I discovered the Bullet Journal just over a year ago and I was instantly hooked. I’ve always struggled with dated diaries because if I missed a day I’d feel guilty whenever I would see that blank page. And I’d always miss days. I also found I wanted to note down more than just a to-do list and upcoming events but couldn’t quite find a way to do it all in one place. I’ve dabbled with notebooks, year diaries, journals, notepads, the notes app on my phone and the Filofax, but they all had their downfalls and I’d eventually stop using them. Then I found the Bullet Journal…
What is a Bullet Journal?
The concept of bullet journaling was created by Ryder Carroll as an easy and effective organisation method. This video explains what it is and the basics of how to set up a Bullet Journal really well. There are several key pages in a Bullet Journal: the index, the future log, monthly log, daily log and collections. These pages are the foundation of the system, but really how you use it is up to you, which is what I love the most.
The most popular Bullet Journal is a dotted book with numbered pages, but I’ve seen people make it work with a squared book, plain sketchbooks and lined notebooks. I highly recommend using the dotted Leuchtturm 1917, it is the most common Bullet Journal for good reason and it’s what I use. The most important thing is to make sure the pages are numbered. This makes it easy when creating your index and finding where you’ve put certain notes, logs etc.
The Future Log
The Bullet Journal doesn’t have each month already set up like a typical dated diary. In fact, nothing is already set up, leaving the pages blank for you to decide what to do with them. For that reason, we have the Future Log. This is where you can see the year at a glance and note down upcoming events, birthdays, projects etc. I love that it’s all in one place and you can quickly see what’s happening in your year. This is great if you run a business as you can easily see which are your busiest months so that you can plan when to start new projects. Or if you want to plan a holiday, you can see when you have the most free-time. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the Future Log is great for erm… future planning lol.
For my Future Log, I divide each page into 3 months and make a mini calendar for each month so that I can easily see which day the important dates fall on. I’ve left space at the top to write down the month names in a brush calligraphy style, but I’m not quite confident enough yet to put pen to paper. You’ll see other places in my Bullet Journal where I’ve practised brush calligraphy and I am still very much a beginner. I’ve opted for a vertical layout so that I can write as much or as little as I need and I can extend the lines downwards if my months are particularly busy and I need more space.
I got the idea for this layout from Journalspiration. She creates the most beautiful minimal style layouts with a hint of decoration and calligraphy, which is how I like to use my Bullet Journal. There are lots of people who decorate their journals with wonderfully creative sketches, drawings and stickers and use an array of coloured pens, but that’s just not my style. That’s the beauty of Bullet Journals, you can make it as creative or as simple as you like. Have a look at #BulletJournal on Instagram for inspiration on how to set up and decorate your pages.
The Monthly Log
This page is pretty self-explanatory; it is your month at a glance. Ryder Carroll sets up his monthly log as a vertical list with the dates down one column, and what’s coming up down the other. However, I really like to visually see a calendar so that is how I set up my own Monthly Log. To give me enough space, I spread my calendar across two pages and jot down any tasks or events that are happening on certain days. On the righthand side, I like to note any tasks that I have to do that month but don’t necessarily have a set date, as well as any goals for that month and events that might not fit in my calendar.
This layout works really well for me and I’ve stuck with it since I started bullet journaling. I do like to dabble with a bit of brush calligraphy when I’m writing out my month names. I’m very new to calligraphy and have a lot to learn still, but I enjoy the fun element it brings to my pages. I’m not ashamed to admit that I watch YouTube videos of people setting up their Bullet Journal spreads and I’m in awe of how effortless they make calligraphy look. One day that will be me, friends, one day.
