If you follow my instagram, you’ll be familiar with my bullet journal updates that pop up every so often on my stories. Whenever I post these I get compliments about my spreads, as well as questions about how I work with it, so I figured I would write everything down in a neat little blog post. We’re talking tips, tricks, recommendations, and how I go about filling the pages of my journal.
The creator of the bullet journal calls it “a customisable and forgivable organisation system”. I took “customisable” and ran with it; I utilise my bujo as a planner/traditional journal/part-time sketchbook hybrid. Essentially, the bullet journal exists to aid you and become whatever you need it to be: to-do lists, sleep and habit trackers, sketchbook, diary, etc …
A lot of inspiration I find on instagram, but I do also love to watch bujo/journal vloggers. I’d say that how I journal is similar to how I live my life, which is to say a pendulum swing between minimalist and maximalist. One month might be clean lines and deftly organised notes, and another notes scrawled into the spaces between collages. My main sources of inspiration are:
One of the benefits of the bullet journal is that you are free to organise it however works best for you. You can also use whatever you want; there’s no limit. You also don’t have to start it at the very beginning of the year; if you don’t want to start until a certain date, or decide to try bullet journalling halfway through the year, that’s great! You do you!
my trusty supplies:
- hardcover lechtrum 1917 in “anthracite” w/ dotted pages
- fineliner pens
- washi tape
- stickers and ink stamps
- photos – tumblr, google images, pinterest
- scraps of brown paper from parcels/ripped off cardboard boxes
- quirky stamps from parcels
- polaroid photos
Last year I used a softcover lechtrum, but this year I upgraded to a hardcover one and much prefer it. The hardcover has 249 pages, which allows for me to spread everything out more and still have plenty of room for ideas outside of month-to-month journaling.
The key is what creates the rapid logging in weekly spreads. The symbols are the bullets of the bullet journal, shorthand notations. The official website has its own key, but I like to take free rein as I use a lot of symbols:
- a clear circle means task
- filled circle means completed
- circle with an arrow means migrated to another day
- crossed out circle means cancelled
- exclamation mark means blog post day
- ticket doodle means cinema trip/film watching
- open book means a book release date
- double exclamation mark means an event
- crossed out double exclamation means a cancelled event
- double side arrow means a trip
- a dot means a note
- triple exclamation marks means a deadline
- triple exclamation marks with an arrow means a migrated deadline
As the year progresses and new things that I have to jot down become apparent, new keys will be added to this page.
calendar + future log:
It’s always nice to have a place to jot down everything that’s happening throughout the year, from birthdays to events, appointments to holidays. This is where the future log comes in, a place to write the reminders so you don’t forget when the month of “x-y-z event” comes.
I like to keep track of what I spend and what I buy, to see patterns in habits. This way, I can check my outgoings and in-goings month-to-month, hold myself accountable for frivolous transactions and become better at budgeting.
Each month I assess my main areas of expenses, so that why the boxes in the image above are currently empty. And if I’d off on holiday or have travel plans, I’ll have an area dedicated to what I spend during that time.
the monthly spread
One of my favourite aspects of the monthly log/spread is that it acts as a title page for the coming month, so I like to keep an individual theme. Sometimes it’s generic but other months have significance that I translate into colour schemes or photos used (June is Pride Month, for example).
I can take anywhere between a half-an-hour to three hours on a monthly spread, depending on detailing. I always start with a rough idea of colour scheme or theme and then work around that. So, say I’m wanting a green tone – I look at my washi tape and photo collections for green hues, to keep everything coordinated.
I chart out how many pages I need for the month, any extra spreads I’m going to add (I call these the “in-between pages”) and then mark off in pencil the page the next month will start on. I do this so that when inspiration hits I can start immediately on the monthly spread to save myself time later.
For January I kept a demure, wintery theme and stuck to a grey/black/white colour pallet, whilst also incorporating my love for doodling plants, flowers and mountains. Those little black dots are roughly-doodled stars and I have to say I’m not a fan of them, but at least I know not to do them again.
When I originally sorted everything out into its place I was left with a large space on the left side. I didn’t want to doodle and after a little while of pondering I decided to write out “playlist” to list what songs I listen to most over the month.
Beige and brown tones are the cornerstone of my bullet journal, and after keeping a cold theme for the first month it was nice to revert back to my comfort zone. I adore classical-inspired paintings, especially ones inspired by Greek mythology, so there always my go-to when it comes to the bujo.
Gypsophilia, or baby’s breath, is my favourite of the flowering plants and I’m hardly ever without any. I also love drying and pressing it, and a little sprig in my bujo was the perfect addition.
You might have noticed that both January and February have quotes written out. I love quotes – I practically collect them – and I’ve decided to write out one per month for all of 2019.
Two quotes from The Raven Cycle (“safe as life” and “be afraid and happy” – my life mottos) exist pretty much everywhere in my bullet journal, but I like the idea of beginning each month with a beloved quote.
