Monday, 5 December 2016

The Bullet Journal Tag

Someone shared a link to Happy Hollife's Bullet Journal Tag on the Bullet Journal Junkies Facebook Group the other day. I spotted it, enjoyed reading it and thought that since she'd tagged everyone who read it, that I should get in on the action too.

1. How long have you been bullet journalling?

Since January the 1st this year. That was my official first day. I learned about it on the 30th of December, bought a notebook the very next day and drew up my first few pages. I've been doing it for almost a whole year now.

2. What makes the bullet journal system right for you?

The fact that it's so flexible. It can be anything I want it to be.

I've tried using regular diaries in the past. Back at Uni I used a week to view one which frustrated me even then. Sometimes I'd have four or five things all on the same day and not enough room for them all, then during the summer I'd have virtually nothing on so it just felt like wasted pages. I tried using a page per day one for a while several year back, but I didn't like having blank pages; it seemed like a waste somehow.


Each time I draw up my pages, I get to decide how I want to lay them out. I've modified my monthly overviews multiple times to find something that works for me. I switched to weekly pages during November so I could spend less time on my bullet journal during the month and this month I'm finally using a monthly overview, weeklies and dailies (the latter primarily for journalling and reflections). If I'd changed that much in a regular diary I'd be onto my fourth of fifth one for the year so far!

3. What notebook do you use and why?

I started out using the bullet journal philosophy of 'use what you have to hand'. I liked the layouts using grids and dots so could see how that would be practical but didn't have a notebook to spare so I picked up a Gorjuss spiral bound project book. This was good because it had lines, grids and blank paper in it so I got a feel for what I wanted.

It made it easier to decide that I wanted to go ahead with getting a Leuchtturm 1917 when the time came for a new book. I spent a lot of time comparing notebooks online and Leuchtturms are what a fair number of BuJo enthusiasts use. At the time I'd been using a mini Moleskine notebook as a walking journal and I wasn't happy with the paper quality in that, so went with the Leuchtturm.

Currently it's a dotted anthracite grey Leuchtturm (one of the things I love about these notebooks is the sheer variety of colours), A5 size, which I got from The Pen & Paper Shop in Cardiff when I was there in February. I christened it Gandalf the Grey but didn't begin it until May.

I'm sold on the quality of it. The paper is nice, you get a bit of ghosting but no bleed-through with Staedtler Fineliners; the dots offer guidance without being too obtrusive, I've learned to line up regularly used pages relatively quickly based on how many dots there are for each section. Plus there's a pocket at the back, page markers (two, one of which is usually on my current page, whereas the second marks either the page I'm working on or often my tracking page).

I've got just about enough pages left to see me through to the end of the year, and the book I'll be starting in January will be a Leuchtturm too. This time Navy Blue. Any suggestions for a name for that one?

4. What's your go-to pen?

I use Staedtler Triplus Fineliners. I bought a pack of the 30 back in January (before that I was using a pack of Stabilo Fineliners, but they had a tendency to bleed through on the notebook I was using at the time, and they felt scratchier than the Staedtler version).

My set came with one black, which wore down pretty quickly since I was using it for everything. When I was in Cardiff picking up my notebook I grabbed another two single blacks and I've grabbed another two since then, anticipating that I would get through them very quickly. As it happens I think I just bashed the first one with the lid or something when I put it on because while the two I picked up in Cardiff have worn down a little, they're still usable. I've still got two spares for when I need to swap them out.

I use different colour schemes for each month (or each double page at the moment) so I think that helps with making sure the nibs don't wear down too quickly.

5. What's your bullet journal style?

It depends on my mood and what I've got going on. I'd love to say I'm one of those minimalist bullet journallers but I'm not. I love adding different colours, I love mixing up styles and I love pinning different font styles on Pinterest to try out on my spreads.

I spent most of November keeping it relatively simple because I knew NaNo was going to be my main creative outlet. With that out the way and the build up to Christmas, I'm using oodles of washi tape and lots of stickers too!


6. What's your favourite spread to set up each month?

Probably my beginning and end of the month pages. Each month ends with a review where I use a traffic light system to highlight the good, the bad and the stuff in between. Whenever I record something bad I try to come up with a positive to it or something I can do better next time. I've never really done that outside of work and study before and it's interesting to look at how things make me feel, or what I identify as being areas for improvement. That's not to say I act on them all, but I feel like it's a valuable exercise.

And my month overview pages since I've started getting a little more creative with them since October. It's when I do my month overview that I select my theme colours for the month ahead (except for this month where the theme is All. Of. The. Washi. Tape!) and also get some sort of idea of the kind of layouts I'll be needing, collections I'll want to make, things I need to plan for, etc.

It's kind of like a reboot each month. Sometimes it's nice to have a fresh start and I get twelve in a year!

7. Where do you get inspiration from?

I see lots of ideas from Bullet Journal social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest), but an awful lot of the time it's just a question of trying out different ideas or combinations of ideas until I find something which works for me.

The good thing about Bullet Journalling is that people who share their ideas don't mind if people take inspiration from them. Sometimes you have to copy something from someone else until you find a way to adapt it to something a little more unique; then you share that and hopefully you'll help someone else find a thing that works for you.


I've been pretty open about sharing my FET tracker which I made back in May, because it worked really well for me so whenever someone posts for help with tracking medication or illness or trying to conceive, I share it. Several people have said they've used or adapted the idea and perhaps one of them will share something someday which I can adapt for my own uses.

It's a wonderfully generous community.

8. What's your bullet journal routine?

Weekdays always end with my bullet journal. I'll fill in my trackers for the day, check off anything I've done, migrate any tasks which need doing and update my list for the next day. Usually I'll check with Mr Click in case there's anything he wants me to add to the list as well.

Then I write up my reflection of the day. This can be anything from a couple of lines to full on paragraphs of information about how I've felt, places we've been, things I've done, etc. If need be, I'll draw up the next day or if it's all ready to go I'll work on some more pages; I like to try and get as far ahead of myself as possible. This is usually done in bed while we're watching TV (currently it's a couple of episodes of Scrubs).

On a morning, after we've walked Tara I'll sit in my chair with a drink and scan over the upcoming day. I might make changes or additions to my list and check off some stuff on my trackers. I carry on checking in through the day, usually in my breaks at work.

Weekends are a slightly different routine. Sometimes I'll spend time as we watch a film in bed working on it. Other times, I'll dip in through the day. I'm more regimented during the week.

9. What's the page you're most proud of?

I'm pretty damn proud of my Jack Skellington picture on my October overview because I spent a long time getting that right (and haven't been inspired to try anything like that since). I'm also pleased with how my Christmas Film list turned out, and the aforementioned FET calendar. The former because of the lettering and the latter because it worked really well, without having fancy lettering or pretty pictures and I plan to crack it out again during our coming cycle.



10. What's your number one tip for beginners?

Focus on finding what works for you before you worry about making it pretty! Yes, it's nice to have something that's Instagram or Pinterest-worthy, but at the end of the day, you don't want to spend more time making it look pretty than you do using it.

I'm a fine one to talk, what with my washi tape and stickers and coloured pens, but that's because I know what works for me now. In the beginning I copied what I saw other people doing and it stressed me out when I made a mistake. It was so tempting to throw in the towel because I wasn't creating a perfect book, until I realised that it's a book for day to day life and day to day life is messy and sometimes you just have to accept that.

And maybe draw things in using pencil first!

If you bullet journal, feel free to tag yourself in the comments and share a link back to your own post here too.

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