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The art of the journal – planning never looked so good.

For many people opening that brand new planner or notebook, and starting a fresh spread, has become an obsession - and we understand why!


I love to make lists as much as anyone – and combined with an almost obsessive need to be organised (well that’s what being a small business owner demands!), this results in a daily need to write things down, to plan days and weeks and lives.

I’m also a visual person – being a designer and creating gifts for Boxcitement every month I’d have to be! I have been through my fair share of planning methods. I’ve tried having a notebook planner, I’ve tried using my phone and a calendar on my destop, I’ve made a google calendar and I’ve even tried putting post-its everywhere. But when I discovered the bullet journal (thank you, Instagram!) I never looked back – and I am far from alone.

Have you heard of the bullet journal? In simple terms, it’s a notebook for absolutely everything; lists, appointments, doodles and random thoughts, and of course notes… all in one place. The system was created by Ryder Carroll, who describes it as a way “to help you track the past, organise the present, and plan for the future.” In short, it is a clean, minimalistic but old school (i.e non-digital) method to help you organise your entire life; and you just have to search for it on Pinterest or Instagram to see just how popular this method has become.

Bullet journals (or bujos – yes that’s a term) can help you set goals, track habits, keep up with appointments and tasks… but they are a lot more than that. People are immensely proud of the layouts and designs of their journals; those who may not consider themselves to be particularly creative are consumed by the need to make each spread more beautiful and functional than the last. And you get to start afresh every day, or week – deciding on your choice of layout. Bullet journals can be filled with stickers, washi tape, beautiful sketches and artistic spreads, or left simple with a minimalistic look – whatever you decide. That’s the beauty of the bullet journal; it can be a practical, simple system, or can feed your need for decorating and acquiring stationery and drawing mandalas; it’s an adaptable system that can work for anyone.

Fancy joining the craze? You will of course need to start with a blank notebook – and there are opinions aplenty about which ones are best for the purpose. Journalers are fiercely loyal to traditional brands such as Moleskine, Rhodia and Leuchtturm but all you really need is a blank book. It will need to have plenty of pages as you will be using it every day. It can be blank, have lines, a grid or be dotted – lines work well if you want it to be simple but go for a dot or a grid if you like drawing up lots of trackers and other detailed spreads. Chose a pen you like to write with, and your choice of accessories – coloured pencils, stickers, paper tape and fancy highlighters, clips and bookmarks – the list is endless.



CREATING A LAYOUT Despite the flexibility and creativity these journals encourage, there are certain 'rules' to follow if you want to start your own bullet journal. Not least of these is the layout - the way in which you set out your spreads and annotate your thoughts. Here are some examples: (taken from 'The Era of the Bullet Journal' by Sasha Gill):
  1. INDEX: On the first few pages, add the word ‘INDEX’. Then number all your following pages if they aren’t already. This is where you will write the title of your spread along with the page number, so you can find relevant pages easily in the future.  You can also group pages together if they have similar content. You do not have to put every page you make into the index, but do include the important ones.

  2. FUTURE LOG: Here is where you put everything you have planned for the year ahead, goals or notes about that month. Use symbols to help you. A dot • means a task, a circle ○ an event and a dash – for notes. Use > for events or tasks that have been rescheduled, and a× to mark those that have been completed. You can add to these symbols according to your needs! It is useful to use a page or the inside of the front cover to write all of these symbols down in a key.

  3. MONTHLY LOG: At the start of each month, begin a monthly log page. The simplest way to do this is by writing dates on the left hand side of the page and then whatever special event beside it. Refer to your future log to see what appointments you have planned for this month. On the adjacent page write down important tasks you have that month (using the symbols) and cross them out when you have done them. You can also add in tasks which you haven’t done the month before, just mark it with a >.

  4. DAILY LOG: At the start of each day, write the day and date and any tasks you have then. When the next day comes along, just add it on to wherever you stopped the day before. Check for any special events of tasks due that day on your monthly log spread and write it down. Migrate any tasks you haven’t done the day before. This will help you to stay on top of anything you have to do!

  5. COLLECTIONS – additional pages: The perk of having a bullet journal is the fact that it is more than just a planner. If you have, for example, a shopping list, simply start a new page and list everything you need to buy. Write ‘shopping list’ down in your index with the page number and then just cross out items on it as you put things in your basket! Other page ideas that are very popular in the bullet journaling community are monthly habit trackers, daily gratitude pages, doodle pages, handwriting practise pages, weight loss goals, notes from a seminar or book, motivational quotes… go crazy!!

In essence, bullet journals are designed by you, for you - they are private documents but can be shared and admired by the many planner addicts out there. Start a bullet journal and you will have joined a club - one which is hard to leave, once you are bitten by the bujo bug! If you want to know even more about the system, read this great blog which goes into lots of detail - but be warned, it will draw you in!

To celebrate the art of the bullet journal, Boxcitement has created a free sticker sheet for you to use...

Click here to download a FREE sheet of printable labels for your journal - happy planning!...

Deb

(P.S. I'd love to know what you think - leave your comment below!)