So, here are the ones I have in mind for the rest of the year:
- March: “Tell your sister that she’s gotta rise up” – My Shot, Hamilton
- April: She wasn’t interested in telling other people’s futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own – Maggie Stiefvater, The Raven Boys
- May: Everything starts with belief – V.E. Schwab, Vicious
- June: “Every time someone steps up and says who they are, the world becomes a better, more interesting place” – Captain Holt, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
- July: To be careful with people and with words was a rare and beautiful thing – Benjamin Alire Saenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
- August: “I am wild” – Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
- September: “I don’t know anything with certainty, but seeing the stars makes me dream” – Vincent Van Gogh
- October: “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers” – L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
- November: “I care to look on the outside how I look on the inside” – Maggie Stiefvater, The Raven King
- December: make the yuletide gay (😉)
A few may change around. March’s quote is thrice appropriate: International Women’s Day, release month of Captain Marvel, and the month I’m seeing Hamilton!!!
the weekly spread
This is the main bulk of the bullet journal system, where to-do lists exists and I write out my thoughts of the day. The weekly spread is where the key is put to work.
When creating weekly spreads, I begin as I do with my monthly ones: colour scheme. I like to have a main photo from which the rest of the spread will take form from, dictating which companion photos, pens and washi tape I use.
The above was a weekly spread for January. I kept it quite simple, with my usual journal approach and a two-tone colour scheme of black and grey. The little image of the moon is only taped on, and underneath is a little reminder to allow myself to always have breathing room.
This is my spread for next week, which is to say the 11-17th February. I’m likely going to doodle something in the space between “be afraid and happy” and “thursday”, or put a sticker there. I always test different photos and placements before committing to one layout, so that I know I’ll be happy with the outcome.
As you can see, I have a general set-up that doesn’t change much, with the only variations being where photos are placed and which washi tape I use. If I’ve got a big event during the week or I’m on holiday, however, I dedicate an entire page to each day so that I can jot everything down. I did this for Disneyland Paris last year, and I’ll be doing it for Disneyland Paris and my various other trips this year, too.
I call this area the “free rein area”. Essentially, this is everything that isn’t tied to the main bulk of the bujo system, which is to say that they aren’t quite restricted to within a certain month. Some are at the beginning of my bujo, whilst others exist between the monthly journaling as a little interval.
I always start my new journal off with a look back on the previous year, going through the months in my head and jotting down amazing and not-so-amazing things. Essentially it’s a shorter version of my coffee talk.
books + a sketch:
The cotton sketch was directly inspired by Shayda Campbell’s in her 2019 plan with me + setup. One thing I want to begin to incorporate more into my bullet journal is sketches, especially botanical sketches, to improve my drawing abilities.
Officially my goodreads challenge for 2019 is set at one book; unofficially it’s 40. There are not 40 books on this page, partly because I couldn’t fit 40 on and partly because I wanted somewhere to keep a track of books that are high priority for the year. As I read them, I’ll fill in the dots. As it currently stands, I have read five.
films + goals for 2019:
I’m turning into a film junkie. Last year I saw fifteen at the cinema, and I certainly plan to outgrow that number this year. As the year progress, I’ll be listing cinema and streaming releases that I really want to see. I definitely want to watch more lgbtq+ films and I have a list dedicated to them on Netflix. If you have any recommendations leave a comment!
If you’ve read my coffee talk for 2018, you’ll be aware that I am not one for resolutions. However, I do like to write out a list of goals I want (or hope) to accomplish by the end of the year. My goals for this year include:
- returning to Edinburgh (it’ll be three years this May)
- completing the first draft of my novel
- be kind, always (it’s why it’s written out all fancy)
- go vegan in skin/haircare
- read more lgbtq+ fiction
- cut out red meat (though, now, I’m moving towards becoming vegetarian)
This is self-explanatory. I found that I have a tendency to drift away from blogging for weeks (sometimes months) at a time. Becoming a Netgalley reviewer was one way to keep me blogging, and this is another: by having lists of ideas for each month, I keep myself inspired and motivated.
Some months will have content dedicated to one thing (June = Pride Month) but among my ideas are: the return of montly favourites, pin collections, bookstagram, and more coffee talks.
My final set of the “in-between pages” for now. Last year I created a quick spread about my Myers-Briggs results – I am INFP-T. This year I redid that spread and also decided to include more personality pieces. I’m likely going to add a zodiac spread, as – whilst I don’t believe in horoscopes – I love how our signs, generally speaking, match up to personalities.
So there we have it – this is how I bullet journal. I’ll be writing up plan with me‘s for every month, as well as overall bujo’s updates in June and December for mid-year and end-of-year posts.
Do you use the bullet journal system? How do you utilise it?
Until the next time – happy reading!