Bullet journals, if you aren’t already aware, are a new trend that basically sees a calendar, diary, planner, lists and journal all combined in one – the ultimate organiser. After discovering the concept for What’s Bullet Journaling & Why Is Everyone Obsessed With It?, I decided to create one of my own.

However, rather than taking the time to think about what my purpose was, or how I wanted my journal to look, I just grabbed a spare notebook I had lying around and started filling it with all the to-do lists and clippings stuck on my desk… Do not do this! It will end up as messy and chaotic as my life!

I’m kidding, but for your bullet journal to be effective as possible, it’s ideal to have some sort of structure or layout in mind. Even just deciding “I’m going to write a monthly to-do list every six pages”, you’ll still have a rough idea of where everything is.

(Photo: studytildawn.tumblr.com)
Planning is everything

It’s crucial you consider:

  • What you’re going to write in it
  • How often you’re going to write in it
  • Whether you want to stick or glue things in
  • How you want it to be styled or themed
  • How much content it will have
  • How much you’ll write on each page
  • How you want to categorise it

Plan ahead – draft out pages in weeks, even months, so you can plan ahead for events like birthdays and holidays

(Photo: instagram.com/abbeysy)
Don’t just make it functional, make it personal

Bullet journals are a fantastic way to express yourself. Think about all the possible bits and pieces about yourself that you can record, all in the one place – your journal does not necessarily have to be a typical daily recording of events. If you’re stuck for ideas or aren’t sure where to start, try some of these topics:

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Make sure you have the right journal for the job

Once you’ve had a good long think about how you want your journal to look and how you want it to function, it is well worth doing some window shopping to find the perfect diary for your needs. When browsing potential notebooks, think about:

  • Sturdiness – is it going to be knocked around in your bag?
  • Thick pages – will ink from markers bleed through?
  • Size – do you need it to be small enough for your favourite handbag?
  • Design – blank or lined pages?
  • Accessories – built in pockets or page holders?
  • Versatility – will you be adding or removing pages, or using printables/templates?

It’s a good idea to take your bullet journal with you or keep it on you daily – if you have to schedule an unexpected coffee date, or strike an idea, you can quickly jot it down exactly when you need to.

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Tip: While patterned paper may sound like a good idea initially, think about how visible your writing will be on the page. I’m using a journal with graffiti patterned paper – I’ve stuck white paper on top to clearly see the text.
Don’t get too caught up making your diary beautiful

While you want your journal to be a positive outlet, and visually appealing to encourage you to actually get your to-do lists done, it’s important to not spend too much time decorating it.

If you have the time and want to make a work of art of your journal, that’s fine, but for most of us who have hectic schedules and only wish our journals looked like the ones on Instagram, don’t stress! Remember, the whole idea about creating a bullet journal is that it’s not only an outlet, but an effective way to manage and prioritise our busy lives. Find a balance between the two.

You need to actually commit to using it

A bullet journal is a tool that helps with planning and organisation, however if you aren’t actually going to accomplish the tasks on your to-do lists, then what’s the point?

If you have no trouble planning all the things you have to do, but struggle to motivate yourself to actually do them, try a rewards systems – you could reward yourself with actual things like a favourite food or a new piece of clothing, or even just making time for an activity. For example, I tell myself “If I can get x, y and z done today, then I will give myself some down-time to, say, decorate my journal or watch a movie.”

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If you struggle with doodling, magazine clippings and postcards make great decorations, just like these ones I’ve started adding to my ‘TV Shows To Watch’ layout!

It sounds like an overwhelming amount of effort to prepare your journal, I know, but it will definitely be worth it when you feel content with each page. And remember, your lists are pages to keep going back and adding to over a long period of time – your journal is a long-term snapshot of your life, your interests and your passions.

Grab your fine-liners, your ruler and get journaling!