Written by: Shannon Ang
One thing that I pride myself on is that I am a chronic planner and note-taker (read: I have absolutely no qualms about reiterating this self-proclaimed statement). On hectic days, I retreat to my trusty Post-It Notes and calendar on my MacBook to keep track of my errands as a self-reminder. When I am feeling fancy or am suddenly charged with the need to fulfill my aesthetic desires, I get weekly planners from Typo and start filling them up.
But lately, I have fallen down into this rabbit hole of bullet journaling after watching several Youtube videos. Furthermore, this insanely popular hashtag (#bujo) that has taken Instagram by storm. Just search it up and be prepared to spend hours lost in the whimsical designs.
I haven’t had time to get cracking with it due to submissions and finals, and fear also stalled my progress. But now that school’s over, I have all my pens and markers whipped out, consciously filling in the pages of my summer break.
If you are unfamiliar with the art of bullet journalling, here’s what you need to know, all bulleted out for you (no pun intended).
The concept of bullet journaling is coined by Brooklyn-based designer Ryder Carroll. It’s basically a method to stay organised without any limitations to a pre-formatted planner design and template. You can watch his video below for specifics of his approach. Essentially, it’s an ever-evolving and customisable lifelog of an individual (be it in terms of finances, goals and plans) to manage the present and plan for the future.
The advantages of bullet journalling are aplenty. According to neuroscientists, keeping a bullet journal helps one to externalise thoughts. By transferring your thoughts and plans to paper, it frees up your mental space and you’ll be more present at the moment without getting caught up in the worries of forgetting details and the quick pace of life. As an outlet for self-expression and reflection, it can also boost your well being as you are in touched with your own life happenings and feelings.
Tempted to start one already? Here are three easy tips that can help you dip your toes in the world of bullet journalling.
- Get affordable tools that are suited to your preferences.
Well obviously, you can’t get cracking without getting a notebook or planner of some sort and some writing materials— be it coloured pens or markers. Most importantly, it’s essential to bear in mind that it’s not necessary to spend a lot on your tools to get started, which was one misconception I had.
Some people have actually encouraged beginners to start with an inexpensive notebook which you like and would be okay with making mistakes. Preferably, it should be one with blank pages (lined or unlined is fine), instead of one with pre-existing sections so you can decide on how you want to customise it. The choice of your writing tools is dependent on your colour scheme. Love monochrome? You do you.
2. There’s no pressure to make it “perfect”
It’s inevitable to be overwhelmed when you are just getting started, especially if you are like me – very challenged in the art department and impatient. Admittedly, while scrolling through my Instagram feed of aesthetically and visually pleasing journals, I felt pressured to make one of the same standards. More than that, it even discouraged me to think that bullet journalling was not for me when my doodling and drawing became messier than I had expected and it wasn’t as though I could hit the backspace or undo for a fresh new page.
Whether you think you lack the artistic skill, time or patience, the creator of Bullet Journal, Carroll has a reassuring reminder for you.
“Forget about what you see online. It’s not about how it looks; it’s about how it feels, and most importantly, how it works for you.”
This transitions into my final tip, which is to…
3. Beautify the journal gradually according to your standards
See it as you will, but for me, the bullet journal is a personal creative project and endeavour which shouldn’t be rushed. During the process, you’ll be sure to encounter mistakes along the way while you get accustomed to the process. Work on getting your standard page formats down and then your creative juices will come flowing in. Or you could work on improving areas that you are dissatisfied in like handwriting, organisation, etc. If you are still short of ideas, an alternative would be to seek inspiration from the online community and then adding your own twist on it. Good luck!