Bullet Journaling is for the list takers, sticky note users, and bullet pointers. It is for the inner nerd who loves organization or for the sporadic spirit who has much to accomplish but as many whims as the wind.
Bullet Journaling is a way to track your personal growth, maximize your talents, and reach new heights. It is a functional tool, but most importantly, it is a lifestyle!
The bullet journal method was created by Ryder Carrol. The theology behind bullet journaling is to live intentionally.
“Intentional living is taking the steering wheel and driving in the direction you want to go rather than going with the crowd.”Tweet
Types of Bullet Journals
There are many things to think about before you put pen to paper. First, you need to decide on the type of journal you want to use and the size that would best meet your needs.
When I first started keeping a bullet journal in late 2018, I used a one subject notebook that I had bought at the dollar store. I was hyped at first, and the notebook worked out well in the beginning, but over time I stopped using it. Why?
For many reasons–the main one being that the notebook was too big and not portable. I would store it inside the top drawer of the bedside table. It was out of sight and out of mind. Of course, I could have chosen something like the journaling set below and I might have had more success.
At the time, I didn’t know anything about bullet journaling. I saw a journal doodle on Pinterest and jumped on the idea not knowing where it would lead me or how it could change my life.
Don’t be like me and jump in head first! without knowing what to do or how to do it. After my failure, I read up on bullet journaling and discovered that the journal is more than just a record or string of consciousness. It is a tool for setting new heights, reaching new goals, tracking my progress, and designing my life according to what is most important to me.
In 2019, I made a new goal: To Journal Daily!
2019 was full of challenges. One of the main things I learned from reflecting on the year:
“Goals aren’t always meant to be met. Sometimes they are just a good place to start.”Tweet
A bullet journal is more than a tool. It is a lifestyle. If used consistently, you can redesign your life and create a better future for yourself.
There are all types and sizes of journals out there to choose from. You could use a three-ring binder or a spiral bound notebook. There are also grid journals and dot journals to consider. If you aren’t artistic, but want a cute bullet journal, you could try sticker journaling. Bullet journal stickers are very popular and come in a multitude of variety.
High Quality Bullet Journals
Rated 4.5 out of 5 Stars and over 258 reviews, this bullet journal by Newestor is both durable and portable. This journal is available in either dot or graph format.
This journal by Peter Pauper Press is rated 5 out of 5 stars and over 46 ratings. With a hardcover and pockets located along the back cover, this journal is great for anything from work to school.
The original bullet journal is the Leuchtturm1917. I use this journal for work. It has a pocket in the back for my sticky notes, is small enough to fit in my purse, and has a durable cover.
Another bullet journal I have used is the celestial themed bullet journal by Peter Pauper Press. I picked this one up at Walmart, but later found I could have saved some money if I’d bought it on Amazon.
You are going to use the journal you choose over the course of a few months—maybe even a year. Spend a few extra dollars now and get something that won’t break on you later. Quality is key!
Bullet Journal Supplies
Good pens and art supplies are not cheap. Yes, you can go the dollar store and pick some up, but “you get what you pay for”.
“Not all pens are created equal”Tweet
Bullet Journal Pens
Remember that some pens and markers will bleed, so choose your mediums wisely. Here are a few pens that I have used that work well.
Fine point Sharpie Art Pens are the bomb! Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 2,000 reviews, these pens are worth every penny. Plus the case folds back and turns into a handy stand. I bought my pens about a year ago and I am just now having to start replacing the ones that have run out.
These pins by Tanmit offer a dual point and work well for the avid doodler. They are rated 4 out of 5 stars with over 800 reviews. The only complaint I have about these pens are about the darker colored ones. They tend to bleed through if you bare down too hard on the paper when you are setting up your spreads.
These dual pointed brush pens from Tombow beat everything else out of the water when it comes to coloring! With over 3,700 reviews they are highly rated and great for drawing. I do not however use these directly on the dot grids. They bleed through if too much water is used. However, I like to cut and paste mandala drawings into my bullet journal. I use the Tombow brush pens to color in the mandala as their colors are vibrant and lively!
Other than pens, I use Mildliner Creative Markers from Zebra. These are the best highlighters I have ever used. I loved them so much that I shared them with a friend, and then she went out and bought some more. These highlighters don’t bleed through the paper and show great color on the grid paper. They have both a wide end and a fine tip. I can’t tell you enough how awesome these highlighters are.
Bullet Journal Water Color
You may think I’m crazy for water coloring directly on the pages of my bullet journal, however, I assure I’m not. I have watched a ton of videos where other bullet journalers use water color and I wanted to try it (hence I bought the Tombow Watercolor Markers above).
I was so upset that I couldn’t use the Tombow’s directly on the grid paper so I started looking for an alternative and I found it, again at Walmart (that’s the only big retailer where I live. LOL).
I paid around $10 or $11 dollars at Walmart when I purchased this watercolor set. If I’d known better, I would have bought it off of Amazon and saved $6. Anyway, I love this set, and it doesn’t bleed through the paper. Of course, if you drench the page you could end up with wrinkled paper. But, if used correctly, you can easily had some “life” to your pages and let your creativity fly! Below is one of my favorite water colors that I did when we took a day trip through the mountains.
I have also used magazine clippings, sticky notes, stickers, and washi tape in my journal as well. You can buy most items at the dollar store for cheap. However, please keep in mind that you get what you pay for.
Design Your Bullet Journal
Unless you are going to use a three ring binder or something similar, you are going to be stuck with the order you put your pages in. This means, once it’s on paper, you have to live with it or rip it out and redo it.
There are lots of pages you can include in your bullet journal, but there are a few pages that every bullet journal must have.
