Updated: Jan 22
Today, I’m talking about bullet journals again. Why? Because I absolutely love them! I can be as creative and messy as I want, or as detailed and organised as I please. It’s all about what defines your creative spirit. For me, I’m a little bit of both. I already have a structure that I don’t want to part with, because it’s comfortable, and I can use it to fit whatever else I want to add, to my weekly spreads.
The same can be said for you. If you have a bullet journal, don’t be afraid to play about with it, because in the end, it’s what you make of it, and you don’t have to set yourself to the same pattern as, say an ordinary journal. Some people change up their spreads literally every week, and if they’re that determined, they even do a full daily spread. So, let your creative spirit run free. It’ll always come back and tell you what both you and it want!
How Do You Decide?
Like with everything, you need to start with your foundation. The first thing you need to think about is what are you using your journal for? Is it for study? For work? For your daily outings, or personal life? Is it for your health? What do you want your journal for? If you want it for more than one reason, limit yourself to, at most 3 purposes, otherwise you’ll be swamped with what you put in there.
So, for example, I use my journal for work (or at least what I define as work), my health, and my self-growth journey. What I mean is that, I list out all the tasks I need to do in the day, for my blog and film projects, which are work related. I track my daily intakes, meals and how much exercise I do, and finally, I keep track of all my personal projects, so that’s my knitting, crochet and sewing track, my self-study track and my prayer journals (I’m a devout Catholic, mind you).
Those were the areas of my personality and life that I wanted to focus on this year, as opposed to the last few years, where I quit my journals halfway through. You see, the reason I stopped, back then, was that I didn’t have a focus. I kept saying, I’ll add these tracks, or I’ll put those collections in, but really, I wasn’t focused on anything at all. I was all over the place and I couldn’t keep up, so I eventually gave up. That’s why it’s so important you decide what you want to focus on, before you start creating.
Choose Your Layout
Now, here comes the tricky part. A lot of people will give you loads of ideas and tell you “this is how you lay out your journal”. The truth of the matter is, there is no defined layout for a bullet journal. It’s all up to you. After all, you can make a content’s page, or a “key” page, to let whoever’s reading your journal know what icons mean what, or where you want them to look, if you can’t readily see your journal yourself. You can even make up a “master list” or a “master plan” to sort out the plans you have for the year and keep an eye on what you want to prioritise.
It’s all up to you, you don’t have to listen to the “experts” who’ll tell you to use the halfway point of your journal to highlight collections and trackers, or even me, when I say “it’s best to put this there”. It’s your own decisions that define your journal, just like in life. It’s yours, and no one can tell you how to do things.
Let’s Have A Look At Feather’s Journal
Ok, we were getting a little deep there, so let’s backtrack. I’ll show what I do for my layouts, especially my weekly ones. So, let’s start out with my yearly looks. First off, most of my collections are trackers, where I keep an eye on what I do daily, and once the year is through, I’ll decide whether or not I want to change my habits or keep them as they are.
These yearly looks are perfect for me, so I can see just how much I’ve done throughout the year, and see what I’ve accomplished, and what I have to improve on. It even helps me set monthly goals for myself, like challenging myself to not skip a day when I write for my novel, or to remind myself to do more towards my cross-stitch projects or sewing projects.
Next, we’ll look at my monthly spreads. These ones I only reserve for my first look and last look of the month. So, my first look at the month includes a calendar that helps me and reminds me of important events or tasks and deadlines I need to remember. Beside it, I’ll have my goals, focus and monthly to-do lists.
Now, my goals and focuses are different from each other, because my goals are the things, I hope to achieve by the end of the month. The focuses are what I will be focusing on during the month, so the tasks I set for myself will be focused on these areas. Lastly, my monthly to-do lists. These are the repetitive lists I will set myself, because I need to do these things once a month. The last thing you see here is next month’s calendar. It’s an overview of what I expect for next month. It won’t include my deadlines and tasks, it usually just highlights the events I should remember, like birthdays or days out, or sometimes a task that I ought to remember to complete.
