DIY: Bullet Journal

School is starting, which means a few rather exciting things. Kids are learning, college students are embarking on their own lives, parents have more free time, fall is coming, and cool weather is on its way. School starting also means that parents, kids, and college students alike will be heading into a busy season of back-to-school madness.

Whether you’re headed to school, you’ve got kids who are, you’re starting more creative projects, or you’re just plain busy, I’d like to share my methods of organization with you.

A few years ago I found myself in a situation of being perpetually frazzled. I had too much on my plate at all times, and I needed a way to organize my life that made sense and was easy and efficient. In a mad craze to find some organization I stumbled onto a wonderful bit. The Bullet Journal.

You may be thinking, “What is a bullet journal?” think of it in terms of a planner/date book, but without all of the extra frills and confusing sections that you never end up filling in. A bullet journal is the most customizable way to create a planner that utilizes every part of your life.

Without further or do, let’s get down to it.

There are many different ways to put together a bullet journal, but I am going to share with you the most efficient way I have found to set up a bullet journal. Get your rulers out, this is going to be a fun, simple craft.

Start with a simple journal.

I like to use a Moleskine journal with a dotted inside because I think it is the most versatile journal, however any journal will do. I’d suggest using one that isn’t too thick, can easily be carried around with you (I take mine everywhere), and fits your personal aesthetic. Here is one example of a good bullet journal.

Markings.

There are multiple ways to determine importance. This is really where you can let your creativity and personalization come into play. A bullet (Ÿ) represents tasks to-do. The open circle (O) bullet is to represent events that are coming up. Those are the two most important markings for me with my bullet journal. You can do other things like an (X) to symbolize events or to-do items missed that need revisiting, or an arrow (>) or star (*) for important events/items. Figure out how you would like to mark up your bullet journal, and how it would be the most useful and efficient for you. Here are some helpful markings to keep in mind.

A symbol of importance.

A symbol of missed event/item.

A symbol of notation.

A symbol for recipe ideas.

A symbol for in-progress items.

Sections.

Index/Glossary (optional).

On the inside of the journal, on the first and second pages, this is the start of your glossary. In the center of the title line, write Glossary or Index. This is where you can write each page number and what each corresponding page entails. Make an indent line about an inch wide on the left side of each page. In the first row of the indent section, title this Page Numbers. Title the long section Collections. The Index makes it so you can easily find where each Collection is located in your journal. I don’t add the glossary to my personal bullet journal, but that’s because I never think to go back and add to it or keep track of page numbers. Leave two pages for the Index to fill in later.

Future Log.

This is one of my favorite features of the bullet journal; it’s essentially a year at-a-glance section. After your pages set aside for the Index, on the next page, title it Future Log. Grab your ruler and divide this page and the next four pages into either thirds or fourths (depending on how big your journal is), horizontally. Draw a vertical indent line an inch from the left edge. Inside the indent, on the top row of each section, title each month for the next year, including the one you’re currently in. My Future Log takes up four pages because I divide the page into thirds (three months on a page X four pages = twelve months in a year).  In this section, write out all of the important dates that are coming up for the next year (birthdays, final exam dates, important events, etc).

Monthly Log.

After you have finished your Future Log, on the next page title this the current month. This is your monthly log. On this page, use your ruler and indent the page an inch in from the left, drawing a vertical line. In the indent, on the top row start numbering the days of the month, moving down the page as you go. Right next to each date, indicate what the day of the week is by placing a “M, T W, Th, F, S, Su”. In the main section you can be more specific about what events are coming up that month (fill in the corresponding row to the date). On the page directly next to this page, title it the month. This is your monthly to-do list. You can indicate here what you need to get done by the end of the month.

Daily Log.

Each page of the daily log will look different, as each day will be filled with different events, items, and importance. I give my Daily Log the same basic structure. I start at the top of the page on the left side, write the date (8/1 Mon), and underline it. Under the date, I write my events first and indicate what time and where each are happening. Then I start in on my to-do’s for the day. If I have a recipe I want to make that day, I add it here and mark it with an arrow. If I have a deadline coming up, I’ll mark important items with stars. You can personalize your daily log in any way that is most understandable for you.

The Bullet Journal a lá Mon Ami.

I have tweaked my design for the bullet journal to allow more room for creative space. If you open my Daily Log, on the left-side page there is a normal Daily Log set-up, on the right-side page I have left it blank and open for things like grocery lists, topic ideas for blog posts, ideas for photo-shoots, doing my budget, things that the traditional Daily Log space doesn’t give much room for.

Efficiency.

You might be thinking, “Okay, how is this design more efficient than a traditional planner?” well, with the ease of notation, you can mark through your bullet journal quickly, and you can look over previous days quickly to find any missed to-do items or events. I like to go through my bullet journal at the end of every month, look at the items I needed to complete, completely mark out items I’ve completed, and write the items I didn’t get around to in the To-Do section of the next Monthly Log. This way you can easily stay on top of things every month. You have a clear visualization of what needs to be done and how you can get it done; that’s what makes the bullet journal efficient.

And that’s a wrap.

There are so many ways you can make this journal uniquely yours. You could add washi-tape as a way to highlight; you could use color-coding instead of marking indicators; you could add stickers, draw intricate graphs and figures, and combine pages; the options are endless.

Here is a link to the official Bullet Journal website if you have any additional questions.

I would love to know how your journals come along and if you have any suggestions for how to make it more efficient.