Off-topic: Bullet journaling for traditional diarists

I’m starting a new series on the blog to allow me to write about subjects that don’t fit my usual Scotland/travel theme. In my ‘real life’ (as opposed to my online existence!) I’m a social media manager, so I’m keen to have the freedom to discuss other topics like Instagram, influencers and blogging more widely. So the ‘off-topic’ series was born! 

So… what are the basics of bullet journaling?

I fell into the bullet journal rabbit hole via Instagram, where you’ll find a swathe of minimalist, beautiful pages (the #minimalistbujo tag is my favourite). But what is bullet journaling at the most basic level? Well, this ‘analog system for the digital age’ is a to-do list at heart, which aims to boost your productivity by keeping your goals and tasks in the one place. A simple ‘bujo’ will include:

  • An index, which allows you to navigate your notebook
  • A future log, generally in the form of a year-to-view calendar
  • A monthly log — I’ve found the best version of this is the month’s dates down the page centre, splitting events into personal and work ones like Liz’s monthly log
  • A weekly/daily log which does what it says on the tin (people seem to choose one or the other depending on how much shit they have to get done!)
  • Collections which are lists of anything and everything (for me, it’s books).
Getting a formula that fits

Looking online — both via the Bullet Journal website, blogs and Instagram — I was totally overwhelmed by the style and variety of bujo layouts. But, through trial and error, I’ve managed to weed it down to reflect my needs. I’ve been bullet journaling for almost three months now in an old notebook, which has given me the time to test monthly logs, trackers, collections (aka lists) and more — meaning that when I invest in a proper ‘dotted’ journal for 2018 I’ll know exactly what layouts I’ll require. My Leuchtturm 1917 will look like this:

  • Index page and key
  • Future log (which shows birthdays, key dates like friends’ weddings etc)
  • Collections which I’ll update regularly (books to read, blog ideas, 2018 goals)
  • Monthly overview (with personal/work calendar, tasks to complete and habit tracker)
  • Daily journaling (literally just with a fancier header but retaining my ‘traditional’ write-whatever-you-want mantra).
Moving from screen to scrawl

One of my biggest bullet journaling realisations is that I don’t need to do everything online. I track my savings, habits, to-dos, events and still keep a daily journal all in the one notebook. The simple routine of noting a few facts from my day invariably leads to a longer stint with my biro. This means that I am, in fact, journaling more than I did before which is a really lovely habit to return to! The other day I rediscovered my diaries from my year abroad in France and reading them really took me back to that time in my life — far more than a blog post ever could.

Quick win ideas you might like if you’re a traditional diarist turning to bujo
  • Leave full pages blank for your ‘old school’ scribbles and diary entries
  • Create a habit tracker for things you should be making time for every day (for me that’s online engagement, creative writing, reading… and press ups. Yeah)
  • Have ‘collection’ pages where you jot down lists e.g. blogging ideas, books you want to read and travel plans.
Have you tried bullet journaling?

2 thoughts on “Off-topic: Bullet journaling for traditional diarists

  1. I started bullet journalling in August and I’m loving it! I was always pretty terrible at keeping a daily journal but having the option of writing traditional ‘stream of conciousness’ or just bullet pointing the key events of the day is making a huge difference. I’m loving that I can keep everything in the one place and that it keeps me away from a screen, even if it is just for 20 minutes each day. I’d love to see your layouts when it’s done, I’ve been using different coloured inks for different tasks (red for work, blue for personal etc) with a Bic pen – it means I can see at a glance what the focus of the day is.

  2. I’ve heard a lot about bullet journalling but have never taken the leap because I already had a bit of a system going with a moleskine diary and a notebook, but this post just found me at a good time! This is the first year in about 6 that i’ve bought a different diary from a moleskine (a Kikki K Sweet Diary) – I was just filling out my new diary for next year and doing some planning, and in a brief moment of procrastination read some blogs from my bloglovin’ feed and now I have a Leuchtturm 1917 arriving on Friday! Can’t wait to try it and see if I can solve some of the issues i’ve been having with trying to fit some trackers etc.. into my new diary layout. I’m going to stick with my Kikki K diary as well for a while, incase the bullet thing doesn’t work out. If I love it, I will feel bad about buying the Kikki K but it’s more important to me to find something that works right now so trying not to get in a fuzz about it! Looking forward to seeing some layouts from you! 🙂

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