New Bullet Journal Setup

In preparation for my new bullet journal, I assessed my old one and what worked and what didn’t. From that, I made a list of what I wanted to include in the new bullet journal.

So, here’s the list of what I included! I won’t go into detail about each one, since they’re all worthy of their own blog post; but most of them are pretty self-explanatory.

  • Year-at-a-glance
  • TBR (To-Be-Read)
  • Book Stats
  • Business Hours
  • Goals
  • Bills
  • Class schedules

Of course, I have monthly, weekly, and daily spreads going on. But these are the collections I included in my new bullet journal. A few more that I’d like to include are:

  • Japanese kana charts (for hiragana and katakana), since I’m casually learning the language.
  • An “ideal day” routine and schedule that I can aspire to on a daily basis.

Anyway, onto the pictures.

Bullet Journal: Page layout featuring small calendars for each month from September 2016 to September 2017.

Bullet Journal: Two pages for book reading, including a list of books to read, and book statistics.

Bullet Journal: Layout to track book genre, demographic, and rating; author's gender; and page count.

Bullet Journal: Partial view of a spread that lists local business locations and hours.

Bullet Journal: Layout listing various goals related to creative writing.

Bullet Journal: Layout listing various goals related to physical and mental health.

Bullet Journal: Layout listing various goals related to creating art.

Bullet Journal: Layout listing prices and payments for bills.

Bullet Journal: A chart showing class schedules.

I’m so glad I started a new bullet journal. I have the collections all near the front of the book, with a bit of extra space before I started my September spreads. I much prefer having them separate. In my old BuJo, I had some collections interspersed with my daily spreads and it broke my flow so much. I ended up neglecting those collections and trackers because they weren’t in a very accessible spot. Sure, I could have marked them off or put them in the index. But even now, if you can see it, I have an orange sticky note in my bullet journal, to mark where September begins—and I don’t use it. My first instinct is to flip through the book, and there’s no sense in fighting that.

Anyway, perhaps you found some inspiration here! Bonus points to you if you can tell which spread I messed up on.

Pinterest-ready image. Bullet Journal: Setup for my new notebook

Bullet Journal: Notebook Review – Productive Luddite

In preparation for my next (and final) university semester, I sought a new notebook for my bullet journal. Up until now, I had been using a lined notebook I had kicking around—it was spiral bound with a hard cover, measuring 6.5 x 9.5 inches. It was a great notebook to explore the bullet journal system, but it had gotten more annoying than productive by the time I got the hang of how I use the system.

Originally, I wanted my new notebook to be a 7 x 9 inch spiral bound… with a dot grid.

Specific, I know, and that didn’t even take into consideration my preferences for paper weight (20lb or higher, no exceptions).

Needless to say, I had a lot of difficulty finding one that I could buy. It was either I settle for something else, or I go through the process of printing, trimming, and binding my own (and that would have cost me a bunch).

The classics for bullet journalling are Moleskine and Leuchturm brands. However, I had seen them used in other people’s spreads, and I really didn’t like the layouts or how they handled ink. The Bullet Journal brand was way out of my budget (the $20.00 notebook is high, in my opinion, but the cheapest shipping was $15.69, so… no). I wanted something different, but couldn’t find anything reasonably priced.

I was buying my last few textbooks for classes (using The Book Depository because hell yeah, free shipping!). I decided to browse their stationery, and although the colouring books were tempting… I saw some dot grid notebooks. In sizes I like. For reasonable prices. With free shipping.

SO! I purchased the “Matte Black” dot grid notebook in 6 x 9 inches. This product is from Productive Luddite and is available from their website, The Book Depository, and Amazon. It’s part of their “Every Day Carry” lineup, designed for daily use and portability.

None of these pictures have been edited. They were shot with my Samsung S5, on a lovely overcast day. The pens I use in my BuJo are a Uniball Signo for permanent entries, and FriXion brand pens and markers for anything to be changed later or accented. I love my FriXion markers to the moon—they add just the right amount of colour, and I can erase them cleanly a few times.

Pictures speak more than words, so without further ado, here are some photographs!

EDC Dot Grid Cover 1

The cover, just after removing it from the packaging!

