You want to know how to organize a bullet journal? Have you grabbed the How To Start Bullet Journaling freebie? It is a comprehensive worksheet that has you to work through a few questions and then check off what will work for you — types of uses and categories for bullet journals, as well as tips to help you find what will be useful for you. This will be extremely useful to help you organize a bullet journal and keep it organized.
Once you have that sorted, this post will be even more helpful for you. If you haven’t done it yet, go here to download it and then come back.
First things first: It doesn’t actually matter. It doesn’t.
What you say now? Well, to me, a bullet journal is like a purse — it’s personal and it’s yours — no one should go in it. Unless you want them to. Unless you want to show what’s inside.
You might show a friend at one point to illustrate how journaling works for you, but at the end of the day, I want you to get it in your mind that you should not start a bullet journal with the purpose to show it to the world.
Why? Well, if you’re anything like me, you’ll always strive for perfection and have that thought in the back of your mind that you’re going to show the world…
My fear is that then it won’t be able to grow into something that’s truly made for you, because you’ll be bound to make it for someone else to like it.
Do it for you
If you do want to share your bullet journal on social media, I’d recommend having a separate one where you can try different spreads and toy around with pens, illustrations and diy-how-tos. This can be extremely fun, intuitive and can help you find spreads that could work for you.
It is my experience however, that when I created spreads for Instagram, I wouldn’t even bother using them because I was doing what other people were doing rather than what I needed. Even if some of them were nice, I didn’t like them. They didn’t work for me.
I admire the people who share their craft and life online, but chances are if you’re reading this you’re new(ish) to bullet journaling, so I do not think you should start there.
Get two journals if you must. Journaling is exciting, deeply intuitive and informative, so you should able to feel free to share what ever your mind pleases you to.
So if you want to know my tips for how to organize a bullet journal simply and how I organize my journal, here is my simple guide:
How to organize a bullet journal and stay organized.
1 — BUNCH YOUR LONG TERM SPREADS TOGETHER —
Take a look at your completed work sheet – the long term spreads such as the entries in “general” that you have selected can be long-term. Decide if you want them bunched together at the beginning of your journal or if you want them reoccurring monthly. You can also keep them at the back of your journal so that they’re out of sight that way, too.
NOTE: Even if you are not breaking in a new journal, you can still bunch all of your long-term spreads together for the next half of your journal and organize them with tip #2 below. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with starting a new journal half-way. New starts can feel hella good! But you do not need a new journal to get organized! K, fam?
If you have everything at the beginning, it’s easier to flip through and you save more time creating your monthly and weekly logs at the start of each month because you don’t need to recreate it all. Writing out calendars every month can be annoying. On the flip side, if you’re new to journaling, you may want the fresh start every month to try a new spread, theme, or rule-out a concept you didn’t like when you tried it out. What I mean is this: If you have all of your fitness and health trackers in one place, you flip through to ONE location through-out the year. However, if you incorporate it monthly or weekly, then you’re flipping to those sections (which is at a different location) each week or month! To me, this is begging for prime-time ignoring of those sections, but that’s just me.
If you have everything at the end, then it’s still easy to flip through but it’s out of sight and out of mind. You’ll use tip #2 to keep it together and you get to work back-to-front, which… could be interesting?
If you have a specific purpose for your bullet journal, (ie for school or work) you may also opt to keep a personal one at home to log anything in the general and personal categories (see worksheet). This is great to be creative and to track things without the fear of losing such personal information or lugging it around all the time. This is allows a fuss-free zone of keeping your long-term personal spreads together and still getting to incorporate mini-checks in your weekly or monthly spreads (which you may choose to bring along with you to school/work).
2 — ORGANIZE YOUR JOURNAL WITH ODDS AND ENDS —
The easiest way to organize your bullet journal without getting an expensive journal with all of the fancy this and thatsies is… Using odds and ends which, chances are, you already have at your desk or can be bought for less than 5$.
