There’s nothing better than the crisp white pages of a brand new notebook, right? Diving right into setting up a new bullet journal is so exciting! However, to create a focused, purposeful bullet journal, that works just right for you, there are three tasks I recommend completing before you get started.
task one: reflect on past journaling
Take time to reflect on what has, or hasn’t, worked in your previous journals. Draw a line down the centre of a sheet of paper. On one side, list the parts of journaling you enjoy, can complete with ease, and find useful. On the opposite side, list the parts you struggle with, forget to complete, or don’t enjoy.
Include any journaling techniques or pages you use regularly (or at least attempt to use regularly!) Here are some areas you might like to reflect on: weekly logging, drawing, following prompts, habit tracking, meal planning, health tracking, hand lettering, keeping a diary entry, daily logging, future logging or goal setting.
Consider how much time each page or technique takes you to complete, how much joy it brings and how beneficial each one is. Your answers will help you decide what to include to ensure you create a focused, purposeful bullet journal that works just right for you.
Don’t be afraid to let go of the techniques or pages that aren’t making you happy. You’ll free up time to really enjoy the parts of journaling that you love and are working well for you!
task two: plan what to include in your journal
You’re now familiar with which parts of creative journaling bring you the most joy and give your journaling purpose! But before putting pen to paper in your new notebook, take time to plan how you would like your journal to flow.
One of the things I love most about creative journaling is setting the pages up in a way that works just right for me. I can add monthly calendars at the start of my notebook, or on a month-to-month basis, use page tabs to mark the beginning of each section, weekly logs to store everything I need and habit trackers for every day, week or month!
How will you arrange the parts of your journal so they are easy to set up, and use, consistently?
Take another big sheet of paper and write down all of the pages, elements, or techniques you would like to use in your new journal. Include things like mood trackers, weekly log, monthly calendar, health tracker, hand lettered headings etc. Include all of the ideas that will help make your journal more focused and purposeful.
Consider how these pages and techniques work together, which ones you will refer to again and again, and how you can best lay out the pages to keep your journaling organised and in flow.
On your sheet of paper, write down everything that will help you plan the layout of your notebook.
It can be helpful to group together related pages and number them in the order you would like them to appear in your notebook. Make a note of pages and elements that will need to be re-created on a regular basis, such as habit trackers, weekly layouts and montly calendars. This will get you thinking about your personal journaling rhythm and how you can keep up with it consistenly.
Now, draw up a rough draft of your notebook layout, if you need to, to see everything more clearly in chronological order. This will really help you as you start to actually set up the pages of your new notebook.
task three: source ideas for your bullet journal
One of the struggles I hear about most often, from members of my journaling community, is that it’s difficult to keep up with journaling consistently. A lack of time is one of the most common reasons for not keeping up with regular journaling. Another is not having enough creative ideas, or the confidence to be creative. I’ve struggled with these issues too.
One of the best solutions I’ve found, that helps me keep up a regular creative journaling practice, is to source ideas and inspiration before I get started. This might include choosing printable templates, a colour palette, monthly themes, or a collection of stickers and quotes.
how to bullet journal more consistently
After completing tasks one and two, reflection and planning, you will have a clearer idea of what to include in your journal. You will also know which components are going to take the most time to set up. This will give you an indication of where your consistent journaling practice might come unstuck!
download printable templates for journaling
Downloading printable templates for layouts, headings or habit trackers you use regularly is a huge time saver. Printing these templates in advance and adding them to your journal will free up valuable time. You’ll have more time to actually plan the week, and fill in your habit tracker, daily log and other elements of your bullet journal.
Once you’ve sourced a collection of printable files, store them together so you can print them quickly when needed.
Some of my favourite printables, that save me the most time, are habit trackers, gratitude trackers and printable calendars. These always need to be ready at the beginning of the month. It’s simpler to print out beautiful layouts and stick them into my notebook, than it is to draw them every month!
how to keep creative ideas flowing
Printable stickers and templates are also a great starting point when it comes to creativity. Choose printables in a colour and style that you love. Be inspired by the colour palette and let this flow into other elements of your journaling. For example, choose coloured markers and washi tape that co-ordinate with the printables. If the printables are floral, add other floral themed embellishments. Experiment with drawing your own simple floral illustrations to decorate pages.
Make a list of monthly theme ideas if you plan to use a new theme each month. Create Pinterest boards for each theme and pin tons of ideas. Give yourself plenty of time before the beginning of the month to draw and set up your pages. I always find that if my bullet journal pages are ready before the first of the month, I’m more likely to use them consistently.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. Let your creative journal develop over time. After all, the best way to improve your skills as a creative journaler is to practice, practice, practice!
set up your focused purposeful bullet journal
If you’re ready to start setting up your focused, purposeful bullet journal, printable calendars are a great starting point. I’ve created a gorgeous collection of floral printable calendars that are ready for download. You can shop my latest range of printable calendar’s here.
Plus, source tons of free printables from The Planner Lovers Resource Library. There’s even a 2022 bullet journal cover page! Choose from three pretty cover page designs. Make a vinyl sticker for the front of your notebook by printing onto glossy adhesive paper. Or use regular copy paper to make an inside cover. If you use more than one notebook throughout the year there’s room to write dates, or topics, on each cover page.
I would love to know what you’ll be including in your new bullet journal! Leave a comment below and let me know.
Happy journaling x