EDC Dot Grid Title Page

The “title” page, which appears after a blank page. It says: title, name, “If lost, please contact,” and a space each for the date & place started/finished.

 

 

EDC Dot Grid Table of Contents

The 2nd and 3rd pages of the index/table of contents.

 

EDC Dot Grid Index Tags

 

The tags index, which is only 2 pages.

EDC Dot Grid Right Page Numbers

EDC Dot Grid Left Page Numbers

Page numbers. The 1st page is so impossible to see.

 

EDC Dot Grid Spread

 

Here’s a view of the dot grid on a spread.

EDC Dot Grid Title Page Inked

Starting to fill it in! I’ve put my name and contact details in there by now.

EDC Dot Grid title Page Ghosting

 

Barely any ghosting onto the backside of the page. Very, very pleased with this!

 

 

EDC Overview

I thought this was a neat addition! On the inside of the back cover, they overview the different styles and sizes they offer. Look at this selection! The best part is that they’re all the same price.

EDC Dot Grid Cover 2

This is how the book looked after I took the pictures. The curve of the cover is… not ideal. But we will work with it.

Pros

Paper weight—it’s thick, but not so thick that page turning is difficult. I was so pleased by the weight and how it didn’t let my ink ghost through.

Numbered pages—The pages are already numbered and they aren’t in-your-face about it. They’re discreetly in the corner. Considering my lack of use for numbered pages, I’m glad they aren’t very noticeable.

Table of contents/index—It’s already laid out on 3 pages (a sheet and a half), which I think is plenty of space for a 100-page notebook.

Tag index—I much prefer this to an index/table of contents system. Other BuJo users have developed ways to track their tags and whatnot, from colour coding on the edge of the page, to stickers, to using the index. This tag feature is something I look forward to so much! It makes more sense to me, as I can put in a keyword instead of starting a new entry in the table of contents.

Cons

Numbered pages—This is a pro and a con, for the exact same reasons: the numbers aren’t very visible or legible.

Dot size—I think the dots are a little too big, or maybe too dark. I wish they were more subtle.

The cover—The feel of it is nice, but it bends a lot. The last picture was taken just after I had flipped through, held open, and photographed. I’m unsure how it’ll fare after being used daily for the next few months.

Page count—I like to use about a page a day, maybe every two days, so I wish there were more than 100 pages in this notebook.

Overview

I’m not sure how I’ll feel about the binding style. I prefer a spiral bound notebook, and I also prefer having a hard cover. But we have to compromise. If I can’t have a hard cover, then I’ll at least get a dot grid layout.


Upcoming, I’ll list out my collections and whatnot; before I even got the book, I wrote out what exactly I wanted to include. I’m so excited to get started using it! Having the dot grid has made me feel more free in my layouts. I can draw boxes and measure on the page so much more easily than in a ruled notebook.

Bullet Journal Notebook Review of Productive Luddite EDC Dot Grid Notebook

Bullet Journal: My Favourite Spreads

Bullet Journal 101 Series on CorylDork

I’m preparing (well, waiting…) to move my BuJo to a new notebook. I’m so excited to finally have a dot grid book! I ordered one from The Book Depository—along with class texts for my final semester, hell yeah—and I’m expecting it to arrive next week.

And of course next week I’ll have a post all about moving into a new bullet journal.

(No promises; post deliveries can be delayed. It might not be another 10 days until it arrives—but I’m hoping.)

But for today, riding off the previous bullet journal post, about finding inspiration, I thought I would continue and show some of my favourite spreads.

I work mostly with daily logs, but have since incorporated a few monthly and weekly logs. I figure, “I’m moving out of this book soon; I may as well try new things before the fresh start.”

So, below are pictures of the spreads, along with what I liked and disliked. I hope you can get a few ideas for yourself!

(Also, excuse the shitty focus. I’m not trying to impress anyone here, so my photography was slap-dash.)

Daily Logs

Daily logs are primarily what I use in my bullet journal, so I have an abundance of them.

Bullet Journal Daily Spread 1

Tuesday March 8

Liked: pizza doodle (and accompanying text); chevron banner

Disliked: pretty much everything else. This spread was close to when I still used signifiers in a dual-column display, along with putting spreads in the index.

