Edit: For newcomers, check out http://bulletjournal.com as a starting point.
On August 2nd, I started my first Bullet Journal. I’ve now been using the system for an entire month (hoorah!) and thought it was about time I came over and updated you all on my current journal. I had quite a few responses for my last post, and I’m excited to be sharing this again!
So. My little 80-page Moleskine notebook lasted me for the month with quite a few pages to spare. Towards the end of August, once I started thinking about September, I decided that I was ready to move into a thicker, more long-term notebook. However, a couple of days after I ordered a new hardcover Moleskine, I had a sudden thought: why on earth do I need to order a special notebook for this? Why can’t I use a notebook I already have?
And thus the seed was planted.
Squared paper really worked for me – I admit it. I really enjoyed being able to draw vertical lines easily and fit in lots and lots of information to each page. It felt silly even considering moving to a different kind of paper, and initially I was reluctant. As much as I wanted to use one of my existing notebooks, I knew that all I had were lined journals. And I didn’t really know how I could make lined paper work for me.
But, in the end, I decided to just go for it. I listed the pros and cons, did a few practice pages in my notebook of choice, spoke to others in the bujo community about their experience using a lined book, and then cancelled my Moleskine order. (£14 better off can’t be a bad thing!)
So far, I absolutely love it. Sure, squared paper was really, really useful, and I can see why squared and dotted is the go-to paper for users of Bullet Journals. But there’s something about this lined paper – something so clean, so tidy, and so fresh – that I never felt with my maths exercise book-like paper.
And, a big plus, this notebook actually means something to me. My partner bought it for me as a Christmas present, and I’ve saved it for something special ever since. (Not to mention it’s simply gorgeous, with its cute little padded cover!)
Before you ask, no, it isn’t a particularly high quality notebook. If I’d gone for the Moleskine I would have had something very sturdy, built to last and probably with better quality paper. My lovely pink guy has some imperfections in the way its pages have been cut, and it doesn’t seem to be as sturdy as the Moleskine my partner bought for himself. We’ll see, in due course I’m sure, whether it stands up to travelling.
It also came with a crappy cream-coloured ribbon bookmark that was pretty frayed. Initially I wanted to keep it, because it felt quite quirky – the cream clashed with both the book cover and the elastic, but it was an original. Like the horrid brown/tangerine car seat upholstery in old cars – it may not be pretty, but it gave my book plenty of character. But then I tried to trim the ribbon a bit to get rid of the fraying, and it just got worse. And worse. So I cut the whole thing off and found some craft ribbons to replace it. (No regrets – they’re fantastic. No fraying!)
And finally, the stencil-printed cover overlays about half of the spine, which looked a bit odd. So I instead decided to stick another ribbon across the spine to disguise it.
Only problem is, the four different shades of pink/red clash a bit now. But I’m otherwise chuffed with my alterations. (So chuffed, in fact, I decided to add a couple of pen marks here and there.)
So. How have I been using the lined notebook? In all honesty, not that differently to the way I used the squared notebook. I knew I would have to adapt my page spreads to suit the new book, and that I have done quite easily. Let me give you a quick walkthrough of what I’ve done already:
One of the first things I did was go through the whole book and number. every. single. page. It was long and dull but totally worth it. After chopping out a couple of practice pages, I found I had 195 pages to play with. I don’t know how quickly I’ll end up using those up, but it should definitely do me for more than just September!
My Key page is very basic, although I’m not really sure what I was thinking with the grass. The keyring I get – sure, that makes sense – but why is there grass below? It’s like the key itself and the title are just floating in this white sky. I might do something more with this page at a later date, once I decide exactly what I was thinking!
With my Index, I decided to make it spread across three pages.
I decided to split my Index into three parts: Monthlies, Dailies and Collections. I don’t know if this’ll be a long-term improvement on having everything in one list, but it’s definitely made noting down the pages of my collections easier. After finding that I was getting fed up with flicking past reading lists and crochet trackers to get to my regular Monthlies in my old journal, I decided to separate them in this one. Now, all long-term collections sit at the back of the book, starting at page 195, while all of the things I want to use everyday are at the front.
I also decided to clump together all my Dailies/Weeklies so I wouldn’t need to cram long lists into the main Index. This, so far, seems a massive improvement.
Next up is my Future Log, which, I think, is just about my favourite thing about this new Bullet Journal.
Of course, I lied when I said I wouldn’t be using squared paper at all. I decided to use the remaining pages from my first journal to chop up and use when necessary in this guy – and I definitely wanted to try out a little calendar layout like this. It’s great seeing the month laid out like this, and it’s really fun circling particular dates in different colours. The key in the middle is for the Future Log, Monthlies and Dailies, and it’s on a little flap so it doesn’t get in the way. (By the way, the Q4 at the top relates to October, November and December. Right? It totally wasn’t just me not being able to count to 12.)
I decided to give September two colours: dark green and orange. All consequent September pages are therefore coloured largely with these two colours.
I’m not really that keen on this Monthly spread. Because of the fewer lines this book has, I wasn’t able to fit a 30-day list down the side like I did with my original journal. Instead, I decided to split the weeks into chunks. But that just asked more questions than it answered; how much gap to leave between? What to use the empty space for? In the end, I opted for putting my monthly tasks and goals in the centre, but now I think it looks a bit too busy. And I always seem to overdecorate things – all those stupid leaves. And the lettering is too dark. And bah!
I’m actually still questioning the need for this monthly spread and the Future Log. I’m considering ditching the monthly spreads – or, at least, ditching them in this form – and instead using the Future Log more. Or else, making the Future Log big enough to hold more dates. This is probably something I’ll experiment with in the next journal.
