My bullet journal is one of my favourite things ever. If you keep up with my monthly goals and update posts, you’ll know I give myself a lot to do. I love organising things and I love colour-coding, and with my amount of work both are necessary.
My bullet journal helps me do both without losing my mind.
In today’s post, I break down exactly how I use my bullet journal to organise my rather busy life and stay sane. I have other pages too, but these are the ones that help me the most.
My spreads are simple because I can’t draw to save my life and because I don’t have the time to over-complicate things. If the pages below look pretty or artistic, it’s all thanks to washi tape*.
I recommend you keep reading or scroll down now to the Q&A at the end. They’re all questions readers have asked me on social media about the bullet journal. I hope they’ll answer any questions you might have, but if they don’t ask away! 🙂 Tea and cookies await <3
*Honestly though, ALL HAIL WASHI TAPE
Please note: This post uses affiliate links. This means that, if you make a purchase through one of the links below, I may earn a small commission. I honestly love the bullet journal and the products I use with it. Everything in this post is a personal, tried-and-tested recommendation from me <3
My Bullet Journals
I’m VERY picky when it comes to my stationery, especially my notebooks. They need to be right for their projects, I can’t use just any notebook.
You’ll be using your bullet journal for a while, so pick one you won’t get tired off after a week.
My two favourites are the original bullet journal, the Leuchtturm 1917, and every notebook by Paperchase. Let’s take a look at why these make great bullet journals:
The Leuchtturm 1917 is THE bullet journal. Its pages are already numbered, the table of contents is already drawn in, and they have a little flap in the back for your stationery *barfs rainbows*. It was literally created for this purpose!
My current bullet journal is a Leuchtturm (or rather, my current two since I’ve combined two to make one super journal).
What I love about them is that you can get them dotted, lined, plain, or squared, in every colour of the rainbow, whatever your preference. Dotted pages make it much tidier in my opinion, so it’s an easy favourite of mine.
BUT the pages are thin, so your ink is bound to bleed at least a little. If you think you’ll do a lot of drawing or painting, I don’t recommend it because I don’t think the pages can handle it.
My other favourite is every notebook by Paperchase. It’s my first stop for all things stationery, and my first bullet journals were from them.
Chances are, my next ones will be from Paperchase again too, since their paper quality is much better. AND the last notebook I bought from them was dotted*, so that’s another plus!
Ultimately, the notebook doesn’t matter. Just pick one you like, and remember you can always go with something different with your second bullet journal!
* a rarity outside the Leuchtturm 1917, for some reason. Yay Paperchase!
My monthly log consists of one double page–one page for a calendar and specific appointments and meet-ups, and one page for my goals.
I’ve tried many different designs over the years but this one works best for me. It’s simple, it’s quick and easy to draw, and there’s plenty of space for my to-do list and important dates.
As an author and bookworm, I wanted a spread where I could see every book I own and colour them in as I read them. I know Goodreads essentially does the same thing, but I like colouring? *shrugs*
It’s also the most intricate thing I’ve drawn for my bullet journal. If a list is more your thing, go ahead!
To be honest with you, this is the spread I fall behind on the most. I try to colour in the books I’ve read at the end of every month, but sometimes I’m busy or I forget.
The beauty of that is that it doesn’t matter. Unlike a habit tacker, you’ll likely remember which books you’ve read by the time you get around to it. It’s not like, say, trying to remember whether you worked out or drank enough water every day from three months ago to today.
I have another notebook too, where I write down every book I’ve read (sorted by year), how many stars I gave it, and whether it landed on my Forever Shelf*.
Again, Goodreads does the same thing, but I’m a control freak and it relaxes me.
*It’s a special shelf where only my absolute favourites go. Books need to inspire me to be a better writer to earn a place there. In my notebook, books on this shelf are marked with a heart.
This is a new thing for me. I tried keeping gratitude logs before but never stuck with them. There’s something daunting about having to write down something you loved every day of the month!
So, I trimmed it down and recycled my old weekly spread. Instead of goals and daily tasks, I write down things that made me happy every day.
Technically, it’s still writing down something every day of the month, but since I have four weekly logs with six* spaces it doesn’t look as intimidating as one log with thirty.
That way, there’s also space for me to draw what I loved rather than write words every day. If I were more artistically inclined I just might, but you might prefer it!
*My weekends count as one for space reasons.
While I don’t have day-to-day weeklies, I do have weekly to-do lists. As with everything else in my bullet journal, I keep it basic:
The colours refer to various parts of my business (black is for everything general), so I can see at one glance whether it’s an editing heavy week or one for my own books.
Colour-coding is LIFE, friends!
I’ve seen some complicated ideas for this. For those of you who are completely new to bullet journalling: your key is an overview at the beginning of your journal which tells you which symbols you use for which events.
You can use as many symbols as you want. Naturally, I kept mine small.
The only things I worry about are:
The last point is a new addition. I had quite a few tasks which were completed on my end but I had to wait for other people to do their bits, so I couldn’t tick them off. I use a squiggly line for tasks like that.
I suggest you keep your key simple–new tasks, completed tasks, abandoned tasks, and priorities will do!–and then add to it if you feel it needs more.
My key may look like a lot, but most of these are symbols I added later, because I realised they were missing and important to my routine.
