What if I told you that there is a way to be more productive? That there is a way to organise and track everything that you want to? And that there is a system that will help you crush your to-do list while still allowing you to be flexible with your time and schedule?
Can you really organise everything in your life in one place?
When I first came across Bullet Journalling videos on youtube I thought to myself “That’s a pretty time consuming hobby”. I had no idea that Bullet Journals are a tool to be more productive. A tool that helps you smash your to-do list.
And why will someone spend so much time on just a planner other than it being a hobby, was beyond my understanding. It was years later when I tried it myself. And I think the reason why it took me so long to give Bullet Journalling a try is because it seemed quite complex. But I was working in a corporate job back then and also was just starting out my blogging journey and I was looking for tools that will help me be more productive.
The spreads and trackers used to overwhelm me and I simply didn’t know where and how to even begin.
And I think I can safely I am a converted Bujo lover. I swear by it. And it is now one of my favourite productivity tools. And I want to show you that Bullet Journalling doesn’t have to be time consuming. Of course you can decorate your Bujo if you want to but if you just want it as a tool here are some super simple Minimal BUJO spreads that I love. And here is everything you need to know:
What should I use Bullet Journal for?
Well, that depends on you. Whether you want to use Bullet Journal to manage your classes and study schedule or you want to use it for a specific goal. it is totally up to you. And that’s the beauty of it.
There are no set spreads or trackers and it entirely depends on what you want to use it for.
And if you are not sure and just want to give it a try, that’s okay too.
That’s how I started too, in fact.
You just need to start with a few basic spreads and maybe just a single month and overtime as you use it, you will get a better understanding of what you want from your Bujo and can then customise it.
What supplies do you need?
When you are just starting out, all you really need is a notebook and a pen. That’s it.
Before we start, here are all the tools that I use for Bullet Journalling:
- This is the bullet journal I use : I really like this quality of this Menorah Bullet journal that I got from Amazon. The pen does not bleed through the pages and I love the compact size of this journal. I got this for 3rd time in a row and it is super affordable too.
- Next up is Pens: I swear by these Sakura micron Pens. Since you usually have a small space to write and I love the look of a neat and organised Bujo, I use the Sakura Micron pens. Your regular gel pens don’t quite work in bullet Journals because they take time to dry and hence are easy to smudge but these micron pens are a life saver.
- I use these sharpies for decorating my Bullet journal : I love that they are quite fine and are perfect for Bullet Journalling.
BULLET JOURNAL BASICS
Coming on to the basics. You have your bullet journal and your pen at the ready, what to do next?
Understand the Terminology:
First you need to understand the terms that people use for Bullet Journals like spreads/ key/ trackers etc.
The key is basically a set of symbols that you use throughout your bullet journal to depict a particular thing like task, appointment, event etc.
It totally depends on what symbols you want to use to signify particular things in your bullet journal. The key is usually made in the very beginning of a bullet journal to make it easy to access. Below is an example of a key:
You need to understand how Bullet Journals work. How you utilise every single page of your journal is called a layout or a spread. So let’s say one page has your yearly calendar, then that becomes a yearly spread or a yearly layout. Same goes for your Monthly and weekly calendars.
The yearly layouts are used to see your entire year at a glance. It is a great place to write down important dates throughout the year and also to plan out and see your vacation days in a given year.
Monthly layouts generally have a monthly calendar that has all your meetings and appointments of the month as well as any events scheduled for the month. They are great when booking appointments because they give you a clear view of what dates are free in your calendar.
Weekly layouts/spreads are layouts depicting each week. this is where most of your to-do list goes. Because when it comes to planning, you don’t usually plan really far in advance, but weekly planning is something that a lot of people do and is highly recommended too.
Next comes Trackers, which are used to well.. basically track something. It could be anything that you want to track, like your weight, sleep patterns, workout days, mood, expenses, habits etc. Again, it totally depends on you.
Collections are basically listicles, where you collect things for future reference. Collections spread may include a “Book to read” spread where you write down book recommendations. It may include “Blog post Ideas” that you can refer when you are thinking of what blogs to write next.
Let me walk you through setting up your first Bullet Journal.
SETTING UP YOUR FIRST BUJO
Let’s do this spread by spread. Some people do a lot of quote pages throughout their BuJo because it keeps them motivated, but I am only going to discuss the spreads that have a practical purpose.
