Bullet Journaling Essentials : What works (and what doesn't) // via SurelySimple.com

Bullet Journaling Essentials : How to get started!

Bullet Journaling Essentials : What works (and what doesn't) // via SurelySimple.comHey everyone! Today, we have Lyssy talking about the bare essentials of starting (and maintaining!) a bullet journal! What is a bullet journal and how do you start one? She discusses it in detail below! Take it away, Lyssy! -Aaria

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Bullet Journaling: Separating the Must-Haves from the PrettyBullet Journaling Essentials : What works (and what doesn't) // via SurelySimple.com

Hey! I’m Lyssy, and today, we’re talking bullet journal.

Bullet Journaling Essentials : What works (and what doesn't) // via SurelySimple.com

Bullet Journaling Essentials : How to get started!

What is a bullet journal?

I’m sure you’ve heard of this new-fangled technology: a pen and notebook sensation that has spawned a small ‘cult’ over the internet. But if you haven’t here’s what it is:

A bullet journal is a planner system developed by Ryder Carroll, who shared it with the internet in 2013. Contrary to what you see on Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube, it is actually an incredibly simple, minimalistic system. All you need is a pen and notebook — no need for fancy brands whatsoever.

But here’s the (best) thing about planning in a bullet journal: you can take the original idea, run with it, and tweak it to suit you. My bullet journal is my brain. After over 3 years with it, I can’t imagine life without one!

Bullet Journaling Essentials : What works (and what doesn't) // via SurelySimple.com

But can’t you just use any ol’ planner?

Maybe. But with printed paper planners, I was boxed into a specific space for each month, day, hour… I often had no space for things, or too much empty space. I had no room to make mistakes.

Bullet journaling solves that, because I get to create each and every page to my specifications. I don’t have to squeeze all my appointments for a day in a tiny box on my monthly calendar — I can change the layout to fit those appointments in. If I want to create a page to track my moods, I can do that too.

Whatever I want a page for, as long as I can create it, it will be in my planner.

The bullet journal works because I can tailor the notebook to me, instead of tailoring myself to the planner.

Bullet Journaling Essentials : What works (and what doesn't) // via SurelySimple.com

I’m sold! How do I get started with bullet journaling?

Awesome! All you need is a pen and notebook. I’m not kidding. I started bullet journaling when I was in Kathmandu in 2014. I’m notoriously picky about planners and I forgot to pack one for my 5 months away from home.

I know. I’m a genius. The bullet journal video was my lifesaver.

All I had was a lined notebook (I couldn’t find any dot grids) and your standard black and blue pens. And that was my first bullet journal — organising my way through that 5 months!

The fountain pens, brush markers, highlighters, coloured pens, stickers, washi… That all came much, much later.

I did go through a crazy decorating phase (you’ll see in a bit). But today? My everyday carry for bullet journaling contains my notebook, a ruler, a pencil, an eraser, a black Pentel Touch Sign, and a black pen. All the pretty and colour are secondary, and are either added before or after.

Bullet Journaling Essentials : What works (and what doesn't) // via SurelySimple.com

But what pages should I use in my bullet journal? There are so many out there!

If you’re here, you’ve probably done your bullet journal research, and seen #allthethings, and you want #allthethings. Guess what? Just as you didn’t need a ton of supplies, you don’t need to use all the spreads out there either!

There are two types of spreads in this world. There are the essential spreads, which most bullet journalists use, and then there are the ‘bells ’n’ whistles’ spreads — let’s call them the BNWS.

BNWS are cool. If one catches your eye, take it for a test drive for a week or a month. If it works for you, great! If it doesn’t… Well, that’s the beauty of the system. You can just abandon the page and not recreate it next month!

Start with the essential spreads.

When I started bullet journaling in 2014, I hadn’t found the online BuJo community yet, so all I had to go on was Ryder’s original video. And frankly, these 3 spreads are all you absolutely need!

1. Index

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An index is just a fancy way to say table of contents. Mine has barely changed over the years! I primarily use it to track down my collections. If you’re not using a Leuchtturm1917, which comes with an empty table of contents, just set aside 2-3 pages in the front for this and fill it up as you go along.

2. Monthly Log

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This is where the overwhelm begins! The classic monthly log is what I started with, and it worked great — I had a pretty set routine and got my assignments and schedule for work about a week or two in advance, tops.

If you’ve a relatively simple schedule, this will probably work for you!

Bullet Journaling Essentials : What works (and what doesn't) // via SurelySimple.com

Once I was back in school though, I needed long term planning, so I incorporated good ol’ calendar-style pages with the original. In some ways, the calendar served as a future log as well as a monthly log. But writing things down twice got tedious!

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(The long term planning went into a future log, which I’ll get to more in a bit later.)

3. Daily/Weekly Log

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In much the same way, my daily/weekly log has evolved. I started with the original daily and stuck to it for my first two years of journaling, then I switched over to a weekly instead. They are, essentially, very organised to do lists!