The Weekly Log
Once you have your month overview, you can break it down into your Weekly Logs. This spread isn’t actually something that Ryder Carroll created, but I’ve seen it done by several people in the Bullet Journal community and it appealed to me more than the Daily Log. I like seeing an overview of my week so that I can plan which tasks to do on each day ahead of time. I’ll typically sit down on a Sunday and plan my week ahead using this Weekly Log. I only draw one week at a time, instead of drawing out all 4 weeks, to give me the flexibility to log anything else if needed. Say I had a project on that week and needed space to brainstorm, or wanted to write out a grocery list, then I can do it immediately after that Weekly Log instead of a few pages away. I don’t use Daily Logs as I find I have all the space I need in the Weekly Log.
This layout hasn’t really changed since I started bullet journaling either. I spread my week across two pages, giving more space to Saturday and Sunday as they’re usually my busiest days in terms of tasks to get done. On the left, I’ll write the name of the month and the dates that week falls on. A recent thing I’ve started doing is writing down an inspirational quote as I love a good quote and it gives me a nice boost whenever I look at my Weekly Log. Underneath that, I note down my step and calorie count for each day which I record via my Nokia Steel HR watch. As I am on a weight loss journey, I just like to see my activity levels at a glance and if I’ve not hit my step goal one day, then it motivates me to be more active the next day.
The space on the right is for any tasks that need to be done that week but don’t have a specific day. At first, I would try and plan all my tasks into days but quickly found it overwhelming and if I didn’t get a task done on that day then I’d feel guilty, even though it wouldn’t matter if it got done the next day, just as long as it got done that week. This week was a particularly quiet week for me so that space is empty, but it’s usually filled with wedding and blog tasks, such as vendors to email and which blog pictures to take. Underneath that, I have space for tasks and events that I’ll have in the upcoming weeks for that month. These are usually recorded in my Monthly Log, but I like to keep them here too for a quick reference. Anything upcoming in the next month will go into the Future Log, waiting until I set up the next month’s spread.
Now for me, Collections are the fun part of bullet journalling and what makes it so unique. These turn my Bullet Journal from a regular diary into my life organiser. I use my Bullet Journal to organise my personal life, my blog, my wedding planning, my goals and my wellness and I do all this and more with Collections. I have several Collections at the start of my Bullet Journal which are ones that I will reference and will stay relevant throughout the year. These are:
- My goals for the year
- 30 things I have already achieved in my life
- 30 things I want to achieve before I turn 30
- My period tracker (tmi?)
- My workout tracker
- My monthly body measurements
- My monthly blog stats
- My wedding planning to-dos
- My wish lists eg: books to read, things to buy etc
- Restaurants to visit
- Things to do in London
- My vision ‘board’
Then after my Monthly Logs and before my Weekly Logs, I’ll create more collections that are only relevant to that month. You can see an example of these types of Collections in the picture above. These do change month-to-month, depending on what I want to focus on, but ones I’ll typically have every month are:
- Habit tracker
- Gratitude log (pictured)
- Blog schedule (pictured)
- Monthly favourites
Collections are really versatile and can be anything you want them to be. Other Collections I’ve dabbled with in the past are meal planners, master grocery lists, a capsule wardrobe list, items I’ve been sent to review and whether I’ve photographed and written about them, blog post ideas, packing lists and more. There is so much you can do with Collections to really make your Bullet Journal your own. Let me know if you’d like a blog post on ideas for Collections you can put into your journals.
My Bullet Journal Kit List
I keep the things I need for my Bullet Journal to a minimum so that it’s less to carry round and I like to keep my layouts quite minimal. Of course the Bullet Journal itself. I did use the official Bullet Journal Leuchtturm at first and it was handy having a guide on how to use it at the back, so if you’re just getting started then I’d recommend getting this one. However I know my way around the Bullet Journal now so the regular Leuchtturm 1917 is just fine. I love the Muji Gel Ink pens as they don’t show through the page too badly. I use black in 0.38 and a light blue in 0.5. The Pilot G-Tec C4 in black is also a nice writing pen. I use the Pilot Frixion to highlight in soft green, which is pretty close to my blog colour which makes me really happy. The Tipp-Ex Correction Pens have saved me from mistakes a few times so always keep one handy. Other than that, I just use pencils, a rubber and a ruler. Nice and simple!