Articles / My work

Bullet Journaling: A No-Nonsense Approach

I’ve always been a planning junkie, but never found a system that worked for me until now. I tried everything — virtually every to-do list app on iTunes,  Google Calendar, Evernote; you name it, I’ve tried it (and dropped it two weeks later).

The most important thing for me, as a student, was finding a cheap system — Filofax planners can cost over $50, and I can’t justify spending that much on a planner no matter how pretty it is.

But the bullet journal has changed my life. I’ve used it for about a month now, and it’s helped me to establish a daily routine, eat better, drink more water, track my goals, and keep up with appointments, events, and assignments easily.

Anyway, without further ado, I present to you my no-fluff bullet journal method. Enjoy!

The Journal:

My journal of choice is the Fabriano A5 graph journal. It’s part of their EcoQua range, which is environmentally conscious. Picked it up in WHSmith’s for £3.49*. A steal, considering its amazing quality.

*WHSmith’s website was down for maintenance at the time of writing. Will post a link later.

The Pens:

I use ASDA fineliners. They’re vibrant, they write well, don’t bleed through, and they last a really long time. The best part, though? They ring up at a modest £2, compared to £9.85 for a set of 10 Staedtler pens that are virtually the same colours.

The Layout:

I’ll just go ahead and say it — I don’t embellish my journal much. (GASP!) I simply don’t have time to doodle constantly and make everything super pretty. I prefer a minimalistic system I can add to and search through at a glance, which motivates me to continue doing it since it doesn’t take much time at all.

And now for the part you’ve all been waiting for.

  • The key. I like my key because it’s simple and not overloaded. It’s quite similar to other keys, especially the tasks section. I added the wellbeing section to help keep track of my moods, spending, and recreational habits.

  • The month page. I don’t have so much going on that I feel the need for a huge, blocked calendar, so I stick to this small one instead. It allows me to mark days with symbols from my key and write appointments and events out to the side. The monthly tracker (inspired by DecadeThirty on Etsy) really helps me see how I’m progressing with my goals.

  • The weekly spread. People do their weekly spreads differently, but I prefer to fit my week on one page. I try not to overload my day with a million tasks that I’ll never finish or just have to move, so the 10-line spacing for each day is perfect. I also have a little status bar where I record my morning and night routine habits, number of cigarettes smoked (I’m quitting and, thanks to the bullet journal, I’ve made astounding progress), reading and writing habits, and water consumption. Of course each person’s status bar, if they choose to do one, will look different based on their priorities. On the right hand side of each entry, I record any emotional points for the day to keep track of my mood, as I’m working toward a more mindful life. Any tasks I need to do during the week that don’t necessarily have a due date go in the “weekly tasks/reminders” section at the bottom, and I tally up my met goals at the end of the week and put them in the mini tracker next to it to see my weekly progress.

  • The food tracker. This is a new feature of my journal, and I haven’t used it yet — previously, I incorporated my eating habits directly into the daily entries, but I found that it made everything look cramped, so I stuck it on a separate page with some room at the end for analysis. The entries are small, but there was even less room in the daily entries and I managed with those. I think it’ll work out just fine in the end, and the analysis section will help tremendously in seeing what I need to eat more of and cut back on.

Well, that’s about it! Please feel free to share your own approaches as I’m always looking for new ways to improve my system, and I hope you enjoyed this post, whether you’re a bujo veteran or a newbie.


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