Bitten by The Bullet Journal Bug

I can’t remember when I didn’t write in a journal. At five years of age my grandmother took me to Winnipeg, and I clearly remember her spelling The Golden Boy so that I could accurately record what I saw on top of the Manitoba Legislative Building in my red leather diary.

When I was 11, and passing through France with my parents, I remember writing nonstop in a little blue wirebound notebook, having finished Harriet The Spy earlier that year and becoming convinced that I could be one.

Other journals have come and gone, all of them are stored in boxes down in the basement, and now I have become utterly enchanted with the bullet journal.

The idea, found here, is simple. Begin with a key if you like, clarifying the symbols you will use:

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followed by an Index (which acts as a Table of Contents):

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and then a Future Log for the next six months (I kept mine two to a page for room to add events):

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Next come daily logs, which record each day’s events or tasks. At first I tried what many bullet journalists do, creating a decorated spread:

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But, I much prefer a minimal spread like this (even though it was barely filled in when I took the picture):

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After watching many, many bullet journalers on YouTube and Instagram, I decided to try a “Monthly Tracker” which is effective for recording one’s habits, or noticing how one doesn’t keep them up as one should:

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and the Gratitude Journal, recorded here as 1,000 Gifts in Ann Voskamp‘s style, keeps a lovely record of thankfulness.

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There is much discussion about which notebook is best, generally narrowed down to the Moleskine (which I have pictured here) and the Leuctthurm1917 from Germany.

While I am a bullet journal newbie, I love the organization of it, and the way the writer can adapt it to his or her needs. I’ve even included a page to record the ARCs which come every week from publishers, hoping that will help me keep track of who sent what novel and when it will be published.

So tell me, are you a bullet journaler? Am I the only book blogger to find this so long after its inception?

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35 thoughts on “Bitten by The Bullet Journal Bug”

  1. I bullet journal! I am sooooo basic with mine, but I did buy a moleskin grid journal last night to use next. I am hoping it will lead to more creativity. 🙂 But, I still love it and also have had journals throughout my life.

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    1. See?! I knew I wasn’t the first one! 😉 I’m sure the grid edition will be a fine addition to your collection. I find I’m so used to lines I’m not sure how I’ll manage the dot grid I bought for January. One of the things I’ll have to give up? Perfectionism.

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  2. You have inspired me! My daughter has given me a few Moleskin journals over the past couple of years and I always keep thinking they should be filled with profound thoughts and so a few pages get filled and then… well. I want to try to adapt the bullet system to two different ends. One journal to track, like a simplified diary, food exercise, mood and other things I am monitoring in relation to maintaining health and wellness. The other one I will use to track writing related items – ideas and inspirations, reviews I have scheduled for various publications, writing competitions I might try to enter and personal reading goals and objectives. I like the idea of the key and light even try using those coloured sticky tabs to divide the journals into sections.

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    1. I’m thrilled I inspired you, possibly as much as I have been myself by this idea! It’s such a great way to keep track of things, without 8,000 Post-It notes and miscellaneous notebooks. Instead, everything’s consolidated into one. The other great thing is that, as you say, you can adapt it to fit your own needs. Just make a collection of whatever it is you want to include besides your calendar events. Can’t wait to hear of how you feel after you’ve begun.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes I have one but I find reminders are better in my phone as something pops up and makes a noise to remind me. Though I do like pasting in movie and theatre tickets or fun little illustrations from Flow magazine. Would like to find you on instagram. I am under Travellin_penguin.

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    1. I find a phone is great for reminders, but not so good at looking at a month’s spread. Nor does my phone hold all the information I want it to hold: special Bivle verses, books I’ve received for review, goals or thoughts. I think pasting in receipts or ticket stubs or any scrap from a life event would be an excellent addition! And, I haven’t officially made a spot on Inatagram; I’ve only spent time lurking around the Bullet Journalers. But if I do make it a habit to frequent Instagram, I’ll be sure to find you!

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  4. I’ve been writing on and off for years but never did a bullet point journal. I was think about doing bullet point posts though because I see some bloggers do it and I always enjoy them so much. Just like this post. 🙂

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    1. You’re so sweet, Caroline, in your ending sentence. 🙂

      I think a bullet post would be an awesome way to review a book sometime. Just cut to the chase about what was good (or bad) about it. Sometimes writing, or reading, a lengthy review is so tiresome! We just want the facts, please.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Some Journalers have the knack of making it far more creative than I ever could! But, it is a flexible enough tool to hold whatever we throw at it, be it artistic skill or simply bullet points.

