A few weeks ago now, Thor approached me to say that he had decided to start a bullet journal to help keep his work on track. At this point I’d heard of bullet journals, but thought of them more from a day-to-day organisation to-do list kind of thing, and I already had my own systems and stuff, so happily supported him in his decision and (mostly) left it at that.
But I’m sure my phone was listening, because the next time I was browsing around on TikTok and YouTube I started getting posts from people sharing their bullet journal spreads. And oh was it so much more than I thought! Yes, of course there is the to-do aspect of it, but there’s also a beautiful creative side of things that opens up so many different ways of keeping organised.
It ended up being quite serendipitous – I feel like I’ve been mentally and physically stuck in a rut for awhile. Blame COVID, blame getting older, whatever. But I’m here in a rut and I want to get out of it. And there was something so appealing and beautiful about these bullet journal spreads and the things people kept track of that really appealed to me. So I decided to start my own.
The YouTubers who inspired me:
- Amanda Rach Lee – https://www.youtube.com/c/amandarachlee (2.14MILLION followers!! And well deserved – her journals are stunning!)
- Tiina’s Diary – https://www.youtube.com/c/Tiinasdiary (absolutely amazing artist!)
- Journal Away – https://www.youtube.com/c/JournalAway (this is the channel that made me realise I didn’t have to be able to draw (although she is a wonderful artist!!) – these journals include beautiful papers and stickers, too)
(If you don’t want to read about my journey through this, I’ve posted a TikTok showing how my bullet journal turned out – check it out at the bottom of this post!)
I was surprised at how inspired I was by these amazingly creative women, and how much I believed I could actually make something I’d be happy with. Normally I’m very doubtful when it comes to creative endeavours, and more often than not I feel like what I make is not good enough. And I did feel those things about making a creative bullet journal… but for some reason it didn’t matter. I think I realised early on that this journal was for me and me alone, and if it wasn’t as pretty as others’, that didn’t matter.
I started out by making some lists of the things in my life that I would like to track…
There were things that I would keep track of over multiple months that would be in the ‘year spreads’, and there were things that I would track within a month that would appear in each ‘monthly spread’. So for example, my bills are something I would need to keep track of over multiple months, so they are in the yearly spread. But tracking my daily reading habits, that is better in a monthly tracker.
The best part about this whole process is that there’s no right or wrong here – whatever is going to work for you is the right way to do it.
That’s a lie – the best part about making this bullet journal was all the new stationery I bought to make my journal pretty! I went completely overboard – so much so that I think I’ll actually make a separate post about what I bought because there were definitely some things I’d get again and others I wouldn’t.
Anyway, back to the planning!
Once I’d figured out some of the general things I wanted to track, I set to figuring out an order for them. I made myself a basic storyboard of a structure on my iPad so that I could get an idea for the flow.
my rough bujo outline
Next step was to figure out designs and a theme. This is where I knew I would struggle. But like I mentioned above Journal Away made me realise I didn’t need to draw anything – I could use anything to make my journal mine. And oh wow do I have a lot of crafting things.
I knew I wanted something with purples, blues and greens for the yearly spread, so I found some patterned paper first, some complimentary washi tapes, stickers – even dried flowers and leaves! I also had bought a wax seal kit so of course I had to use that. I pulled everything together to see how it might work and to get some ideas. And then I started to sketch. Firstly on my iPad, a starting idea for the year page:
Putting it together
And then I started setting things up in my journal. The best advice I had seen in all my researching was to plan everything out lightly in pencil first, to make sure everything fits and feels the way you want it to, I’m glad I did that because I made a lot of mistakes, but they were easily removed and corrected.
I mapped out each page, just making things up as I went along, temporarily placing paper/stickers where I thought they might go, making notes of what colours where. Once I was happy with that, I started making everything permanent. I bordered the first pages with washi tape, then found a quote I liked for the front page and printed it off, and decorated it with flower stickers. For the year, tried my very best to make something nice with pressed flowers, papers and the wax seal (as much as I like the wax seal, it’s really too thick for the journal and I won’t do it again, but I still like it!). None of it is perfect… but you know what, neither am I, and I’m getting to be ok with that.
Once I had my opening pages in, I was on a roll and just had the best time being creative. The next spread is the Future Log. It’s basically a calendar of the following year. I started this for an August beginning which is why my calendar starts there (another perk of bullet journals – it doesn’t matter when you start them!). This spread is for keeping track of birthday and important events. I started to pre-fill it but must finish it off!
I used floral paper as the background for the months, and used stamps to spell out the months themselves. And the I handwrote everyone one of those little calendars! Tedious, but oh so satisfying!
