How To: Bullet Journal
Sarah, one of our current M.C.Pressure interns and Flagler College Senior, sits down to describe her organizational obsession: Bullet Journaling.
Every New Year I make a resolution to get more organized. I tried everything to make that goal stick, but nothing worked for me. When I first saw bullet journaling I thought it was a glorified planner. It appealed to me exactly 0%. But one day on a creative bender. I grabbed a notebook and put it to use sorting my life out. It worked because I needed an organizational method that I could grow with. Most traditional planners were something I had to be immediately an expert at. I’m customizing my journal to exactly what I need. It keeps me more motivated to stay on track and I will preach their praises to anyone who will listen.
Find Your Notebook
Contrary to everything you see on Instagram, you don’t need to invest in a Moleskine or a Leuchtturm. Find one that makes sense for you.
When I went in for my first day at M.C.Pressure, I picked up their Hidden Agenda Notebook. It was the perfect notebook; the pages didn’t bleed, were large enough to fit everything, and small enough to carry around. Also, the pages are blank which gives me complete control and creativity.
Start the Set-Up
The first page you’ll want to work on is the most boring, but also the most crucial: the index. It’s a WIP page you fill in while completing the journal. Write a list of what’s happening on each page. It all goes here: monthly expense trackers, weekly logs, even succulent doodles. No judgements.
Once that’s out of the way, you can start you first month! I like to develop a theme, dedicating the right page to the name of the month with some sort of drawing. On the left page, I’ll draw a small monthly calendar. This is an easy reference to figure out which dates fall on which days. I’ll even write a keyword below it for things like appointments or weddings.
Next, I like to make the next two pages big ol’ trackers. The most pressing concerns I have are tracking my mood and expenses. I have a simple color-coded key at the bottom. I have five emotions that I assign to a different color and use that color-coding system to fill in my design. It eventually leaves a beautiful drawing at the end… even if my mood wasn’t so great. An expense tracker is where I log my inputs and outputs. It’s helpful to make sure I’m sticking to a budget.
Break it Down
Every Sunday I use my spare time to set up a daily log for the week. I’ll fit the whole week, Monday through Sunday, onto a two page spread. For each day I’ll include things like appointments, homework, or to-dos.
The most important part of making sure my week stays organized it a task key:
◯ An empty circle is an unfinished task.
⬤ A filled in circle is a completed task.
→ An arrow through circle means the task moved to another day.
♡ A heart is for a memory I want to remember. If my boyfriend Jon brings me flowers out of nowhere or if I had an especially good critique in class- I'll remember.
⃞ A square is for events and appointments.
! An exclamation point is next to tasks and appointments to signify that it is extra important.
Keep a small Next Week section where you can make notes of upcoming events and tasks. This way, you can get a head start on preparing for it.
Don’t Let It Get Daunting
So many bullet journals look like the Pinterest or Instagram gods created it themselves. Yours doesn't need to look like that at first- or at all! Don’t go searching for bullet journal inspo until you have figured out a method that works for you. Then build from there. You might find that you’d rather opt for a weekly planner instead of a calendar. Or you might hate tracking your mood and instead want to track sleep and exercise. Bullet journals are fluid and change as often as you need them to, so don’t be afraid to experiment and see what works!
Bullet journaling isn’t like traditional organization- that’s one of the best parts! Instead, they're braindumps that you might want to reference in the future. These are collections pages and can be about anything. A checklist of books to read or Netflix shows to binge. Master grocery lists so that you always have the essentials stocked in your home. Or even future bullet journal pages ideas of your own. Make a collection page if you're wanting to dabble with hand lettering and doodles. One of my favorite collections is a master list of self-care rituals that I know work for me. That way, when I'm feeling down, I can flip to it and see what I need at the moment.
I carry my Hidden Agenda everywhere in case I find a couple of spare minutes. I'll draw or cross out completed tasks. This eliminates any chance of me going, "oh shit my ad design project is due tomorrow and Megan's birthday is the next day!!!" Instead, it’s relaxing putting in the time to draw it all and know that I’m sorting my life out while I do it.
Do you have any bullet journaling tips you can share with us? Write us in the comments below!