Personalising Your Bullet Journal - 5 Top Tips

Recently I wrote my top three tips for starting a bullet journal and here I'll expand on how I have adapted the bullet journal system to suit my own planning needs.

I was bullet journalling before Buzzfeed et al discovered the phenomenon and will continue to do so when everyone has moved onto The Next Best Thing because bullet journaling really helps me to be productive. I've been through the notebook-of-doubt phase and I've used all the washi-tape and stickers and I've come out the other side.

Here are my next five tips for making your bullet journal work for you.

5 top tips to help you personalise your bullet journal and keep it simple [click to tweet]



1. Find the notebook that suits you

This may be a pocket notebook, a Leuchtturm 1917 or Moleskine, a Filofax or standard notebook with a motivational quote on the front of it. My preference varies as I've had a bullet journal in a travellers notebook system and have found a way to merge my bullet journal and my Filofax

I always go back to using a simple notebook and my preference is dot-grid paper or squared but you may prefer lined paper or even plain paper.

2. Use your own key.

The original bullet journal method uses three main notifiers. They are a dot (.) to indicate a task, a circle (o) to indicate an event and a dash (-) to indicate notes. Anything urgent has an asterisk (*) placed next to it and, at the end of the month, migration arrows (> and <) come into play.

My key is slightly different.  I still use the original idea of an open box as my "task to do" notifier and the rest are listed below. You will soon find out which symbols work for you.

Task to do
Task done
oNote
!Important
£Finances
Blog ideas
?Thinking about
Moved to another task list

3. Start with the basic bullet journal ethos and then make it your own

Your bullet journal is your way to keep track of your life and it is designed to be a way to ensure that you complete all your tasks and eliminate those bits of papers floating around with notes on. Now is the time to start building your own collections into your system and create trackers if you need to monitor certain aspects of your life. You can get inspiration from Pinterest, Instagram or YouTube. 

Whilst I use my bullet journal as part of my planning system I'm not in the slightest bit creative or artistic so I am still very basic with my layout as you'll read below


4. How I use my own bullet journal

I'm a one-book girl and this is my B.O.A.T. - my Book Of All Things - so whilst it is a continuing list of things to do (or a book of Done That's) I also need to use a future planning system. The layout of a Hobonichi planner is perfect (annual planner, monthly planner, daily planner) but so expensive and the pages are a little bit small for my handwriting. I've taken to investing in a notebook that I'll like using, dividing the book into sections and drawing out my pages (you can see an old example here). It's not perfect but it works for me.

I'm very minimalist these days. I found that using a long list of indicators, stickers and washi tape distracted me as I was spending more time creating the to-do lists than actually getting anything done.

5. Start your bullet journal now

It will take around 10 minutes for you to set up your first bullet journal. You don't have to start a bullet journal in January... hell, you don't even have to start it on the first of the month but it makes more sense. You can use any notebook and pen and when your current notebook runs out, simply start a new one.

You don't have to photograph your journal and share it on Instagram. You many notice that I'm reluctant to share images of the inside of my own current notebook (although I have in the past) because, like me, it's not very photogenic.


Whilst these are tips to help you get started with your bullet journal, there really are no rules.  Grab your pen and notebook and go for it!


5 top tips to help you personalise your bullet journal and keep it simple [click to tweet]


Here's some additional reading to help you out
Kate has collated 50 List Ideas to help with your collections
Complete bullet journal guide from the Lazy Genius Collective


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