A bullet journal doesn’t have any kind of pre-made layout, such as that which you would find in conventional diaries. This allows greater flexibility – you do not have to write in it every day, and you can make it look as complex or as simple as you like. Here I’ve compiled a list of the top ten things to include in a bullet journal, but go ahead and pick and choose.
These journals can have all of these elements, or none at all, or what you might want to include one month you may not need for the next. Perhaps you might want to track what you’re eating? Throw in a meal planner. Maybe you’ve taken up running recently and want to stay motivated? Add an exercise log. Can never remember that amazing Spaghetti Bolognese recipe your mum makes? Write it in your journal! There are no rules, but these might give you some pointers on where to start.
The term ‘bullet journal’ was originally coined because of the ‘key’ system. This involves creating a bullet point code. A heart, for example, would notate a social meet-up, or an exclamation mark would mean an appointment. You can see an example of the key in my old journal to the left. This way one would be able to take a glance at their day and visually recognise exactly what it had in store. In theory, this should save a lot of time and stress. Secret: I rarely refer to my key when I’m actually using my journal, but I think it makes for a nice first page, and as I said, there are no rules!
A future log is a calendar at the start of the journal that allows you to fill in important dates and events. There are multiple ways of setting them up. You can draw them out like a traditional calendar, write a list of dates, or do as I’ve done here and leave sections next to each month to add in information as and when plans come to be made.
These make up the bulk of my journal and provide an opportunity to plan your week, write down daily tasks, and include any daily journal entries. Sometimes I will draw out very structured spreads at the start of the week and then fill in each day as I go along, or I will start with a completely blank page and gradually fill it in a more organic way to complete it by the end of the week. Whatever I do I always put a whole week on a double-page spread. Some people are more flexible than this and use as many pages as they like for their week, depending on how much they have to write for each day. I’ll usually include an illustration of some sort and a quote. It’s on the weekly spreads that I feel you can really let your creativity and personality shine through.
Many people use a monthly post to rewrite out their calendars for the month, but it can also provide a nice opportunity to reflect. I’ll often use a motivational quote, write out my goals for the month, reflect on where I was at that point the year before, and write what I’m looking forward to that month.
Habit trackers are common features in many journals and they can take a variety of forms. The idea is that for every day that you follow that habit, you colour in the date. This way you can reflect at the end of the month really easily by having a very clear visual representation of the behaviours you followed, and those you didn’t!
I like to include a reading log, partly to remember books I’ve really enjoyed but also to motivate me to keep reading. If you’re not a big reader then you can easily adapt this spread to log other things – perhaps exercise, studying or expenses.
Mood trackers are a really handy tool to keep on top of your mental health and provide a real opportunity to be imaginative. I recommend having a look on Instagram to get your creative juices flowing. Here I created a relatively simple tracker, using a floral stamp drawing to represent each day of the month. Each day is then coloured in with a different colour depending on how I feel that day.
Sometimes simply the act of journaling can be really therapeutic, so I sit down with my journal even on days when I don’t have any tasks to plan. On occasions like this, it can be fun to include quotes and calligraphy in your journal to inspire and motivate you, plus it looks really cool.
9.Year in pixels
This is very similar to a mood tracker but is representative of a whole year. Once again, you create a key to reflect how your day was and fill in each day in the grid accordingly. It is quite a commitment so I must admit I’ve never completed a ‘year in pixels’ but they are a popular feature in many journals.
10.Anything else you want to include!
I hope I’ve inspired you to start a bullet journal. These are just a few key features you might want to include, but go ahead and try anything that takes your fancy. There’s so much freedom when creating your bullet journal, and if you jump down the #bujo rabbit hole on Instagram you will find a wealth of inspiration. Journals can be simple and minimal or an artistic sketchbook of wonders! It’s entirely up to you.
All images were taken by Megan Henson and must not be copied or used without her consent.