Bullet Journal 101: Finding Inspiration
This post was requested by the lovely Briana Morgan, and I’m so glad she did! She mentioned on Instagram that she had been using her BuJo for a month and “it’s already feeling a little stale.”
I’ve been there.
Ohhh, have I been there!
For a solid month and a half, my spreads went:
- Header (sometimes decorative, sometimes not)
- A giant to-do list, consisting of
- class schedules
- random chores
And that was it, all in black ink on a white page.
Then I split my daily logs into two columns—essentially just a very large margin on the left side—and got a bit more decorative. Eventually, I sorted it out so the more consistent aspects of my BuJo (taking pills, putting out garbage, exercise) were in the wide margin.
And then I got washi tape.
And nothing changed, except for a strip of colour.
And I was frustrated.
And then… this spread happened.
When I planned for an entire weekend—Friday June 10th to Sunday June 12th—I had to think differently about my planner, and more specifically, my daily logs. Instead of chucking all the information into one big list, I needed to figure out the best way to organise all the different things I wanted to do that weekend. I wasn’t aiming to plan tasks to do in a day, or limiting myself to what to do on one day. I needed to do something new, and I ended up inspired.
That spread was only 5 weeks ago. I’ve been playing with my layouts ever since. The inspiration comes and goes, but I’ve found ways to find it when I struggle.
If your BuJo feels lackluster lately, here are my tips for finding inspiration in your spreads.
Try something new
Planning multiple days in one spread; using a timeline to schedule a day; adding a weekly spread; including meals. There’s so much out there that you haven’t tried. You could throw in a new collection, or you can set up a spread for your goals.
When I want to try something new, I look to Pinterest. I have a board on Pinterest for bullet journals that might show you something different! Tumblr also has a bullet journal community. I don’t use Tumblr, but from the Pins I’ve saved, there are some intensely creative folk on there. Search the bullet journal tag or even some “studyspo”—study inspiration— or “studyblr” blogs!
Give your daily log limits
I firmly believe that creativity expands when it’s put under limitations and restrictions. You think differently, y’know? Challenge yourself to use a specific amount of a space, a number of boxes, or a theme like in the Erin Condren planner community.
Markers, pens, pencil crayons, washi tape; you don’t need too many supplies to add a small bit of brightness! The spreads I have that use colour tend to make me feel more excited about the day. Start out with a small pop of colour, rather than going HAM with multiple coloured pens to write your lists.
Add something not related to a to-do list
This is a big one for me. I like to put the weather in my daily log because it’s useful, but also because it gives me something to look at that doesn’t scream, “You should be doing something!” Quotes, stickers, and doodles are popular non-task pieces of a daily log. You can remind yourself of some of your goals—the motivation, not the goal to hit—or write down something interesting that happened that day. Find and include something that isn’t a task or an event you need to check off.
Practice your pen skills
Calligraphy, general handwriting, doodles, or drawing straight lines or different boxes. I recommend using blank, dot-grid, or grid paper to practice. There are also printable worksheets online, particularly if you want to try different handwriting styles.
Change your angle and use shapes
The date at the top. A list of things to do down the page. It gets boring. Try mixing up the layout with variations in columns and rows, or turning the book entirely to use a landscape orientation. Put two lists side-by-side. Draw a circle and write in it. I went through a phase of trying different banners and flags, thanks to The Revision Guide on Instagram (also Pinterest) showing short tutorials for doodled illustrations, banners, flags, and borders.
Review your bullet journal
Assess what is working and what isn’t working. Make a list of things you want to try. Look at your previous logs to see what you like and dislike. I recommend this happens at the end of every month before you begin a new month, but there is no set time for when you can review your own work.
I hope you can find a spark somewhere in here! If nothing works, it’s okay to step away from your bullet journal and plan differently. A fresh mind presents new perspectives.