It Is Just My Style.
If you’re like me, something about fall spurs an organizational frenzy. I can’t put my finger on it, maybe it’s the anticipation of pumpkin EVERYTHING! Or, maybe it’s because the season is driven by back-to-school planners and calendars.
Whatever the reason, I have typically used this season to purchase copious amounts of binders, notebooks, pens and assorted file folders in an attempt to get my life organized and on track. However, this year is different.
This year, I am starting September with a well-worn notebook in hand, one that is full of checked-off items and to-do lists that would make the most dedicated planner proud.
The difference is that my search for the Holy Grail of organizational tools is over. I have discovered bullet journaling.
You may have heard of this system, which consists of using journals or notebooks to create your own calendar, planner, journal, diary, sketch pad, etc. I have purchased more calendars and planners in my lifetime than I care to admit. None of them ever fit my needs or style. Bullet journaling does both.
For those unfamiliar with bullet journaling, I encourage you to start with the man who developed the concept, Ryder Carroll. He calls it “the analog system for the digital age.” While his website (bulletjournal.com) gives tips and instructions on how to get started, he also encourages new bullet journalists to adapt the system that works best for them, and personalize the process.
That’s the whole point of bullet journaling. It’s a personalized system that works for you. My way of planning and organizing is sure to be different from yours. I’ve also changed my way of bullet journaling since I started. That’s the beauty of it – if something isn’t working, you can change it, mid-page if you feel like it.
If you love to doodle and sketch, like I do, you’ll enjoy the opportunity to add colorful artwork to your journal’s pages. Pinterest is full of ideas for hand-lettered fonts and creating elaborate habit trackers. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the visual aspect of bullet journaling, unless that appeals to you. Remember, it’s not a competition. It’s meant to be a useful organizational tool.
Tips for starting your own bullet journal (or bujo for short):
- Select a journal or notebook, and a pen. They don’t have to be fancy. I started with an inexpensive, hard-bound journal and a black ballpoint pen. I have since discovered a favorite journal and pen, and you will, too. I prefer the Leuchtturm1917 medium sized (A5) notebook with squared ruling and a Sharpie fine-point pen.
- Include a table of contents. I have always carried notebooks to take notes or create lists, but I could never find anything in them. I would flip endlessly through the pages trying to find what I was looking for. The table of contents is a game-changer. Make sure to leave two to three empty pages at the front of your notebook to log what is on your journal’s pages.
- Number the pages. This is another game-changer, and crucial for being able to use the table of contents. I had to hand number the pages in my first journal, but the Leuchtturn1917, and many others, come with the pages already numbered.
- Create your sections, modules, collections and habit trackers. This is the meat of bullet journaling and where the organizational magic happens. The future and monthly logs will help you remember meetings and appointments, plan events and execute them. Daily entries are for your to-do-lists, while goal and habit trackers can help keep you focused. Collections are great for logging books you want to read or the list of Netflix binges you have your eye on. Again, I encourage you to watch videos from the bulletjournal.com website to see how the modules work together.
- Make it yours. I can’t stress enough that the whole point of this system is to personalize and create something that works for you. At the end of each day I do my “brain dump” and write down random thoughts or memories from the day. My bujo is full of doodles, pencil-colored drawings, washi tape and post it notes. I’d love to see yours!
By Jackie Loudin, managing editor for Aroundabout Local Media.
Are you a bullet journal junkie or just getting started? Send me pics of your favorite pages or goal-tracking systems. I’m always looking for inspiration! firstname.lastname@example.org