Of course you can always do quote pages if you want. I do some here and there but otherwise I like keeping my Bullet Journal very minimal and clean. As far as the practicality goes, here are the spreads you need:
The first spread you want in your Bullet Journal is A Yearly Spread. Or a “Year at a glance” Spread. This is important as it helps you plan out vacations, holidays during the big breaks. Also I think it’s just nice to bring in the new year in your Bujo and start fresh. I also use the two page yearly spread to jot down all the birthdays at the beginning of each year. I later transfer them to the monthly spreads.
After the year at a glance I do a few collection kind of spreads> having it right after the yearly spread makes it easy for to access it whenever need be throughout the year. My go to collection spreads are:
- Goals Planner: Right after the yearly spread I have my goals planner that I divide in different categories like personal, financial, wellbeing and business/blog goals. Here I write my goals for the year for each category and also divide them into smaller actionable goals and brainstorm ways in which I can achieve them.
- Books to read: I am an avid reader and I am always looking for book recommendations and I need a place to jot all of them down. And then each month I select two from this list to read that month.
- Things to checkout: This is for everything that I want to checkout other than books. So I have different categories like movies& Tv shows, restaurants, Recipes, podcasts and audio books.
- Blog Ideas: Here I jot down all the blogpost Ideas I have. I often refer back to this list when i am planning out content for a particular month and simply tick off the ideas that I have already written about. I leave a page or two blank for this purpose because it is a running list and I keep adding to this list whenever an idea comes to my mind.
There are two types of monthly spreads that I do depending on how busy my month is going to be. I do a single page monthly spread when I have a rather free kind of month. And I do a double page monthly spread when I know I am going to have a busy month and I will need a lot more space to write things down.
Lately I have started planning my blogposts in advance and I use my monthly spread for that too. And that’s why I have been doing two page spreads.
Monthly Spreads are also a great place to jot down all your reminders for the month. The various important things you can write in your monthly spreads are:
- Rent: The date when your rent is due
- Doctor’s Appointment
- Other Appointments
- Finals exam/test Dates
- Any parties/events you have an invitation for
- Credit Card payment Date reminders
- Medicine/Flu shot date Reminders
But if you are like me and want to use your bullet journal to mainly level up your blogging game, then you can use the monthly spread to list which blog needs to be published on what date.
Weekly spreads depict your weeks and I usually like doing a two page weekly layout because I have a lot of different things on my to-do list on a daily basis. And the two page layout gives you plenty of space to write everything down.
In the weekly Spreads I write down my tasks for the day. I use time blocking to plan out some activities through the week. Like let’s say I usually do groceries on a Sunday evening, so I will block out 1 hour for groceries on Sunday.
Time blocking is great productivity tool as you don’t end up wasting a lot of time on the mundane things but I don’t over plan because when you work from home, things always change. Something or the other comes up. And if I have a packed schedule and something comes up, it will only give me anxiety and of course I don’t want that.
That being said, working from home and being productive is harder than people would think and that’s why I use a lot of these productivity tools that help me avoid distractions and get my to-do list checked off.
I think this is super important because time to time you need to see what progress you are making. At the end of each month I like doing a monthly review and adjusting my focus to reach my goals next month.
This is the place where I see where I fell short and what changes do I need to make going into future. I really love this spread because it closes a month for me and gets me ready for the coming month. Some people also do a weekly review at the end of each week but that’s just not my thing.
Trackers are really fun and a great visual depiction of anything you want to track. But I like keeping my trackers simple so that I am not wasting my time in analysing it later on.
I usually do all my habit trackers on a single page and I like tracking habits that are super important to me. This could include something you are trying to change because what gets measured gets managed. And I really believe in that. I track my workouts, healthy eating, wake up time, and drinking enough water.
A lot of people track their sleep, mood, periods, vitamins, reading 30 minutes everyday. Again, it is totally customisable and the idea is that you should track whatever you think you need to focus on. But don’t try and track every single thing because it will just happen. Try it with a few habits at first. When you feel like they have become a part of your routine, start with other habits.
And that’s it. You have officially set up your Bullet Journal. I am so excited for all the amazing things that you are going to do with it.
If you want some more ideas for your Bullet journal, here are some Minimal BuJo spreads that I absolutely love. Let me know which tips you found useful. 🙂
Like this post, share it on Pinterest? 🙂