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Starting my Bullet Journal +some tips

I did it!

For the month of May, I started a bullet journal after purchasing the LEUCHTTURM 1917 Notebook Medium (A5), Softcover, Dotted from Amazon. I have been inspired to start for a while now, after seeing so many pretty but productive examples on social media; that as an avid stationary collector, I knew I had sought out a way to use my tools.

Having used an ordinary diary for a few years, I decided to trade up into something that was much more flexible…which really is the whole point of bullet journals.

StartingMyBulletJournal-hoiyinli

In short, a bullet journal is a chronological system in which you pen in events, appointments and dates like a diary but with the addition of inventing pages exactly the way you want them like a notebook.

These pages can range from to-do lists, to-buy lists, notes, habit trackers, fitness planning and so forth. Basically, anything that helps make sense of your lifestyle, productively or casually. There are no specific rules as the system is designed to always be evolving which is the nice and motivating touch of bullet journals, compared to ordinary diaries which are very linear.

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Blank, dotted double-page spreads free for you to fill with anything which can be very inspiring. If you wanted, you could use a double-page spread for a weekly to-do/notes/diary combined. It’s all about self-expression! You generally don’t have to flick through pages (at least not much). Even if you do, the pages are all next to each other. 🙂

In this post, I’m showing you some of the pages I made during the month of May and June along with some tips that I learnt from my own trial and errors.

Let’s start!

Tip #1 Don’t try too hard to make it all perfect

Starting is always the most difficult part for me mentally. Whenever I start a new sketchbook or project on paper, there’s this idealist thinking inside my head that it has to be perfect or be a certain way. And then more times than not, that idealist thinking transforms into something much less ideal – a page I end up not liking.

Point Being: Give yourself some flexibility and let loose. Let the process be the focus and not the outcome.

#1.1 Let mistakes be mistakes…then learn from them

I have never met a person who’s never made a mistake, much less one in a bullet journal…have you?

You’re 100% going to make mistakes. That’s just life in general. But the bullet journal is so motivating because it’s on-going and mirrors your life in that respect. You’re not going to be stuck on that ugly page forever!

Point Being: Assess what you don’t like about the page you just created. Too much? Too little? The eye is very smart in picking up small details that it doesn’t like, and naturally the next few pages you make will get better!

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L- A image I found on Tumblr which I immediately envisioned as my first page in my journal because of the irony. // R- A monthly calendar with a monthly goal underneath which I still use now because I think it works.

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I hate this spread. The quote is unnecessary and completely random (although it’s a quote I do like) and I feel like there’s too much going on. Also felt that this was a useless spread – honestly didn’t use it much but hey, you live, you learn!

Tip #2 Keep it simple!

I would definitely say that my problem at the beginning was over-filling my pages which is very easy to do so if you’re stuck, keep it minimal until you figure out your own theme/style. (Your theme/style will naturally develop.)

One important lesson I learnt is that you can still be creative even if you are creating a minimal spread. However, if you try to be too creative yet stuck at the same time, it really translates onto the page as ‘I didn’t know what to do so here you have it’.

Point Being: It’s always easier to add to a page than subtract. If the spread is aesthetically pleasing and easy to the eye, you will use it more.

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I don’t hate this spread but it’s not my favourite either. If I could, I’d edit the layout so that the week is spread onto two pages! As you can see, each day had very little room.

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Instagram is a great source of inspiration to get layout ideas. I saw a spread from Mon-Sun run across the page and that’s what I took, but in my own chosen lettering. Very simple but very effective!

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If the layout works, you can keep to it for a month or so and then change. You can make subtle changes such as a new colour theme which already separates this spread from the last! What’s great is, there is plenty of space for your days, and optionally, you can add a to-do/to-buy list above.

Tip #3 Only make a page/spread, if you’re actually going to use it

After successfully using a bullet journal for two months, I know which are my favourite and most productive spreads. Each week, I typically flick through my habit – and most recently, fitness – trackers (both monthly) and my co-ordinating weekly spread. I fill all these as time goes by until I need to draw up a new spread to use.

I will occasionally have a moodboard to break things up, a monthly calendar/overview and useful pages that help me track this blog for instance!

Point Being: Create what YOU will use. It’s nice to have a pretty page but it’s useless if it’s just there to be pretty. Use your bullet journal according to your lifestyle. Who are you?

