How I've Set Up My First Ever Bullet Journal and Why
As a classic type A person, you would think I would have already been on the bullet journal buzz for years now, but I have just never taken the plunge. I’ve seen people raving about it but to me it seemed like there just wasn’t much room for future planning, which is super important to me, so I just never gave it a go.
When I was in Melbourne last year, I found a shop full of notebooks and pens (AKA heaven) and came across the Leuchtturm1917 notebooks and decided to finally try this thing out.
Because I’m a perfectionist, I decided to wait until January 1st 2018 to start my bullet journal, so in the meantime, I did some research to see what other people had done.
I checked out the official guide for bullet journaling, read through some bullet journal stories and created a Pinterest board of all the spreads and pages that I liked and thought I could use for my bullet journal.
Planning my journal
I run my own business and work from home, so my work and personal life are quite intertwined, which is probably a bad thing, but that’s for another conversation! Anyway, because of this, I decided to keep everything in the one journal. I think that in the future, this will probably change, but it’s okay and works for now.
After looking at lots of examples and inspiration, I noticed that there were definitely a lot of pages that I didn’t think I would need to implement in my journal, and perhaps some that I hadn’t seen but would find useful, so I set to planning.
I wrote down all of the spreads and pages that I wanted to include, using the basic structure of the original bullet journal concept to start, and then adding in other bits and pieces and adjusting as I needed.
I then ordered all of these and decided where they would fit in the journal and how many pages they would take up (I know, I probably went about this in the most complicated way, but I just wanted to make sure I got it right and set it up how I wanted it.)
Then came the fun part, actually making it! I didn’t want to fall into the trap of over-complicating the design of my bullet journal and taking way too much time to decorate it and make it look super instagram-worthy, so I just settled for using a black Staedtler Triplus Fineliner for all of my writing, and a grey Zig Clean Color Real Brush pen for underlines and other elements throughout the journal.
So, here are the pages that I’ve chosen to use in my bullet journal so far...
One of the main systems of the bullet journal is the key system. Each task, event and note has a different symbol or checkbox to indicate what it is and what it’s status is. Some people use the basic bullet journal key, while others create their own symbols and icons for certain things. I am sticking to a pretty simple system, but have adopted boxes instead of the original dot because I just liked that idea when I saw it! I’ve got all of these listed on a post it stuck to the inside of my notebook incase I ever forget!
I haven’t found much use for the index yet, but my journal is very short so far so it’s not hard to find things at the moment, especially with the two ribbons I can use to mark pages. In the future I may find this super useful when I get closer to the end of the book, but it basically just lists each section and what page number it is on.
2018 Calendar / This Year
I actually royally messed up this page - I think I must have been looking at the 2017 calendar because all of the days and dates are wrong but what can you do? I was going to rip it out but I had already filled everything else in by the time I realised so I’m just going to live and learn. The intention is that it would just be a handy calendar to refer to throughout the year!
I haven’t actually filled this out yet because I’m kind of struggling to decide how to do my goals this year - I’ve read so many things with conflicting advice so I’m just winging it for now. There are things that I definitely want to do so I will get around to putting them in here once I structure them the way I find most helpful.
This is just a cute little spot for me to note down my wins for the year. These might be small wins or big wins but I want to make sure that I acknowledge and remember them, and this is where I’ll do that!
I find it quite hard to keep track of invoices sometimes, so I thought I’d try this out. Here I can quickly note the invoice number, the client, when I sent it, when it’s due, and when or if they’ve paid. This will hopefully help me to make sure that I don’t forget about any or lose track of them, as long as I remember to actually write them down in the first place!
I saw an example of this, and while I’ve modified mine a bit, I think it could be good to see what income I generate each month and where that income is coming from. I do already do this more in-depth in Google Sheets, and also have the ability to do this in Xero, but I thought I’d just give this a go and see if it’s helpful!
Stats is another one that I’m not sure if I will find helpful or not, but I’m just going to try it out. I’m honestly not too worried about the numbers, but I think it could be cool at the end of the year to see how much things have grown or not, so I’ve just listed my channels and at the end of each month (again, if I remember!) I’ll note down the numbers and go from there!
Again, this is something that I already plan in Trello so I’m not sure how much I’ll use, but it’s just a simple calendar for each month where I can get an overview of the content that I’m releasing, what it is and when it’s being released, as well as the steps that I’ve taken to get that content ready.
Monthly Spread with Goals & Memories
Because I’m such a future planner, and you can’t really do that with the daily spreads, I wanted a monthly calendar where I could plan things in advance. I just made a simple calendar and also included space to note down my goals/focuses for the month, and any memories I want to remember.
This habit tracker has actually been one of my favourite things about the bullet journal so far. I have recently gotten super into tracking my habits to make sure that I’m filling my days with the things I love and need to do to be healthy, happy and productive. I was using an app but tbh I just kept forgetting to open it and fill it in. So far I’m loving being able to cross my habits off as I do them each day, and I’m actually more motivated to do them so that I can cross them off!
This is a page that I hadn’t seen done anywhere but I thought would be helpful for me. I’ve always looked for something that visualises the projects that I’m working on so that I can see how much I’ve got to do at any one time. I haven’t really found an app or anything to do that, so I made my own! I just have the dates across the top of the page, list the projects down the side, and then draw a line for when I’m working on that project. It’s not always that simple but it will at least give me an idea. This is also another page that I kinda messed up with one of the projects but I’m trying to learn to be okay with these mistakes and just move on!
Now we get to the bulk of what the bullet journal will be: daily planning. This is mostly where the key comes into effect, and where I’ll plan all of my tasks, events and notes for the day. I think that this is the page that will change the most in the future. I currently have two other notebooks - one for daily journaling, and one for daily gratitude - I’d love to combine these into my bullet journal so that I just need the one journal but I can’t figure out how to yet. I just don’t want to start journaling or doing gratitude and then realising I’ve got more tasks to add but not having anywhere to put them or them being disjointed from all my other tasks, if that makes sense?! Any ideas are welcome!
So that is the basic outline of how I’m using my bullet journal so far. I’m sure it will change and adapt, and I’ll probably add new pages and maybe take some out, but that’s the beauty of the bullet journal! I’d love to know how you use yours and see some of your favourite pages so please let me know and feel free to share pics with me! I’m so excited to finally be on the Bujo buzz!!
About the author
Hello! I’m Hollie — a creative director and designer obsessed with letterforms! I spend my time working on hand lettering, typography, type design and branding, using the power of words made visual to tell empowering stories. Let’s be friends — say hi on Twitter! 🤘