I’ve always had a weird love of stationery. I buy tons of cute little notebooks, use a few pages, then find another cute little notebook that I switch over to and repeat this forever until I’m drowning in notebooks with deer and bunnies and cats on the cover and the firemen can’t get into my house when I’m dead cause of the piles and piles of notebooks I’ve hoarded.
I know, I know. It’s wasteful as fuck. I’m working on it.
I love nice handwriting and cute little stickers and washi tape because inside I’m secretly eight-years-old and I love pretty things, so when I saw these articles on Buzzfeed, 23 Bullet Journal Ideas That Are Borderline Genius and WTF Is A Bullet Journal And Why Should You Start One?, I was hooked. I also had a lot of problems last year when it came to remembering which students had and hadn’t turned in homework, which led to a frenzied attempt to collect missing assignments at the end of the school year, as I’m not allowed to give zeros. Essentially, I needed something to keep me organized, and if it included stickers and calligraphy, then I would be more likely to keep up with it.
The bullet journal (or bujo, as the cool kids call it) is really just a customizable planner/diary and events/ tasks are expressed as bullet points. You can use a plain notebook with graph or dot paper (mine cost HKD $26, USD $3.35 at Commercial Press). I covered my first one with washi tape, but the one I’ve set up for the new school year is covered with wrapping paper.
The first page is where you put your key. The key lists what symbols you’ve decided to use for different tasks or events (this is known as rapid logging). As you can see, I use different symbols for regular to-do items, exercise classes, and comedy events. If you decide to number the pages in your bujo, you can also include an index at the front of your journal indicating where various items are.
The next step is your future log, where you write down any upcoming events/deadlines. I do mine very simply, just by writing the dates and marking down anything important. For the time being I decided just to write out future logs for first term (until December), because I expect that I will need a lot of pages to mark down daily tasks. Later on you can make a monthly calendar (either in the same simple list format or by making it look like a traditional calendar) and you can move the events from your future log to the monthly calendar. If you think it sounds repetitive to have both a future log and a monthly calendar, go ahead an eliminate one. There aren’t any rules to follow, this is all up to you!
Next I have my daily log. I give myself a lot of space because I usually have a few different things going on between school, comedy, workouts and other stuff, and I also track the amount of money I spend each day and what I spend it on. I want to make sure I’m able to write down everything important, especially when it comes to school deadlines and homework I’ve assigned. Here’s my log for September (click the photos for more detail); regular lessons don’t start until September 12, so I went for a weekly format for the first couple weeks, followed by a daily format after. A lot of people get put off by the bullet journal because they think it has to be really detailed and fancy, but as you can see, I keep mine rather simple. Maybe it’ll get fancier when I have more practice with it, but this works for me now.
There are a lot of other things you can include in your journal. I track my habits, weight loss, and savings. I also graph my budget for the month, a list of the books I’ve read and a copy of the school calendar. Other people track water intake and have a daily gratitude log or inspiration page, but I personally think it’s really dumb (I’m one of those jerks who gets annoyed by cheesy inspirational quotes). I do, however, have a happy page for when I’m having a shitty day.
I hear a lot of people complain about bullet journaling because they think it takes a lot of time and effort, but it’s really all about what you want to put into it. I tend to practice cute little doodles or fonts when I’m in a long, boring meeting, or when I’m stressed and want to relax. I’ve become an advocate of the bullet journal because it’s really helped me get my shit together. I’ve always been a crazy forgetful person, and I’m still not great at remembering everything, but I’ve definitely improved in the three months since I started my bujo.