Intro to Bullet Journaling

One of my favorite mindful activities is bullet journaling.  I have had an obsession with notebooks, writing utensils and stationary for my entire life, so finding a hobby that utilized all these lovely things was extremely appealing.  What I didn’t realize when I started in the craft, was how significantly it would help me stay organized and manage my ADD symptoms.
In bullet journaling, you are essentially combining all of your thoughts, finances, schedules, to-do lists, and miscellaneous life notes into a journal.  I have seen a few approaches to it.  I use multiple journals (one for work, one for my blog) and then compile each of these into one journal at the end of the week.  I do something called a ‘brain dump’ several times throughout the week, so it is necessary for me to bring all of that madness together at the end of each week.
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Benefits of Bullet Journaling
Remember, there is really no right or wrong way to bullet journal.  I am a part of several Facebook groups in the BuJo community, and everyone has a different approach.  Some get super fancy and decorative.  Some are amazingly artistic and some use a bullet journal to organize and prioritize in a minimalist and strictly functional way. It is supposed to make life easier for you, not more difficult, so don’t be pressured to do it any way that isn’t natural to you.
Here are some different ways you can benefit by having a bullet journal:
  • Everything is in one place – First of all, all your different to-do lists, schedules, and notes can be kept in a place where they can be revisited. A lot of bullet journals such as the Leuchtturm1917, come with an index so you can organize your topics or page spreads.
Bullet Journal
A shot of my contents page in my Leuchtturm1917 bullet journal.
  • It is easy to do – A bullet journal is also very easy to put together. All you need is a cup of coffee, a notebook and a pen to get started.  Some people chunk their Bujo’s into spreads by month, week and day.  I usually try to get a new notebook started at the beginning of a new week.  I create a weekly overview with my schedule and goals for that week and then brain dump on my daily pages.  At the end of the week, I go through each brain dump and create a weekly summary to organize my thoughts and prioritize my tasks for the following week.
  • Trackers and Trending – Since you are writing in the bullet journal daily, you are able to track your habits and see what needs to change. I have seen some awesome and really artistic trackers out there.  Mood trackers and weight trackers are really common.  I use an Instagram tracker so I can see the changes in my audience and followers week over week.  One of the fun ones I started recently was a Swimming Tracker.  My daughter and I set a goal at the beginning of the summer to go to the pool at least every other day.  I track our visits in my bullet journal so we can look back and see if we achieved our goal. (This has also helped with getting chores done and good behavior!)
  • List Making – I love making lists.  Not just to-do lists but all kinds of lists.  Most recently, I have started creating pages with a list header, noting the list title in my index, and then adding to these lists over time.  I have been doing this quite a bit for keeping track of my blog developments. Here is an example:
    Bullet Journal Blog Post Ideas
    Example of a List Header Page.
Choosing the Journal
There are a couple of things to consider when picking a journal.  My first bullet journal, I picked up from a local bookstore.  It was the only one I could find that had the dotted pages and wasn’t over $20.  It actually turned out to be a great journal.  The pages were thick which was a must have for me in the beginning.  It helped me easily cover any mistakes.  Journals with a lot of ghosting (or ink showing through the pages) can be unforgiving, so in the beginning, I would recommend getting a thicker page.
Also, look for one that can stay closed when needed, but when you open to individual pages, the spine isn’t so tight that it is hard to write in it.  Having the flexibility to bend the covers back on either side was a huge gain for me when I upgraded to my Leuchttrum1917.  Because of the quality of this Bujo, I can be more flexible with it and know its quality will withstand my frequent use.  I also really like the journals that come with pockets either in the front or the back.  You can store keepsakes here or travel souvenirs as you journal about your experiences.
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Components of a Bullet Journal
Here are some components to try and include in your bullet journal:
  • Index – Every bullet journal should preferably have an index. This lets you know where different sections of the journal are located, such as grocery and meal planning, or finances so you can easily locate them and add to them later. Being able to pull out an old bullet journal and quickly find what I’m looking for by checking the index has helped me stay organized and keep track of all of life’s projects.
  • Page numbers – Naturally, since you have an index, you also need to have page numbers. Some people like to create their own numbered pages.  For me, I need things ready to go out of the box. The less preparation I have to do, the faster I can get started. The Leuchtturm1917 comes just how I like it, with the pages already numbered.
  • Signifiers – Signifiers are symbols that you assign to different types of notes. I utilize signifiers by creating a shape for my tasks, delegated tasks, ideas, notes, and meetings.  I then update each task by using a check mark to signify it is completed, a strike through for a canceled item, an arrow to signify an item that moved from a previous list (maybe something I didn’t have a chance to finish the day before) or something that needs to be moved to next week. The most important thing with signifiers is using something that is familiar and workable for you.  You don’t want to spend more time trying to remember what your signifiers mean, than actually using them.
The best part about a bullet journal is there is no wrong way to do it.  It is all about staying organized and keeping your thoughts and genius ideas all in one place.  It helps you stay focused and can encourage mindfulness in what you are utilizing your energy on while creating quiet time for yourself to reflect (which is something we can ALL use more of).
If you are thinking about starting a Bujo or have been a long time bullet journaler and are looking for inspiration, click here to subscribe to The Matriarch Blog to get notification of new Bullet Journal Articles.
Also, once you subscribe, you will get an email invitation to join our exclusive Facebook group, The Matriarch Community. This is where we share tips, advice and support one another to achieve a life of wellness, happiness, love & prosperity.
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