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Tricks and hacks for anyone looking to start a bullet journal the right way and be successful with it. When done right, bullet journaling will increase productivity and organization. If the concept confuses you, then you need to read this!
I am so excited to share all the tips and hacks that I have learned with bullet journaling (for more beginner journaling tips, find our guide here). In this post I will share my best hacks when setting up your bullet journal and also some hacks for covering mistakes.
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TOOLS TO GET STARTED BULLET JOURNALING:
I wanted to share some of the best and most affordable tools available for bullet journalling.
- This notebook which is almost identical to the cult favorite and has raving reviews for a fraction of the cost!
- This pen that won’t bleed through the page and is great for inputting your dailies
- This Pen for art work and faux calligraphy
- These Markers for decorating and color coding your journal
- Stencils for making layouts quicker, or if you’re not handy at drawing
Also not necessary but this MEGA pack of PRINTABLES is amazing!
Obviously the only things that you need to get started is a notebook and pen and you will use them the most. However, the markers are useful for colour coding your journal and the stencils will save you time in creating beautiful layouts!
Bullet Journal Hacks For Newbies:
Set Your Bullet Journal Up With Intention
Set up the beginning with stuff that is yearly or that you would want to reference frequently. At the beginning of my bujo I have my key, index, grid cheat sheet, future log, yearly goals, focus quote for the year, etc. These things are great at the beginning because you will flip back to them frequently. DO NOT start a monthly or weekly spread until you have set up the beginning of your bullet journal (we will talk about those in a minute). Some other things to keep in mind when setting up:
- Plan out what pages will go where in a journal before you start so you don’t forget anything important.
- Make sure you put the key and grid cheat sheet on the left page of your book. This way you can easily flip back to reference it.
- Don’t over complicate it. Add some spreads that you think you will use but no sweat if you don’t use it. Now you know for your next book.
Make Sure You Add The Future Log
Something that confused me about the bullet journal for the longest time is that I thought you had to set up the entire thing all at once. You do not want to do that. The point of the bullet journal is to roll with punches and customize in real time. Otherwise a regular day planner would work for you.
So if you need to plan something into the future, lets say you have something on October 14th and it is July, then you would write that event into the future log (as they did in the photo above)
One Month At A Time
Once your first pages are set up, then you set up the first month. If you are starting mid year, write the month that you are in.
Set up that first month but stop before you reach the weekly spread. We will go over that next.
Some things that you might want to include in your monthly set up :
- Month calendar
- Important dates
- Memories to Remember
- Mood Tracker
- Habit Tracker
- Brain Dump
- Focus Quote
- Budget and Expense Trackers
- Exercise Tracker
These can either be added to one spread (like the photo above) or you can flip the page and add them to the next page. Take up as much space as you want. This is your book and you get to customize it to your desires!
One Week At A Time
Once your month is all set up, then you set up the first weekly spread.
Any future events or appointments can either go on the future log or on the monthly calendar.
Some ideas of things that you can add to the weekly spread :
- Each day of the week
- Mini calendar of the month for reference
- Space for appointments that week (so they don’t get mixed in with non urgent daily planning. Doctors appointment would go in the appointments box. Mow the lawn would go under the day of the week that you want to complete the task.)
- Separate space for a to-do list
- Or a separate space for a meal plan for the week.
If you added that weeks spread and then you needed another page for brainstorming, then you would just add that to the next page. Take up as many pages as you need for that week. You will add the following week behind those pages.
I keep saying it but bullet journal are fully customizable. They are built for rolling with the punches. You get to create the bullet journal in whatever way will serve YOU best!
Accept That You Will Make Mistakes But Learn How To Fix Them
My favourite way to fix mistakes is just to cover them. Like a tattoo artist covering a bad tattoo. I will usually just throw some craft paper on top of the mistake and then draw on top of it but here is some other ways to cover mistakes
- Draw over it turning it into something else.
- Tape some colourful paper on top
- Tape a polaroid on top (or any photo!)
- Add some washi tape to cover
- Stickers, stamps, post cards, beautiful hallmark cards etc!
Find Pages Quickly With Washi Tape
Need to find a page quickly? Add a strip of washi tape to the edge of the page. Some people will also designate a color of washi tape for each month. You customize this to whatever works best for you!
There are also so many other uses of washi tape that can make your journaling life easier.
Learn Some Basic Lettering
Practice making your writing look nice and it will make world of difference to the appearance of your spreads. There is so many great videos teaching different fonts and calligraphy on youtube. Practice them to get better!
Productivity > Beauty
Start simple and do a minimalist layout until you get the hang of it. The point of the tool is to increase productivity. If that means that your spreads aren’t insta worthy, it is ok! You will get better and more comfortable over time but having a beautiful notebook is NOT the purpose of bullet journaling.
What About You?
What are your biggest road blocks to starting a bullet journal or from using it consistently?