Bullet journaling has become a popular habit with those looking to create new habits and provide an overall organization to their lives. It serves as an all-in-one book that can hold a myriad of information and serve as a planner, goal setter, creative outlet, list-maker, and anything else you need it for.
Setting up a journal of this sort can take quite a bit of time since you are basically starting from scratch to make it your own. Because of this, many people shy away from this time commitment and forgo the idea altogether. However, you most definitely can take advantage of a simple bullet journal format to make it more specific to what you need. Read on for some helpful guidance.
Benefits of a Bullet Journal
The whole purpose behind the use of a bullet journal is to simplify and organize your life. If the idea of creating one, or keeping track of the ideas within one, seem overwhelming, you aren’t alone. When I first made mine I was completely turned off by the amount of time it took just to determine what I wanted to include and make it a reality. Because of it, I did some searching to see what simplified forms may exist and found I was in good company.
You can keep modified, or minimized bullet journal and still consider yourself part of the BUJO crowd. They are designed to be personalized and are beneficial in many ways:
Declutter Your Mind
Getting down the things floating around in your head helps you release any stress or anxiety you may have related to those events. Whether you use this to make plans, remember appointments, or simply reflect, the habit supports a healthier emotional you.
Customize to Your Needs
Bullet journals, as mentioned, are supposed to be a personal accounting of your needs. Since you are behind their creation from start to finish, it is easy to customize your own to reflect what you feel is important, remove what doesn’t work for you, and add what is.
Keeping a bullet journal of any size can help keep you organized. As mentioned, it can help organize mental clutter, provide meaningful reminders, and allow you to stay focused on goals and tasks.
Inspires Critical Thinking
Organizing your writing and writing, in general, are supportive of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. This influences other parts of your life, how you approach new situations, and goal management.
Supportive of Task Completion
It is easy to place a task aside when something new or more important comes along. When you journal it is easy to come back to your plans or thoughts about a particular task in order to get them completed. It also helps keep you focused.
Organization, creativity, and problem-solving are part of keeping your journaling going. You can sketch and draw in your journal, make it colorful, label and list, create a legend, or anything else that is free of a rigid organization structure for your own use.
Work Towards Goals
A visual reminder of your goals and the steps you are taking to reach them keeps you on track for success. Gone are the days of forgetting what you are working towards when you have a visual reminder to aid you in motivation.
Traditional Bullet Journals Vs Simple Bullet Journals
This might sound all fine and dandy, but the question remains- what does this all look like? A more traditional BUJO starts with a title page and index and moves into a series of collections that are important to the writer.
Often what you will find includes daily and monthly planners, to-do lists, appointment schedules, goals, meal planning, progress charts, book lists, chore charts, quotes, or anything else deemed important when created. They are organized into sections, or collections, with space left to add to them when needed.
Unfortunately, deciding what to include and creating an initial organizational process can be both overwhelming and time-consuming. Which is counterproductive to this practice.
This is why many people take a more minimalistic approach. If you are new to the process, then you most likely are thinking about the dozens of things you want included, but if you have been doing this for a while, then you already know what sections are most helpful, and which to ditch for a more minimalistic approach.
Simple bullet journals may start with a title page or index, but whereas most move into a planner of some sort, this might be missing. In fact, the journal may only reflect one or two topics in total. Read on to see what is commonly ‘ditched’ to create a simplified bullet journal table of contents.
What to ‘Ditch’
Some people prefer not to keep a planner since their phone provides the reminders they need through the day- rather than referring to something physical. Because of this, daily and weekly sections are often ditched with only a monthly view provided for a simplified view of upcoming events.
Quotes, progress charts, budget info, or anything else that is not a part of your regular day to day needs can also be left by the wayside. You can always go back in and add a collection if you find that you want to keep track of something you are regularly involved with.
Themes, drawings, art, decorations, etc…take time and may make your journal look good, but isn’t necessary unless you want to have a doodling pad on hand and decide your journal is a good substitute. Also, once you start keeping a theme, you may feel like you have to keep it up- which can be stressful.
Larger, or thicker journals give the impression that they need to be filled up. Use a smaller diameter notebook designated as a mini, or pocket options that only has 100 pages or less to help keep track of what you want and need, rather than what you feel you should add. Moleskine Cahier Journals are popular for this compared to their larger, thicker Moleskine Professional options.
Ideas to Focus On
Those who have successfully created their own simplified BUJO system have done so not just because they ditch a lot of the collections that are often expected to be included, but because they found their own personal ‘groove’ via trial and error.
Many writers find their journal works best when only one or two topics are focused on. For example, if you have a hobby the journal may double as a place to keep track of your goals, creations, to-do lists, what you have done, future plans, etc…that all revolve around that one subject.
Use simple headings and color-coding to distinguish from one area to the next. Washi tape is also helpful so you can quickly turn from one section to the next without having to check the index for page numbers.
Don’t worry about leaving space for what the future may hold. If you run out of space in one area, simply turn to where you do have space and make a note of that in the index (or color code the page edge growth Washi tape.
When you want to reflect, do so using a one-sentence journal example to help recall memories rather than take time to write everything out. You can always go back later to add detail when you have time.
Make sections for listing that you can add dates to, rather than add lists to dates. This way you can cross out what you have completed and not have to flip pages to find what you are looking for. Grocery lists, gifting lists, etc… can all be easily included.
Take advantage of sticky notes instead of creating pages of lists. Once the items on your sticky note have been crossed out you can simply toss them.
The bottom line is, your bullet journal doesn’t have to be a holder of things that define you. Rather you can keep the organization very basic and approach its use in a manner that helps you keep track of just a few things, rather than a whole lot in one place.
Also, keep in mind that all the cute ideas and lists you may see online are designed to be shown off! These are made with an eye towards providing examples and are not scratch filled, crossed out, dog eared pages of a well-used journal that has been sitting at the bottom of your bag for the better part of the day. Your journal is yours, and although bullet journaling provides some great ways to stay organized, they are suggestions for you to apply to your own as you see fit.
If you have any questions or comments, please let us know below. And, as always, please share!