I’m pretty sure all of you have seen or heard the term ‘bullet journaling’ or what people often shorten as ‘bujo’.
The trend has been sweeping our social media with a lot of inspirations of pretty spreads where you can channel your ‘inner creativity’ with various colours, drawings and washi tapes.
For some, this might be the biggest appeal in trying out this new planning system. Yet for some others, this is the biggest turn off.
But I’m here to tell you that all of those bujo inspos that you’ve seen isn’t actually what bujo is.
What is a bullet journal?
For those who are wondering what bullet journaling is, I’m going to tell you what it is now.
The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.
Ryder Caroll, creator of The Bullet Journal
Bullet journal is a blank book which you can tailor to your needs. You customise the page according to your preference.
Need a yearly calendar for all the important dates in your life? Make one in your bullet journal.
In a busy week when you usually just need a weekly planner? Change your planner into a daily one while your other ones are weekly planners.
Want to keep notes of your thoughts from your brainstorm? Jot them down on the next page.
Don’t have the time to keep filling out your journal? Take a break, you can start, stop and continue the system whenever you want.
The bullet journal is there to adapt and be flexible to your whatever you want, whenever you want. You can arrange all of your schedule, thoughts, lists, anything you want to remember in one place. No more carrying a few different notebooks just for your meeting, you can have your schedule for the day and notebook for your brainstorm in meeting in one book.
From my research, I’ve found that a lot of people use their bullet journal as a lot of things: calendar, yearly, monthly, weekly to daily planners, habit trackers, to-do lists, notebook, journal, to name a few.
And Ryder also confirmed this fact in his interview with The Huffington Post Australia.
“Bullet journal can be whatever you need it to be. It’s designed to adapt to your needs. It’s a flexible framework that helps you organise whatever you apply it to,” Ryder said during his interview.
YOUR bullet journal can be as simple or complicated and as intricate or simple as YOU want.
How to get started?
It’s very simple. Just pick a notebook and a pen, and get started.
For some that want some more guidance, here is a video from Ryder Caroll, the creator of the bullet journal for you to get started.
Or you can jump to Ryder Caroll’s official bullet journal page.
An advice from a bujo-er
I’ve also talked to a Melbourne-based bujo enthusiast Kim Ly (Her Instagram handle is on @bumblebujo) to give you some of the insights in starting your bujo.
Kim encouraged people to just simply start bullet journaling, and start simple.
“Instagram and Pinterest can be a plethora of inspiration, but it can also be very daunting. So many beautiful spreads created by so many talented people, you just want your journal to look just as amazing as theirs. But it doesn’t have to be. Don’t put pressure on yourself, let your journal style progress organically,” she said.
“If you’ve been bujo-ing but are struggling to keep up, then maybe you’re doing too much in your spreads. If something is taking longer than it should, just strip back down to the basics. The original bullet journal system is very minimal and bare bones,” she continued.
Even though she has been bullet journaling for almost a year, Kim still has her struggles in bullet journaling.
“Lately, I’ve been struggling with having the time to create spreads in my bullet journal. I have been in the process of setting up my sticker shop, which takes up a lot of my spare time,” Kim said.
Her new business made her create another bullet journal specifically for the business and it made her have to do two bullet journals at the same time.
“I feel guilty that I haven’t been able to keep up with my regular bullet journal. But in all honesty, it shouldn’t matter. Sometimes life gets busy, or you don’t feel like creating anything in your bullet journal. But that’s okay. You can come back to it when you’re ready. All you need to do is just turn the page of your notebook and pick up where you left off,” Kim explained.
How does it work if you aren’t an Instagram star??
At first, when I was learning about bullet journaling, I was extremely overwhelmed by all the images and videos I saw online, I overcame that by letting myself know that this was MY bullet journal and should be a reflection of my creativity and day-to-day life. This thought made me think more freely towards the Bu-Jo system.
I’ve been bullet journaling for about 2 years years and I really enjoy the process of it. It’s really great way to dump all my thoughts and ideas that I have in my brain onto paper. The best part of it is that there’s no strict format you have to follow – you can create your own unique format.
My experience [in bullet journaling] was daunting at first, as it was really overwhelming how much you were ‘supposed’ to put in. It also took me a long time to feel okay that [my bullet journal] didn’t look like [bullet journal inspirations on social media]. But I learnt that you’ve got to make it your own, so it works for you and your life.
I did a bit of research, but it didn’t seem like it would be for me, I use planners to write list after list so I can be organized, bullet journaling takes up way too much time from what I could see, it would never work for me because I’m not very creative and I’m a perfectionist so I would spend way more time than I’d like trying to make each page perfect. I like my lists I can just cross off as I go, it doesn’t need to be colourful and have a heap of random pictures and themes.
Bullet Journaling started out as a really useful experience for me. It helped me keep track of a lot of aspects of my life – especially “to do” items that I would have forgotten about later. Making it physical and manual, instead of digital and automatic, really made it stick in my head at first.
I stopped because I got kind of bored with it, to be honest. It was a habit at first, but then it just kind of fell by the wayside because I thought “Well, it’s okay if I skip just this one night…” and then my whole system had fallen apart before I knew it. I guess I do need a digital aspect to my organisation, because that helps with reminders. I think it might be better as a hybrid approach.
Seventeen’s editor Noelle and YouTuber Carrie Crista walk you through how to start your bullet journal.
YouTuber Amanda Rach Lee gives beginners some tips in starting their bullet journaling.
Follow Refinery 29’s video producer Lucie Fink on her experience in trying our bullet journaling.
In her YouTube account, Caitlin often shares bujo spread ideas for students too, her most recent video is on exam spread.