Bullet Journal Daily Spread 2

Tuesday March 22

Liked: Header! Washi tape!

Disliked: It’s just one single list of everything and I really, really don’t like that.

Bullet Journal Daily Spread 3

May 10 – 12

Liked: sections; box designs; header text designs; like, almost everything makes me happy in this spread.

Disliked: The glitter star washi tape has actual glitter on it and is a pain in the ass to use, so I rarely use it.

Bullet Journal Daily Spread 4

Tuesday 19 July

Liked: the centered time codex is my favourite part, but I also love the quote (sha-bam, promotion for my recent post about “Feeling It” versus doing it); the divide between “Tasks” and “Agenda” really helped me plan out my day better.

Disliked: I… can’t think of anything I dislike. I love this spread. This is my favourite. I love that washi tape.

Bullet Journal Daily Spread 5

Saturday 6 August

Liked: Everything! Especially the doodles for where I had my giant cooking/meal prep time!

Disliked: It’s very bland and not as colourful as I would have liked. Some more markers or washi tape would have made this spread as darling as the previous one.

(Pst, there’s some worldbuilding notes there for my WIP. Sneak peek!)

Bullet Journal Daily Spread 6

Saturday August 13 and Sunday August 14

Liked: My energy trackers, particularly the horizontal one. This was a brief stint that I know I’ll return to once I have my dot grid notebook.

Disliked: I preferred having the time tracker in the center as a divider, so having them to the side or at the bottom really didn’t jive well with me.

Monthly Logs

In the middle of July, after I returned to Windsor, I invested more time into my monthly logs. I knew I needed a long glance at the weeks for my freelance work to be planned out (and prepared for).

Bullet Journal Monthly Spread 1

July

Liked: Having a calendar was beneficial, and I liked the tracker.

Disliked: The fact that it’s not a full month really bugged me, but I didn’t want to bother putting in the previous week and a half (and taking up more space than necessary). The tracker wasn’t used as much as I hoped (clearly) because it was just on this page. I need a reminder more often so I know what I’m tracking.

Bullet Journal Monthly Spread 2

August

This is pretty. I’m going to do this for every month.

Bullet Journal Monthly Spread 3

August

Liked: Everything.

Disliked: I should have put this onto two pages. The page after this one is the first week of August in a spread (which I didn’t like much).

Weekly Log

Only one! The others didn’t turn out as great.

Bullet Journal Weekly Spread 1

I moved (well, duplicated) a tracker-type thing to a weekly spread. This is easier for me to check off, especially because it references the goals for the week. I loved this layout, since it gave me a small calendar look, listed the deadlines (I don’t like them cramped onto a calendar), and gave me tons of space. A+ would do again.


I hope you can find a bit of inspiration here. I’m very, very excited to move into my new dot grid bullet journal once it comes in! Doing this mini review of my spreads has helped me figure out what I really want to include in the new one. I’m filled with ideas and excitement.

Bullet Journal 101 Favourite Spreads and Logs Review Likes Dislikes What Worked

Bullet Journal 101: Finding Inspiration

Bullet Journal 101 Series on CorylDork

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
    • meals
    • random chores
    • homework
    • notes

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.

A photo posted by Coryl o‘Reilly (@coryldork) on

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.

Use colour

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.

Bullet Journal 101 Finding Inspiration For Logs and Spreads

Bullet Journal 101: Modules, Logs, and Migration

Happy Canada Day, and welcome back to Bullet Journal 101!

Last week, we looked at the basics of a bullet journal. This week, we’re looking at how you can expand out from your to-do lists to create a larger, more complex, and more specialised system for your BuJo.

The official website talks about Modules, Logs, and Migration, but only briefly, so I’ll cover them again here for clarity’s sake.

Modules

Modules include everything in your BuJo. A log is a module. The index is a module. Your habit tracker is a module. All of your collections are modules. Modules are to clothes as logs and collections are to shirts and pants. Logs and collections are modules. Shirts and pants are clothes. It’s a category for all the crap you’re putting in your notebook.

