Now that I’ve been using the bullet journal system for a full quarter of a year, I’m actually starting to get a feel for what I like and I don’t like for myself. It’s easy to see a layout in a Facebook group or on Instagram and admire it, and it’s another thing to actually draw it and use it. I can guarantee that in another year I will have made changes and evolved in my layouts but I’m feeling pretty happy with where my planner is at! This post is all about sharing the lessons I’ve learned with my bullet journal so far.
1. Deciding How Much Grid Space Is Needed per Day/Week
I started out with vertical layouts, and I quickly realised that I do not need a full page length per day. Realistically, my day could be very busy but there are some things I don’t ever need to write down, ie. eat lunch, brush and floss my teeth, check my emails. I need to write down tasks that aren’t done daily, and a horizontal layout allows me to plan for unique events/tasks and leave space for other items. I would recommend that you play around with several different layouts and see what seems to be the most useful for you! Look around and see what sticks out to you, but also remember that just because someone else is using it doesn’t mean that you have to.
2. Decide What Will and Will Not Be Included
I do not include work related tasks in my bullet journal. I have a separate Happy Planner for work where everything stays. I struggle with leaving my work at work- including it in my bullet journal would mean that I am forever carrying it around with me. Therefore, my bullet journal is my lunches, evenings, and weekends! If you had flexible hours or work from home, I could see integrating the two, but as it stands I prefer keeping it separate! I also have a separate Alpha Gam planner where I keep more detailed schedules that allow for notes, ideas, and any info that I might need for an office. My work planner stays at work and my Alpha Gam planner typically stays at home, keeping my everyday bullet journal sleek and light to carry with me.
3. Leaving Empty Space
I like to be able to track when I charge my FitBit, when I fill up with gas, when I do laundry. However, I don’t need space for it every single day, and some days I may need to not multiple pieces of information. Leaving a little empty space up in the righthand corner allows me to keep track of anything I might need to without making larger sections for each day. Some people use the “leftover” space for illustrations, lettering, and doodles, I usually don’t get around to that. I love looking at other people’s illustrations but I am perfectly happy to have a little bit of empty space on my pages.
4. Using Colours and Decorations
Like I said above, I’m not much for illustrations, banners, or doodles. However, I have been working on my handwritten scripts and I’m slowly becoming more confident in trying new scripts. I use colour coding (with different Staedtler Fine Liner pens) to differentiate what each task is related to- light blue for fitness/health, orange for blog, pink for ballet, red for Alpha Gam, etc. I don’t use washi tape in this particular planner but that is something you may want to consider for coding, design, or decorative purposes! The worst thing that happens is that you try it out on a layout and don’t use it again, right?
5. Accepting Mistakes
Sometimes I spell something incorrectly or write the wrong date, sometimes I misdraw a border, the wrong colour pen gets used, or some other mistake. Realistically, everyone of these mistakes are going to happen to all of us, and your bullet journal will still function and keep you organised just fine even if you have to cross out a date or rewrite a word. It’s great to strive for a beautiful lay out but sometimes we make a mistake and that is perfectly okay!
Planners, what are your favourite bullet journal tips? Any lessons that you’ve learned?