How to set up a bullet journal if you’re not arty
Bullet journals don’t need to be beautiful
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Spend some time on Instagram however, and you’d be forgiven for thinking they do.
I don’t consider myself super creative, and I’m definitely not great at drawing. I love bullet journaling though and recently got the itch to get back to it. While I love planning in my Cousin or Weeks, I felt lacking somewhere to capture things during the day. Notes or things that need capturing in longer term planning. I therefore decided to do a quick bullet journal set up in my A5 LT1917 to hopefully help with that.
As my bullet journal is very much on the side of functional, rather than pretty, I thought it would be helpful to share it on the blog. Hopefully it’ll inspire you to not worry so much about making your bullet journal look like a work of art and concentrate on making it work for you.
The set up
Although the notebook I am using comes with an index, I set up a new one. I’ve used this notebook for many different things over the years and so I liked having a new index for this portion of the book.
I’m not great at lettering at all, so for titles I tend to use stamps and stickers. These stamps were from a very old alphabet stamp set. I used StazOn ink because it’s all I had in, and it’s not great on these pages. The Leuchhturm paper holds up against a lot, but solvent ink is too much for it. If you’re looking for a good ink for stamping in bullet journals, I highly recommend this.*
I then go straight into my future log. Being able to see the rest of the year at a glance is such a great benefit to bullet journalling. I don’t get this in my Hobonichi at all. I use this space for important events that I need to consider when booking in other plans, not necessarily everything. So when I go into my monthly log next, you’ll see a lot more written in there.
If something comes up in month, I won’t go back and add it into my future log.
As I was setting this up I was experimenting with pens to use. I used to use nothing but gel pens, but now I use Hobonichi planners almost exclusively I only really use fountain pens now, and the Hobonichi pen.
As I don’t use them much anymore, I haven’t been replacing them as they’ve been running out or drying up. This meant I didn’t quite have my favourite ever gel pen* to use (well, not in black) so I had to make do with using the coloured version for the months and then a lesser liked version for the actual events on the page.
So I don’t do arty stuff in my bullet journal, but I do like to add a bit of colour every so often. One way of doing this is a simple cover page.
You can’t beat a simple bit of washi and a monthly sticker elevate your bujo from feeling 100% functional.
Obviously you don’t need to do this, but if you do want to add a bit of a flourish to your notebook, this is an easy way. I also like to edge my monthly page with the same washi so I can easily flick to it.
I absolutely love this layout. I call it my monthly dashboard, as it basically has everything I need in one easy spread.
On the right hand side I have my plans. I use // to break up the different events if there’s more than one a day.
On the left hand side, I have day specific tasks. This is something I was missing in my Hobonichi Weeks set up. I had space for general tasks for the month, but no where for date specific things that I could see at a glance.
Then, to the left of that, I have my daily habit tracker for the month. I’m currently using the habit tracker notepad* I created, but I liked the concept of setting this up in a way where I saw everything at a glance too. Underneath that I then have my weekly tasks that are basically chores and Lethbridge Paper regular tasks.
Finally, at the bottom of my right hand page, I have the non date specific tasks for the month. These are usually things that occur once a month or gift purchases that need to be done for upcoming events.
I don’t like to do a lot of drawing out of tables in my bujo. As you’ll see here and in the future log, I’ll draw out a line using a Micron* where I feel I need to clearly separate elements, so they don’t get confused. That is generally the most I’ll do.
This is another spread I really like and very much feels like a dashboard too. On the left I carve out a column and the days of the week. This is purely for events. I like to see them in my weekly rather than flipping back to my monthly each day.
Then, using the Alistair Method I list out my tasks for the week and start plotting out days they need to be done. If they don’t need to be done on a certain day I’ll either elect a day based on how busy I’m looking across the week, or leave it blank and just have it as something to get to during the week. A key part of planning for me is to sit down on a Sunday and do a bit of a brain dump of everything I need to get done that week. This method allows me to do that.
On the next page I then start my dailies. I use a date stamp* just to mix it up and allow the new day to be easily recognisable. To start my date I write in any pre-planned events and any tasks from my to do list that have been marked up for that day.
From this point, I generally go back to the OG bullet journal method. Just rapid logging my day. Things that need to go into my inbox at some point, notes, and interesting things I might want to remember all go in here. This just gets left out on my desk and updated throughout the day.
On these pages I’ve been using a Clena gel pen*, as it’s got a finer point that I prefer for the dailies.
I really like this set up
I’ve been bullet journaling on and off for years now. While this doesn’t stay 100% true to the original method (as I like to do a lot more pre planning) it works for me and keeps me productive and organised.
Hopefully this helped show that you don’t have to have a super pretty bullet journal. It can be simple and scruffy like mine, but as long as it keeps you organised, it really doesn’t matter how it looks.