In this post I’m going to try and cover everything I’ve gone over on Instagram in the past two weeks! This way you can have access to all this info in one place. I will try to make this as easy to read an concise as possible!
This is how I order my notebook. This is not the law of journaling, but I find that this set up makes everything a little more efficient and easy to find.
FRONT OF THE NOTEBOOK:
p1. Legend – this is where you will notate all your bullets. Below are the bullets that I use but you can adjust these to suit your needs.
p2. Collections – Collections is the section of your notebook where you keep your collections of lists. I try to keep it to a max of 1-2 pages per collection topic; this sounds like a small amount but you’ll be surprised at how much you can fit! Especially if you use both sides of each page. Here’s some examples of collection ideas if you’re stuck on what to include:
- books to read
- shows to watch
- movies to watch
- birthday/xmas gift ideas
- personal wishlist
- recipes to try
- bucket list
- blog/IG post ideas
- handlettering practice
- date night ideas
p3. Year At A Glance/Future Log – This is where you will map out your whole year (broken down into months) with highlighted important dates. This will you give you a general idea of what you have coming up so you can plan accordingly. This is a good section to flip back to when making plans far in advance for things like vacations and weddings.
p4. Monthly Spread – After you break down your year, you will move into monthly layouts. This is where you can break down your schedule a little more precisely. This is where you can highlight days off, appointments, events, etc.
p5. Weekly Spread – In my opinion, the weekly spread is the essence of a bullet journal. This is the part where your journal will become most like a planner. My advice is to never skip doing a weekly layout if you can. This layout gives you the most flexibility in terms of what you can include and how in depth you can go. Some key elements I suggest including are a calendar so you know what week you’re in, an “important” section – for important dates and deadlines, an “upcoming” section for upcoming dates and events like birthdays, bill due dates, etc. and a notes section for any miscellaneous info you might need to add! – Usually a weekly spread for me takes up two pages. Then I leave about three pages in between this weekly and the next for notes, general journaling, or daily spreads. Here’s an example of mine:
p6. Daily Spread – The daily is kind of an enigma to some folks mostly because a common issue is feeling like you don’t have enough info to fill in a daily spread. For me, I don’t always use dailies. I think this is where a lot of people get stuck because they feel like they HAVE to have a daily spread each day. I usually only write a daily if I have an especially busy day with a lot going on. It helps keep your mind organized but isn’t necessarily essential for every singly day. If you’re trying to decide what kind of layout to start with, I’d start with a weekly spread and if you feel like you need a more in-depth look at your days, try adding some daily spreads to your routine. They are fun but not necessarily essential! Try to embrace the trial and error in the beginning 🙂
BACK OF THE NOTEBOOK:
After you’ve done a couple months worth of spreads, section off some pages in the back of your notebook for trackers. I usually section off a good chunk for habit trackers and mood trackers (you can easily fit multiple mood trackers per page) but habit trackers can take up a bit more room. In the very back on the last page I keep passwords for my devices and accounts. I don’t have much direction on how much to section off for this part because it varies for everyone and I usually just eyeball it! If you’re more of a perfectionist you can try counting pages to see how many you’ll need.
Planning ahead can be the most daunting part of bullet journaling. This is usually where most folks can get stuck. You don’t want to spend a bunch of time drawing up your spreads every single day, so how do you plan ahead to fill it in later?
Answer: One month at a time.
It sounds like a lot, when you’re first starting out drawing spreads can take a lot of time especially if you use a lot of color and design. But remember that this should be a cathartic experience! Try to plan your spreads when you have a lot of downtime to sit down and really dive in and enjoy it. I like to do mine after dinner with a movie on in the background before bed!
It should go something like this:
- Monthly layout
- Optional daily pages or journaling pages (for just writing your thoughts or what you did that day)
- Optional daily pages
- Optional daily pages
If you’re still having trouble with your set up, try to think of it like a planner. At the end of the day a bullet journal is just a planner that YOU get to design! It should be fun and efficient for YOU. So if this setup isn’t speaking to you, try different orders or spreads that will be efficient and helpful for your lifestyle.
Takeaways and Advice:
Feeling overwhelmed? Try to remember these things:
- Bullet journaling is supposed to be fun. If its causing you stress or anxiety, try simplifying it. A very common beginner mistake is trying to do too much too soon. My best advice is start with one to-do list per day and then move on to more elaborate spreads.
- All it is is a personalized planner. If you need inspiration, try looking at a pre-designed planner. Look at how its set up in terms of the weeks and the days. Then you can make adjustments to your journal to suit your needs.
- If you’re stuck on what to put in your spreads, start with to-do lists. Include EVERYTHING. And I mean everything. Wake up. Brush teeth. Shower. Make bed. Eat Breakfast. etc. Checking things off will help you gain a sense of pride in your daily activities and will help you feel more productive. After you’ve completed a few days of to-do lists try elaborating on them a little more. Add a notes section, add an appointment section, add a calendar and so on. Your spreads should start to form organically from there.
- Don’t try to make it perfect. Mistakes will happen. Try to embrace them! Keep your spreads simple to start with, then try adding color and designs and drawings! Don’t get yourself discouraged because you’re trying to include too much.
- Practice practice practice. Just like anything else, it takes time to find your flow! Keep practicing your personal style and try to carve out a little time each day to work on it until you feel comfortable with your entries.
I hope this little roundup was helpful for anyone who is having trouble getting started! I can’t wait to see all your beautiful set ups! You got this 🙂 Good luck!
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