Hi everyone! I’m Sandy, also (and probably better) known as @abulletandsomelines on Instagram. I’m so excited to share my bullet journal with you and to tell you all about how the system has changed my life in more ways than one. Before I get started I want to say a big thank you to Ryder, mostly for creating and sharing Bullet Journal with the world, but also for giving me this opportunity. Here we go!
I stumbled upon bullet journaling in May 2017. This was during a period where a lack of sleep and caring for a baby had rendered me extremely disorganised and forgetful, which is very far from how anyone would normally describe me. Me, who always meticulously planned out everything, and wrote lists left, right and centre about literally anything I could think of, could all of a sudden hardly remember to get dressed in the morning. I was craving a way to get that piece of myself back – not to mention I really needed something to help me to stay on top of things. This is when Bullet Journaling entered my life, through a video on Facebook. What I saw was a system that would allow me to keep everything in one place, a place where not only could I write down everything I needed to remember to do on a daily basis, but I could also plan ahead. Immediately after watching the video I headed out and bought my first dotted notebook and some pens.
I started setting up my Bullet Journal pretty much according to how it was presented in the reference guide. I started with the index, then followed with a key, a future log, a monthly log, and instead of a daily log I did a weekly log. These are the components I use regularly to this day, together with a few other ones. I describe my style as minimal with a twist. The pages do have a minimal look to them, and I need them to feel clean in order for them to work for me, but I do like adding some geometric shapes or lines to liven it up a bit. Let’s have a closer look!
Year at a glance
This is the first page in all my books. I like having this overview and often reference back to it when making plans far ahead, to see what date falls on which day.
This is the index in my second journal. Doing the index this way was actually a mistake. Without thinking about it I started writing out every single page number – and now I’m so happy I did. Bullet Journaling is great when it comes to challenging yourself to embrace mistakes! I didn’t use my first index much because I found myself jumping back and forth in the book, not creating pages chronologically and leaving blank pages for later. Having the index like this allows me to skip a few pages in the book but still go back immediately and write it down in the index in its right place.
My key is pretty simple, with some minor modifications to the original concept. I don’t use many signifiers, yet, even though I have been thinking I need to introduce them soon, as life is getting busier and I do have the need to sort out which tasks are more urgent than others.
In my future log I write out all the dates as I feel like this gives me a better overview of everything I have planned. I mark my workdays with a little briefcase, and then I just add short notes of what events I have planned and upcoming birthdays.
This is my go to monthly set up. A monthly cover page and then a calendar which I have divided into a left side and a right side. On the left side I write out my family’s schedule, one column for each of us. This is extremely helpful as we all work irregular hours. On the right side I write down events and birthdays – which I basically transfer from my future log but here I write them down in more detail.
I have two different go-to weeklies that are really working out well for me
In this weekly I have a separate box for our schedule, where I also specify who is dropping off and picking up my son from preschool. I like having everything on one page, hence I transfer our work hours to the weekly log from the monthly log each week.
Here I’ve incorporated the schedules at the bottom of each day, which leaves me more room on the pages. I can fit a box for what I have going on the following week, which I find very helpful, and another box for habit tracking, goal setting or like in this example – a little quote to remind me to stop for a second and take a breath. Or just some extra space for drawing!
In addition to this I have a few collections and trackers, some of which run over a whole year and some that I repeat monthly.
On this page I write down larger goals that I aim to achieve during the year. I look back at this page to keep me motivated and to remind myself why I need to get through some of the small and mundane tasks in order to complete the bigger picture.
I keep track of my finances in two ways. One is a yearly overview where I simply have written down what bills need to be paid on a regular basis and this is where I tick them off as I pay them.
Each month I also create a separate financial page where I go into more detail about when the bills are due, how much I’ve paid, fill in if I have any other bills and so on. Sometimes I keep track of other costs, like groceries and eating out (that’s a scary one as I’ll do anything to not have to cook!)
