I set up my very first bullet journal in December of 2015, over two years ago, and I haven’t used a store bought agenda since. Bullet journals are fully customizable agendas. They can have monthly calendars, daily and weekly spreads, habit trackers, lists, and more. It seems really daunting at first, but once you start it doesn’t take much time or creativity at all.
Most of the bullet journals on Pinterest, tumblr, and Instagram are highly artistic, meticulously organized, and very detailed. Your’s doesn’t have to be! I can’t stress that enough. So many people look at my bujo (shorthand for bullet journal) and think that I spend hours each week decorating and planning each page. It may take me half an hour if I want to make it look artsy, but if I’m simply putting down what I need to do each day it takes all of five minutes. It can be messy, black and white, perfect, colorful, or anything in between.
I use a monthly agenda and weekly spreads. I set up all my months in December and then make each weekly spread on Sunday the week of.
For my monthly spreads, I start with a grid base. In a Leuchtturm 1917 A5 hardcover with a dot grid, each weekday of the month is eight grid spaces over and six down. Each weekend day is seven grid spaces over and six down. I do this part in pencil so I can count out how many days I need and make sure they’re in the right MTWTFSS spot.
After I make the grid, I outline all the days I need in black pen. Then I decorate the black space. I try to do different designs for each month. I typically use stickers, washi tape, and doodles.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! I’ve found that a lot of my friends are tentative to even start a bullet journal because they’re afraid it’ll look messy or that they’ll somehow screw it up. There’s always white out, or some way to improvise. Even then, most people that look at my bullet journal don’t pay attention to the mistakes (and there are plenty of them).
Looking through my new bujo, this is my favorite month so far, as far as the art goes. Below is another I did for March. I erase all the pencil guide lines after I finish decorating (the final step when creating my monthly spreads).
My weekly spreads tend to look very different week to week. I typically write down the day and date and underneath it put down all the things I need to do, with an open circle for tasks/homework and an open square for events. When I begin the task I color the circle in half way, and once it’s complete I color it in fully.
Recently I’ve been using Tracy from Shutterbean’s weekly layout. It’s much simpler and usually leaves a big chunk of room for me to doodle on.
Another reason I love to bullet journal is because it can be turned into a scrapbook. I tape movie tickets, flowers, and other little memories in on the weeks I do those things. So not only do I have a physical thing to remind me of a happy time or event, I have the time, date, and name written down.
My sorority sister (and little) Rachel just started her bullet journal. Her tip for newbies is to experiment with different layouts and spreads to find what fits you best. She also highly recommends stickers and stencils for people that aren’t good at drawing. She got all of her’s off of Amazon!
Click on the links for these stickers, this washi tape, these markers/pens/brush pens, and this stencil set to view some of my favorites off Amazon. You can also get the Leuchtturm journal I’m using by clicking here.
As far as inspiration goes, I search tumblr for the hashtags bujo and studyblr. Pinterest has some good ideas as well. My bullet journal Pinterest board is always evolving. Tracy from Shutterbean is also a big source of bujo inspiration for me.
If you’re interested in seeing how I organize my busy life, check out this post: The Big Three: How to Stay on Your A-Game During Summer Break.