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Tips on starting a Bullet Journal
Saturday, 6 January 2018 at 22:55 | 0 Comments
A brand new year has arrived, and if you've been contemplating to start a bullet journal, why not do it from the beginning of a year? Although I think it doesn't matter when you start (I started my bullet journal in mid-June 2017), I feel like the new year is a great time to begin a new hobby or interest you've been procrastinating in the previous year.

Starting a bullet journal may seem like a tedious and daunting process in the beginning. To be honest, I contemplated a lot before I decided to try it out. But after 6 months of owning a bullet journal, I've come to realize that it's not that difficult at all. So in today's blog post, I'm going to share with you some tips to make bullet journaling a breeze.

1. These spreads I created are just samples, so those appointments and schedules I wrote are not true.
2. All the links of the products mentioned here are included right at the end of this blog post. ;-)
3. This blog post is in collaboration with Ezbuy.

1. Get yourself a journal. 

The first step to bullet journaling is to get a journal that suits you. This is an extremely important and crucial step because there are a billion different kinds of notebooks in the market to choose from and you'll need to pick the right one for you. I bought mine from Ezbuy and speaking from experience, I find that it is so much easier to buy from an online store, especially in Singapore where we kinda lack of fancy stationery shops. The journal I'm using at the moment is actually the second journal I purchased. The first one was bought in-stores at Popular, and oh boy did I spend a ton of time flipping through those notebooks to find one with blank pages. Via Ezbuy, you don't even have to step out of your house bed, all you need to do is check on the description and scroll through the pictures!

To help you with your decision making process, here are a few types of notebooks commonly used for bullet journaling:

a. The easiest one to get is probably pre-printed planners. These planners are notebooks with pre-printed monthly/weekly/daily schedules, calendars, and sections such as notes for the month, etc. This kind of notebooks are great if the pre-printed layout is exactly what you are looking for. No more, and no less.

If you are looking for a notebook with a specific section such as a gym tracker, mood tracker, sleep tracker, expenses tracker, you most probably won't be able to find them in a pre-printed planner.

b. If you're the kind of person who likes to personalize your journals like I do, I recommend you to get a dotted journal. Dotted journals are perfect for individuals who likes to doodle and draw on their own layouts as 1. they are not as distinctive as lines and so they are easy to write over or draw over without causing your journal to look messy, and 2. the dots are extremely helpful to draw straight lines and equally-sized boxes without measuring as you can simply measure by the number of dots. This is the type of notebook I am currently using and I freaking love it, I think it's the best for beginners like myself!

Another alternative to dotted journals are the ones that reminds me of graph paper, this boxy print is also less distinctive than your usual lined papers and it also makes drawing straight lines and sections easy.

c. If you are extremely artsy and is very confident in your art skills, feel free to pick a journal with blank pages. This is great for those who loves to sketch and draw, free-hand. This is the first type of notebook I bought because I just can't find a dotted one in Popular, but I couldn't even draw a proper, neat calendar without spending ages measuring the centimeters of my squares which was why I opted out.

d. The final thing you should take note about your journal is the binding. Mistakes and errors are inevitable in bullet journaling, so don't be too harsh on yourself if you misspell even the simpliest word. Sometimes I miscalculate and my entire calendar will have the wrong amount of boxes too. I am quite a perfectionist, in a sense that I cannot stand it if I have a page filled with a ton of mistakes or errors. Therefore, the notebook I'm using has a spiral binding which is great for tearing out pages without leaving a trace.

Another alternative is the one that looks similar to a ring file. This type of journal enables you to remove and add in new pages, as and when you like. The good thing about this journal is that you will be able to mix and match the different types of pages like what I did with mine. The original paper from this journal has horizontal lines, but I replaced them with the dotted ones.

You can easily find loose pages on Ezbuy and there are even pre-printed calendar pages to insert in if you're not that fond of drawing your own calendars.

If you are starting out a bullet journal and you're not so sure about it, I highly suggest you to go for something simple and affordable.

2. Don't compare your bullet journal with others. 

The best thing about a bullet journal is that it is yours and should be personalized to fit your own needs. When I first started bullet journaling, I got so stressed that mine didn't look as good as the ones I saw on Youtube and Instagram, but it didn't take me long to realize that I should just do what I can and not compare it with the talented and creative people online. After all, no one but myself is going to look at my journal. Always remember to personalize your journal to suit your interest. If you love doodling, go ahead and doodle all over your journal. If you don't, don't! There is no need to force yourself to do something you're not interested in, just because it is common in most bullet journals.

Having said that, if you are interested in doing up a cute spread but has completely no idea how to start, I do follow quite a number of bullet journal accounts on Instagram, solely for the sake of getting inspired by colour themes and header designs as I love learning and trying out new styles.

3. Be flexible.

When I started my journal, it did took me a few tries and a few months to find out what layout suited me the best and what sections I needed to include in my journal and that is completely fine as that is the purpose of having a customizable bullet journal.