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  5. I love the bullet journal idea (or maybe I just love the idea of it, I don’t know.) I haven’t gone whole hog, but I’ve started using an old lined planner that can be used for any year; I got it as a gift several years ago and barely used it before forgetting to plan or record in it and setting it aside. Now, starting fresh with it, I try not to beat myself over days that get left blank, and just figure I might write something on those dates in 2017!

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    1. No, beating oneself up is the worst, and not the point of this particular method. It’s supposed to be minimal and simple from its very inception, and that makes it doable. It’s when I saw all the artists out there creating something gorgeous and complicated on every page that I got nervous.

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  6. I’d never heard of a bullet journal until recently. It seems like a neat idea, but it also seems like a lot of work creating all of those calendars, indexes, etc. I’m a bit lazy when it comes to keeping a journal – I just write down what is on my mind at the moment, jot down lists of things to do, and stuff movie stubs or things I’ve torn out of magazines in it. Of course I have to admit that looking at your bullet journal does make me want one – LOL!

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    1. Like Travelin’ Penguin before you, I think it’s such a good idea to tape in genuine “artifacts” from one’s day if possible. A scrapbook doesn’t give enough text, a bullet journal doesn’t always have enough visual representation, so that would be the perfect blend. Don’t forget, it’s not supposed to be complicated and time consuming! It can take bullets or long pages of thoughts, whatever you want to throw at it.

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  7. I haven’t bitten the bullet (haha) yet, but I’m definitely thinking about it. My biggest fears/issues holding me back are:
    – it’ll take more time than it’ll save. I feel like between 2 Google calendars (one personal and one I share with my husband to keep track of joint tasks and appointments/travel the other one needs to know about) and 1 MS Exchange calendar (work) plus Google reminders I’m pretty well organised. Plus I have Goodreads to track my reading, Garmin to track my exercise… etc. Do I really need ANOTHER thing to duplicate/triplicate this info? On the other hand, I’m not good with using these different tracking devices (Goodreads, my Garmin swim etc.), so they’re always out of date. That’s what attracts me about bullet journalling: you have everything in one place.
    – I’m neither artistic nor whimsical, so after looking at just a few posts about bullet journalling, I already have an inferiority complex – mine would be just ugly
    – A problem I’ve always had with notebooks is that you don’t have them on you when you need them. Or one fills up but whatever you want to look up is in the old one… which is at that point of course out of reach (at home while I’m at work/travelling/whatever).

    Sorry, that ended up being a brain dump. I’d really appreciate some advice though 😉

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  8. First, let’s talk about ugly. As one of my dear friends said, “Does this have to be a scrapbook?” No. It is not about coloring, drawing, or design, as much as it is about keeping everything accessible. Orderly and minimal is the key; if you look at Ryder Carroll’s link in my post, who originated the idea, you will see how simple he makes it writing in block letters in black ink.

    Next, the bullet journal should be able to close with an elastic strap (or something) so that you can carry it with you in your bag. It should neither be too big (heavy), nor too small (restricted space), although I have seen some pocket sized ones on Instagram. I like the Moleskine’s size very much, and I like how the lines keep everything straight. Literally.

    Finally, the digital system. If it was working for you, there’d be no need for the handwritten journal. But, I hate referring to 8,000 different places (my phone, my computer, my wall calendar, my desk, my husband) and this way it’s all in one place, with me. I have the Bible verses I’ve read that week that struck me as especially meaningful, the list of books I’ve received and read, thoughts about my son that I don’t need to keep rehashing over and over, AND my calendar. I whipped it out of my bag when we were at the upholster’s yesterday to make an appointment for pick up, so easy. It’s awesome.

    I say buy a cheap notebook and try it for two months. Then you’ll know if you like it.

    Hope this answer helps!

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  9. I hadn’t heard of a bullet journal until I read this post last night, after I had been listening to Mary Norris’s Between You and Me in the car for an hour, including her chapter on Pencils! I was ready, when I arrived home, to shop for pencils online, I was that inspired, and thinking about my journal at the same time.

    Then I read about and saw examples from your elegant journal, and am also inspired by it — not least your handwriting that makes it beautiful. I just came home from Target where I bought a couple of journals the pages of which lie fairly flat and in which the lines are not too close together. I seem to need to write largish when I am thinking very much, so the pocket planners that were popular before smart phones never worked for me, as they crimped my brain!

