I started a bullet journal last month.
I blame Nikki.
(Those of you who read both our blogs won’t be surprised to see we blame each other for everything. Because it’s true. We’re co-enablers.)
Actually, I should probably thank her. A couple of months ago, she started pinning a bunch of blog posts about journalling on Pinterest, and since I follow her, I saw them all. Curious, i checked them out. And promptly went, “no, no way, nuh-uh!” and backed out of there fast. These weren’t journals, they were works of art, and I just had no time for something that looked so impractical. Plus, frankly, I’m a crap artist.
But the damage was done, and occassionally bullet journal suggestions would crop up in my Pinterest feed.
Summer went on, and I felt so out of control, for lots of reasons. Lists and notes started piling up, lost or forgotten. I had my cell phone, but I had one app for this and two for that, idea lists on Drive and household project specs on Evernote and recipes on Pinterest. My phone has limited memory, so I can’t have all the apps I use to keep organized. I’m not sure what made me think of bullet journalling. But I had a quiet moment at work, so on a whim I looked up “how to start bullet journalling.” 4 minutes and 12 seconds later, I grabbed a notebook and got started.
Bullet journalling is the perfect Strikhedonista tool. Because it is what you make it, organized in a way that works for you. You don’t have to fit someone else’s idea of organized or useful, and it doesn’t have to be perfect right out of the gate. It’s kind of like the game Go. Five minutes to learn, a lifetime to master.
So, here’s how to start your own Strikhedonista bullet journal. First, watch this video:
Need a little more? Try an infographic:
One more resource: WTF is a Bullet Journal and Why Should You Start One (This is the article that finally broke me.)
Now, and I cannot stress this enough: DON’T LOOK AT ANYTHING ELSE. Trust me, the information you get from these three sources is plenty, and anything more just gets really overwhelming. Find your own groove, then see what other people are doing.
Grab a notebook or a blank book. Most of us have something lying around the house, whether it’s a remnant of our last attempt at journalling, a composition book the kids never used, whatever. It should be big enough to write everything you need but small enough for you to carry with you everywhere. And a pen. Don’t forget a pen. Any pen will do, but if it’s one you really like, so much the better. You do NOT need to spend $20 on a German-made blank book and $30 more on fancy pens.
This is what I started out with:
Exciting, huh? Just a basic 8″x5″ spiral notebook with lines and a felt tip pen. Standard office stock. Literally, in this case. I grabbed these out of the supply cabinet at work. You can get fancy later, but until you know if this is going to work for you, why waste the money?
Now, go back and rewatch the video, following along with each step. Once you get to the end of the video, you have the basics of the bullet journal set. But that’s just the beginning. The video only briefly touches on collections, but that’s really where your personalization will blossom. As you add bullets in your rapid logging, start to keep an eye out for patterns. Are you writing down authors or books you heard about? Turn to your next blank page and start a To Be Read log. Keep forgetting birthdays? Why not keep a Birthdays collection? I created a Running log, a Knitting projects log (so I knew where all my needles were), and a Fall Garden job list. I also put the notes from the kids’ IEP meetings in here. I created a special spread (two facing pages) for our trip to Woodstock next week, with contact details for the house we’re staying in, our schedule for the week, shopping lists, whatever. While we’re there, I’ll handwrite notes and observations in the bullet journal, which will then go in the index.
If something doesn’t work, stop doing it. You aren’t stuck with it if you don’t use it. I have half a dozen pages already that I may never actually use. Need something more? Add it! After the first week, I realized I need to see my week at a glance so I know what’s coming over the next few days, more than the Monthly Log gives. So I created a rough Weekly Log spread that’s gotten fancier as I’ve found what I need to keep track of. I also realized I needed a 4 month at a glance working calendar for scheduling appointments. So I printed out 4 months of my Google calendar and pasted it in the book. I still keep the calendar in Google because I can add appointments and reminders to the kids’ calendars, but it’s so much easier when I’m scheduling appointments to have it in print. Other people have habit trackers and gratitude logs, menu planning and watch lists. Find what is your. Make the system your own.
But now all these pages are in the way of your Daily log! Now what? Just turn to the next blank page. Always just turn to the next blank page. Don’t try to segment the book ahead of time, because you don’t know what you’re going to want or need. Just turn to the next blank page. If you don’t want to keep your Daily logs in your index (I don’t), an easy way to keep track or where those pages are is by “threading”. Find the page number for your new daily log page. Then go back to your previous page. draw an arrow away from the existing page number and write the new page number. On the new page, write the page number you’re coming from and an arrow pointing to the new one.
Now you can find your way back, no problem!
And don’t go bonkers on stuff! You really don’t need a lot. There are a ton of printables and stamps and templates and decorations and whatnot out there. You don’t need it. My second week, I bought a dozen different rolls of washi tape, but got rid of half of them a week later. I just don’t use it. Washi tape=fancy, expensive masking tape. You don’t need it. Here’s my current kit:
One set of colored pens (Pilot Razor Point V, $8). These are my favorite pens for writing. Not a huge color range, but enough to play with.
Washi tape. Yes, I have some. But I really only use one of these, the teal watercolor one in the front row. If you love them, use them. Otherwise, get 1-2 that you really love and step away from the rest.
A straight edge. I can’t draw a straight line to save my soul. I have one in my box and 1 in a pocket I put in the back of my journal. With washi tape.
Removable index tabs. I use these to mark the pages I go to a lot. In my case, the monthly, weekly and daily pages. Use more if you want. These three work for me. Other pages I go to often but not every day I mark on the edge. With washi tape. Don’t be like me.
Doublesided tape. this I absolutely recommend. I got mine for $1 at AC Moore, but it’s worth its weight. Great for sticking anything in your book you want to keep. I used it to stick the 4 month calendar in.
And obviously your notebook and pen. Once you decide if the system works for you, then you can start playing with the fancier stuff. I don’t know if I’ll ever get the schmancy German book everyone else uses. It’s expensive, first off, although once I sat down and calculated it, per page it’s not that much more expensive than the other things I’ve looked at. But I want it spiral bound. That is purely a preference thing. I have a couple of options to test, which I’ll probably report on here. And pens. I have a set of pens that I love, so I’m not going to go chasing around, but you can explore all the various options out there (Staedler and Sharpie ultrafines seem to be the most popular). Find what feels good. Don’t break the bank.
That’s it. That’s all you need. I fancied up the cover of mine with scrapbook paper (and washi tape), and I’m playing with prettier pages, but it will never be a work of art. That’s okay. It’s more important that it’s functional, and mine has proven itself as all that and more. To the point where I now get as twitchy without it as I do if I forget my cell phone.
Bullet journalists talk about it being a tool for mindfulness, and I am finding that, although maybe not for the reasons other people do. For me, my journal is a brain dump, a place I can keep all the thoughts and ideas constantly jockeying for may attention When I write them down, I can forget about them for a bit and focus on whatever task I have at hand. I’m forgetting things less and accomplishing more. It really is helping me be more organized.
As long as I don’t leave it on my desk at work…