For example, I started a Gym Tracker to hopefully motivate myself to hit the gym, but it didn't work, at all, and so I scrapped it during the next month. I also found out that I need a bigger space for the weekends as that's when I have the most plans. Because I love having an organised schedule for my Youtube channel and blog (currently, I aim to upload a video every Saturday, and a blog post every Monday or Tuesday), I also include a 2-page "Youtube Ideas and Schedule" section every month so I can jot down any pending videos I need to film, blog photos I need to take, new video and blog ideas, as well as the dates to publicise them.

It's the middle of a month and you think you need an additional section or tracker for the month? Just add it onto your existing spread! It's never too late to edit or add on to a monthly spread. I tend to have new and different sections every month to cater to my needs for that month. For example, when I feel like I've been overspending that month, I'll just add in an expense tracker to help track my finances. When I'm travelling for that month, I'll add in a packing list.

4. Start simple.

Creating spreads can take hours, and so it's easier to maintain a bullet journal if you keep things simple, especially if you're a busy person. Instead of going for fanciful, complicated designs, you can always choose to just follow a colour theme eg. shades of blues for January, shades of pinks for February and so on, or a simple pattern such as stars, hearts, etc. Keep in mind that if you wish to keep a theme for a month, you will need to repeat the same drawings on all your spreads, so make sure to go for something less tedious and easy to replicate.

ps. I know my spreads look really fanciful here, but that's only because it's for this blog post and I actually took nearly 5 hours to finish doing it up and taking photos! My actual spreads don't look this fancy and I can finish a month's spread within 30 minutes.

5. Make use of tools.

There are a number of stationery that can help enhance your bullet journal experience. Most of these stationery can be found on Ezbuy at a very reasonable price so you can feel free to experiment with them. Here are a few of my favourite stationery to include in my bullet journal:

a. 50-pack Crayola Supertip Markers 

This set of markers are extremely affordable (~S$25) so it is great for beginners like myself who don't wish to spend a ton on a bullet journal. My favourite points about these markers are that they are very pigmented but don't bleed through the paper at all (*this is very important as once it bleeds through, your journal will look extremely messy and you'll be wasting pages on your book!), and they come in 50 different shades including pastels and brightly coloured ones. Because of how the marker tips are shaped, you can use them like a pen, or like a highlighter which is my favourite as they make the perfect thick border to separate the days in my weekly schedule. The pastel shades are also perfect for a subtle highlight.

b. Washi tapes 

Washi tapes are tapes that are not too sticky so you can easily remove them without tearing the paper, and they come in all sorts of patterns and prints. They are most commonly used to section off your page, for decor, as well as hide any spelling errors or mistakes. Since they don't have the surface of a regular scotch-tape, you can easily write over them with a marker too. This is probably the easiest way to decorate and spice up your bullet journal!

c. Stickers

With the rise in popularity of bullet journaling, many companies has now released a ton of bullet journal related stickers. Suck in modern calligraphy or designing headers? Well, now you can simply buy them in sticker form and just paste it on your journals!

Apart from header stickers, you can also get cute emoticon stickers to track your mood for the day.

d. Post-Its 

Post-its are so useful when you've run out of spaces to write. I tend to have this problem when I've written my schedule for a day weeks ago, only to find out that I need to make some adjustments, or change my entire schedule. When this happens, I like sticking a fresh post-it over it and simply write over it so I don't have to tear the entire page out, or cancel out my entire schedule. Post-its is another easy way to section your page as they come in various shapes, sizes, and colours.

e. Wax seals 

Okay fine, these aren't really commonly used in bullet journals but hey, there's no rules in bullet journaling. I, am currently obsessed with these and I've been binge-watching a bunch of wax seals videos on Youtube. They are just so mesmerizing to watch for some reasons and so I was so delighted to be able to find a ton of them available on Ezbuy! Since it is my first time, I went for a complete set of 2 tealight candles, the seal itself, 3 sticks of wax, and a spoon.

There are so many different designs to choose from but I decided to go with the letter "M" because it is my initial. Wax seals just adds this vintage touch which I love and they are not pricey at all which is great for people like me who just wants to try it out.

6. Start now! 

You'll never start a bullet journal if you continue procrastinating it. Honestly, I've never thought that I will be able to keep up with my journal for so long, but it has now become a routine for me and I find myself more organized and prepared as I can now have my filming schedule all laid out in front of me. It is also useful for me to remember important details and dates because I'm that kind of person who remembers things better once I've written it down. At times, I'd also write down my thoughts and feelings for the day, as well as quotes I love from books I'm currently reading, so it kinda acts like a diary too.

As you can tell, I really enjoy purchasing my bullet journal materials on Ezbuy because 1. it's online shopping which makes it super convenient for me as I tend to shop at night before I go to bed, 2. once again, speaking from experience, the variety of products they have is insane as compared to retail stores here, 3. prices are extremely affordable and last but by no means least, 4. the shipping is pretty fast as I'll usually receive my order in 2 weeks.

So that wraps up my tips for starting a bullet journal! Even though I personally enjoy bullet journaling, it is not for everyone. Especially for those who feel like you've already gotten your life organized, or if you're the kind who prefers something more digital.

Links of Products mentioned in this Blog Post: 

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