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My first ever habit tracker which I think worked out really well. My second habit tracker is a similar layout with the addition of two more habits (Technology Time-out and Instagram). It’s a proactive spread where I can work on my productivity and see what I can work on more for the next month. 

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L- This page is a bit pointless in the sense that it didn’t need a page of its own. In fact, it’s quite lame. Also – I don’t like my writing for ’13 Reasons Why’. On a more serious note – have you watched it? // R- Some notes on The Ordinary skincare which comes useful for future blog posts. 🙂

Tip #4 Have an idea of what tools you’ll use, what theme/layout you’re aiming for, otherwise it could look messy

I guess my final point is a blend of everything I just told you. You don’t need a lot of tools to make a bullet journal work for you. It can really be as simple as a highlighter and pen!

When I first started, I set out to buy a couple of washi tapes from eBay. I do use them but not as much as I thought I would as they can get repetitive if you use them too much. Instead, I’d recommend investing in some good quality markers because you can do so much more with them. Even using a different colour each page will make an impact!

Decide on two or three colours per spread/page that will work together as a theme. It might even be a good idea to colour-code to make things more cohesive. For example, on one spread, you can have a small quote in red, thick lettering and the sub-headings in purple.

Point Being: Use a pencil to plan your spread if you’re not feeling confident or spontaneously intuitive. Let loose and utilise the space you have on the page effectively according to its use.

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I had a more neon-colour theme going on in this spread. I love the blue in particular as although it’s used very sparingly, it lifts the whole page up. (I know. Call me a colourist!)

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I left my favourite spread (thus far) till last! It’s a much more busy weekly spread but it works because of the colours (neon-theme) and layout.

So there you have it! Do you have a bullet journal? Or a planner? What are your ideas on this hobby?

I’ll be back with another post regarding what stationary and tools I actually use so keep watch!

You can find me on:

Bloglovin | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Tumblr

26 Comments

    • Thank you for your kind words! I know, it takes time to stick to things like this! I remember I never used to stick to diaries and planners but I’m actually sticking to this because I’m in control and get to be full-on creative, ha.

  1. Diary of a Brown Girl says

    This is beautiful! I love it. I could enter come up w something like that off the top of my head.

    Uhreej ⚡️ | uhreej.wordpress.com

    • Thank you for your kind words! It takes some practice, I have to admit but once you get going, you’re full of ideas! I remember when I first started, I really wasn’t sure what to put on the page. 🙂

  2. I’M OBSESSED WITH THIS. Your bullet journal looks amazing! I love bullet journalling; I have to admit, though, I’m not great with the habit tracking xx

    • Thank you so much for your kind and generous words! 😊I’ve been so busy that I’ve forgotten to habit track too! But it looks so nice once it’s all filled up!

      • I’ve seen those! Never understood the point of it though (for myself anyways)…i sleep quite consistently though 😂

      • You’re so lucky! I use mine because i have horrifically inconsistent sleep; some nights I get like 2 hours ;-;

  3. I love this! I just fear I’m not crafty enough and if it doesn’t look like yours I’ll hate it! 😔 I’ll play with my current planner and see how that goes. Great post!

  4. How awesome! I can’t wait to see what you come up with. I’ve tried bullet journaling so many times but failed. I don’t think I have the time or patience for it, honestly. I’ve recently switched back to my Moleskine planner because I’m a minimalist. x

    Valerie | avecvalerie.com

    • Your Moleskine planner is cute! I don’t really have access to such planners. I know I can buy online probably but I’m a sucker for paper quality as in I have to feel the paper! I do like planners – I’ve just never found one that I truly liked except for this one I bought from Hong Kong a few years ago.

      You’d be surprised – I know my pages look time-consuming but a lot of them are quickly done and the time is divided across the week. Lately, I’ve only been spending 10 minutes a night reviewing it!

  5. Pingback: Bullet Journal Staples – What I Use To Make Each Page My Own | Hoi Yin Li

  6. I just got a bullet journal and am experimenting. Trying to keep it simple and working out what I want from it.

    • Aw thank you. ☺️It takes some practice but it’s really therapeutic so it’s win/win. I will have a post up later this week on my latest spreads. 😁

  7. Pingback: Bullet Journal Planning & Flatlays | Hoi Yin Li

  8. what kind of pens do you use? i’m trying to start a bullet journal but it’s so confusing when it comes to all the different kinds of pens and i’m just completely clueless

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