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(c) The View From Here 2018

What on earth is a Bullet Journal?

October 7, 2018


Danni made a Bucket List, during one of her short times of recuperation, in between rounds of chemotherapy. It wasn’t a grandiose list, jumping out of aeroplanes or base camp Everest – it was a sweet, small list of little projects:  Learn to crochet and origami and take up Bullet Journalling. 


Origami – hmmm perhaps one day. My good friend Catheryn can attest to the total exasperation she experienced trying to teach me to crochet (on more than one occasion) and many perfectly innocent balls of wool were slaughtered between my less than nimble fingers and a crochet hook.  I have to say, sorry Danni, crochet will never happen!  However Bullet Journal I can do.


So, what on earth is the bullet journal, or BUJO as some people like to call it? Well, it’s a journaling technique that was created by Ryder Carroll, a Booklyn-based digital product designer. It can be put into any journal and crafted to fit and highlight your particular needs and priorities. You can use it to organise just about everything in your life, from your eating habits to your emotions to your workouts and your to-do list. It's a combo between a calendar, to-do list, reflection tracker, and a life log.


Getting Started

I fell down the rabbit hole when I started … the world of Bullet Journalling could be viewed as a tad obsessed. Google Bullet Journal and hundreds of thousands of entries appear from the very simple to extremely complex and artful with whole blogs dedicated to how to do it and how not to do it!!  Its gone a million miles from Rhyder Carroll’s original u-tube about it which has been viewed 2 million times.


Once you get your head around the basic components, which I admit can sound very confusing at the start, the whole thing falls into place.  The beauty of it is that you design it based on your life and your own time management system and it can become whatever you like.  Unlike a normal diary or management system, you are not bound by limited space or number of pages, you create as you go.


How it works...


On the first page of the notebook, create your Index. The Index is the table of contents to which you'll update as you add pages to your bullet journal. Some journals have an index ready to go, others you can make yourself.  No more flicking back and forth trying to find an entry, its all there in your index.

Each page you add to the bullet journal should have a topic which will be the header of the page, bullets to organize what's on it, page numbers to be added to your Index, and short sentences quick and simple.


Future Log

After the Index page, most people start a Future Log on the next two pages. Some people decide to just do six months at a time, while others choose to do a full year-at-a-glance calendar. Here, you'll fill in important dates and goals. I did mine for 12 months.  A standard diary has all your months already filled in, but bullet journalling is a create as you go system and this is where the Future Log comes into its own as you can schedule in advance here and migrate events, projects and appointments forward as you go.


Bullet Key

I decided to put my Key and some artwork for 2018 on the two pages following the Index.

Caroll developed a bullet system to organise tasks, events, and notes.

Tasks are represented by a simple dot "•" and include anything on your to-do list, such as “clean bathroom cupboard”, or “post birthday card”.

Put an "x" over the dot when the task is completed.

If you have to migrate it to another day, use the ">" symbol over the dot. Use the "<" symbol over the dot when a task has been scheduled. 

Events are scheduled using open circle.

Notes of any kind, whether that be a random thought you have, fact you learned, or observation you made, should be added using a dash, "–".

You can also use "signifiers" to add additional context to each item. A star shows priority and can be used for the most important entries, an exclamation point should be used to emphasise your best ideas, and draw a tiny eye when there's something you'd like to explore further. 


Monthly Spread and other pages

The monthly spread is an overview for one month. It usually uses up two pages: one for the calendar and one with all your tasks. Just like any other spread you can add or remove things to make it just the way you want!




After your monthly spread, you will want to fill out your days of the week – I have done mine a month in advance, but some people do it daily or weekly.

Daily Spreads can take up as much or as little room as you like.  After several attempts I settled on a simple format.  Most people love the idea of crossing items off their to-do-lists, but its actually quite nice being able to see at a glance what you have done, especially when you cast back over the previous month.  It also puts some things into perspective, especially when you find something you have migrated over and over - perhaps it's time to get rid of that one all together!


The rest of the pages are up to you.  I have a page of books I want to read, a 16 week challenge which I coloured in weekly untll the end and a monthly habit tracker to name a few.



Practical meets Creative

All you actually need to start a Bullet Journal is a journal or notebook, a ruler and a pen.  The notebook of choice for many Bullet Journallers is the Leuchtturm1917 dot grid.  It’s a good size – too small and it won’t work and too big and you won’t want to take it with you.  Pens – well I love stationery and colouring in pencils, so once I decided to give this a go I tested a variety and settled on a range of Microns with a few Tombow brush pens for highlighting.


It took me a few months to get my design and layouts to the point of working well for me.  I give myself the gift of one uninterrupted afternoon a month to set up my monthly and daily spread.  I don’t start with anything specific in mind, but sit for a time reflecting on the past month and where I am today.  Then I just pick up my pencil and start – contemplating the month ahead as I colour. 


I find I am one of those people who sit somewhere in the middle of very organised on the one side, and creative on the other, so the Bullet Journal suits me very well – my creativity gets an outlet into something that has a highly productive and practical use. 



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