Friday, 17 June 2016

Bullet Journal-What is it and why you need it if you want to be super organised, or already are.

bullet journal

There's a lot of buzz going around at the moment about Bullet Journals. I had let this pass me by until a recent "incident", after which I decided I wanted to start making a note of things I wanted to remember, like a notebook journal.

The "incident" was that one evening recently I popped in to Marks and Spencer to get some tapas bits for dinner. I picked up these items and then went to the cheese section to get some... get some... and that's where it happened.  For the life of me I could not remember the name of the cheese I wanted. I knew it was white, quite firm and when sliced and put on a griddle, it goes soft and chewy and a bit squeaky. I knew the name of this cheese had a 'L' in it. The word 'Lanzarote' kept popping in to my head. So I then slowly read every cheese label on the shelves, hoping what I wanted would jump out at me when the word triggered in my brain. Nothing. I knew then they didn't have the cheese I wanted but I honestly felt like crying. Was I starting to lose my mind? Should I not have deleted the Brain Training app from my phone?
Driving home (cheese-less), I remembered. Halloumi. God damn Halloumi!

Being mid forty I have lots of things I want to remember, like all the places I've lived to all the places I've travelled to. If you think about it, it's only your CV that lists most of your employment and education history but you don't list other significant events anywhere. Everything else is reliant on your memory. I want to start writing down all these things, just in short memory prompting notes. So I decided to find out what this Bullet Journal craze was all about.

The Bullet Journal system was devised by New York designer, Ryder Carroll.  His idea is that the Bullet Journal will help you track the past, organise the present and plan for the future. My take on this is that you can write down notes, ideas, thoughts, memories, to-do lists and plans.

What do you need
  • A notebook - something you will enjoy writing in. An A5 book is a perfect size as it's not too big, so you can have it in your bag and it's not too small, so you won't use it up too quickly. A book with an elastic tie around it will keep it closed and the pages flat.
  • A pen - one you enjoy writing with. I'm going to get a variety of colours, to highlight titles and brighten up the contents. Personally I favour a gel ink.
  • Stickers - this is not essential but I'm going to look on my Bullet Journal almost like a scrapbook and so I wanted to pretty up certain pages, like my list of where I've gone on holiday. Also I just want to regress back and buy stickers.
  • Washi tape (coloured/patterned sticky tape) - again not essential but for the same reasons as above and I've been looking for an excuse to buy some of these tapes from Amazon!
How to set up your Bullet Journal
You will need to set up your journal yourself. I'm sure soon you will be able to buy books with pre-printed sections but I like the idea of setting my journal up myself. It's old school, like back in the day when you got a new diary for Christmas and you would spend the afternoon writing in all the birthdays, addresses and phone numbers (even though you knew everyone's phone number and address off by heart. Oh the time before the mobile phone..).

In the top outer corner of each page you'll write the title for that page, so for example "Holidays I've had", "Places I've lived", "Blog post ideas for July".

Page number
Put this at the bottom of the page. You'll need the page number for your Index section.

Your index is going to take up a few pages, so do this at the front or back of your notebook. Write down all your Topics and the relevant page numbers, such as "Holidays-past & present - 6, 7, 13, 17".

Daily, Monthly, Future log
You will use these titles for your plans or to-do lists.
Your future log is where you will write down things you want to do in the future. These can be small tasks or bigger goals.
You can also set up pages in your journal for the whole year or break it down by half a year. Use two side by side pages and rule out three sections on each page - these are your three months on one page, this will give you a quick glance view.

So what is the key for actually bulleting or categorising your notes? You can use your own symbols but the following are standard:
       .   -  a coloured in dot is for a "task"
       O - an open circle is for an "event", usually date related
       -  - a dash is for a "note", these can be facts, ideas, thoughts
       *  - an asterisk means it's a priority
       !  -  an exclamation mark means it's a great idea
       X - a cross shows it's completed
       > - needs to be carried over
       < - needs to be scheduled

A bit like with the Mindful Colouring Books, this journal is meant to focus and de-clutter your ever busy mind. It takes effort to write things down and also to re-write them again if they haven't been done (this is called Migration). So if it's not worth the effort of writing it down, it's not worth any effort!

So that's my take on Bullet Journaling - a relaxing, satisfying way of recording your memories, dreams and to-do lists. Now I'm off to write my first topic.. "Favourite Cheeses".



  1. What a great blog and awesome idea. I am going to Paperchase as soon as I can to buy all the pretties. Then I'll flat lay them & post & tag you. Thank you. This is just what I need. Am feeling completely overwhelmed after the Blogtacular Conference & the more and more I have to do each day, love it as I do! x

  2. Oh, and I am SO relieved it's not just me. I couldn't remember the name of the Shard at the weekend! It has been proved it's because we have more and more stuff in our brains, we're not losing it, it's just taking longer for us to go through the 'filing system' it is so full! Suzi

    1. Thanks Suzi for your comments. That makes me feel better about the "filing"! Are you going to post about the conference? I'm intrigued what it's all about.

    2. Hi Julie, yes I did blog about Blogtacular, it's here:

      I loved your blog on the Bullet Journal, thank you, have bought a note book and taken a flat lay to post on Insta this week to show me getting organised! I am in the middle of an on-line photography course so am thrilled to have any excuse for another flat lay as well as getting more organised with my posts & blogs. Very grateful. I will link to your Instagram Page. Suzi x

    3. That's great, thanks Suzi. I'm heading over now to read your post.
      Julie X

  3. I loved reading this. I create a photobook every year a lo of places I have been, tickets, cards etc I use Evernote for blog ideas, a calendar and notes app on my phone which is synced with my computer. I know it's not all in one place but I would have to put things in the calendar so would double up and I am also trying to have less actual stuff. I tried I am also trying to have less stuff. I tried this approach but found it doesn't work for me but after reading your article may give it another shot!

    1. Thanks for your comment Nital. I know what you mean, it is quite hard to de-clutter all the stuff we all have.
      Julie X


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