Logs

Logs deal with time-sensitive items. You can create a “Future Log” like the one on the website, where you write down events, tasks, and reminders in a calendar spread for the future, but with less detail than the “Monthly Log.” The monthly log is a list of all the days in the month, and then relevant information is stored there. The BuJo website classifies daily to-do lists as “Daily Logs,” so any tasks, events, and reminders that are linked to a specific day are considered to be part of a log.

Another way to look at logs is to see them as calendars. A four-month semester-long calendar is a semester log. A three-month calendar is a quarter log for your blog or business. A calendar for one month is a monthly log. A series of rows and columns that have a space for each day of each month for an entire year can be used for tracking your habits or quality of life—and this is also a log. A yearly habit log, perhaps.

A large chunk of the BuJo community finds most of their inspiration and creativity inside their logs and collections. You can mix and match, create your own, and cater all of your logs and collections to your specific needs.

Migration

All the information in your BuJo, whether it’s a task that needs to be done or an inspiring quote you noted on a day, needs to be migrated to a more permanent space, like a collection. Migration deals with the list items from your daily logs that don’t have a “done” or “in progress” status. Tasks not done on one day can be migrated to the next day, or they can be scheduled for another day. Signifiers and bullets can tell you whether the task is moved to tomorrow or scheduled farther in the future. Notes and reminders, or quotes you jot down, can be done in the daily log and then migrated to the appropriate collection or calendar.

So let’s say I have a daily log. In it, I write, “Even behind clouds, the sun will rise”—a motivational and inspiring quote. I also write, “Brother visits July 3rd to July 12th.”

At a designated time, maybe at the end of the day or the end of the week, I would flip through my daily logs and find pertinent information to transfer to a collection or a different log. I’d move my quote to a Quotes collection, and write down in a monthly log the days my brother is in town.

Personally, migration doesn’t work for me. It’s an additional step that takes away from my organisation; I’d rather go straight to the collection or log and write down the information.

However, if I have a task or an event written in one daily log that I don’t do that day, or that gets post-poned, I can migrate it to the next day, or I can add it to a monthly or weekly log, or even add it to a collection like “Housekeeping and Home Improvement.” I have yet to find a rational way to cross-reference a monthly log with my daily logs to try implementing migration. Just goes to show that I’m still learning with you!


If you can believe it, we’ve covered the basics already. You now have all the information necessary to go full-force into a bullet journal. You know about bullets, collections, modules, logs, and migration. If you’re confident enough, you can stray from the purist path. If not, I suggest you use the method on the website to see what doesn’t work. Start with the process of elimination.

This week’s challenge

Create a monthly log for July. You can use the design on the BuJo website, or do a look on Pinterest and Instagram for ideas. I have a Pinterest board for the bullet journal in case you need inspiration. Think about how much information you need to include in your log. You can also write out the things you want to display in your monthly log. Maybe a list like the original system will work for you. Maybe you need a column-and-row box calendar instead.

Here is what I’ve designed for my July Log!

Monthly Log July

Next week will feature all the goodies you can have fun with in the core of the bullet journal—Daily Logs. I’ll share some of my own daily log spreads so you can see what I started with and how my layouts changed.

Bullet Journal 101 Modules Logs Migration Expanding Bullet Journal For Beginners

Bullet Journal 101: Getting Started

Bullet Journal 101 Series on CorylDork

Welcome to Bullet Journal 101—the beginner’s “course” where I’ll be guiding you through the bullet journal. I only started using a bullet journal in March 2016, but I’ve been watching it and internalising so many bullet journal things since the beginning of 2015 that I think I know my stuff.

So let’s get into it! I’m introducing the absolute and utmost basic, beginner parts of the bullet journal.

The bullet journal official website has a decent walkthrough for getting started on the bullet journal. But if you look at anywhere in the bullet journal (or “BuJo”) community, people have adapted this planning system substantially.

Frankly, I think that the purist bullet journal approach—following the official system developed by Ryder Carroll—is sterile. It lacks inspiration, personality, and intrigue. So the best way to use the bullet journal is to understand why and how it started, and then adapt as you go along. You’ll find what works for you if you let yourself explore.

So what are the essentials? What are the basics that come even before the introduction on the official website? Let’s get down to the grains in the sand that built this castle.

