Consider this your bullet journal beginner’s guide.
I showed off my new bullet journal style planner for 2020 on my Instagram Stories last week and so many people had questions. I think bullet journals often seem intimidating or confusing because they’re blank – you fill them in. I don’t claim to be a highly creative individual – my spreads are very minimal and simple, NOT the Pinterest worthy spreads you often see. What I do claim is to be a hyper organized human that needs a clean, simple system that works to get shit done.
Because between work, blog, and personal life, I have a lot to do.
I want to preface this post by saying I am not a “serious” bullet journal user. I don’t use the traditional symbols bullet journals use (I don’t have a key), I don’t follow a specific type of traditional bullet journal set up and organization. Because I am juggling a personal business that involves a blog, YouTube channel, and social media – I need very specific layouts and systems that are personal to me (from weekly spreads to pages for video notes to brainstorm pages for future blog posts). In this post I’ll show you my system, but really what I want to show is how the bullet journal can be anything you need it to be.
There are loads of bullet journals on the market you can choose from. Serious bullet journalers will tell you that some brands are better than others (from paper thickness to cover quality). As an average, NOT serious bullet journaler – I’m here to tell you it doesn’t really matter. Unless you’re going whole hog with art markers all over your journal, most bullet journals will suit your needs.
I started off with the Leuchtturm, but honestly the plain cover was so uninspiring to me I didn’t often pick it up. Yes I am that human that needs a “cute” notebook to feel inspired to use it. I’m currently using this gold dot journal and love it. The cover is simple, but beautiful. Whenever I spot my journal in the corner of my eye I get inspired and am tempted to dive right in.
Most other “serious” bullet journal articles will give you a long list of specific pens and markers to pick up to use in your journal…I don’t have that.
Legitimately the only tools I use in my bullet journal are plain ballpoint pens (black) and a pack of highlighters (I like pastel colors so that I can see my black ink through them).
Some people get fancy with art markers, stickers, and galore – but for the purpose of just getting started, really only a pen is needed.
Because bullet journals are an open world of possibility, you’ll need a table of contents that you can update as you create each page.
My bullet journal actually came with a table of contents already that I can just fill in as I go, but if your journal doesn’t provide this, you’ll want to dedicate one of your first two pages to this section.
It’s about at this point that the traditional bullet journalers will tell you to set up your future log, monthly log, weekly log, signifiers (key), etc. Straight up – I did none of this. Lolz. I did my own thing.
After my table of contents, I dedicated two pages to my 2020 goals. In all honesty, some of these goals are on the private side, so I may choose to blur them out, but I wanted to at least show you my set up so you can see how I am manifesting my goals in 2020. I wanted to have one clean and clear page at the beginning of my journal to flip back to and remind myself what I’m working towards. There are so many years where I set goals for myself that I don’t fulfill simply because I don’t ensure my daily tasks ladder up to these larger initiatives. Having this clean goals spread keeps me focused and in check.
After my goals page, I set up all my monthly “dashboards” for the year. These dashboards feature a full month view (so that I can see any “big” events at a glance), but really what I needed from these dashboards was a place to break down my yearly goals by month. For example, one of my annual goals is to read one book per month, so in my monthly dashboard I have a spot to enter in the books I’m reading currently.
After my monthly dashboards is my daily gratitude section. I used to have a specific gratitude journal where I’d jot down ten things I’m grateful for every day – which was helpful, beautiful, but also really not sustainable. Carrying around an entirely separate book just for gratitude was becoming cumbersome, so instead I’ve dedicated a section of my bullet journal to writing down one thing I’m thankful for every day.
I highly recommend adding a gratitude section into your own system. Reminding yourself that you have things to be thankful for really sets a positive tone for your day.
Transparently, I often struggle with “weekly spreads”. I have some weeks where I need a full robust spread, but other weeks where I don’t really need a to do list at all. I’ve left this section fairly open and broad to use as I need. Sometimes I create a more traditional “spread”. Other times I truly just using the pages to bullet out a daily to do list. My spreads are NOT fancy or artistic – they’re plain, but functional.
As a blogger and YouTuber, I often use random apps and notebooks to jot down post/video ideas, video notes, etc. I’ve dedicated sections of pages in the back of my journal to these items. I unfortunately can’t share them with you here as they’ll spoil future content!
That’s all, folks. Let me know if you have any bullet journal beginner tips in the comments below!
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