The last look of the month is completely different. It’s my monthly review. Here, I look back at what I’d achieved in the month, what I had expected of myself, and what I should improve on, in the month ahead. As you can see, it’s literally one giant paragraph or writing, but that’s ok. I’m writing this thing for myself, not for anyone else, and honestly, I like the way it fills the entire page, because not only is it a way for me to keep the layout of my journal steady, I can always look back on these reviews, and remind myself of what I did that month, and what I’ve learned from it.
Here Comes The Journal Part
Ok, so we’re now at my weekly spreads, which I make, at the end of every week, because I don’t like having them at the ready. Why? The physical act of creating the spread, every week, reminds me to use my journal. If I create the spreads at the beginning of the month, I will eventually stop using it, because of the way my mind works. If I don’t constantly go back to my journal, I will eventually forget about it. So, creating the spread every week, helps me to keep going back to my journal, otherwise, what was the point in buying it in the first place? That’s why, you’ll see the task set to me every week.
Now, here comes the tricky part. You see how I have trackers here too? These trackers are the ones I keep every week, because these are my main focuses every day. What I mean is, I can easily tell myself, “let’s not do a major workout today”, and I can cross off that box on my yearly tracker, to say “I didn’t do it”, or I can forego doing anything towards my crochet or sewing projects, because they’re not my major concern. However, what is my concern is the fact that I get my daily nutrition in, every day, and I work towards my self-growth, in terms of my self-study.
So, I promised myself, sometime in June, I’d track whether or not I’d done any research or study during the day. This research and study went towards my interests in Ancient Egypt and Ancient Rome, as well as learning languages, particularly Korean, Spanish and Japanese. I’d set myself days on which I studied these topics. That’s why, you’ll find that on every Monday, I would do some research on Ancient Egypt, Tuesdays were dedicated to Ancient Rome, Wednesdays: Korean, Thursdays: Spanish and Fridays: Japanese.
Do you now see why these trackers are important to me? I want to make them an intrinsic part of my routine, and by tracking them, daily I will be able to do that unconsciously. Anyway, moving on, we have the main crux of the weekly spread, and that’s the daily tasks. As you can see, I set myself a lot of weekly tasks, that’s because these are habits, not for me, but for my work, particularly on the blog, and towards my filmmaking projects. These tasks are highly important, and I prioritise them when I start the day.
Of course, there are days where I only highlight my weekly tasks, and that’s because these days are basically on standby, until I know what I want to do, or what I need to do on those days, particularly if it is a weekend. Every Saturday and Sunday are reserved for rest, in my case, because I know, if I set a task on any of those days, I may just be too lazy to carry them out. So, I leave those days free, just in case I don’t have the energy to do anything.
Finally, you have the odds and ends, like my little gratitude log, and the free space. Initially I also had an expense log on these pages, but because I no longer have a paying job, and I don’t frequently travel, I don’t need to keep up with these, at least in my journal. So, it became a free space for my weekly motivational quotes and doodles, but because I was running out of ideas, I ended up just filling the space with ephemera. I actually took inspiration from my searches on junk journaling for these spaces.
Make It Yours!
So, as you can see, my journal is unlike any journal out there in the shops or on the market. It’s not like any of the ones you see on Instagram or Pinterest. It’s my own design, and I love sticking to it. However, that doesn’t mean you need to do what I do. My way might not work for you, and my mind is not like yours. So, experiment. Do what feels right to you, and you’ll eventually find your pattern, or if not, you’ll at least find somewhere to be creative with your skills as a designer, doodler, calligrapher, and whatever other papercraft projects you take up.
Remember, your bullet journal is your own piece of work, you’re not doing it to impress anyone, but yourself. It is your own expression of creativity, and no one can look down on it, except you.
Well, that’s it from me today, I’ll see you guys next time, where I’ll probably break down my spreads a little more, especially about the themes I choose for my journal. For now, don’t forget to like, subscribe and follow for more updates and the latest posts here on Feather’s Charm and on my social media accounts. Oh, and share these posts with family and friends, those who you’d think might enjoy these topics and tips! I’ll see you later!