Goals are next, and I decided to break these up between personal, World of Warcraft and Crafting. I know, weird to have WoW in there, but as you can see, I still have things I want to do in game! Again used the floral paper and stamps for the title page, then stickers for decoration and coloured pens/highlighters for the backgrounds.
Next up are two of my favourite trackers – moods and periods. The mood tracker is straight forward – I colour in a square in the colour the matches my mood for the day. Similarly for my period tracker, but for this one I’ve given more space to add in notes about other symptoms. I’m looking forward to seeing these pages get more colourful over time!
I messed up the colours on this one a bit – in general not happy with this spread at all, but c’est la vie! This spread is a way for me to keep a better track of all the things people say I need to check out. (So feel free to suggest any books/movies/tv/music you think I should check out!!)
Ok this spread is fun, and again a reminder that I don’t need to be able to draw! The bookshelf image was a free download which I edited a wee bit in photoshop to remove some books and add in some little pictures, which I then printed and coloured in. The gift ideas I grabbed some “present-looking” paper to make a little hidden flap, ad underneath that is a list of gift ideas for people. Again, I forget so much, so I hope this will help me remember the cool things I think of for people!
This spread looks completely empty at the moment, but it will grow! My plan is to paste in one picture from each month, so that it becomes a spread of lovely memories for the year. 🙂
Ok this is a big one. And yes, I hand drew every single on of those bricks! One of my big new goals at the moment is to properly save for a house deposit. I found a drawing of a pretty house and used that for the centre, then drew bricks all around it. Each coloured brick represents $100 that I have saved for the deposit. As you can see, I’ve only just started, but I’ll get there, and this whole thing will be all coloured in!
And the last spread for the ‘yearly’ section – bills. This was actually one of the main reasons I thought a bullet journal would be good for me, because I am terrible with my finances. I figured this would help me visually see what is due and when. The mistake I made when putting this together is that it turns out I have more subscriptions than monthly bills! I’ll figure it out, but definitely something to keep in mind for next time I do this. This spread isn’t perfect, but it will be suitable for the time being.
One of the fun things I’ve seen people do is have a different theme for each month. I like this because it helps keep things interesting (if you’re that way inclined). So for August I decided to go with mushrooms. I dunno why – I just had lots of mushroom stickers and things so it seemed like a good idea!
Same as with the yearly spread, I started out by pencilling in all my pages and then drew it all in afterwards. I didn’t have any mushroom papers, so I made my own! I mentioned in my discord that there are some great asset websites out there that often give away free bundles of things. A recent bundle from Creative Fabrica was a bunch of patterns, including quite a few mushroom designs. So I picked my favourites and printed them out, and got to building August.
So in reality, I hate this spread. I like the quote, but that’s about it. But again, it’s only temporary! And I learned lessons along the way so I know what to avoid next time. (For example, this month I’ll be spending some more time seeing how others design their monthly pages to get some better design ideas).
Th meaty part of the August section is this spread – I made a specific page just for Blaugust post ideas! (sneak peek for you there!) And then on the right are the daily habit trackers. The idea being that if I do any of those activities in a day, I highlight the date in the relevant colour. I already know that in my September spread I’ll be expanding this to include a tracker for ‘days I finish work on time’. 😀
Again, this is another dull-looking spread, but that’s because it’s empty. Each day I will write something I am grateful for. By the end of the month this spread will be filled with good things to help remind me the world isn’t so bad.
The last five spreads are for the 5 weeks of the month. As I mentioned up front, I have my own tools that I use for tracking my work (ClickUp, for those interested), but I did want something to help me keep track of some of the more impactful things going on. These are very straight forward in their purpose, but I still wanted them to look nice so this is where I used the mushroom patterned papers and some little quote stickers. I actually really like these spreads. There’s things I will change in future (I think I’d like to split each day into two parts – one for things to come and the other for things that happened) but for now I like it.
And that’s it! That’s my first ever attempt at bullet journal spreads. I’ve learned an awful lot, but I’m really enjoying it so far. I have some theme ideas coming up… I think September will be butterflies given it’s the start of spring for us. October will obviously be spooky for Halloween…. I want to do a month with flamingos! And another that’s celestial themed… but I haven’t decided on those yet.
Oh! I also posted my bullet journal spreads on my TikTok – check it out
If you made it this far, well done and THANK YOU! I hope you enjoyed this post. It’s a bit more personal than what I would normally post, but hopefully it’s been interesting for you. I’ll be back tomorrow with Blaugust day 3!