what is bullet journal: the top 10 things you need to know

i have been a planner-geek and list-o-maniac since i could put pen to paper, but bullet journalling (BuJo) has changed my life. BuJo has been part of my life for the 1 year-ish and i feel this genuine sense of relief that my planner allows me to plan my life the way i want it.

i have tried everything from yearly diaries, ready-made planners to plain notebooks, but there was always this hitch of wanting to plan things in an orderly fashion, without compromising on doodles, tidbits, additional info etc.

BuJo has re-ignited the planner-addict in me! so, here’s the top 10 things you need to know.

1. what is the bullet journal? 

bullet journal or BuJo is a planning system that was started by Ryder Carroll. simply put, its a notebook that accommodates planning schemes and methods that are super customisatable!

2. what supplies do i need to BuJo?

nothing fancy

* your favorite notebook

* your favorite writing tool- pen, pencil, marker etc.

* your creative mind space

3. how do i get started?
* browse through the official bullet journal website to get a fair idea.

* understand the basic of what you need to get started (more on that below)

* DO NOT look through pinterest or instagram  for inspiration at this stage. its like browsing through food magazine when you are mashing up avo with the back of your ladle. there is a time and place for everything, now is not it.

4. i did all the above, there’s just so much out there, what do i REALLY do to get started?

* get your favorite notebook and pen.

* take a quick look at this link

* start off marking the first few pages as INDEX(this is where you jot the titles of all your BuJo pages for easy reference. write anything on any page, just jot the title and page number in the index, that one giant leap for mankind )

* create a KEY (use color codes and stickers or go the minimalist way with just symbols.
word of caution: dont complicate the key. internet is seductive with ideas, but the average mind cant track more than 5 symbols)
create your FUTURE LOG (just a space where you jot down future events for the year/coming months. anything from birthdays to anniversaries to Season 4 of How to Get Away with Murder)
create MONTHLY LOG/WEEKLY LOG (most in the bujo community do both. do a monthly log, where you jot things down from your future log  and then break it down further to weekly logs  as the weeks progress. i personally do just the monthly log, as the weekly log seems like a bit of a repetition to me.
DAILY LOG – The most important feature (okay, one of ’em) of the bujo. all you need to do it write the date and log! Appointments, thoughts, doodles, what you ate/wore etc.

that’s all there is to be bujo, basically. what makes the bujo special is how you customise it and how you make it work.

5. what are the SPECIAL FEATURES of a BuJo?

* COLLECTIONS – ever have an errant thought, the perfect recipe to chocolate chip cookies or weight loss tips that you just know where to put in your planner? this is where the bujo saves you. Collections  allow you to pick a random page, mark a title (link it back to index) and write whatever you want on it! bujo gives you the best of both worlds – planning and journalling!
examples of some collections
+ brain dump – just random thoughts and jots
+ bucklet list
+ song list
+ books/movies list
+ recipes
+ doodles/mandalas if you will.

* TRACKERS – for me this is by far the best feature of the bullet journal. the first time tried this, it was epiphany! where were you all my life?!! what you do is track something – simple as that
+ monthly tracker – most used tracker, also known as the habit tracker. track everything from sleep, moods, food, spending to working out in a monthly tracker.
+ weight loss – i personally loathe this tracker but it does make sense. it’s very in-your-face when you see something down on paper. i track, workouts, cardio, weights and inches. (it’s not good. not good at all 🙁 )
water consumption/food habits – i see a lot of people track what goes in them. since i am mostly on fat and coffee, it never made sense to me.
+ bills, payments due and other adult stuff
+ kids’ grades, scores, vaccination and other children stuff

6. why does the bullet journal work so well?
you can set up a bullet journal in 5 mins or 5 hours. customisation at the max throttle! 

