Bullet Journal: What Is It?
I think I’m in love with a little black book with graph paper and an elastic pen holder on the side. It is the closest thing to imperfect perfection I have ever experienced. It’s beautiful and it is – a bullet journal.
I’d been reading about bullet journals for quite a while. I have even mentioned them in past blog posts here and here. While there are good websites out there explaining how they work, I couldn’t get my head around everything that a bullet journal was supposed to entail.
First of all, the term bullet “journal” is a little misleading. I was confused for a long time because the more the more I read, the more a bullet journal sounded like a planner to me. It didn’t sound like journaling at all.
I was still intrigued.
A conversation with a friend, who happens to bullet journal, was all it took for me to dip my toe in the water. It didn’t take too much convincing. I mean, I had to go buy a blank journal with graph paper. (I kind of have a secret obsession with blank books. Is there anything more fun than graph paper?) You can use any kind of journal or notebook by the way, it doesn’t have to have graph paper.
Even after I bought the graph paper journal I couldn’t decide – is it a journal or planner? There was supposed to be a key and an index where you put different symbols next to the tasks on a daily list based on if it was a calendar item or a to-do item and blah, blah, blah….
I knew that kind of system wouldn’t work for me.
That is the beauty of a bullet journal, you can organize it any way you want.
Even after I bought the journal and pens, I let it sit on my nightstand for a full day. Two. Three. A week.
The same friend asked about my bullet journal and I was embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t started simply because I didn’t know where to start. Have you seen all the amazing pictures of bullet journals? If you haven’t, do a Pinterest search and behold the gorgeous,creative, and whimsical pages people have created.
What if I started and it looked terrible? Even worse, what if I was more disorganized than ever?
I knew mine wouldn’t be gorgeous or whimsical and, most likely, not creative. But I didn’t need it to be those things, what I needed was something functional.
My friend had good advice – think of it as a starter journal, she said, allow yourself to make mistakes so the next one will be better.
Isn’t that great advice?
That is all it took. I gave myself permission to make mistakes. Off I went and I’m never going back.
The Challenge is in the Beginning
Once I moved past my expectations of perfection, I was able to dive in. As it turns out, my bullet journal is less a journal and more of an all-inclusive planner. Other people may use theirs as a place to record daily reflections or inspirations. You can even use it as a regular journal and include a calendar to keep track of your schedule.
My favorite part of bullet journaling – as my needs change so can the journal. Do you need some place to write down a grocery list? Great add that page. Need a place to make a list of gift ideas for family members? Add a page. I recently added a ‘Words to Use’ page. I write down words that I hear or read that I want to remember and incorporate into my own writing.
It is the most flexible way to stay organized I have ever come across.
Let It Grow
Here’s the thing, you don’t have to know all the sections you’ll need when you first start. I began with a calendar, daily list, and professional development. Along the way, I’ve added personal development, organization, and meal planning, with several other small pages that don’t fit into any of those specific categories.
I keep my bullet journal with me wherever I go. No matter where I am, I can record blog post ideas, check my calendar, add something to my gratitude page, or add words to my ‘Words to Use’ list. It’s so great. My work production has gone up because each evening I write down the tasks I need to do the next day. Every morning I wake up – presto! – there’s my list and I know exactly where to begin.
Make It Work
As I’ve started bullet journaling, I’ve made mistakes and that’s okay. Entire pages are crossed out because I didn’t like how I designed them or, as it turns out, I don’t need them.
In my next bullet journal, I will have a better idea of how to organize and what pages I really need.
Have I convinced you of the value of a bullet journal yet?
Getting started was the hardest part. If you think a bullet journal is for you, my next post is going to be on How to Start a Bullet Journal. My strategy is to start simple. From there you can make it grow into anything you need it to be.