Step by step guide to starting your own Bullet Journal
I love keeping everything organized, and crossing things off a list has an unique effect over my self-esteem.
But at some point I felt I needed a better system than the plain old things-to-do lists in my agenda. You sometimes just tend to skip some of the tasks, and once you flip a few pages you can pretend they were never there in the first place. No guilty feeling haunting you, but still you can’t really talk about productivity, can you?
So while surfing the web I came across the idea of a bullet journal, many of you might have heard of it. It seemed like a system that would really work for me, so I decided to give it a try.
I was a little bit confused at the beginning, not knowing exactly where to start, and how to set up different sections. I figured a step by step guide could give you some inspiration if you’re planning to start your own bullet diary.
1. Pick a notebook/agenda
Size and cover are important!
Choose a cover with a nice happy color or an interesting and catchy pattern – it should definitely be one that you love seeing, that inspires you and that you enjoy using.
Paper quality is also something you should consider. Good quality paper gives such a nice visual and tactile feeling.
Go for a sturdy notebook. You don’t have to spend a fortune on it, but you also don’t want the pages to fly away.
Size is also something you should choose carefully – it should be small and light enough so you can easily carry it around – and not find excuses to leave it lying somewhere, but also large enough so you can fit all the content you need, and not having to barely squeeze 3 words on a single line.
I find that any size that fits between these 3 is just perfect. I first started with the smallest size, because I just happened to have that beautiful little pocket notebook at home. I got it as a gift and always thought it was too pretty to “ruin” it with some messy and chaotic notes. So it just seemed like the perfect candidate for the job at the time.
I enjoy using it, and being so small it’s really easy to take it literally everywhere, but sometimes I do feel the need for a little bit more space on the page. When I finish this one, I will definitely move up one size.
I actually think the ideal size is the middle one (the black notebook), but you can also use the larger one, depending on your preferences. I think the yellow one is really suitable for a pregnancy or travel journal.
2. Start with an INDEX page
The first few pages of you’re notebook should contain an index – a glance at the entire content. That provides flexibility and makes it really easy to find things that you’re looking for, later on. Of course, that goes hand in hand with having your pages numbered. You can either do this yourself, as you fill your notebook, or you can choose from the start a notebook that has the pages already numbered, like the highly appreciated Leuchtturm 1917.
Also on the first left side page you can keep a list of useful symbols and abbreviations that you will use.
Start with a preview of the entire month, so it’s easier to have the complete picture of the events that are coming up this month. Then, for each day write down your to-do list. This is where you get to play with the bullet journal concept. The whole idea is to use a special set of symbols that make it easy to keep all different kind of tasks in order, and your life happy and organized.
You can find more about the bullet journal system and Ryder Carroll, its creator on http://www.bulletjournal.com/.
But for a quick summary, these are the symbols I use:
- empty square – to do task
- filled square – completed task
- an arrow over a square – means that task hasn’t been completed and it’s being moved. The rule is that you should immediately write it down again on the following day, or the day of the week that you decide you will take care of it. This way you don’t just leave it behind, and you can move as many times as you want, until you finally get it done.
- an empty circle – is an event taking place on that day
- a bullet or a full circle – notes and thoughts
- a little eye – things you should look up
You can also add little stars in front of really important things, to emphasize them.
You can also use your bullet journal to keep lists. These come separately of the monthly planner, and using your index you can always get back to them really easily. Topics can include:
– Books you want to read and movies you want to see – possibly including short reviews
– House chores
– Workout tracker – For example, I mark each day I workout with a special code – a little bullet if I went to gym, a triangle if I worked out at home, a P for Pilates and a Y for Yoga. Find the system that works best for you.
– Birthday presents for your loved ones
– Wish lists
And whatever else you can think of.