* you can be beyonce or betty. instagram and pinterest is LOADED with people do SO MUCH fancy bullet journal work. they go all out – colored pens, stickers, calligraphy and dont even get me started on the washi tape!! dont get wrong, to each their own but i feel it takes away from the whole “simplifying the planning process” thing. minimalist bujo-ers (like me) are few but present nonetheless! You dont have to use a Leuchtturm 1917 or even dot matrix book, i use a plain spiral book from the local store and it works beautiful.
 your bujo is like a yogamaster! flexibility is key! your bujo can be all planning and professional or you can spice it up with collections, trackers and brain dumps!

7. you can cheat on your BuJo!

* i have seen several accounts in Instagram, where people have two or more bujo. cheat on your bujo with a side bujo just for collections or trackers.

* i found this to be a super-OMG moment. though i was really comfortable with the bujo process until someone suggested a side bujo. i couldnt bring myself to cheat on my bujo, but what i did was bifarcate my bujo to two. just added a plastic divider! voi-fudging-la!

* i put all my planning, monthly trackers etc (bujo style) in the first half of my bujo and all my collections and knick-knacks in the second half. it was like the red sea had parted in my brain.

8. the facts – pros of bullet journal.

* inspires & increases productivity –  planner addicts will already atleast to this. putting pen on paper gets your brain to register faster compared to a digital system. its all about your brain recognising your handwriting that creates a lasting impression. so bullet journalling helps you a lot.
keeping it all in one place – how many times have created notepads and word docs with lists – bucket lists, places to see, restaurants to try etc and have then never open the document again? bujo keeps it all in one place. helps you get more out of life.
that little voice that kept telling me “you’re forgetting SOMETHING” just disappeared!
* actually helped control my OCD-ness 
– the need to have everything perfect, every line straight, every aspect just right had been bogging me so much for so much of my life. but when you put pen to paper, there is just so much margin for error. i used the correction tape for sometime and even replaced sheets in the beginning. but slowing but very steadily i have begun to accept the mistakes with a little strikethrough or i covered it up with a doodle. i am able to breathe (i dunno if anyone will relate)

9. the facts – cons of bullet journal.

* you cant “move” things – a digital calendar allows you to simple “move” an appointment to another time or date. with the bujo, you have to physically re-write it on a different date. this takes some getting used to.
no collaboration – the bujo is just about you. you cant share an event or a list with another person. what i would suggest is that you dont have to go full analog. stay digital as much as needed while keeping track of life in the bujo.

* time consuming – unless you go minimalistic or you get your routine pat down, the bujo does eat your time. there are youtube  videos that show people taking approx 3 hours to set up a bujo, come a new month. me? it takes about 5 mins to set up a week and about 15 odd mins to set up a new month. it’s all about taking what you need from the system and customising it to your needs.
* page numbers – unless you get a numbered notebook, you have to number the WHOLE book, because the basis of bujo is the page numbers and linking them to the index. i admit, i got myself a 400 pages notebook and it was exhausting to even number the first page
i numbered the first hundred pages then counted the pages and number 150, 200, 250 etc only. i number the pages as i use them and this has considerably saved me time.
there is no DING – there is no chime from the bullet journal to remind you a task/event is due. you have to physically open the bujo and look into it everyday.
NO BACKUP – there is no cloud storage. you lose your bujo, you are kinda done!

10. final verdict

* get yourself a bullet journal. atleast try one out for a few months. i promise you its worth it.
* what i REALLY cant solve is what one does with the bullet journal once the book/year is done. i cant cloud store it. it’s too nice and awesome and contains so much info to throw out. but then it does sit there occupying space. 

here’s a quick video of my march spreads from early this year. as you can see i have gone minimalist with just few months of using the bujo. infact from may, i printed stickers for all my trackers and calendar wheel and i could set up a month within a min or so. try it!

those are my absolute honest opinions about the bullet journal. no holding back.

let me know what you think. do you bujo? leave me a link to your bujo pictures or just tell me if i got it right. 🙂

2 thoughts on “what is bullet journal: the top 10 things you need to know

  1. You’re a planner geek alright. BuJo seems exciting, will try and get back to you with the feedbacks.

    Let’s hope it puts order to the chaos. And, help connect things forward rather than backward as Steven J aptly points out.

Comments are closed.