When I first started bullet journaling, one of the first hurdles that I had to conquer was the enormous question of “Where do I begin?” If you are new to bullet journaling, you are probably like me . . . you discovered this phenomenon online and went out and bought a journal and spent the time that it takes for the journal to be delivered looking at all the photos of incredibly beautiful pages and dreaming of making your own.
If you haven’t already watched it, this video explains the concept behind the bullet journal and is a great place to get started. When I started my first journal, I just wasn’t sure what pages will work for me. Over time, I began to realize that my journal is an ever evolving process. So my first big piece of advise is this: just start somewhere.
An easy place to start is the beginning pages of your journal. And if you didn’t buy a Leuchtturm, writing out page numbers. For me, I discovered that I can only write out 50 page numbers at a time before I begin to lose my mind. So I do it in shifts over a few days until I have the whole journal numbered.
The original bullet journal system starts with a key and an index. After my first book, I decided that I don’t need either of these. I would put them in your first journal but here’s why I didn’t add them after the first journal: I know my key and I don’t have that many different “bullets”. I have always liked to draw little boxes before any task or appointment and that’s how I’ve continued to do it in my bullet journal. I use an arrow through the box if I migrate it and that cover’s my bullets. As far as an index goes, I’ve set my journal up so that it’s pretty easy to find what I need and quite frankly, I enjoy browsing through my book to find something. I do save a page at the back of my journal to put a small index of things that I really want to find over and over. It’s plain and functional and I didn’t like having it at the front of my journal.
My second piece of advise is to take some time and figure out what works for you and what’s important. For me, it took time using my bullet journal daily to figure out what works for me. Do you need a daily page or would weekly work better for you? Or maybe you need both? I started with both, decided that I only needed daily and then revised this idea and now I’m doing a weekly spread. And by “what’s important” I mean figuring out the things that make bullet journaling a joy for you. For me, this is paper that doesn’t bleed and pages that are consistent. My first journal bled tremendously and it always sapped the joy out of the process. And while I really liked my pages individually, now that I’ve figured out the “look” that I want to go with, it has made my bullet journal process easier and I really like the way it looks. Which is another thing that is important to me.
So what’s important to you? Do you want a place to explore your artistic skills? Or do you want a minimalist bullet journal that is all function? Either way, you can make your bullet journal whatever you want it to be.
Here’s where I ended up with the journal that I just began setting up that I will begin using this week:
My first spread is a yearly look with holidays and birthdays listed. Each month, when I create my monthly spread, I use this spread to fill in the important dates for that particular month.
My second spread is what the bullet journal community calls a future log. I don’t like this term for some reason but here’s mine:
I have two spreads like this so that my future log will go out for a full year. Every 6 months (or new journal), I create a new set of 2 spreads. I really like having the calendar right there on the page. Otherwise, I’m constantly turning the page back and forth to the yearly spread. And here’s my third piece of advise: accept that you will make mistakes and love yourself anyway. As you can see from the spread above, I wrote one item twice and had to scratch it out. It’s taken me some time but my thought now is “Oh well, how can I move out of this one as easily as possible?” And so I scratch, and write “Ooops” or write what I orignally meant to write with the word “actually” after it above the mistake (if it’s in a header). I just set up all of my April weekly spreads and wrote March on 3 out of 5 of them. It happens. No one else will see it but me so what does it matter as long as I know what it is.
My third spread is my monthly spread. I tried a version of the official bullet journal where you just make a list of the days of the month but I truly enjoy drawing out the monthly spread and I like seeing my stuff laid out this way. I think it’s just ingrained in me to view a month like this.
Immediately following the monthly spread are the weekly spread for the entire month. This wasn’t something that I did at first and it really makes a difference to me on how my journal works for me. I want all of my weekly pages together so I set them up at the same time I set up my monthly spread. If I don’t have time to finish all of them, I use a post-it note to save the page so I don’t accidently end up adding something else on that empty page. I have a totally different system for my work life which involves many more tasks. My personal bullet journal is more of a place to record my day with a few to-dos thrown in. I like to doodle and I try to incorporate as many little drawings as I can. Because setting up a new journal takes a bit of time, I try to get all of this done before I move into adding in any collections
So there’s how I set up my bullet journal. Let me know if you have any questions about my process.