Bullet journaling: when to-do lists and crafting collide

I’m sure some of you have heard about bullet journaling, but for those who haven’t: it’s a combination of to-do list and daily planner that is infinitely customizable to what you need from a planner.  The “bullet” part of bullet journaling comes from the fact that most items in your journal will be in a bulleted list format (and oh how I love my bulleted lists, I swear the <ul> tag is the most abused HTML tag in my websites and my old online journals).  There are different bullets based on different types of items in your journal, and they’re typically outlined in a key at the beginning of the journal.  Certain bullets, like an “o” for events, a “-” for thoughts and non-to-do items, and a dot for to-do items, are present in all journals, and if you need more for other things you’re keeping track of in your journal, you can add them as you see fit.

My first bullet journal key!

Bullet journals start with a table of contents, with plenty of room for including new items you might want to find easily, often include a future log, and also make use of monthly, weekly, and even daily layouts.  My bullet journal makes use of all of those items, along with pages that are often referred to as “collections” – in short, a page or two that’s devoted to a specific topic.  I have collections for books that I’m reading, craft projects I’m working on, maintenance for my scooter and car, and important things for work.

I’ve long had an addiction with daily planners, which most likely started back when I was in elementary school and my dad would give me his outdated Day Timers to me to play with.  I’d use them to try and plan out the ever-so-thrilling day of a fourth grader – for a little while, anyway.  That’s always been the story with me and planners – buy something awesome with lots of features, like stickers or a fancy day marker or a nice leather cover, use it for a few weeks, and then let it gather dust for the rest of the year.

That is not the case with bullet journaling.

I’ve actually been doing this, steadily, since the end of July – can you believe it?  I started out with some very experimental layouts, and even incorporated lots of sketches into my daily pages.

Are you surprised by the Steven Universe sketches? Of course you’re not.

Some of my early pages looked like a hot mess of stickers, washi tape, and brightly colored pens.

One of the less ridiculous hot mess layouts I’ve made, there are worse ones in my first journal.

Eventually, though, I ended up with more sedate pages, as I spent more time with the bullet journal system.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t end up with the occasional hot mess spread, like my brain dump for my research paper for Content Analysis for the Web last semester…

So many notes for this paper. I really should publish the darn thing here, shouldn’t I…

… but for the most part, I evened out into calmer layouts.

Rogue One really was AMAZING.

So, how does this tie in with crafting?  Well, the key thing about bullet journaling is that you’re making each page as you go, each weekly and monthly spread.  You can make them as fancy or as plain as you like.  (And believe me, there are PLENTY of fancy bullet journal layouts, just look at Pinterest.)  You can turn them into some weird hybrid of scrapbook, journal, and to-do list, like I’ve done with my bullet journals.

Not gonna lie, part of the reason I bought a photo printer recently was to make Steven Universe stickers for my bullet journal…

You can plaster them in washi tape if you want to (I have to exercise restraint when it comes to washi tape, or my journal will end up covered in it, I swear!).  You can use calligraphy to title each page.  You can incorporate sketches, like I’ve done, or have it simply be a little list of what needs to be done and what’s going on.  That’s what I love about the bullet journal system.  If you’re creative, like me, you can go nuts and make something that’s uniquely yours.  If you’re a stationery fanatic (again, like I am), you have an infinite number of possibilities for what journal you choose, what pens you write with, what stickers you can include, and more.  Me, I’ve finally settled on my holy grail of bullet journaling: the Leuchtturm1917 squared notebook (because grids are awesome) and a set of Stabilo point 88 fineliner pens (which were a gift from my Reddit Secret Santa this year).

My best friends.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been doing this steadily since the end of July.  I can’t leave the house without my journal – despite also having events documented in my work calendar, I feel so lost without my happy green book full of what’s going on in my life.  It tracks what I’m doing each day, my thoughts as I go through each day, the habits I’m trying to improve on, and helps me collect ideas for work, blog posts, books to read, and crafts to do.  And it’s the perfect combination of planning and crafting. 🙂

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One comment

  1. Jen says:

    This might be a type of planner I might actually use after the ‘newness’ wears off. I could constantly change it up. Thanks for the inspiration.