Here’s my new Hobby Tracker. I’ve chosen my four main hobbies of the moment (although I’m regretting putting blogging as one, as it basically incorporates everything else I’m interested in) and this is where I can set goals for myself during the month. Every time I complete a task, I can colour in the little metre down the side. This’ll help me see which hobbies I’m most eager to dabble in.
And here is my new Blog Schedule page. (Please note: out of date photo – I’ve done my August Reads post now!). Here is where I note down blog post ideas for this month and then, when I post something, I add it to the calendar. This is so I can see, at a glance, how many times I’m publishing posts. Of course, now that I’m back at work I’ll probably stick to doing just one post a week, so this probably won’t be as useful as it was in August. But I’m glad I have it, anyway – it also helps me keep on reminding myself that this place exists!
Here is my Spending Tracker. I didn’t do one of these last month, but as I’ve decided to give myself a smaller budget in September (I spent way too much in August) I thought it’d be better to actually track my spending. I used to do this on a spreadsheet, but found that I didn’t enjoy having to make the effort of filling in the spreadsheet after each thing I spend. This way, all I have to do is pick up a pen and note it down. I’m hoping it works a lot better!
I like keeping track of my meals, and felt that it would be good to do this month. My family have way too many takeaways, so I wanted a way to keep track of all the good meals I’m eating. Anything naughty is coloured red, and anything I cook myself will be given the normal bujo task signifiers. (I have filled this in further, but the image is out of date!)
Whereas in my last journal I did Daily Logs, this month, because I’m back at work, I decided to do Weekly spreads instead. I’m not planning on fitting actual to-do lists into those boxes; if I have tasks that need to be completed, I’ll probably make a normal Daily for them and then thread to it from this spread. But for now, all I’m using the boxes for are recording things from the day; good things, bad things, any worries I have, any news I’ve received etc. This way I have the satisfaction of filling in a box at the end of every day, and also a little record of what happened each day during the week (rather than just a list of things I’ve completed/not completed).
I’m also recording the weather on this page at the end of the day, and then, at the end of the week, I’m filling up the box next to Friday with key words and memories from the week as a whole. This way each week is set apart from the previous and the next.
After this particular week, I started using the blank space for weekly tasks/goals. The restricted space means I’m not overwhelming myself too much because, of course, being at work means I’m more tired in the evenings and less able to complete loads of tasks.
One of the big reasons I decided to move to a lined journal was because I wanted to actually… you know… journal. I haven’t kept a longhand journal properly for years (and even then I didn’t stick to it for long) and after starting my Bullet Journal last month I realised just how much I wanted to journal properly again. But, unfortunately, I found it hard writing longhand on squared paper, so I wanted to move to the lined paper to make it feel more natural. So far, it’s worked really, really well. I’m not journalling every day, but whenever I do I write as much or as little as I want. There’s a double-page spread full of it before this page.
You may have noticed that I didn’t include any boxes for the weekend on my Weekly spread. This is mainly because I didn’t want to have to fit two more boxes on that page (I liked having the three spare after doing the five days!) but also because I felt like the weekend deserves its own page. This way I can set general tasks, for either the weekend as a whole or each day at a time, and use up as much space as necessary. Of course, this weekend has been and gone now, so this page has actually been finished; at the bottom I included notes in a similar vein to the Weekly spread, celebrating what I’ve done this weekend and listing anything good or bad that I’ve been feeling. So far, it’s working really well.
And finally, at the front of my journal I’m dedicating at least one page to each book I have on the go. As I currently only have The Cuckoo’s Calling in progress, there’s only one of these pages right now. This is where I can track how long it’s taken me to read, and to list any notes or quotes that I’d like to remember if I end up writing a review for it. Something tells me I’m going to need more space for this particular book, though…
And now to the back of the book. As I mentioned, this is where all of my more longterm collections will go, so I don’t have to flick past them all when navigating the main bulk of the journal. So far this has been working really well, and I wish I’d done it in my first journal!
Here’s my Reading Tracker. As I explained in my August wrap-up, I’ve been aiming for 12 books this year and I’m so close! This is the most books I’ve read in a year for a while now, and that’s awesome considering we’re only just in September. If I keep up this pace, I’ll blow the past four years out the window.
I love this page because I can see myself edging further towards that goal line. It’s so satisfying!!
I made a boo-boo here – I should have put the Bullet Journal Ideas page on the very back page, where I have my reading tracker. I had to fit my book wishlist in somewhere, and it feels awkward next to this page. But oh well!
I’m hoping to fill up my book wishlist with loads more books, and make it all colourful and with loads of different shapes. I wanted it to be more than just a simple list, and so far I think it looks pretty cool! Whether or not I actually allow myself to buy these books is yet to be determined… (I have too many already!)
And finally, this is my Crochet Tracker. I’m currently setting myself the goal of completing the 36 designs for Granny Squares provided in a crochet magazine I recently bought, and so far I’ve done 11 of them. They’ve all been given silly Granny names so are really easy to keep track of and distinguish. I also love colouring in the boxes whenever I finish one – it really gives me a sense of completion. I’m not giving myself any kind of timeframe to complete this project, but I’m hoping to have made some more progress by the time I start my next journal!
And that’s it!
I’m currently on page 30. Yup – already. I don’t know how long this notebook will last me, but I’m so far really, really enjoying using it. The lined paper already makes everything look so much cleaner, and vertical lines aren’t as much of a challenge as I originally thought they’d be. Being able to write longhand without the paper feeling awkward is also really helping me to enjoy the very process of journalling a lot more. And I know I could have always done longhand journalling if I’d just put my mind to it; but being able to journal in my planner is a lot more convenient and exciting.
I feel like I might be deviating a lot from the original Bullet Journal format recently, but who cares? This is great. This is really great. And I can’t see myself giving this up anytime soon!