Picture the scene… You have discovered the concept of ‘Bullet Journaling’ and you are obsessed! This could be the productivity tool you have been looking for your whole life! But… You’ve fallen down a Pinterest black hole and now you don’t know where to begin. Sound familiar??
Bullet journaling is an incredible concept. It allows you to completely tailor your journal to your individual needs.
So, before you get hit with overwhelm, take a look at my list of 11 things to consider before you start a bullet journal!
1. Why do you want to journal?
There are so many different reasons you might want to start a journal, and this will have a huge bearing on the kinds of journal spreads (page layouts) you will create, and how it will look. Before you begin, take time to think about what you want from your journal. Get a piece of paper and write down your top 3 “Whys”.
These may include (but are not limited to):
- PRODUCTIVITY – A place to write all your to-do lists. For planning tasks and projects.
- HABIT TRACKING – Plan and track new habits, track fitness projects such as couch to 5k, monitor healthy habits such as water intake.
- PLANNING & ORGANISATION – Project planning, event planning, a diary for day-to-day life.
- FOOD / MEAL PLANNING – Weekly meal planning, shopping lists, freezer or pantry inventory.
- CREATIVITY – Doodles, drawing, watercolour, zentangles… The list is endless.
- HOBBIES – Track the films and tv you watch, plan creative projects, book reviews, and so much more.
- MINDFULNESS – Taking time away from the screen to be creative or record the days events.
- REFLECTION – Long form journaling, morning pages.
- MENTAL HEALTH – An outlet for your thoughts and feelings.
- MEMORY KEEPING – Record day-to-day, travel and life events. Scrapbooking with tickets and photos.
2. Remember it is YOUR journal!
It’s very likely you will want to use your journal for multiple things and that is totally ok! (In my opinion, the ability to make your journal completely personalised to you is the biggest advantage of system).
Stop comparing your journal (or your creativity ability) to what you see online. Your journal only needs to work for you. Having an idea of what you want from your journal will make getting started so much easier!
Also, don’t forget that social media is only a highlights reel. People rarely share their failed journal spreads, and photos are highly edited to remove mistakes and make them look neater.
3. Is it really Bullet Journaling and why does this matter?
My personal style of journaling includes a lot of creative scrapbook style elements, including Washi tape, stickers, and photos. Bullet Journal purists may argue that this is far removed from the original Bullet Journal Method (created by Ryder Carroll) which uses abbreviated bullet points and a “key” to organise your schedule and to do list.
Ultimately, if it works for you then does it matter??
4. What do you want your journaling routine to look like?
Once you know why you want to journal it’s important to think about how much time you have available to dedicate to your new hobby. There’s no point spending a week setting up an elaborate journal if you have no time to maintain this on a weekly basis.
Personally, I like to take some time on a Sunday to plan out my journal spreads for the week ahead. This allows me to think about what I have going on in my schedule, what I need to achieve, and when I will do this.
5. When will you begin?
This is an easy one, I’ll give you a hint…. NOW!
You DON’T need to wait until the new year or the start of the month.
You DON’T have to have all of the supplies.
It DOESN’T need to be perfect.
Get a notebook and have a play with the types of journal spreads you want to create, maybe create a daily spread and see how it works for you. If you wait for the perfect time you may never start!
6. What supplies will you need?
- Journal – The size, paper thickness and binding will all be impacted by what you wish to do with your journal. For example: If you want to carry it around with you a pocket-sized journal might be best, and if you intend to use lots of coloured pens or watercolours you may want to think about a heavier paper stock.
Most people start with a basic A5 dot-grid journal. Any paper weight above 120gsm is usually fine for a beginner. My personal preference is for a B5 dot-grid journal with 160gsm paper.
- Pen/Pencil – Will totally depend on personal choice. My go-to everyday pen is a Pigma Micron – 04.
- Coloured pens and pencils – If you want to add colour to your journal.
- Stickers – Easy way to add decorative or productive elements.
- Washi tape – Welcome to your new obsession! Can be used to decorate pages, mark page edges and cover mistakes!
- Stencils – I may be biased, but I find these make setting up journal spreads super quick and easy.
- Stamps + Ink – Another way to add decorative or productive elements to your journal.
7. What spreads will you create?
This will depend on what you want to use your journal for, but here are my suggestions for a starting point:
- Future Log (next 6 or 12 months)
- My journaling manifesto (why I want to journal)
- 7 Goals I’d like to achieve this year
- Monthly Spread (current month)
- Weekly spread (current week)
We also have a fab free printable to help you decide on the pages that you would like to include, which you can download here.
8. What order should the pages be?
Ultimately this totally depends on personal preference. For me, it makes sense to start with a future log, but perhaps you might want to begin with a “Journaling Manifesto” at the beginning, or a key of symbols you intend to use.
Top Tip: Once you have an initial list of pages you would like to include in your journal, write each journal spread idea on a post it note and place them on the pages. You can rearrange the order until you have a flow that makes sense to you.
Once you have created your starting pages generally other journal spreads and collections get added in chronological order.
9. How do you begin?
Stop procrastinating, pick up your journal and get started! Remember, you are not in competition with anyone, it does NOT need to be perfect – it just has to work for you.
10. Don’t get ahead of yourself!
This is my biggest piece of advice for anyone just starting out with journaling. If you decide to include monthly/weekly/daily spreads, I recommend only creating them for the current month/week.
Journaling is a flexible process, you will learn what works best for you and this will change month by month depending on what is going on in your life. For example, you may set up 3 months worth of spreads in advance and realise within the first 2 weeks that you don’t use them, or you want to try out some trackers for your habits.
By setting up your journal as you go along, you are able to adapt your journal spreads to meet your needs.
11. Join the community!
We are really proud to host a super friendly and inclusive journaling community on Facebook. Pop over and join the Bullet Journal Squad for a whole host of journaling inspiration and support.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions – everyone has to start somewhere!
This blog is the first of a series of blog posts dedicated to the basics of journaling. Make sure you pop your email below to be kept updated when the next one drops!
2 thoughts on “11 Things to Consider BEFORE You Start A Bullet Journal!”
I have a reading journal and a general journal. I love coming up with themes for each month. What I wish I’d known when I started journaling? That you DON’T have to cram a full year into one journal! I know this now, so it doesn’t bother me that I’m setting up new journals ready for June.
Great post. I use mine as a diary / memory keeping. Plus anything else I see from social media that I want to recreate. Social media is great to see what you can include, but remember it’s your own!