New Year – Bullet Journal

New Habit for 2018

I’m known as the organised one among my friends. I’m usually the one who organises a night out. I organise my regular writing critique group. I used to have a job as Project Manager so I guess it’s my natural instinct to be organised. But sometimes my organisation goes wrong. So this year, 2018, I am trying something new. I’m keeping a bullet journal.

Now bullet journalling isn’t new. If you do an internet search you will find all sorts of YouTube videos and Pinterest boards on how to do bullet journalling. You can add fancy patterns, Washi tape, different coloured inks to your spreads … but hang on a minute. Do you know what a bullet journal is?

Bullet Journal

A bullet journal can be all or one of these things :

  • A to do List
  • A diary/journal
  • An appointment calendar
  • A planner

And anything else you want it to be.

The idea is to have one notebook where you capture everything you want to achieve and to be organised in an attempt to make you achieve those things.

There are loads of brilliant planners on the market now. Kikki K have a very nice range

Kikki K Swedish Stationers Extrordinaire

And of course Paperchase can be relied on for gorgeous stationery. They have particularly good list pads

Paperchase Lists

But the problem with commercially produced journals and list pads is that they might not have the categories that you require. So you make your own and that’s a bullet journal.

My Bullet Journal

Now I am a complete beginner at bullet journalling and although I am organised, I am also well known for having great ideas and never following them through. But I am into the second week of the year and so far I am still with it.

I’m using a Leuchtturm A5 Bullet Journal with dot grid paper. But before you dash out to buy one, I suggest you buy any notebook with dot grid paper as it wasn’t worth the extra to get the bullet journal version. There are only a couple of extra features that you can put in yourself. I would recommend a Leuchtturm notebook though, because they have numbered pages and space for an index at the front, which are useful features for a bullet journal (as well as for general notebooks).

Jo Franklin Bullet Journal

My new bullet journal

Dot grid paper is useful because you can use the dots to create boxes if you need to and it can accommodate any sized writing.

I started off setting up a year planner

Help! my year looks very empty

Then I set up a monthly spread which includes my active projects – because I have so many, I’m worried I’m going to forget one – my daily habit tracker – I’ve already realised that I am not committed to doing a seven minute workout every day. I left a space for ‘Notes’ and ‘Buy’ but I’m not sure I will bother with these in the future. That’s the great thing about bullet journals, you create the spreads yourself so you can alter them at any time

Monthly Spread

I tried to get all fancy pants with a turquoise highlighter pen, but to be honest my bullet journal is never going to be a work of art so I probably won’t bother doing that again.

In week one, I create a weekly spread but hardly used it so I modified it for week two.

This will be useful for me. As I spend so many days on my own at home, I can forget appointments which take me out of the house. Hopefully by creating my own week at a glance, I will get better keeping the shape of the week more firmly in my head.

But the main thing for me is the daily To Do List.

I run Todoist on my pc and phone which is a brilliant app by the way, but I am really bad at marking tasks complete that I haven’t really done or just constantly moving them forwards to the next day. I am going to keep Todoist going but hopefully by writing out the tasks that haven’t yet been done, I will be more mindful of what I am supposed to be doing and more importantly, what I am putting off.

The idea is that at the end of every day, I go through my list and mark off what I have done, move forward anything left outstanding and schedule longer tasks into my diary. I also have to do this in Todoist. In this case, doubling up the effort is helping me stay on track.

There are certain marks which are used in bullet journalling but of course you can make up your own ones :

.   means To Do

x   means Completed

<  indicates that the task has been scheduled so doesn’t need to be carried forward to tomorrow

>  means carry forward the task to tomorrow

You can make up other ones. For example you might want to add thoughts or other notes to your list that you transcribe to a different notebook.


So am I going to stick with bullet journalling for the whole of 2018? I don’t know, but I like it at the moment and I can see this habit evolving. And of course it is very satisfactory to tick off a task which has been completed. Monday Blogpost – Complete.

Notebooks and Notebooks

Despite being a total stationery addict, I have never been able to create a traditional writer’s notebook. My notes are too scruffy for Moleskine etc and I am always in too much of a hurry to warrant using a notebook from my special collection. I write copious amounts in cheap spiral bound books and rip out the paper once it’s all typed up. My working method means that I trash notebooks.

However I am starting researching a new series that delves into an area I don’t know much about. It probably won’t get written for 6 months or more, so I am cracking open one of my ‘too lovely to write in’ notebooks with the intention of filling it with notes and ideas.

leuchtterm notebook medium
It’s a Leuchtturm1917 in pale blue. A5 lined, it has two ribbon place holders, a Moleskine type wallet at the back, a table of contents, a few perforated pages that can be torn out and an elastic closure. The 249 numbered pages of gorgeous acid free paper terrify me (am I ever going to have enough to fill them?), but I am determined to be a grown up and run a proper writer’s notebook for once.

I’m going to keep it with my research books so that I always have it at hand when I want to make a note. I only hope that the beauty of the stationery won’t stifle my creativity.  I’m going to try not to worry if I need to cross things out, even though it seems like sacrilege to deface the beautiful pages. I’m hoping that I will be calmed by the cool colour and the smooth paper. If I’m feeling stressed I will stroke the cover. I’m going to be a grown up author for once.

I’ve made these pledges before, but never stuck to them! Hopefully this time it will be different. When I come to start writing the next book, I will be armed with a notebook crammed with information and ideas and it will be the best book I have ever written. Wish me luck!

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