I’m really keen to share a new obsession I have, Bullet Journalling.
Around two years ago a customer came into my old shop White & McLeod, on Woburn Sands High Street, and asked if we had any notebooks suitable for Bullet Journalling. I had never heard this term before, so the customer gave me a brief outline of the principles, which to be honest I didn’t really get. Initially, it just sounded like a run of the mill to do list. I couldn’t see what was so revolutionary about this system. I showed her some very pretty notebooks that we stocked, but they were either the wrong size or didn’t have the dotted pages she was looking for. (More on dotted notebooks later).
As a person who has tried numerous systems of organisation, and who regularly has two or three to do lists on the go at one time (and each of those will have several sub lists!), I felt a bit superior to be honest. My Mum often jokes with me about my tendency towards zealous organisation, and my catchphrase whenever I have a big project on is ‘Get a Grip, Get a Graph!’ so I was convinced that the Bullet Journal system had nothing to offer me.
How wrong I was!
Despite my smug delusions, I eventually got round to watching the introduction to Bullet journalling on You Tube by its creator Ryder Carroll. What a revelation. I was so excited I had to start straight away. Ryder’s Bullet Journals are very clean and simple. This has many benefits, but if like me you enjoy something more elaborate thats OK too. There are thousands of people posting pictures of amazing illustrations and graphs all over the internet. Both extremes of the Bullet Journalling method are useful and you can switch between the two as often as you like, or stay somewhere in the middle. It’s your Bullet Journal, there is no correct way, only the one you are happy with.
I’m not going to describe in detail how to Bullet Journal here. Its been done a million times and I would strongly recommend you watch the Ryder Carroll introduction which explains things in a simple and straightforward way. For me, the seven key elements which make the Bullet Journal system work so well have to be;
- The Index – Each Bullet Journal has numbered pages and an index at the front where you record what you use each page for. Of course this is a brilliantly simple and logical idea, but it had never occurred to me to do this before. No more notes and lists scattered throughout the pages of various notebooks and journals. No more spending time trying to find something I wrote down months ago which is now lost in a sea of my scribbles and jottings. I am convinced indexing alone has improved my productivity ten fold.
- The Flexibility – There are very few rules to follow and even those can be adapted to suit your needs. I no longer search stationery shops for the perfect diary. I just make it myself in my Bullet Journal. Normally, I like an A5 size with a week over two pages. But lets face it, some weeks and days require much more space when you have big projects on the go. With a Bullet Journal I can decide how much space I give to a particular day or week and I often change my mind and try a new layouts just for the fun of it. You can chop and change as much as you like.
- Everything in One Place – Having just one main notebook means I know where everything is and I can take it with me wherever I go.
- Analogue system in a Digital Age – There is something so pleasing about putting pen to paper. As more and more aspects of our lives are organised and viewed online, Bullet Journalling is a refreshing and exciting change.
- Boost in creativity – There are so many ideas for improving your layouts, spreads and trackers on platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram. Check out the Flourish BuJo Board on Pinterest here.
- Mindfulness – Designing and colouring in the pages of a Bullet Journal feels very mindful. It’s a wonderful combination of a to do list and a therapeutic colouring book.
- Wonderful Mistakes – In the past I have had a very silly tendency to buy beautiful notebooks which I am scared to write in because I will spoil them. With Bullet Journalling there are no mistakes. If I spell something incorrectly, or put it in the wrong place, I just cover it up with some pretty washi tape (see January in my year calender below), or turn the whole page into something else. It often looks better for it. 😀
Along with the genius Ryder Carroll who has even done a Tedx Talk at Yale on Bullet Journalling, one of my favourite blogs for inspiration is Boho Berry with the lovely Kara Benz. A good starting point is Kara’s You Tube channel. I particularly liked this flip through for beginners. Kara’s journal is beautifully decorative and the polar opposite to Ryder’s clean and simple approach.
A top tip whilst watching any You Tube tutorial is to adjust the speed settings using the cog that appears in the bottom right hand corner when you are adjusting the volume.
I find 1.5 is usually still slow enough to understand but means you can listen to a half hour tutorial in two thirds of the time. Result!
So there are the basics. I hope you feel inspired to go off into the interweb and explore more bullet journalling ideas for yourself.
My final tip is to get a journal with dotted pages if you can. This makes it easier to space your content out evenly. Dots are horizontal and vertical and less obvious than lines or squares so are therefore much better for illustrations. My favourite journal for Bullet Journalling is the Leuchtturm 1917, 249 page, A5, dotted hardcover journal which is available from amazon in an array of gorgeous colours.
but I also use an A5 Filofax for a specific creative writing journal, and this works really well too. Here are a few more example pages from my Bullet Journal:
If you would like to join me at a Thursday Night Flourish when we have a go at Bullet Journalling, keep an eye on the Flourish Calender for the next session.
Have you already tried Bullet Journalling? How did you get on with it? Any good tips you can share? I’d love to read your comments below.