Habit tracking journal

A Beginner’s Guide to Bullet Journaling That Isn’t Intimidating

Bullet journaling or bujo, as what the creative community has decided to abbreviate it to, is not nearly as intimidating as many people think it is. It is not about the aesthetic pages laced with washi tapes and stickers, or pages that are filled with Comic Sans handwriting—that is all a misconception.


The reality of it is, bullet journaling is all about organising your thoughts. It could be your planner, diary or even sketchbook, it all comes down to how you decide to decorate or organise it! To get you started on your journey, here are some tips on how to get into bullet journaling as a beginner:


1. First things first, get yourself a journal!


The very first step into bullet journaling is choosing a journal or notebook that suits you! Get yourself down to the nearest book or art store, and carefully pick one right off the shelf. Here are some tips on how to choose your first-ever journal!


One, instead of getting your usual lined notebook, opt for a dot-gridded or gridded notebook for a change—these two alternatives will make your planning and organising a lot easier and neater on paper. Two, some of the brands that you can look out for are Mossery, Midori MD, Leuchtturm1917 and KOKOYU—these brands are known to be used commonly for bullet journaling and can last for up to a year, depending on how much you draw or write, and the price ranges from RM30 to RM100. Or if you’re on a lower budget, I’d recommend getting them from Daiso as well!


2. Use pens or markers to highlight certain events or days 

The next step is to get a couple of new pens and markers—this is to help decorate as well as distinguish the different spreads in your journal later on. You could opt for colourful options if you’re looking into going all-out when decorating, or you could also go for a minimalistic black and white layout. Whichever one suits your style and personality most!

When choosing your stationery, here are some of the types of pens and brands that you can select from that are affordable and of good quality! In terms of brush pens, you can go for the Koi Brush Pens (RM6+/-), which are the most affordable, or you can invest in a more durable and favourable choice, Tombow Dual Brush Pens (RM11+/-). If you’re looking into drawing pens, go ahead and invest in a Sakura Pigma Micron (RM6+/-) which is a favourite!

Now that you have what you need to get started..


3. Start on the basic layouts at the beginning of the journal!

bullet journal spread habit tracker

 Image: The Bullet Journalist

Now that you’ve got all of what you need to start your bullet journal, here comes the fun part! Before jumping into anything too specific, start off with the basics. The three layouts that every beginner should start off with are:

  • Index: This is used to keep track of all the entries in your bullet journal; all the weekly or monthly spreads are numbered so that they’re easier to find once your bullet journal gets all filled up.

  • Key: This is essentially a system to help organise your thoughts or to-do lists; and help keep track of all of your tasks, appointments and notes in your spreads later on.

  • Future Log: Have a yearly overview that allows you to jot down important dates in the future or even as a calendar that allows you to take a glance at the whole year.


4. Move on to the specific spreads

Once you’ve completed setting up your first few pages, move on to the monthly set of spreads! This is where you start planning out and organising your days more specifically and this is where the real planning begins!


For each month, start with a monthly overview—this is where you can review your month and jot down the important dates or appointments that you need to remember. Follow it up with creating weekly spreads; these weekly spreads include every single day of the week and will allow you to write any of your daily to-do lists or even just any ideas or notes that are associated with each day. In your weekly spread, you can also allocate a larger space that’ll allow you to add on your thoughts for the day if you’d like to reflect on what has happened or to simply remember any good incidents or events that happened along the way!


5. Add on other layouts that are important to you!

The last step in the beginner’s guide to journaling is to just add on any layouts that resonate with you. There are hundreds of different types of spreads that can be added into each month’s layout, all of which you can find on the internet, the possibilities are truly endless— but here are some of the usuals:

  • Habit tracker: To ensure that you follow all your important daily habits; do you need to make sure that you stay hydrated every day, or how many times you work out throughout the month?

  • Expense tracker: Keep track of where your money goes, in or out; if you’re working on becoming a more financially responsible individual, use this spread to control your spending.

  • Brain dump: This is where all your unorganised and random thoughts or ideas go; if you’re unsure of where to fit them in your weekly spread or they’re just spur-of-the-moment ideas, throw them all into this section!

In the end, although there’s been a growing misconception of bullet journaling having to be very aesthetic and neat, remember that each journal is a product of a different individual, so go ahead and you do you! With the decade ending in less than a month, and the new year of 2020 coming just around the corner, here’s your best shot at working towards becoming a more responsible and organised individual in the upcoming decade, so go ahead and take the chance!

All the best!

A textbook Aquarius that daydreams about the universe far too often. Guilty pleasures include Final Fantasy VII, late night drives when the streets are silent, and the occasional bowl of cereal in the middle of the night.

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