So what exactly is a Bullet Journal? It is a way to write down everything that is relevant to your life, in a very structured and clear way. It is for those of us who do not know how to handle digital stuff (uhum, that’s me). It brings back the art and creativity of pen and paper and the productivity that we all need in our life.
If you are new to the system the best idea is to watch this video by the designer of the Bullet Journal, Ryder Carroll. It explains all about the basics and how you can use the Bullet Journal in its most fundamental form.
So now for my own explanation of how the Bullet Journal works.
With the index, you are able to find everything in your Bullet Journal within a heartbeat. Page numbers are essential for a Bullet Journal so try and find a notebook that has them already pre-printed. Otherwise, writing down your own page numbers will do as well. The index will display all the entries you put in your Bullet Journal for easy reference. First, keep it simple. Later, when you know the system better and have found out what works for you, you can even colour code your index to make it suit your needs even better.
But trust me, there is nothing more frustrating than having created a great spread and needing minutes to look it up in your Bullet Journal because you haven’t indexed it properly.
You start off with building your future planner. This can be a year at a glance or a more detailed year overview for short notes on what happens on which dates. This will be the starting point from which you build your monthly, weekly, and daily spreads.
I personally use the Calendex system. This is a system where you only indicate the page number on the date that you have an event or an appointment. When you reference the page number, you write down the exact details of your appointment on that particular page. This referencing system can be customised to your own needs, just like everything else in the Bullet Journal really.
I used to have a monthly overview of all the weeks and days so I could glance at my month and see what was happening. However, since using the Calendex system, I don’t need a monthly overview anymore because the Calendex has taken over that task. I write down all the important stuff in my Calendex via the page referencing system also anniversaries or birthdays as I am notorious at forgetting these types of events!
Instead of a monthly overview, I use weekly spreads to get an overview of all my appointments and my schedule.
WEEKLY AND DAILY SPREADS
From your monthly spread (if you use one or if you use the Calendex system), you boil it down to what is happening in a specific week or on a specific day. I used to not use weekly spreads but I found that I couldn’t really visualise in my head what my week looked like and all the things that were happening. The weekly spread really helps me plan my week properly so that I don’t cram everything into one day.
Here is an example of my current weekly spread:
I use one whole page separated into two columns for my appointments and my schedule. This helps me plan my weekly routine so that I can spread out all my to-do’s evenly. On the opposite page, I use a box to write down all my meals for the week and to plan them out if I need to go grocery shopping. This way, my slightly autistic husband also knows what’s on the table in the evening… I also have a box for a health plan. In this box, I have some goals and tasks that I need to do every week and this way I can track my progress. I am also really bad with remembering to take my medication so adding that in this box has definitely helped me to take my meds on time. Finally, I have a small section left over on the bottom of the page for any notes that I need to quickly write down especially if there are things that I need to remember for the next week.
From the weekly spread, I move to the daily spreads. Every evening I start a new daily entry and try to fill in all the things I need to do or that are scheduled for that day. I use different signifiers for different tasks and events. Once the task is done during the day, I make sure to cross it off the list so that I will have a clear overview of the tasks that still need to be done.
This is really what the Bullet Journal is all about: migrating. You migrate all of your important tasks and events from your future planner to your monthly or weekly spread. From there you use your daily entries to give your day structure and overview. This way, the tasks are always clear and you can be on top of your busy (or not so busy) life.
COLLECTIONS AND OTHER SPREADS
Next to that, there are some Bullet Journalists who keep track of other collections and spreads (myself included). You can keep track of the books you want to read, of a specific challenge that you have given yourself, or of recurring habits that you want to improve. I recommend first starting with the basic future planning, monthly and/or weekly spread, and daily entries. Once you have gotten the hang of the system, go nuts with all the other collections and spreads you want to add.
I keep track of several things within my monthly and weekly spread. You can read all about how I use my monthly and weekly spreads in my upcoming post.
For now, I hope the structure of the Bullet Journal has become clear to you and I hope you are going to start your own! When you do, make sure to leave a comment how it’s going or send me a message through the contact form or via Instagram. I would love to see your work!
Do not hesitate to ask advice or any questions you might still have.