I’ve been using my bullet journal since the beginning of September now, adapting it as needs must as the weeks have passed by. Initially I was inspired by the many pretty versions saturating my Tumblr dash and so I begun to start my own. I absolutely did not expect to stick at this — I thought it would be yet another project I grew lazy with after a few weeks. And whilst there have been periods where I’ve had to catch up on a few days of the dailies at once, overall I’ve been pretty consistent with it. So I thought I would share a bit about how I use my bullet journal and how you might use, plan, or set out your own.
The first page I have set up is my key page which is a helpful little tool to look back on if I forget what certain symbols and colours mean. The symbols in black at the top are pretty standard to all bullet journals but I also use an exclamation point to note important things or priorities, a heart for great ideas or little motivations/treats for myself, and a question mark for something I want to research into more. Colourwise, each task I have will fill one of the five categories and I then use that colour to fill in the task box once it’s completed, or otherwise. Besides the categories I have little examples of what fits where too just incase I have difficulties deciding on where to put something, and so I can try and remain consistent with ambiguous tasks. The last colour coding I use is highlighting university work in one of three colours. Again, each colour fits to a specific thing, in this case the three modules I’m taking this year all have their own separate colours which help me to distinguish things easily on the page. It’s also helpful in that I don’t have to include as much information on the dailies page about each academic task as I have an easy, visual reminder of what module the task is for.
On the page beside my key I have an index page. This is pretty simple looking and fairly standard, I just note down page references for each new thing I start i.e. each week commencing, my class schedule, reading list, planning ahead list. I don’t use it much at the moment but I know that when my journal gets more full, or when I want to reference back in future, it will come in pretty handy.
Over on the next page I have a small calendar set up for each of the months that remained when I started: September, October, November, and December. It’s a quick and easy way to plan ahead at a glance, allowing me to make little notations without having to add much information in. As you can see from the key on this page, I use it to highlight birthdays, when my university terms start/end, bank holidays, concerts, and days I plan to go home for. I had a blank page on the right so I copied this snazzy typography to fill in the space. It turned out a lot better than I expected!
Since that calendar doesn’t allow for much information, over the next few pages I have a double spread for each individual month. On that per day there are two lines just in case there are multiple things going on (such as the 5th November) and I also include a little letter for the day of the week as this helps me plan better. I can fit more things on here and also use it to plan out blog posts as and when I need to, or look at as an oversight for the coming month. As you can see, I use the colours to denote the category of the information as per the key on the first page of the journal.
Next step is the weekly set up. At the beginning of every new week I use one whole page to plan for the next seven days; sometimes this is a lot, and others not so much. It depends how much of the week I have scheduled in and how much will be impulsive. I use this to reference back on throughout the week so that I can try and fit it all into my days. I have yet to successfully achieve everything for a week, but by golly I do try! Most notably you may see the sneaky ‘blog at least three times’ bit at the bottom there hmmm, I don’t think that one quite worked out. Sorry!
Ah, and after that come the infamous dailies pages! These are what fills up most of the book, although I usually fit a whole week over three pages, depending on the length of what I need to get done that day. Sometimes these can be really short and I’ll be struggling for what tasks to put down, like on Wednesday the 4th, whereas on others I have a whole long list of things to tackle. The timestamp strip across the top of each week was inspired by a few other journals I saw on Tumblr — it’s really interesting for me to look back over at how much sleep I got on specific nights. Funnily enough on this page you might notice the hour gap in my sleep on the Tuesday. That was the joyous occassion of the fire alarm going off for 25 minutes in the middle of the night: me and my 6:45 wake-up were ecstatic (although I actually did end up sleeping in and having to rush to get ready for uni). On certain special occasions such as Bonfire Night I doodle little pictures in the top corner too, just to mark them as special. Other notable elements of my dailies pages are the water tracker (which I duly note I do not drink enough of) and my page count tracker (which was appalling that week, clearly). Since starting my bullet journal many of the things on these pages have changed as I’ve become more comfortable with the idea of it all and grown to realise what parts of it I do and don’t need. Even layout/style has changed slightly which is why the ‘Monday’ is in a different font than the others, if you were wondering. Other such things I’ve included before but since abandoned have been weather, mood, and temperature.
As part of my great attempt to budget, I also have a weekly expenses summary at the end of each week, which is another new(ish) addition. I have a colour code for these too which is pretty simple: green indicates a necessity, red a luxury/something I didn’t need, and amber for those things that are ambiguous and not completely sinful. Occasionally I add little notes of income to the bottom as well but this is only if and when my parents (or somebody else) gives it to me, so it is quite sparing.
Obviously as a student I have many great uses for this journal and organisation that others might not. One of these, as a Literature student, is very specifically a reading list for the whole academic year. I separated it into columns so I could add the date they had to be read by, a space to colour in when I had read them, and then the title(s) of what I had to read. The colours are a bit whack in this because I worked with a different colour scheme when I made it to the one I use now, but the purple and turquoise indicate two different modules (I don’t have reading for the third). This saves me a lot of time when I need to know what needs to be read for when because the only other way to access my reading lists is by a long, complicated system online. Bullet journal: much easier! On the lefthand page of this double spread is a class schedule but that is set up in a pretty standard, uncomplicated, uninteresting way. You can just see the corner of Wednesday’s ‘Craft of Writing’ module up there in the top left corner.
Overall I love what I’m doing with my bullet journal currently and can’t wait to see it progress even moreso over the coming months. Already I’m planning more changes for how I want to lay things out: perhaps a sentence or two at the end of each day with a few general comments about life, maybe I’ll start sticking my train and cinema tickets into it instead of keeping them in a glittery pink box for all eternity. Whatever it may be, I’m sure it’ll be rad, as all bullet journals are. And as I continue to draw inspiration from the many wonderful studyblr (and non-studyblr) blogs, I hope you find inspiration of your own too.