What is this Bullet Journal you speak of…?

Seriously. Raise hands if you’ve heard about Bullet Journals before. I certainly hadn’t – up until only yesterday, that is, when my co-worker friend showed up with her brand new one at work and showed it around. Hers is an extremely delicate and intricate beautiful thing – she’s put a lot of time and effort into designing her first pages, with her beautiful and impeccable handwriting and a delicate little wisp of a pen. Holy cow.

I loved the look and feel of the thing, but I didn’t understand what I was looking at, exactly. Her explanations didn’t much help me to fully understand it, either – so I consulted Google and found the official webpage of the Bullet Journal’s inventor: bulletjournal.com

Well, hey there, fully customizable, analog taskplannerdiarynotebooktodolistcalendardoodleinspirationbook! I find the concept so damn intriguing, that – of course – this happened today:

Bullet Journal 1

Had to happen today. A beautiful roughly Din A5 sized notebook, some new colored Stabilo Pens, and some washi tape, because that’s what the internet apparently uses to decorate its own Bullet Journal. (And what’s not to love about washi tape?)

Yes, I was actually spending some time out on my terrace today, albeit little – it’s still fresh outside. (And dirty. Clean-up is scheduled for tomorrow, the weather allowing.)

Bullet Journal 2
Sad, dirty terrace with sad, empty planter.

I am not going to explain the very ingenious system behind the Bullet Journal here – the official website linked above does a very good job at that all by itself. Plus, I am quite sure that I haven’t understood all of it just yet myself – it seems like the kind of thing that becomes more clear and intuitive as you go. Learning by doing. I’ll just say that I am very much keeping with the original concept, while adding some ideas that I have found on Pinterest on the subject.

I was going to be pretty straight-forward and not doodle around too much and get hung-up on design, but I found that I had so much fun setting up my own Bullet Journal, that I did end up “prettifying” it quite a bit, after all. It’s nothing in comparison to what my co-worker friend has done, but of course what she has done is what she does, and what I have done, is what I do, and apparently one of the main rules of bullet-journaling is: never compare yours to someone else’s. (I can see why.)

It’s an intensely personal process with an even more personal outcome, so do with yours whatever floats your boat – and if you don’t feel like dawdling in calligraphy and doodles, don’t like washi tape, or don’t even care at all about nice handwriting – don’t. It’s as simple as that. It is whatever you want and need it to be – no more, no less.

I want to share with you my initial pages as (mostly) virginal as they are right now. Obviously, what isn’t virginal anymore has been pixel’d out for privacy reasons, but maybe you can find some inspiration from them!

My inspirational Cover Page:

Bullet Journal 3

Just in case the words don’t ring a bell with you: they are part of the lyrics of one of my favorite Queen songs, “Innuendo”. The quote is glued in on a separate piece of paper, so in case of need, it can be removed and replaced by something else, easy as pie.

Bullet Journal 4

Next, the Index page. Kind of the heart of the whole endeavor – it’s what makes your Bullet Journal usable by referencing all your otherwise possibly quite unstructured and random content by the pages each topic can be found on. As you can see, I am mixing German and English here – but that’s also quite typical for me: it’s what my whole life is like, both at home, as well as at work. So it’s only natural that my journal switches around between the languages as well.

Bullet Journal 5

The Future Log is the next backbone kind of page of a Bullet Journal as the inventor has intended. Things that get pushed from your immediate to-do list to later go here. I have set up this page for now, but I am not quite sure yet what will go on here exactly. It’s one of those things I believe I will figure out as I go. For now, I had fun setting it up and doodling around on it for a bit!

Bullet Journal 6

The Key page, pretty self explanatory, I think.

Bullet Journal 7

My Birthday spread! Names were swirled out for privacy. This is not actually part of the original concept, but it’s something that generally comes in quite handy, I think.

Bullet Journal 8

On the left, an overview of the year 2016. Absolutely not necessary, but nice to have. On the right: a list of things I have lent to people (top), and a list of things I have borrowed from people myself. So as to not forget to return/collect them in the future. (Which I tend to do – both ways.)

Bullet Journal 9

And here, my first Month page, another part of the core system. The left side provides a good overview of the month’s appointments, the right side gives space to record tasks, events, notes, ideas, etc. Every list item is marked according to the key on page 4, and eventually hopefully crossed off, respectively migrated to the next month, or into the Future Log. Following this Month page will be the Daily Pages, but these I will obviously not start before April 1. (I am still figuring out how to make the daily sections. I want them to include several things from daily tasks, to water intake, to daily appreciation of something, because I am a deeply rooted pessimist with a good case of recurring clinical depression, and if I have to force the optimism out of myself, I bloody damn will. An occasional photo should fit there as well, I think. But at the same time I don’t want to make myself feel like I have to do any of these things every day, which is a sure way to make me stop using the journal altogether. I will definitely have to give the daily sections some more thought.)

What I have added, however, is what I think is a meaningful addition to each monthly setup: a habit tracker, and a budget tracker, both of which you can see on the next picture:

Bullet Journal 10

Obviously, they are both still blank – and obviously I am neither showing you, which habits I am tracking, nor what my monthly budget looks like – I am just showing this to you, because I like my layout, and maybe you can be inspired by it. If you don’t know what habit trackers are: google them, and you will find a plethora of examples. I think it’s cool – and if I find that it doesn’t actually work for me, I will skip it next month. That’s the beauty of Bullet Journals – they can change and adapt as you go.

For now I think that’s it as far as my basic set-up is concerned. What I am definitely going to add are Collection Pages of my crochet WIPs, and the books on my University reading list. I can also see a page (or several) with note-worthy quotes happening, as well as a section that records my University progress, important dates, grades, etc. Individual projects that are limited to a certain time span can get their own pages too, like vacation planning, for instants. I am sure things will add themselves as needed as I go, and some will fade out again when I see that they are of no actual use. I am quite excited for April to roll around, so I can get started in earnest! I am so glad that my co-worker friend alerted me to the existence of this ingenious system!

Do you use a Bullet Journal? If you do – I’d love to see how you do it. And if I piked your interest and you are going to start one yourself – I’d love to see your approach as well.

 

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