Here I collect all the bits and bobs that don’t really fit anywhere else but that I do need to remember, like my contact lens prescription or the code for the door to pre-school, for example.
I don’t have much time for daily exercise, but I have a job where I walk a lot. I therefore find it interesting to keep track of how many steps I take per day. Mostly because it makes me feel a bit better about not doing much else in the exercise department.
I also use my bullet journal as a little diary and memory keeping for my son. Most of the months I have something I call “The Nate Notes” where I write down little bits and pieces about him. Now and then I also add other pages, his daily schedule for example. I’m sure both he and I will enjoy looking back at these one day!
I love how the system gives me the chance to experiment with different collections and try out new things – some that work out and others that don’t. And when it doesn’t work out, all you have to do is to flip the page and continue on.
I mentioned in the beginning that bullet journaling has been so much more to me than a way to organise life. I pretty soon found myself enjoying setting up the pages almost as much as I enjoyed finally having a system that I felt was working for me. This was the creative outlet I didn’t know I was looking for and here I could incorporate my interest in lettering, drawing and designing. There is something so satisfying about drawing line after line and seeing an illustration slowly take shape. It calmed me. It kept me busy. And soon I noticed it had more benefits than that – it healed me.
For as long as I can remember I’ve suffered from a condition called dermatillomania, also known as compulsive skin picking disorder. This can manifest in many different ways but for me it’s mostly concentrated to my fingers. This is something that I’ve been ashamed of for my whole life, and something that still is very difficult to talk about. I’ve spent so much of my time being self-conscious about my hands, trying my best to hide them away when I’m in public. On really bad days I’ve cancelled meetings and interviews because I felt they looked so horrible, and having plasters on all my fingers would just mean being questioned about it. At some point people will realise no one is so clumsy that they accidentally cut themselves constantly, which was my most common made-up excuse. On these bad days I wouldn’t be able to sleep because of the throbbing pain, I would constantly be dropping things because I can’t hold on to them properly and even the easiest tasks would prove themselves to be difficult to manage. For example I’ve always asked my husband or my mum to help me squeeze some lemon for my tea to avoid bad stinging. But then I suddenly did it, and I just had to commemorate this big milestone in my journal:
My fingers were no longer filled with raw sores, and I knew I had bullet journaling to thank for it. Journaling had helped me plan out my days and stay focused on all those tasks that needed to be done, at the same time as every line I drew and every little dot I made kept my hands busy and let them slowly but surely heal. This is one of the main reasons my spreads are often filled with so many lines and dots – my journal is always with me to keep my hands company when I’m doing something where I don’t need them and I’m extra prone to picking, like watching TV. I’m so grateful to Bullet Journaling, not only for helping me to plan, track and keep memories, but also for letting me be creative, for helping me to heal and no longer hide, and for letting me be a part of such an encouraging and inspiring community.
If you haven’t started your Bullet Journal yet my advice to you is to start with the basics as they are explained by Ryder, and soon enough you’ll notice what works for you and what doesn’t, and what you need to take away or add. The way I view bullet journaling is that there are no musts or dos and don’ts. The bullet journal is a personalised system that does look different to everyone who uses it because we are different, lead different lives and have different needs. Allow yourself to let the system grow with you and develop along the way. Try new things, embrace mistakes – we all make them – and let the journal become what you need it to be. For me, my journal is mainly a planner, a creative outlet, and a way to keep my bad habits away; for you it might be something else. You don’t know until you try it, so give it a go if you haven’t already!
Lastly I’ll quickly mention what tools I use. Even though it’s true what they say – all you need is a pen and a notebook – there are a few more things I’ve added along my journey and that I use a lot when journaling, listed below:
Notebook: Nuuna Large/Large Light
Pen for writing: Pilot Juice Up 03
Brush Lettering: Tombow Fude Hard or Pentel Touch
Line drawing and headers: Uni Pin Fine Liners in various sizes
Highlighting: Tombow Dual Brush N95 and N89
A ruler, a pencil and a rubber