Bullet Journal Page Ideas
The title page is important to me. The title page reminds me of my theme or word for the year. It inspires my creativity and helps to maintain my focus. My favorite title page that I have done is in my Celestial Bullet Journal.
Index & Key
There are lots of bullet journals that have the index built into the front pages automatically. However, if you choose a journal without an index, you will need to design one on your own.
The index page needs to include a section for writing the page topic & page number at the minimum. If you like color coding, you could include a section for that as well.
I always put my bullet journal key near or beside my index.
Yearly Calendar & Future Log
My yearly calendar can be found at the beginning of every bullet journal I have ever created. I don’t always remember when my kids need to go to the doctor or when I scheduled my last dentist appointment, but if I write it down in my future log, I don’t have to worry. It’s written down, so there’s no need for me to try to remember. For 2019, I used a sticky note for each month and wrote out the date and event for that month on it.
I used to separate my future log from my yearly calendar, but I found that it really isn’t necessary. The whole point of adding a page to your journal is because that page can increase your productivity, track your progress, or inspire you in some way or another. I use my calendar and future log when I set up my bullet journal monthly spread.
Level 10 Life & Yearly Goals
I use my bullet journal to track my goals and the progress I am making toward achieving them. Level 10 life is a great spread that I use to measure where I am currently in different areas of my life compared to where I want to be.
I go into detail on how to use the Level 10 Life spread in my free eBook. You can snag your copy here.
Milestones & Life Events
When Did I Last Bullet Journal Tracker
I recently discovered this spread and found the idea behind it ingenious. There are a lot of things that I don’t think about everyday like when did I last change my toothbrush or deep clean the living room carpets or clean out the chicken coop!
Using a When Did I Last bullet journal spread is a lifesaver. It helps me to keep my focus on the necessary things that I need to do but don’t necessarily keep in the front of my mind.
For the first year, I made a monthly financial spread. This helped me to budget my money and track where my expenses were going. However, once I wrote it down, I never looked at it again. So, even though I was tracking, the information wasn’t useful to me.
Instead of keeping a monthly spread, I decided to switch to a yearly bill tracker. I use these bullet journal pages to track which bills have been paid and how much they were. It is much more simplistic and less time consuming than trying to maintain a monthly budget spread. I use a “dutch door” for this spread so I don’t have to recreate the wheel twice.
In addition to my yearly bill tracker, I like to use a credit card or debt tracker. This helps deter me from using my credit cards. Each month, I fill in the balance on each of my credit cards and what my credit score is.
Monthly Spread & Monthly Title Page
Monthly spreads take a little work to put together but are very helpful in keeping an overall focus on what goals you need to meet for the month. I take my level 10 goals and break them down into smaller monthly goals.
From the spreads at the front of my bullet journal, I use the future log, My Level 10 Goals, and the Lunar calendar to set up my monthly spread. In addition to the daily listing, I like to include a title page. The monthly title page is for inspiring my inner muse and “coloring therapy”.
My monthly spread takes all the information from the other spreads and combines it into one or two pages. This allows me to focus only on what I need to accomplish for the month rather than what I am trying to do for the year.
My weekly spreads are pretty straight forward. I get into the nitty gritty of what I need to accomplish each day and my main goals for the week. My personal bullet journal for home and family is pretty creative, whereas my work bullet journal is minimal in creative license. I enjoy both the artistic and minimalistic spreads. You have to choose what works best for you.
For most of last year, I used a daily spread for my work. However copying each to do item from one day to the next is time consuming. There are perks to keeping a daily spread if you are using a konmari method or managing several projects at once.
Since I want to keep it simple this year, I am moving more toward weekly spreads and a running to do list. So far, this has been very helpful and I spend a lot less time creating spreads and more time focusing on getting my action items done.
Dump pages are wonderful for clearing your mind of clutter and planning your monthly to do items. I like to do a monthly brain dump and then assign each of those items to my Master Monthly plan. This way, I don’t forget things that i need to get done. I use my brain dump page throughout the month as more things come up that need to be completed. I manage a lot of projects at once, so this helps ensure that I stay on track.
Bullet Journal Page Order
The pages you include need to be in an order that makes sense to you. For my journals, the simpler the better. There are a million things I could add to the front of my bullet journal, but the less I have the more likely I am to keep it up. My 2020 Bullet Journal page order is listed below.
- Title Page (Yearly Theme)
- Index & Key
- Yearly Calendar
- Future Log
- Level 10 Life & Yearly Goals
- When Did I Last?
- Financial Spreads
- Bible Reading
- Menstruation & Intimacy
- Lunar Calendar & Celestial Dates
- Blogging Spreads
- Monthly Spread
- Monthly Brain Dump
- Weekly Spreads with Reflection
- Mid Month Reflection
- Month Ending Reflection
- Quarterly Reflection
For 2020, I want to keep it simple. The less I have to keep up with the better. It has taken me a while to figure out exactly how I wanted to set up my bujo, but I have finally come to a decision. Click here to get an inside look at my 2020 Bullet Journal.
Now that you know what pages you want to include and in what order you want them to go, it is time to have some fun. Gather your art supplies, turn on some relaxing music and start creating.
If you discover you don’t use all the pages or tackers you’ve included in your bullet journal one month, then leave those pages out on the next month. Personalize your bullet journal to fit your needs. Pinterest is also a great place to find more inspiration and page designs.
How Often Should You Write In Your Bullet Journal?
You won’t get any real benefit out of keeping a journal if you only use it every few weeks or once a month. If you want to reap the fruits of journaling, then you need to use it at a minimum of 2 to 3 times per week.
Make journaling a habit. Find a rhythm that works for you.
Start small with reasonable and realistic journaling goals and then go from there. Set a reminder on your phone and put aside some quiet time where you can focus without distractions.
More Bullet Journal Information
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