A Bullet Journal is a versatile tool that is part planner, part goal tracker, part habit developer.  It’s a way to keep track of everything important to you in a creative way, but is also simple in it’s structure so that regular updates are manageable.

I was interested in Bullet Journals (or BuJo if you’re in the know) since seeing beautiful examples of them on Pinterest.  Last year I created a Resolution Journal that I was super proud of that was focused on helping me build better habits.

Bullet Journals do the same thing, but go a step further than my version because they also allow you to keep track of events, tasks, and goals. They can be colorful, pretty and inspiring, despite the current black-and-white state mine is in as I’m getting comfortable with the process.

With the start of a new year, I knew it was the perfect time to start my very first Bullet Journal.  I’m sharing with you the steps I took to get started, since a blank page, or blank journal, can be a bit intimidating for a first timer.

Getting started

First, if you’re not familiar with Bullet Journals, search them on Pinterest.  It’s a great way to see what cool layouts and inspiring elements are possible to incorporate.  These are some of my favorites.

Then read up on the basics at BulletJournal.com.  The Bullet Journal system was started by New York designer, Ryder Carroll.  I use the symbols described there to label my notes and tasks.

Planning your layout

After some research, you should start to get an idea of what layouts and sections will be most useful to you. Create a list of each section you want to incorporate into your BuJo, and the number of pages you’ll need for each section.

For my first BuJo, I am using a regular lined note book. A branded Bullet Journal note book has pages that are covered in dots, like graph paper without the connecting lines. Either can be used effectively, use whatever journal makes you happy, because if you like the journal you’re way more likely to keep up with it.

Setting goals

One benefit I wanted to take advantage of by using my journal was increased visibility to tracking my goals.  I spent a couple day defining my goals for 2017, from both a personal and business perspective.

I also listed out several habits I wanted to improve upon through out the year.

Filling in the pages

My first page I filled out was a title page for my journal.  I couldn’t resist putting a little art into the journal right off the bat.  Intertwined in the 2017 illustration are different words related to the sections of my journal.

Next, I numbered each page.  This is a necessary step, and will help with creating your index later.

Starter Layouts

I just have to say, my pages are pretty plain for my first attempt.  I thought keeping it simple was a better way to actually getting started than trying to put too much pressure on myself to create the perfect page design.  Done is better than perfect, right?

Here is my Birthday’s and Holidays page.  This is a page I will reference when I’m setting up my monthly planning pages each month.

I did a two page spread for events, every day of the year.  Here I will write in my Pop Craft workshop schedule, vacations, other events I’m attending, birthdays and holidays.  It’s a quick way to see the year at a glance, and a reference for my monthly planning pages.

Goal pages

I wanted to make my goals tracking visually appealing.  I am using a combination of line charts and pictures that represent the goals I set.  I’ll track my progress on my major goals through out the year, ad make updates to the page each month.

Habits pages

For my list of habits that I’m trying to strengthen, I’ve listed these on a page and created a box for each day of the month that will be filled in if I practice the habit that day.

I used to keep a gratitude journal, and I am incorporating that into my Happiness tracker.  Here I will list something that made me happy, every day.

Planning pages

Planning pages are where the action happens.  I created a simple monthly spread with a calendar for listing out events (this is where I reference the holidays and year at a glance pages).  On the opposite page I have created goals to achieve that month, and the habits that I want to bring focus to.

Then, each week I create a weekly planning page.  I draw in a week long calendar where I write in my appointments, and events (transferred from the monthly planning calendar).  I also use this space for meal planning and tracking how much sleep I get (both habits I’m trying to improve).

I keep a bank of to-do’s on my weekly planning page, and schedule these through out the week. By creating a heading with the date for each day of the week, I can add in the to-dos I need to accomplish that day.

Using it IRL

I’ve had about 2 weeks with my journal, and I’m feeling more productive and prepared to improve my habits and meet my goals.

At first I had a concern about how much repetition and re-writing of information was involved. But, it hasn’t bothered me, and it makes me feel more aware about my calendar, and brings attention to things I have been putting off for a few days.

I really like the method of listing out the most important tasks for the day in a concise list, but still having a picture of the other things I need to accomplish just a page away.

As I continue to use it, I’ll share my experience and improvements that I make to my journal in future posts.  If you are starting a Bullet Journal this year, I would love to hear what it was like for you to get started.