    Last night I watched the video you linked to; it was perfect for my sleep-deprived mind to merely watch what someone else had done. This afternoon I will watch some more, and in the morning I will start my first, customized and personalized, bullet journal! Thank you, Bellezza!

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  10. And, as if bullet journaling isn’t enough, I’ve since found out about Bible journaling! I’d be too “afraid” to do it on the actual page of my Bible, but I could do it in my bullet journal, right? Here’s one great source:
    http://m.lifeway.com/n/Type/Journaling-Bible

    Also, your comment means so much to me. How wonderful it is to blog with you and share the same affinities for books, blogs, words, and best of all, faith.

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  11. I first learned about Bullet Journaling from Trish. She recently shared a post about it works for her, which piqued my interest. And now you’ve added fuel to the fire. However, I don’t feel like I can take on another project right now. I use Google calendar, which works to remind me of all my various appointments and/or blogging ideas. I have a small (pretty!) journal in the kitchen to keep track of what I’ve fixed for dinner. I started it (again, inspired by Trish) with the hope that I’d sit down and do some meal planning, but so far it’s just a way to reference how old my leftovers are so I don’t kill my husband. 😉 I love the idea of Bullet Journaling, but I think it may be something I try in a year or so when I’m settled into retirement and living in Oregon. I’ll be eager to put something on my calendar, right? 😉 Maybe I’ll learn how to be a little more artsy so my pages aren’t too dull.

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    1. I can just imagine you keeping a food diary, what a great tool for you! Personally, I’ve been struggling with the randomness of things I want to keep track of: my Bible verses, books received, read and quotes there in, etc. I’m going to a Midori joirnal next which I’ll show soon.

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  12. I admire those of you who have the time and patience for something like this. I was never one to “journal” with the exception of my pink Dear Diary with key when I was about 10 or 11 LOL

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    1. The point of this journal is to make quick, short bullets, so they’re not time consuming or too revealing. 🙂 you might like the simplicity of this which is a far cry from those pink diaries we once owned.

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  13. I’m just finding bullet journaling. I’ve been intrigued but it really looked so time consuming with all of the details that “have” to be done. I like your pared down idea a lot, partly because it looks so much cleaner and partly because I feel like you didn’t just spend a ton time drawing prettys into the journal at the expense of doing something else. Like reading!

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    1. After doing it for two months or so, pared down is the only way to be for me. “Pretty” not so pretty when it takes lots of time, or becomes too cluttery. I can’t stand a lot of excess, a lot of business, in my environment, and I certainly cant take it in a planner which is supposed to simplify my life. Black and white and bullet points is the way to go, and now I can’t imagine my life without it.

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  14. I wanted to give you an update on my bullet journal project 🙂

    I spent a week or two getting ready, planning to have my journal start working for me on the 1st of July, so it could be easily organized into six months, and I would start the next one in January. But it didn’t take until the end of June to get it up and running, so I just added a couple of pages for June so I could start using “daily” pages for this month, of which today is the last day! It has been a great help to me in consolidating all my papers and lists, which were always piling up to the point that I couldn’t find what I needed. Also, I have been journaling more, because I can write just a few words if I want in the place of a paragraph that would have been needed in a traditional journal.

    When I was watching videos and looking at blog posts on the subject, my young housemate looked over my shoulder. She was frazzled getting ready, on short notice, to go abroad for a few months, and she decided in short order that what she needed was a bullet journal, though she also hadn’t heard of the concept before. She spent a couple of hours getting hers started, and it relieved a lot of her anxiety about how she was going to get everything done and be sure to have with her on her travels all the information she needed.

    So, I wanted you to know that your sharing has quickly improved the life of two people in one household. Thanks again!

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    1. I am so happy that this quite contagious idea has worked for you and your housemate! Really, there’s no limit to what can be done in these journals; the beauty is that we can adjust them to fit our needs. I have a friend who says writing about upsetting things just makes her more upset, and this is a perfect answer. She can write, “I’m mad at …” and be done with it.

      Personally, I am keeping mine as a calendar, a place to record my favorite verses from my daily Bibly reading, and a gratitude journal. But in the daily spread, along with appointments and errands, I like writing a sentence or two which documents a memory.

      I would love to see a picture of yours, or hear more about how it works for you. Love that you’ve adopted the idea into your life, too.

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    1. I’m glad you liked this simple post, and thank you for the compliment on my writing.

      I have moved on since I wrote it to the Midori Traveler’s Journal which I like even more! A post to come…soon.

      Liked by 1 person

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