for him.

As the name suggests, a Bullet Journal centres around bullet points and all you need for a basic BuJo is a journal (dotted pages are recommended) and a pen or pencil! With this method, you can write to-do lists, note which books you want to read, special events, and even healthy habits in simple to read and easy-to-find layouts. Each journal often has the following key elements: an Index, Monthly Log, Daily Log, Collections, and Future Log. Don't worry if all this sounds a bit much - Bullet Journals are highly versatile and customisable, so if you find an element doesn't work for you, you don't have to use it. But here's a crash course on each of them so you can decide:



Key Elements

The Index - If your journal or notebook doesn't have a built-in index, you might have to leave a few pages at the front for this. Lots of journals can leave you flipping around looking for old information, but with an index, you can easily keep track of everything. As you journal, number your pages and use the index at the front to let you know what's on each page. As you continue to use your journal, you need to remember to update your index as you go.


Monthy Log - This is usually a double-page spread that allows you to see your month at a glance. Carroll favours the list method where you write each day of the month down the left-hand side and your important events and upcoming appointments next to it on the right. However, you could also use the calendar method by drawing out a standard calendar design. With this spread, you can write personal goals for the month too, such as 'put £x into savings account', 'catch up with a friend you haven't seen in a while', or 'go to at least three new places.'


Daily Log - Similar to a monthly spread, your Daily Log is where you can get specific about your day. On the page, write down the date followed by a bullet-pointed list of all your tasks, i.e., laundry, vacuum, book a doctor's appointment, lunch with mum. Once you've completed a job, you can turn your bullet point into a satisfying tick or cross. Carroll's original system also recommends using dashes for notes, circles for events, and arrows for anything that needs to be migrated to another day, week, or month. (Some people also like to use Weekly Logs as a bridge between Monthlies and Dailies, but this is totally up to you!)


Future Log - This is another log similar to Monthlies and Dailies. Because your journal isn't a traditional calendar, you can't write notes for future events too far in advance. The Future Log lets you jot down any upcoming deadlines or events in advance so you can refer back to them throughout the months as you create new spreads, migrating them to your new pages as and when needed. That way, nothing sneaks up on you!


Collections - This is where you put anything that doesn't fit into the other categories. These are usually lists and trackers for things like books and movies you want to read or see, or notes for brainstorming sessions you've done. Some popular Collection pages include: Gratitude Log (write a few things you're grateful for each day), Meal Plans and Shopping Lists, and Habit Trackers (great if there are things you'd like to do more often, or you want to do less of!) You'll find lots of inspiration for Collections online, so have a look around for things that might be useful for you.


Minimalist vs Artistic

Even though many social media photos and YouTube tutorials show gorgeous, intricate layouts with beautiful artwork, this isn't necessary. If you're not very artsy or you find all that colour and design too distracting - both to look at and to do, stopping you from focusing on your main logs - then you don't have to do it. Ryder Carroll's original idea was fundamental and straightforward, with no fancy flourishes. However, if you're someone who's more likely to continue using the method when it's pretty and engaging to look at, then decorating your journal to make it look Insta-worthy is a great way to go about it!

Create themes for each month - wildlife, nature, or even fandom designs - and collect a variety of cool stationery to help you make it your own. Suppose you want to go all out with your Bullet Journal. In that case, we suggest picking up some coloured pencils, highlighters, pens, a ruler, and some flat embellishments (so you can still close your journal!) like stickers, washi tape, or decorative papers. Those who like to experiment might benefit from creating unique spread designs with watercolour painting.


We hope this quick guide has left you in good stead to get started with your Bullet Journal. If so, you can find all of our stationery essentials right here. To find out more about the original system, you can check out Ryder Carroll's website, and for more creative ideas and organisation tips, why not check out our helpful articles below?

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