Don’t feel guilty when you abandon a task. There are all kinds of reasons for this, and often it’s not your fault or waiting is the better option for now. Don’t beat yourself up over the crosses <3
It’s not because you’re lazy, it’s because other tasks are more important–and abandoning a task one week doesn’t mean you’ll never come back to it! Your priorities are different right now, and that’s fine.
VERY Basic Habit Trackers
I’ve seen monthly habit trackers with twenty+ habits when I started my first journal. I tried that and I failed miserably–I don’t think I saw one of my three poor attempts through to the end of the month.
It’s too much to track every day, and–and I’m going to sound super lazy here–it’s too much work drawing that small, easy table every month.
Instead, I use three simple trackers for my water intake, hours slept, and days exercised. Each tracker covers the entire year and can be drawn up in a minute. Mostly because there’s no drawing involved*.
*You’re welcome, you busy bee!
They’ll also look too pretty at the end of the year not to.
I’ve always been dehydrated, but I drink more now just so I can add another blue square. I hate exercise, but I work out more so my tracker doesn’t look abandoned*.
And yes, I stay in bed a little longer sometimes to add a bit of variety to all that red.
If you’re a busy bee but want to track a thing or two, I highly recommend this method.
*when there’s no cruel heat wave melting me every time I breathe, that is. Also, I only added the yoga option yesterday, which is why it looks unloved.
What I DON’T Use
I can’t for the life of me get on with the content pages. The theory is that you can find anything you might need to come back to easily, because you record everything in a table of contents.
While it’s not complicated as such, it’s time consuming, and as I’ve already mentioned I don’t have a lot of that to spare. So my contents pages go unloved.
I used to worry about this and backtrack a hundred pages or so because Cheese Lord Almighty forbid my content pages weren’t complete. The reason I stopped caring is because it’s a journal, not a cancer screening. It’s supposed to be fun and relaxing, not stressful.
If there’s a page I’ll likely need to get back to, I’ll put some sticky tape or washi tape in it and BAM, instant bookmark.
If any part of your journal is stressful for you, stop doing it. The freedom is yours, friend.
The other thing I stopped using was day-by-day weekly spreads. Controversial, I know, but it was too much work. I have a weekly spread as seen above, but space for every single day? No thank you.
They just rub it in more when you can’t stick to your daily goals for whatever reason. Flexible weekly goals will do just fine!
Something Doesn’t Work?
Change it! Your bullet journal can be whatever you need it to be. Sometimes, we start promising spreads which don’t work out for us. That’s fine. Your bullet journal is as flexible as you need to be. If something doesn’t work, don’t do it again or find something that works better.
Bullet Journal Q&A
I’ve been journalling for a while, so I took to social media to consider your questions on top of my own recommendations. Below are my answers to your questions–anonymous as promised, of course! <3
My only real hesitation about using a bullet journal is I have all my events in a google calendar. The process of moving everything over scares me a little too.
Perhaps you don’t need to move anything? Your bullet journal is so much more than just another calendar. In fact, it doesn’t need to be a calendar at all! You can keep all your events in your google calendar, and then use your bullet journal for the days in between, planning the steps you need to take for each event and other things you need to organise 😉
That way, you can still use your BuJo to organise things without having to move a single thing!
I never know when/where to list tasks.
You can list tasks anywhere you want. The beauty of the bullet journal is that there’s no wrong way of doing anything. I suggest you try it one way–any way–and then you’ll adjust accordingly.
If not having any restrictions is too much freedom, start by copying me: set aside two pages for the new week on the Monday, write your goals on the left, and leave the right page free for any notes 😉
If I have a task I write down for Monday, but I don’t do it, do I move it to Tuesday?
Absolutely! I’ve given up on setting daily tasks a while ago because it was too much pressure, but that’s what I do with unfinished weekly tasks.
If there’s something I didn’t accomplish in one week, I add a > to migrate it to the following week. I add >> if I’ll do it at least two weeks later, so >> in my journal means ‘could be in two weeks, could be next month’.
Of course, you can add whatever symbol you want! As long as it’s clear to you, you’re good. You could draw an arrow from the task to the day you’ll do it on now, or you cross it out and write it again into the new slot.
Whatever works for you is perfect!
I love the idea of bullet journals but I find starting one overwhelming. I don’t know how to launch one in an organised fashion.
I love starting a new bullet journal, but then I’m a control freak *shrugs*
These are the first pages I add to every bullet journal:
- my key (Leave room for changes! You’ll likely add something and stop using other symbols as you go.)
- yearly calendar with plenty of room for important dates! I give this at least two pages, but you can spread it out over more.
- my yearly goals with room for notes.
- my bookshelves to be coloured in as I go.
And that’s it! The first thing I usually add after that is my goals for that week.
If there are other essentials you need, add them at the beginning too – they’ll be easier to find later 😉 Many people have trackers for their finances or travel goals, for example, but the above are my essentials.
It can be done in any journal, right? Or is best to get the official bullet journal?
I’m using the official bullet journal at the moment, but you can use any journal you want! I prefer dotted pages because it makes everything tidier, but not many places seem to sell those.
Paperchase is the only other place where I found a dotted notebook.
The original Leuchtturm 1917 is great but the pages are a little thin. If you’re planning on doing a lot of drawing or painting, I recommend Paperchase as their notebooks tend to have thicker paper 🙂
Any more questions? Ask away! <3
What’s your favourite thing about your bullet journal? Make a tea, and let me help you get organised!
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