Your monthly and weekly spreads can be organized with paperclips, trombones, and/or washi tape. That way even if you are a bit hectic in the notes vs. time-bound spreads, it’s still easy for you to flip through and to get to where you want to go. You can color-code or use specific locations to demonstrate importance/category. Just free-style what makes sense and you can make a “key” to help you memorize this. Likewise, pages you keep flipping to should also stand out. This reduces frustration and saves time.
Note: Some notebooks come with bookmarks, however in my experience these are not as functional as you think they might be as they get tangled and do not really flip easily or demonstrate which page it is that you have book-marked.
Organizing with odds and ends ends up saving you money (since journals with bookmarks are usually a lot more expensive) and gives you more flexibility to personalize and create a system that works for you.
How do you organize a bullet journal with paper clips, washi tape or trombones? Essentially you’ll be wanting pages either bunched together or standing out.
This is how I organize my journal —
I take notes when I watch a Skillshare class — some of the classes go in-depth so I can take up to 5 or 10 pages. I always title my pages, so if I’m not using those notes all the time, I use a paperclip to bunch it together. That way it’s super easy to know where my notes are and to skip them if I’m doing a rapid flip-through to find a specific page
For pages I constantly flip to, I have two categories: my weekly spreads and my ideas/posting schedule. For my weekly spreads, I use a rose gold washi tape along the side of the journal. I take 1 inch long piece of washi tape, fold it at the centre and leave about 1.5 cm to stick either side of the washi tape to my page to make a tab. For my post ideas, in progress, and schedule, I use a black and white lined washi tape and I do the same tab method but at the top of my journal. Last but not least, for the post that I’m working on that day I use a small arrow post-it like this one so that even if I’m flipping back and forth while I get inspired, I still can clearly see which page I was working on right before.
3 — CREATE A SYSTEM THAT WORKS FOR YOU
Research, Learn & Practice with a system that makes organization work effortlessly.
Which key(s) will you be using to organize your to-do lists and (monthly/weekly/daily) spreads? With what functionality do you want your lists, notes and information to be separated by?
What is your colour scheme? Do you realistically see yourself trecking 67 different pens so you can colour-coordinate or are you more minimalistic and want maybe 3 writing materials? Will you be filling in your journal exclusively at home or wherever you go your journal comes with?
Play around with titles – what do you like best? What do you want to make stand out when you’re looking around from page to page? Will you be using a ruler? Will you be carrying around that ruler with you all the time?
Don’t overthink the answers, they don’t matter
Your journal is your journey. What you like or want today will not be the same thing as what you’ll like or want in a month or year from now. Our perceptions and aesthetics change over time as do the uses for our journal. It’s only with time that you’ll see what spreads you didn’t end up filling in because you couldn’t be bothered, and which ones were extremely useful as well as aesthetically pleasing.
Art can come later – there will be room, and inspiration
Doodles can be added in anytime and anywhere. You will have empty spots and you can fill them in with whatever you’d like. Unless a spread is reliant on a flower or another concept, don’t get caught up with the art – it’s supposed to be functional – the art can come later.
Revise what you think you care about
Think about what you need first, and then what you’d like. Once you have an idea of what you think you like, ask yourself how much you actually care. It’s not a valid reason to track how many glasses of water you’ve drank in a day just because some other health “guru” does it. Do you want to have to remember how much water you drank and when? Are you going to whip out your journal when you do drink a glass? Some of these trackers are not actually that useful.
Cover your mistakes with washi tape, pictures, cut outs… HAVE FUN
You made a mistake? Cool. Either rip out the page, work with the mistake, or cover it up. It doesn’t matter. Have fun. Move on. Laugh about it during next year’s flip through.
What are your favorite ways to organize your bullet journal? Would you like to see what’s in my bullet journal? Comment & Sign up for a chance to win my favorite journaling items in February 2018 and be sure to follow me on Instagram @CheekyHippies.
Did I also mention that you get a free bullet journaling worksheet to help you get started ?!
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