Hey everyone! I’m Iridescence from light up the shining night stars teaming up with Just A Blank Space on a collab. We thought we’d share some tips for bullet journal beginners, or those who aspire to start one. Just A Blank Space has already posted on how to start a bullet journal on my blog, so I thought I’d follow it up with some organised info on the next big thing—spreads.
There’s a huge number of spreads, not even counting TYPES of each spread, that beginners would naturally feel overwhelmed. I know I did. Looking on Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr is amazing for inspiration but you just don’t know what to go with in the end.
To make it a little simpler for you to choose, here is a list of spreads which you could start with, in my opinion.
The core spreads
These are the spreads you’ll find in almost every bullet journal because they make life simpler. They’re also the basics of planning.
It’s a simple list of the notations and symbols you will use in your bullet journal. Here, I’m using the traditional symbols recommended but you could use what you wish.
Planning requires knowing dates. And those long-term plans need a yearly calendar. I find that is so much easier than whipping out your phone and looking at that calendar when planning.
All the important spreads, monthly sections etc logged in your index. When you have to look back, this will be your guide.
For logging plans months ahead. It’s very useful, especially when you tend to forget plans made a while back.
There is also an alternate version called the Calendex. Here is a video by Boho Berry explaining the method. I wouldn’t suggest it for first-time bullet journalers, though, as it could be tricky when you’re trying to get into a habit of planning.
Simply a list of tasks which don’t have a deadline. You could look at it when having a bit of free time on your hands and get a bit productive.
These depend on you needs and wants. Some are optional, there are various ways of doing each. I suggest either researching a lot online as to what you want, or simply start with the basic spread and improvise as you go through the months. The latter might show better results.
Totally optional, but preferred by many because not only is it aesthetic, you can also be a little bit creative every month while getting a clear divider as a bonus.
Monthly log/Traditional calendar
There are two most popular ways of using this. This basically outlines your events for the month.
There is also another way of using the monthly log, which I had tried the first month of bullet journalling myself. It’s to write one line about every day after the day is over in the monthly log instead of future events. Wasn’t productive-friendly, though, so I ditched it quickly.
Trackers—mood, habits etc
Simply to track things you want to track. As we go by our days, we don’t realise where we spend or time or what we do/didn’t do unless we mark it down. This helps in incorporating better habits and routines.
You could simply shade in or do a cross to mark it, or you could do patterns as shown above to make it more fun.
Several people do this, and once I started I realised why. I have started feeling much more content and happy with my life when I put down even the simplest things I’m grateful for on paper. Definitely recommend this.
I don’t do this myself usually but if you have a lot of goals to be done in that month, I definitely recommend this. This could also be done as an extension of your yearly goals. Like breaking them down and doing a bit each month, if you can do it that way.
This could be with quotes, pictures, cut-outs, word of the month etc. Basically a pretty page which sets the mood for the month.
Month in doodles
Basically a page full of doodles representing what happened that month. After important or defining events, you could come back and draw a small on the page to mark it. Later when looking back, it would be a pictorial representation of that month. It’ll also be fun to do, especially if you’re keen on drawing or learning to draw.
The regular spreads
These are the ones you’ll be making very frequently. They’re also the ones with the most freedom to improvise, adapt and decorate.
Optional. If you like to log the week in advance on look at the week’s events in one glance, this is it. But if your life is as boring as mine and your weeklies remain mostly empty, you can forego it as well.
Spread for every day. Highlighting tasks, notes, events, and ANYTHING else. Dump everything about your day here. One tip: add even minute tasks to your daily task list. It helps in remembering the small ones as well, and also gives the satisfaction of ticking more tasks off.
Here are a few types of dailies you could make, normal and simple, with or without time headers, vertical and horizontal time headers, doodles etc:
Now, for the alternative spreads
Here are some spreads regarding to these topics that came to mind.
For bloggers, YouTubers, small business owners etc.
- stats tracker
- income tracker
- ideas list/page
- task list in priority
- dates/schedules specific to it
- assignment/reading list
- separate spreads for projects, essays, reports
- quick notes on research topics
- updates/check-up on your progress in subjects and future steps
- class requirements
- exam dates
- (basically anything)
- Health/fitness trackers and goals
- 100 days of productivity and such
- mental health log/tracker (could also be incorporated in mood tracker)
- weekly/monthly overviews
- just normal journal pages with your thoughts
There are so many bullet journal accounts on instagram of moms handling their busy lives with a bullet journal. You could incorporate literally everything as different spreads. Make separate spreads/sections for your kids, too. It might help.
Other little things
- Use tabs or dividers(for disc-bound journals) to permanent spreads and/or sections. They help in opening those pages quickly.
- Another way is to simply section your notebook into different areas like “personal”,”work”,”travel” etc. The only problem is that there’ll be too many spreads to make and keep up with.
- If you want to add some colour and decorate but don’t have time, stickers and washi tape are your saviours.
- Don’t spend too much time planning what to do instead of actually doing it.
- Others’ systems/methods of bullet journalling might not necessarily work for you. Especially when you’re trying to replicate from inspirations online.
- Keep it simple. A bullet journal is to make your life simple, not to add more clutter. If a filled bullet journal is best for you, great. Just make sure it’s simple for you.
Because of the amount of flexibility, a bullet journal provides for everything and it’s the perfect solution especially for those who feel constricted by regular planners. If you haven’t started bullet journalling, do give it a try.
Do you bullet journal? If not, do you want to? Which spreads are/would be your most used ones? Do YOU have any tips for newbies?