Bullet Journaling 101

Written by: Carla De Guzman/Sunday, Jul 23, 2017 09:13 AM

As a self-confessed planner addict, I have to admit that bullet journals have a very particular appeal for my inner organizer. Humans are born with the innate need to try and organize their chaos-filled lives, and if I can do that with matching pretty lettering and an assortment of pens, I am in!

 

What is a bullet journal and why would I want to start one?

What’s the difference between a bullet journal and a planner I hear you ask? Well, as it turns out, it can be both. Imagine a single notebook that combines the functions of a to-do list, a planner and a diary all in one.

The word ‘bullet’ in the journal means bullet points, where you can just list down anything that pops into your head—personal notes, office to-dos and future plans. You use different symbols to organize these seemingly random notes. You can also set up pages that track certain activities over time—books bought vs. books read (because you know you want to try to control that TBR pile) or events that you want to remember. 

 

No More Fixed Layouts!

So why a bullet journal? It has its benefits, of course. The best being that it’s customized for what you need. Not one person lives the same life.

You may be juggling work and managing requirements and schedules for graduate school. I try to juggle keeping track of work tasks, tracking my writing goals, and managing my to-be-read pile. Even if your needs change from month to month, even week to week, changing up the planner’s format is easy as pie. 

 

Bullet Journal for Mental Health

Psychologists have said that while the bullet journal system can be complex, it has the great benefit of allowing you to “externalize your memory.” In a sense, you’re freeing up brain space you would have used to remember one thing by writing it down.

Instead of trying to repeat items to yourself and remembering things, the journal acts like your extended brain, keeping track of menial tasks, or maybe holding on to particular emotions that you don’t want to deal with for the moment. 

 

YOU'LL NEED:

- A dotted/lined/blank notebook (whichever you prefer, really)

- Pens and markers

- Washi tapes, stickers, and other things you'd like to include in your layout

 

THE BASICS

One of the best things about bullet journaling is that you don't have to stick to any particular format. You can choose which components you'd like to use in your journal, and you're good to go. Here are the basic parts of a bullet journal which you can use to start a simple layout:

 

Index

Set aside 1-2 pages of your journal for your index or table of contents where you can plug in the main sections of your journal as you go along, just to keep track of where things are. This will gradually fill up as you figure out what you want to place in your bullet journal, so it's okay to leave this blank at first!

Index-(1).jpg

 

Future Log / Complete Monthly Overview

This is basically just a calendar for the year. Beside each month, you can note big events such as birthdays, reunions, and holidays.

Monthly-Overview.jpg

 

Special Pages

Because it's a customized journal, you can allot pages for things such as:

your fitness goals

books to buy/read

a bucket list for the year

mental health logs

savings/expenses per month

favorite quotes

Goals.jpg

 

The Bullets

Of course, the heart of the bullet journal lies in its bullets. Also called key symbols, these are what you use to mark your to-do list. Remembering what to use can be tricky at first but will be super handy once you get used to it. To help you get started, create a cheat sheet for your desired key symbols. Feel free to use symbols suited to your activities and lifestyle.

tasks.jpg

 

Monthly and Daily Logs

Your monthly and daily logs are where you can simply write the date and list down your to-dos, notes, and appointments. The best thing about this is that unlike a traditional planner, bullet journaling won't waste space if you have nothing to log on a particular day.

daily-log.jpg

 

Ready to get started? Let’s get journaling!

 

About Carla De Guzman
Carla de Guzman is the author of self-published books Cities, Marry Me Charlotte B! and We Go Together. She loves to travel, coming home to her dog Kimchi and spending her weekends having dinner with her crazy family by day. By night, she’s writer and an artist, spending her midnights at her desk. Follow her on Instagram (@somemidnights) for more!
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