A Glance Into My Bullet Journal

Hiya, and happy Friday Eve! It’s like Christmas Eve, but only better, because it happens every single week.

I’m not bringing you a book review today, or any other type of review or bookish post. Today, I wanted to share with you guys my bullet journal. I guess it’s a type of book, so it kinda counts as bookish, right?

I have had a lot of people ask me about my bullet journal—why I started it, how I started it, where I get my ideas from, etc. So I thought I’d take the time to showcase what mine looks like and answer some of those questions.

For those of you who don’t know (though it’s probably all over your Facebook, Pinterest, and Buzzfeed), bullet journals (or BuJos, for short) were created by Ryder Carroll and have been coined “the analog system for the digital age.” Sounds like some hipstery shit, yes, but it’s actually a really cool and productive system.

It is true that your cell phone can do almost everything a bullet journal can do. Every phone comes with a calendar app, and through the app store you can purchase a million different types of helpful tools like savings trackers, bill trackers, food trackers, memos, notes, reminders… But the glorious thing about a bullet journal is that it has all those things in one space.

The “downside” to that is, you have to create that space. But I guess if you’re unwilling to take time out of your day and use some of that creativity of yours, then you’re probably not interested in bullet journaling. Good news—you can keep living vicariously through all those cool bullet journal videos you see while scrolling through Facebook.

If you’re one of those nerdy people like me, however, you’re all about tedious, crafty projects that probably make you a little mad sometimes but you can’t seem to put the thing down. I came across bullet journals about a year ago, while in college, through Buzzfeed. At the time, I was already a stationary nerd, and always carried my Barnes & Noble-bought planner with me to each and every class. I love planners with a passion, and the cool thing about bullet journals is that they take planning to a whole new level.

In June of last year, I bought my first bullet journal at (you guessed it) Barnes & Noble: a black bound Leuchtturm1917, standard size. But any journal with dots or graphing paper works fine. You could even use a completely blank journal if you’re daring, but then a lot of your lines would be crooked and I wouldn’t suggest that. I also bought a pack of Studio Series Micro-Line .45mm color pens. Fancy, right? They’re pretty nice. I also wanted to buy a set of watercolor pens, but was too poor (and still am), so for some of the coloring I use pastel highlighters. It’s cheap and not as pretty as watercolor pens, but still does the job. Ah, and my trusty protractor to make straight lines. Where would I be without it?

After buying my supplies, I had to next decide how I was going to structure my bullet journal. I literally sat down and, using sticky notes, wrote down what I wanted on each page. I got many of my ideas online. There are tons and tons of bullet journal examples online, and they’re all pretty spectacular. I like to get ideas from other people and then morph them together, creating my own layout. That’s probably the easiest way to go if you’re creative but not necessarily imaginative or artistic enough to just sit down and create your own masterpiece.

I decided I wanted to have weekly spreads, so each full spread would be one week. And I had to keep it simple at first. Here, ladies and gents, is my first bullet journal layout, June 12 – 18, 2017:

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Pretty embarrassing, right? It’s not that good. I never said I was a good artist… But it’s not bad for a first layout. It had everything I needed: 3 sections per day for appointments, projects, and fun; a meal tracker; a weekly goal section; and a habit tracker. I had just graduated from college and didn’t have a job yet, so I didn’t have too many appointments or things to do…other than apply to jobs, of course. So I had a lot of white space. I was also cooking dinner for an entire family 7 days a week since they were letting me live with them for free, so it was nice to have the meal tracker on there, too.

Of course, as time went on, I got more creative and changed-up my layout a bit. It took about 2 months for me to realize I wanted a change, and this is what that change looked like:

0207181954.jpg

Much better. At least I though so. I kept the weekly spread but just compacted all my appointment/tasks/notes into one big space. After all, each item has its own corresponding icon (as I’ll show in the Key, in another post), so I don’t really need to separate the space. I whacked the meal tracker because everyone kept asking “what’s for dinner?”, so I simply posted my meal plan to the fridge. This allowed more space for my habit tracker. I also changed my weekly goals into a to-do list. And perhaps my favorite addition to this new layout: the “current read” flag. Being a book-obsessed loser, I thought it was important to showcase/keep track of what I was reading that week.

The rest of that year, I went through a lot of changes—I got my first post-college job and moved in with my Grandma, then later rented an apartment with my girlfriend and started accumulating bills, appointments, and events to attend. After ringing in the new year, I changed my layout just slightly, and this is what I’ve got today (including a kind of step-by-step on how I create it):

1) Outline

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2) Add text

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3) Personalize

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4) Add color0205181532.jpg

5) Add your appointments/tasks/notes and keep track of your week!

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I kept most everything the same. I added a morning vitamin/pill tracker to the bottom of each day, changed the “current read” flag to an open book, and just edited the design of my habit tracker. I’m quite satisfied with this layout and intend to keep it for a while. There’s so many gorgeous designs out there, but for now, this is the best I can do, and I love it! I love being able to fully customize every aspect of it. And I love leaving it open on my desk every day at work.

It takes a lot of time to create each spread, but it’s worth it, and you do get a lot faster. When I first started, it took me over an hour to do 1 week. Now, it only takes 20-30 minutes to create 1 week. I find the time, and I enjoy it. It takes a lot of focus, so you tend to forget about everything else and lose track of time. Bullet journaling has somehow made me even more organized, if that’s even possible.

So, for those of you who’ve asked about my layout and worried about starting your own BuJo, take a look: mine certainly wasn’t perfect when I started, and still isn’t. I make mistakes on most layouts. And it annoys me and frustrates me to no end. But I’m still proud of it, still love it, and encourage you to give it a shot, despite your worries!

In another post, I’ll showcase all the other pages of my journal, that take even longer to plan and draw. But they’re fun. So stay tuned!

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My name is Alyssa and I am a bookworm. I have a degree in English and am the metadata support clerk at Junior Library Guild. I am also the Lead Proofreader for Flash Fiction Magazine. Other than that, I'm just a loser who loves books.

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