Biting the Bullet: I Started a Bullet Journal


Bullet Journals rose to popularity in 2018. Everywhere I looked on Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube and other social media platforms there were these gorgeously creative and organized trackers and planners and what-have-you. You know what I’m talking about. It looks kinda like this:

(Photo Courtesy of Matthew Henry from Burst)

I used to hate on people who had Bullet Journals. Maybe hate is too strong of a word…I talked a lot of trash about people who had Bullet Journals.

But why, Paige?

Well, in simple terms, I dislike trends that crop up because I feel like they are temporary and people that follow them are doing it because everyone else is. You know, hopping on the bandwagon. I thought people were just creating Bullet Journals to gain more likes on social media and be trendy. In retrospect, I disliked them because I felt that if I attempted a Bullet Journal it wouldn’t be able to compete with all of the meticulously designed Bullet Journals out there.

That all being said, I decided to start a Bullet Journal, or as it has been shortened to, a BuJo.

Starting one was a snap decision. I have had a blank sketchbook with a leather book cover that my aunt gave me for my high school graduation, two years ago. It was blank up until the second week of January 2019, when I decided to start my BuJo.

I did a quick Google search to see what a BuJo really is. Basically, it’s a yearly, monthly, weekly, daily planner and tracker all in one. It is recommended for people that lead hectic lives and need access to an organizer that is easy to use. A BuJo is a planner but a planner isn’t a BuJo.

There are several distinctions that separate them, and it all stems from the setup. Everyone is familiar with planners and how they are set up with a monthly calendar and daily sections to make notes. They’re pretty bland most of the time but some of them can be attractive. BuJos, on the other hand, are more elaborate than the typical planner. It has a calendar and weekly/daily planning sections just like a planner but also has a variety of trackers that can be altered to fit in with a monthly theme. The two popular trackers are habit and mood trackers. Other trackers can track your favorite songs, books or TV shows that are being viewed, as well as weight loss, meals, water intake, almost anything you can imagine. Some of the trackers can be absorbed into the habit tracker but it just depends on what you prefer.

A lot about BuJos can be customized to fit whatever works best for you. There is a “formula” that should be followed when starting a BuJo. This is just a general outline of how it should be set up, and it makes organization easier.

The first thing that you need to start a BuJo is, well, a journal. It can be whatever kind of journal, many BuJo-ers recommend a dotted notebook or grid notebooks, but it's up to you (mine is just an artist sketchbook from Walmart – nothing fancy). Other supplies recommended but not necessarily needed are pens and markers. Pens will be used to write stuff in the BuJo and the markers add in color. Once you have acquired all of that, you can start designing and setting up the BuJo.

The first thing to put down on the page is an index. This is to help you keep track of where everything is, when the months start, and what not. You don’t have to start numbering all of the pages in your notebook right at the start; you can number as you go along. Once you add in spreads in the BuJo, the numbers will be added to the index with the title of the spread.

If an index keeps track of where things are, then you need something to keep track of what the planning symbols mean. A key, legend, etc. is used for this. Mine looks like this:

This helps me understand what I’m doing and when and how to keep track of things.

Next, you should make your “Future Log.” It’s a month-by-month breakdown where you can jot down future tasks, events, goals, etc. The names of the months should be somewhere on the page along with enough space to write down future plans.

After the “Future Log,” we come to the “Monthly Log.” Along the same lines of the “Future Log,” the “Monthly Log” is the breakdown of all of the months, day-by-day. This is a general overview of tasks that are known in advance, before the monthly spread has been created.

(I jumped into the creation of my BuJo and forgot to add in these pages. They are helpful, and I wish I had remembered them. However, I also don’t have a huge need for them, since I use a huge desk calendar to keep track of long-term dates.)

After all of the future and long-term planning, it all comes down to the monthly overview spread. This includes a calendar, trackers and a daily breakdown to make plans as they come. My January looks a little like this:

These are the spreads that fit into the BuJo formula. The best thing about the formula is that you can add other things into the mix to spice it up. Here are three spreads I’ve added in:

As you can see, it’s really simple and not exactly Instagram ready but I’m okay with that. Even in the few weeks that I’ve been using my BuJo, I feel more organized and aware of myself. It’s a great creative outlet, and it keeps me up to date with my own life. With this, I don’t feel like I’m going to lose track of anything.