bullet journaling

My selfmade journal

Every day, we are faced with challenges and tasks that can be overcome with a bit of structure and planning. However, our usual companions are overfilled calendars, countless to-do lists, notes and loose pieces of paper. Using a self-designed bullet journal or bullet diary, you will be able to combine all your schedule, tasks and lists in one place. This also allows you to have fun organising and add a bit of creativity into your daily life. With this little book, you will be able to turn all your appointments, projects and ideas into a convenient piece of art or a straightforward organiser.

What is a bullet journal?

The job of a bullet journal is to create a calendar with enough space for writing down your appointments, lists, thoughts and inspiration. This highly flexible organisation system was created by New York-based graphic designer Ryder  Carroll. His goal was to create a journal without rules that has enough space.
Because every person is wired differently, the organisation system should be designed according to a person‘s own preferences and interests. Adapted to the needs at work, school, university or during recreation, the bullet journal helps you in structuring your everyday life so that you don‘t forget or lose anything. The system combines a calendar, to-do lists and important notes in one place while providing space for individual topics such as weekly reflections, thoughts, quotes, photos, decorations and much more!

Terminology

  • Bullet: A so-called bullet is a symbol that is assigned certain properties. Bullets are used to denote specific tasks and appointments throughout the entire journal (e.g. „O“ is used to represent an „appointment“).
  • Key: In the key (or legend), you assign a function to every bullet or symbol and create a labelled key list. This allows you to find specific topics quickly. Colours too can be used as keys (e.g. marking important appointments in red).
  • Index: The index will help you maintain an overview of all the topics you have defined by providing you with the page number. The index has to be updated regularly.
  • Tracker: Everything you want to record down regularly will fall under the term „tracker“. This allows you to analyse things such as your eating habits (food tracker), sleep cycle (sleep tracker) or sports activities (sports tracker).
  • Log: The daily log is the calendar of your journal. It shows you all upcoming appointments, events and tasks you have on a certain day. Future logs, monthly logs and weekly logs are also often used.
  • Collections: Collections are individually designed pages. For example, one page can be left blank after every weekly log to make space for lists and reminders.
 

Materials & Tools

  • Notebook: Whether it is a notebook with lined, grid, blank or dotted pages, the kind of notebook you use is completely up to you. Choose whatever is the most convenient for you. Page numbers in the book are very important for the index. Nevertheless, you can add them yourself if necessary.
  • Ruler: A ruler is very useful for creating logs if you want your calendar to look neat and tidy. Geometric decorations too are great for giving logs a little bit of flair.
  • Pencil and rubber: If you don‘t feel confident enough yet to write on the journal using permanent pens, you can start by drawing with a fine pencil and then rub away the pencil markings later. This will definitely help you achieve even the most intricate of page design.           
  • Fineliners and felt-tip pens: Fineliners are essential – especially for bullets and keys. You can use fineliners of all sorts of colour. This lets you easily create fine lines, lettering and sketches in order to give your journal a personal touch.
  • Ink pens: Ink pens are great for quick drawings, such as visualised weekly review and reminders on empty pages. You can also quickly and easily draw your ideas and inspiration on the book while you are on the go.
  • Textliners: The colourful textliners are especially  great for highlighting important events in different colours. You can also make sketch-like drawings and writing with  different stroke widths to create variety.
  • Brush pens: Brush pens are useful for decorating the diary with handlettering – whether it is squiggles or titles – everything should be able to look attractive. With the help of the flexible brush tip, a calligraphic effect can be created by using the technique of applying light pressure on the paper during an upstroke and more pressure on the pen during a downstroke.
  • Coloured pencils: Coloured pencils can be used to make decorations and colourful elements look even more exciting. The glowing colours are handy for drawing, colouring and creating abstract motifs.
Faber-Castell - Bullet journaling starter set, 9 pieces
Bullet journaling starter set, 9 pieces

Structure

The index

1. Consider how you want to structure your journal and how you can define your keys for the greatest convenience possible. Now leave the first 4-5 pages of your book empty so that you can expand the table of contents when something new is added. You can start by using a  pencil if you wish.

 

2. You can set aside the page after the table of contents for the legend, followed by, for example, the future log, monthly log and weekly log, and perhaps even the daily log.  The weekly or, if you wish, daily log will be kept throughout the rest of the notebook; therefore, leave one or more pages in every week empty for creative things. You can then note them down accordingly in the index.

3. The table of contents is constantly changing and being constructed as contents are added to the book. Therefore, always write down the topics first followed by the page numbers to avoid making mistakes.  Always keep the index updated so that you can retrieve important information quickly without having to browse through the book. To give your index a personal touch, you can embellish it with decorative details, frames and banners.

The legend

 1. You’d need 1-2 pages right after the table of contents for the legend. It helps you to better organise and find your appointments and notes more easily. First define your keys: every symbol or colour should stand for something different.
2. For example, you can use a bullet for work  appointments that is different from the one you use for personal or social events. A small exclamation mark beside a word can help remind you that it concerns something important. Likewise, colours can also be used to differentiate between appointments or thoughts.
3. Now draw the bullets, markers and colour keys below your topic title on the blank page and write down the corresponding description. Design and decorate the page to your heart’s content.

Calendars

1. Think of how you would like to design your future log so that it provides you with a rough overview of your schedule. At first, use a pencil to draw concise, skeletal monthly logs and leave a little bit of space for any additions.
2. The monthly log is a little bit more detailed. For detailed scheduling of every day in a month, create a small box in which you can work with keys and abbreviations later. Set aside one or two pages for a single month.
3. You can always restructure a weekly log for the week after. Leave enough space for each day so that you can capture all appointments in bullet points. You can leave an empty page for every week to pen down personal reminders, to-do lists and trackers. If you have an eventful week coming up, you can even switch to creating a daily log. Set aside one to two pages for each day and you can put down everything you want on the pages.

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