But dailies and weeklies are extremely customisable — as you may have seen on social media! For anything outside the original, I’d actually classify it as a BNWS. What’s that? Read on!

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The Bells ’N’ Whistles Spreads

  Bullet Journaling Essentials : What works (and what doesn't) // via SurelySimple.com

Bullet Journaling Essentials : What works (and what doesn't) // via SurelySimple.com

BNWS are pages that aren’t true necessities to a planner — it all depends on the user.

For example, my weeklies and dailies that you see above all have some form of time tracking in them. I’m big on tracking time spent! It keeps me productive, especially when I’m working from home.

But if you work in the front lines of the service industry, a time tracker will probably be absolutely useless — you’d be too busy working to track that work!

That being said, you never know till you give it a go!

So if a Bells ’N’ Whistles Spreads catches your eye, I encourage you to give it a shot. Don’t do it all at once, of course. Pick one or two and incorporate it into your journal for the month. See how you like it. If you hate it, just turn the page. If you love it, keep it!

And if you sort of like it but feel it could be better… Well, then tweak away, my friend! Tweak away!

What’s in my bullet journal?

You’ve seen the pieces, now you simply need to pick what suits you and put it together! To give you an taste, here’s a sampling of my current bullet journal (it’s my 7th!)

Since the system is so flexible, my bullet journal is a never-ending running experiment. Of the original, only the index remains. But there are a number of BNWS that quickly became ‘tried-and-true’s over time. Let me take you through it, and maybe you’ll get some inspiration for yourself!

1. Future Log

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I put my future log right after my index in all my bullet journals! Instead of having two pages to a month, I simplified it down to small traditional calendars — 8 months to a spread. It’s easy to reference, and I’ve space to scribble down future tasks and events. Digital calendars do not work for me!

2. Monthly Log

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Next up is my monthly log! While the monthly I showed you earlier is my tried-and-true,I decided to add some time tracking to it this month! The coloured stripe across the top signifies the hours of the day. I plan to track my time with the ATracker app, then shade it in here so I can see my productivity and sleep patterns!

As you can see, I’m a trifle obsessed with time tracking. A complete non-essential to others maybe. But it works for me.

3. Habit/Self Care Tracker

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This one you’ve probably seen before! I’ve found habit trackers incredibly stressful, but I do like the concept of tracking across a table.

I’m really bad at taking care of myself, so I created this tracker for my skincare and haircare especially! Since it isn’t necessary to fill it up completely, it’s a lot less stressful for me.

4. Budget (and other experimental pages)

My next essential-to-me spread is my budget — unfortunately, I started writing in the budget pages before I remembered I wanted to photograph it!

The budget was something I started after I realised that keeping tracking on my expenses through an app wasn’t working very well. When I had to do the math myself, it forced me to be more accountable. So I switched to a paper budget last November and never looked back.

After the budget, I usually put any monthly experiment pages I’d like to try. This month, it’s a Happy Log. It’s similar to a gratitude log, just that it’s writing one thing per day!

5. Weekly Log

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Once all the monthly pages are set up, I put in my weekly. I use a regular daily list for Saturdays and Sundays. On weekdays, I use a running list. It allows me to migrate tasks easily and also put a (near future) date to tasks.

The tasks are colour coded by category, but that’s more of a fun touch added after!

Bullet Journaling Essentials : What works (and what doesn't) // via SurelySimple.com

6. Random collections

The rest of my collections are started from the back of my Leuchtturm1917 instead of the front! That way, they remain easy to locate, instead of having me flipping through months of weeklies in the future. I’ve a pen pal tracker, my 25 Things To Do Before I Turn 25 list, my ABC dates list, packing lists, trip planning… The lists go on.

BWNS are only limited by your imagination.

If you have one, sketch it out. Pen it down. Try it out! If you don’t like it, discard!

Ultimately, the bullet journal is about creating a planner that functions well for you. If a plain minimalist planner gets you organised and you’re content, so be it! Function over pretty, I always say — as ironic as it may be for a letterer like me to say so!

But to be honest… When I’m truly out and about and planning, I usually only have one black pen out! And maybe a pencil 😉 That’s all I need to get my brain out on paper.

Will you give bullet journaling a chance to be your brain and manage your day?

Shop Lyssy’s bullet journal picks!

Thanks Lyssy for such an informative and enlightening post! See more of Lyssy’s work:

Bullet Journaling Essentials : What works (and what doesn't) // via SurelySimple.com

Bullet Journaling Essentials : What works (and what doesn't) // via SurelySimple.com

Bullet Journaling Essentials : What works (and what doesn't) // via SurelySimple.com

Bullet Journaling Essentials : What works (and what doesn't) // via SurelySimple.com

Bullet Journaling Essentials : What works (and what doesn't) // via SurelySimple.com

Connect with Lyssy:

IG: @lyssycreates

Website: www.lyssycreates.com

Shop: www.lyssycreates.com/shop/