Over the last couple of months, I have been spending time working in my Bullet Journal. This is something I started doing last winter but didn’t really take seriously until the end of last year. Now, I’ve found my groove and have been loving the benefits, which I want to share with you!
I didn’t start journalling because I felt any particular need to be more organized or record my thoughts. My starting point was really simple…. I didn’t want to fall asleep while watching TV at night! Seems like a silly reason to start a hobby but I had a tendency to nod-off way too early on those cold winter nights and it was effecting my quality of sleep. And there are just so many times I can make cake 😉 Bullet Journaling has given me the perfect distraction and the freedom to do as little or as much as I want each evening.
WHAT IS A BULLET JOURNAL?
Traditionally, a Bullet Journal was designed as a method of personal organization, as developed by Ryder Carroll. Things like scheduling and to-do lists are created and captured in personalized bullet journals. Since first becoming popular in 2013, you may have seen all the inventive ways that creators have been making “pages” or “spreads” in their journals… just search using the hashtag #bulletjournal or #bujo on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and TikTok to see hundreds of examples.
For me, Bullet Journals are more than just structure. In fact, I first started using bullet journals as a way of self-expression and to practice my drawing skills. Adding organizational elements was secondary but have ultimately helped me keep my journalling consistent.
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WHAT DO I NEED TO START A Bullet Journal?
There are three basic items you need to start a Bullet Journal:
- A Bullet Journal
- Pencil Crayons or Markers
- Your Creativity!
There are so many you can choose from and I find that the best selection can be found from Amazon.com or Amazon.ca. You can pick your favourite design and colour. Look for thicker pages that are 100gsm or higher. My personal favourite brand is Smart Planner because they have a line that is 160gsm, which allows me to use markers without fear of bleeding through pages. Check out Smart Planner on Instagram for buying options.
Pencil Crayons or Markers
What you use is personal preference. I like using both to add depth and colour, especially markers for outlining and pencil crayons for filling in. As you get started, you’ll quickly learn what you like to use best. My favourite pencil crayons are Prismacolor and I started off using Paper Mate Flair felt tip pens. Most recently, I started building my collection of TomBow Dual Brush Pens because the colours are fabulous and they have both a brush tip and fine tip on each pen, which provides loads of versatility.
The sky is the limit here! Like I said, I used to use my journal primarily for doodling whatever appealed to me and have just started adding more structured pages to help keep me organized and track various activities. Be brave, be bold! Remember, this is all for you 🙂
As you get started, you may find you need a few “extras” to help you along. Things like rulers, stickers, stencils, washi tape, etc are tools that may assist in design but are not deal-breakers to get started.
THE BENEFITS OF KEEPING A BULLET JOURNAL
There is no one benefit to keeping a Bullet Journal that is better than the next. In fact, this list can be virtually limitless as you start to discover what drives you to continue with your journal. The benefits also tend to blend in to one another…. doing one thing opens up a door to something else, as you’ll see in the benefits below.
This list is what I have personally found are the reasons I love it so much and see value in the activity. Some may even surprise you! I will not number these because the order doesn’t matter to anyone else but you.
I wanted something to help me pass time and not dwell on boredom or the monotony of daily life. It’s no coincidence that I started a Bullet Journal during one of the many COVID lockdowns in my area. Whenever I finish a page, I feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and pride in my work. I love just looking at the pages and seeing my progress. Whatever I do, I make sure it adds joy. Sometimes that’s a funny doodle and other times it’s an inspiring quote.
It’s become a visual representation of my own inner need to stop, take a breath, do something creative and enjoy my work.
Setting resolutions isn’t really my thing but I do like to see how I’m keeping up with my habits and health. This has provided a sense of accountability and gives me a record of what’s important. Habits can be anything you want to either do more or less of, such as drinking water, doing yoga or even reading. For Health, I like to record how I’m physically feeling and daily exercise goals.
One of the more fun things to track are moods! It’s nice to look back on a month and get an overview of how I was doing related to my mental health. Drawing one of these spreads can be very creative, as you can see in the following image. There are also tons of example spreads available online you can recreate for yourself.
Theodore Roosevelt has a famous quote that says, “Believe you can and you’re halfway there”. What better way to know that you can than by monitoring what you’ve accomplished! This builds upon the idea of tracking your activities but in doing so, you may find that you’re striving to check off some of those boxes. It’s really rewarding to see those boxes add up!
Writing down some quotes you like is also a great way to keep yourself motivated. Looking back on those quotes is a reminder about what you find important and may even lift your spirits.
When you create your trackers or calendars, what you’re really doing is thinking about what’s to come. In turn, filling those in keeps you on track! If you build it, they will come, right? Organization is about having a plan and continually working on fulfilling the plan you laid out.
Each month, I print out photos from important moments that occurred. This is a great way of looking back on the stand-out events that have taken place. I also like to write a line or two about something that happens every day… If I record an “off” day on my mood tracker, this lets me easily go back to see what caused it. I’ve found that it’s helping me notice patterns, both good and bad.
Keeping track of the books I’ve read has also had many benefits. I can give better recommendations to my friends and family when I write down a few notes about the book. There’s a sense of accomplishment here as well and I’m finding that I’m gaining a better understanding of the books I actually enjoy reading. I started doing some book reviews on TikTok, if you’re interested.
It’s really up to you if you want to keep one journal for your work life and one for your personal life but I like to have them together. When I look back on one particular month, there’s a holistic record of everything that went into it. It’s all in one place!
I have an addiction to cheese. LOL. I’ve always kind-of known this but it wasn’t until I started recording my consumption that I actually saw how much I ate it and how it impacted my moods and health. Similarly, when you start recording, you start to understand what’s important and what’s not. What was important to me that month? What made me happy? Sad? What do I want to do more or less of?
I can honestly say that after the first month of using a Bullet Journal, I became way more aware of what I was putting into my life and what I was getting out of it.
Am I the best artist in the world? Absolutely not! Can I draw or sketch directly from memory? Nope to that too. But I can recreate what I like and I do know what I find aesthetically pleasing. A Bullet Journal is a great way of letting you creativity out of the box because you can explore what simply looks good to you.
All of the above works in concert to create long-lasting patterns. Just the act of jotting down elements of your day sets up effective benefits… But you wouldn’t get there if you weren’t doing it every day. Once you start taking notes and making observations, it becomes a little easier and then almost necessary. The more you keep up the routine, the more invested in it you become.
There is A LOT of satisfaction in getting stuff done. Whether it be checking off those boxes, drawing something you love, decorating a page or just keeping track for an entire month. You should be proud of yourself. You’ve done it! Every day, you’re doing little things that build into something big. A bullet journal is a physical representation of all the work you’ve done. Let yourself shine.
If you’ve made it this far into the blog post, then the idea of a Bullet Journal is probably attractive to you. I really hope you are encouraged to try it yourself! I can honestly say it’s one of the more creative outlets I have that also provides me with structure. I’ve done quite a few DIY projects over the last year but this one is sticking.
Are you going to start a journal? Need any additional tips or advice? Let me know in the comments below!