Starting a Bullet Journal

The human brain is wired to create order out of its surroundings. This ability to categorize helps make sense of and derive meaning from events. Establishing order contributes to achieving a sense of security and better prepares people for the future.

Even with the little things, order is important. That’s why people use planners and sticky notes: to make sure they do what they’re supposed to do and not forget important things. Planners and sticky notes don’t have the monopoly of organizing activities and schedules, however.

Bullet journals have become popular lately, and it’s not hard to see why. They look neat, and they exercise your creativity when you’re making the layout of your entries. They’re a planner, a diary, and a to-do list in one, and that’s convenient for many people.

One of the bullet journal’s many advantages is that you can customize the look and contents of your journal. You write only what you need to put on paper, or you can add more items to your list. You can make your own categories of what you need to track.

Materials

The first and most obvious thing you need is the notebook. You can use any notebook as long as it’s practical for you. It’s up to you if you want lined pages, although blank pages give you more flexibility in terms of making page layouts.

Paper quality and material will matter if you plan to hand-letter some things on your journal. Thick paper works best if you don’t want the ink to bleed through the pages. The binding is also a factor to consider in how you want to design the pages.

You need a pen to go with your paper, of course. You can use any pen you want, especially if you want to do some calligraphy or hand lettering. Having pens in different point sizes, point types, and colors add variety to the typography in your journal and to how tasks are categorized.

If you’re particular about what you write with, however, you can buy carbon fiber pens. They’re made of the same material as a Lamborghini and a space shuttle are, but these pens are lightweight, which makes for smooth and easy writing.

Design and Content

Start with the simple and significant details. The embellishments can come later when you’ve got the time and the energy for them. If you want elaborate designs on your journal, use a pencil to sketch them first.

There are so many ways you can make your journal interesting, but you don’t have to feel pressured to make your journal intricately designed. Don’t overthink your bullet journal either, as that defeats the purpose of creating one.

In making bullet journals, brevity is important. That’s why they’re called bullet journals in the first place. You write down things in bulleted lists to maximize paper space. That being the case, keep the phrases and sentences concise.

Markers

Markers are symbols you use to differentiate one item from another. You can make up your own system of codes and symbols. For example, you can use boxes to indicate tasks, check marks to indicate completed activities, or question marks for things you need to research. Before you start your journal, you should first put a legend of what your notations mean so that you don’t get confused along the way.

Index

The index of your bullet journal is just like a book’s index, chapter titles. What you list down, though, are the months and/or topics. In the index, you include page numbers, so you need to label your pages. Thumbing through the journal will be quicker when you have page numbers.

Future Log

The future log is a list of goals or tasks you need or want to accomplish within a specific period (e.g., six months, one year). Entries are organized according to month, and you don’t have to start with January. In fact, you can start with whatever month you’ve decided to make your bullet journal.

Schedules

A lot of bullet journals sort activities according to months, weeks, and days. Monthlies include a month calendar and monthly tasks/goals. Having a monthly calendar enables you to look at the bigger picture of what you are trying to accomplish.

If you’re unable to finish tasks from the previous month (as what happens occasionally when life or other things interfere), don’t worry. You can carry over these tasks to the next month. This concept is called migrating.

When you migrate items from last month, you also mark these down on the journal. If these items keep getting migrated, though, maybe you should reevaluate your decisions or plans.

Dailies have more specific details as to the schedule and management of tasks. They are a list of your to-dos for each day. Sometimes, they are comprised of individual little things that help you achieve your monthly goals.

If you think you have a better grasp of your schedule when you have these weekly markers, then you may include weeklies.

Lists

People have varied interests and priorities, so each person’s list, or collection, will be different. To-do lists are the most common, but you can also include a list of books you want to read, places you want to visit, or recipes you want to try.

A Few More Things

If you’re the type who loves to write and to make plans, a bullet journal is perfect for you. With it, you can set goals, track your habits, and jot down ideas, milestones, and observations.

When you’re keeping a bullet journal, the important thing is that you actually accomplish what you’ve written in your journal. If you don’t, then do that thing some other time or reconsider your plans. Your bullet journal is there to help you manage your time and your thoughts.