An introduction to bullet journaling

When I bought my bullet journal, it was on a whim – the semester was about to start, I needed a planner, and I’d been following lots of bullet journal accounts on instagram (which are very satisfying, by the way). Expecting to give it up in a few weeks, I was surprised by how much I was enjoying it – and that 6 months later, I was still using it every day.

The main reason I started was flexibility – I am extremely scatty. When I had an ordinary planner, I kept losing all my essay plans and to-do lists. I forget and lose absolutely everything, and so it really helps me to have everything all in one place.

Another factor that really made me want to start a bullet journal was the potential for creativity. I love drawing, but I never have time anymore – adding illustrations into my bullet journal allows me to do this. I also find setting out my spreads really therapeutic – it’s kind of a combination of mindfulness colouring and organising for me.

The concept of a bullet journal was coined by the product designer Ryder Carroll, and is essentially a method of journaling and note-taking that uses bullet points as its core structure. Most commonly, people use a blank note-book, with dotted pages (like the Leuchtturm 1917) – although you can use any kind of paper or layout you want. Like a journal, you can write down important events in your day, and things you want to remember; like a planner, you can organise your time and tasks in an effective way.

The concept of a bullet journal is multifaceted, so let me start with rapid logging, which is essentially a fancy bullet-journal term for writing down short, informative phrases instead of sentences. This forms the main structure of the bullet journal.

Each short note taken is categorised in a key – here’s an example of mine.

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All of these are pretty self-explanatory – apart from Migrating tasks. Migrating a task means that you didn’t get to complete a task today, so you have scheduled it in for another day. This is really useful – if, for example, I’m hungover and don’t want to do any work, I can find space in the rest of my week and migrate tasks so that I know the work will still be done – leaving me to snooze in bed guilt free.

Most people have different lists for different delineations of time – for example, I have a weekly spread over two pages, with a more in-depth list of to-do’s for each day – but I also have a larger list of things I have on that month (e.g. deadlines and birthdays). Each week, I look at the monthly list, and transfer anything that needs to be done on that week onto the weekly spread.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

Monthly Spread:

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Weekly spread:

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I’ve put my deadlines (eek) on the monthly spread, so I can plan more than a week in advance – but when I do each weekly spread, I move each relevant item the monthly spread onto the detailed weekly log. I also have a spread for the semester, so I can plan more than a month in advance.

As you are starting from a blank page, things can sometimes end up in an odd order – this is why, in the bullet journal system, you include an index at the beginning. In the Leuchtturm 1917, the pages are already numbered, so you can index your pages in the sections provided. The Leuchtturm also has two ribbon page markers to help you mark important pages.

Simply put, a bullet journal is a way of organising your time that is completely tailored to you – it can be messy or neat, you can use fancy fonts, or you can use your normal writing (@minimaljournal on Instagram is a great example of a messy, but functional bullet journal). You can have a whole page for a busy day, or a whole week in one page if you want. In its essence, it’s completely flexible and down to you!

A whole book of blank pages freaking you out? Not sure where to start?

Here’s some accounts to follow (on Instagram) for inspiration:

For the (messy) minimalist:

@minimaljournal

For the (neat) minimalist:

@minimal.plan

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For the illustrator:

@bumblebujo

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For the person who really (really) likes flowers:

@feebujo

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(I actually base most of my spreads on this lay-out – it’s really adaptable and gives you lots of space)

For the busy-bee:

@bujoblossoms

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Don’t know what you like? Follow @bujobeauties – they feature lots of different styles and accounts.

Happy Bullet Journaling!

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