The essentials to the bullet journal are the following:

  • Index
  • Bullet-point lists
  • Collections

There are more parts to the bullet journal than these three, but if you want to dip your feet into the system, these are the three you should first be aware of. More can be added later. For the time being, let’s keep it simple.

Index

The index on the bullet journal website is a misnomer. It’s actually a table of contents. At the beginning of the bullet journal, a few pages are left blank in order to write the page number and contents of the page. (An index, on the other hand, would be at the back and work with key words and phrases, not a literal list of contents with page numbers. For shame, BuJo website.)

Personally, the index doesn’t work for me. I don’t go to the front of my bullet journal, get the page number for what I seek, and then find the page number with the contents. I can usually flip through my BuJo easily to find what I need. It’s up to you if you want to include it. After three weeks, I abandoned mine.

However, one great function of the index, if it’s maintained, is the ability to see at-a-glance all of the contents in your bullet journal. You can see a list of which days you logged, where you meal planned, the collections you have; and you can assess which of these things work, don’t work, or need to be changed.

Bullet-Point Lists

This is where the bullet journal gets its name. You use bullet points to signify and list tasks, events, reminders, notes, and anything else you may want to include in your journal.

Within the bullet-point system, there are two types of “points” you can use: bullets and signifiers.

Bullets are the dots, circles, boxes, triangles, hearts, arrows, checkmarks, X’s—whatever you’re using to create your list. The original system uses dots, circles, and dashes. Each bullet corresponds with a specific type of notation: dots are for “tasks” (typical of a to-do list); circles are for events (I classify these as time-sensitive tasks); and dashes are for notes (pieces of information to remember for something else).

Signifiers add context to the bullet. This context can put the list item into a category (such as inspiration or finances), show importance, or group the item with other items throughout the journal. The original system has signifiers for priorities, inspiration, and exploration. Each of these categories has an additional function to it: priorities with asterisks mean that list item is more important; inspiration shows a list item intended for migration; and exploration denotes a list item that needs more information researched on it.

The bullet-point system also includes variations in the bullets to say whether that list item is 1) done; 2) in progress; or 3) migrated (AKA scheduled for later).

I think everyone should find their personal style for bullet points. This function is the core of the bullet journal, so it will be present throughout. Here’s a sample of some bullet points I’ve thought of. I use triangles, circles, hearts, and double slashes because they’re easy to draw and easy to differentiate.

Bullet Journal Different Icons Bullets and Signifiers

Collections

Collections are very self-explanatory. They are pages that hold similar information, whether it’s a calendar for a specific month, a meal plan, a list of books to read, or quotations for motivation. The official website breaks collections into different logs and modules, and I think collections are more of a community-created aspect to bullet journalling instead of part of the original system. But I’m using it here as an umbrella term.

I consider collections to be anything from the calendars in “Logs” to a page of scratch notes for an active project. I also think the more unique spreads, such as goal-setting pages and trackers, are individual collections.

To put it simply, collections are places where you collect information, regardless of the format it’s collected in. Some collections are lists. Others are calendars. Each one is different, otherwise it would fit into another collection.


These are the parts I consider the most important to getting started with a bullet journal. The introduction to the BuJo is incredibly content-heavy, with tons of different things that may or may not serve you.

Pick up something and try it out. If it doesn’t serve you, leave it behind.

This week’s challenge

Get a piece of paper, whether it’s lined, grid, blank, or even a sticky note, and a writing implement. Write the date—however you want!—at the top. Start a to-do list, whether it’s for yesterday, today, or tomorrow. Use the bullet journal system’s key to categorise your list items, including signifiers. Try this for a few days, then assess the following:

  • Do these bullet designs work for me?
  • Do these icons for signifiers work for me?
  • What categories do I need on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis?

This is a quick and simple (and 100% fake) bullet journal to-do list that I’ve created, but using my own bullet icons to suit my own brain.

Getting Started Example Bullet Journal Entry Log

Look at my meaty hand. I wrote this on a sticky note and it works well! The exclamation points denote two priority items, with the filled-in one being more important than the other one.

Come back next Friday for “Bullet Journal 101: Modules, Logs, and Migration” to learn more about expanding your bullet journal out from to-do lists!

Bullet Journal 101: Getting Started for the Absolute Beginner