A Guided Tour Through My First Bullet Journal

Starting a bullet journal has been a passion project of mine for a few months now and I’m absolutely loving it! I first found out about the bullet journal system through Pinterest and it completely won me over. Even in the first few months my organisation and productivity levels have increased so much!

If you’re new to the idea of a bullet journal I would highly recommended checking out the official website for more information, particularly this video from the creator of the bullet journal system.

Armed with a few dozen inspiration photos from Pinterest, I began setting up my first bullet journal in September. Instantly I carried it everywhere with me and felt so much more organised. Having a place to write ideas, tasks and notes as soon as they pop into my head does wonders for clearing my scatterbrain. Plus, being able to create my own personalised layouts sets it apart from my older shop-bought planners.

As a newbie, I’m still learning what works best for me and updating my spreads as I go along. Nevertheless, whether you’re a beginner or more experienced, I hope you enjoy this post and take something useful from it!

A photo of a journal and some rose gold accessories with a text overlay saying 'A Tour Of My Bullet Journal' by 'The Amber Approach'

The Materials I Use

I did lots of research when I chose my materials as I wanted to give bullet journaling a proper go without breaking the bank. First, I bought the well-loved Leuchtturm1917 A5 Dotted Notebook in the colour ‘Anthracite’ which is a lovely mid-tone shade of grey.

I spent just under £16 on it, which is quite pricey for a notebook, however I really wanted to make this journal special. I figured that it would motivate me to put in more effort if I spent more than usual! I’m really glad that I bought it for several reasons:

  1. I don’t have to worry about my pen ink running through the paper
  2. Two bookmarks means that I can have two easily-accessible spreads. Personally, I bookmark the current week’s spread and my expenses log as I’m trying to keep better track of my finances.
  3. It feels sturdy and the elastic band fastener allows me to carry it around in my bag without it getting damaged.

Something that might annoy some people is that although ink doesn’t transfer through the paper, it is still somewhat visible through the other side of the page. However, this doesn’t bother me; if anything I quite like how it shows it’s getting used!

Next up are my pens, which are the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Superfine Point (0.3mm) Pens in 20 Assorted Colours. I use the black pen in this set to write almost everything in this journal, and there’s a nice amount of shades, especially in pink, purple, blue and green. If you fancy investing in more shades they have packs with up to 50 pens in them too.

Lastly, I use pastel highlighters because I much prefer the softer colours to traditional neon highlighters. I have a pack of Stabilo Boss Originals and some Stabilo Wallet Swing Cool Pastel highlighters which have a thinner tip. Both packs have the same colours, so you definitely don’t need both. I would suggest getting the thinner pack because you can draw two strokes to create a thicker line if need be!

A Tour of My Bullet Journal

The index/contents page of my bullet journal.

This is my contents page so far, so I’ll go through the best parts up to the end of 2018! My first 2019 post is coming soon!

A 2018 yearly calendar in my bullet journal

First, I have a yearly calendar so that I can easily see what day a specific date falls on. I use it when I’m drawing up a new month as I can easily copy that month’s calendar over.

My 2018 future log from my bullet journal including September, October, November and December. There is a green leaf pattern drawn as a page divider.

Next up is the future log, which is essentially an overview of events happening in the upcoming months. As I started in September, I did a future log for the last four months of 2018. I love the use of this leaf doodle as a banner, and now I look back on this I will definitely be bringing more banners into my 2019 spreads.

My future log and doodle boards on Pinterest have a few ideas for other designs you could use too!

October

There is an October calendar and my October to-do list from my bullet journal. My to-do list headings are personal, health & fitness, organisation and new home. They are each a separate box with smaller to-dos listed within. There are brown leaf drawings used to represent Autumn.

This spread is one of my favourites! I re-used the leaf design from the future log and made it more autumnal and warm. I also drew this leaf illustration around ‘October’ which is super pretty and easy to draw. This goals page looks really organised and polished, and it doesn’t require any artistic talent whatsoever!

My monthly logs Pinterest board is one of my favourites and holds lots more ideas similar to this.

An orange-themed weekly spread in my bullet journal.

My first weekly spread for this month is where I properly established my key. I do round empty circles for tasks and then I’ll colour them in when they’re complete. If I don’t complete them I’ll draw a little arrow so I know to add it somewhere else.

Top tip: If I forget to use my journal for a day then I’ll fill the gap by writing what I did instead. Usually, it’s because of a spontaneous night out or a lazy night in. Not only is this nice to look back on, but it helps me to remember that there’s no need to feel guilty for taking a day off every once in a while to have fun! 

A colourful weekly spread in my bullet journal using lots of boxes to separate different days, my notes, my shopping list and my tracker.

The next spread was my take on this one, which is one of the most organised spreads I’ve seen. Although it looks great, it was quite time-consuming drawing up all the boxes and it didn’t seem me enough.

A weekly spread from my bullet journal with a tracker and a notes section on the far right of the spread, with an events calendar on the left side.
A weekly spread from my bullet journal, using purple highlighter to separate the days. There is a notes section, a tracker, a next week section and a weekly goal to drink two cups of water a day at the top left of the spread.

These two spreads are the first drafts of the layout I currently use and have since the start of November.

For more weekly log ideas, you can check out my Pinterest board which I update regularly with new ideas. 

A collection from my bullet journal which uses banners titled 'books to read' and 'films to watch' on each page. There is a bookcase filled with books which are coloured in with highlighters once they have been read. The film page is designed to resemble a film reel, with each film in a separate "frame".

Hurray! Collection spreads! Collections are basically anything else you want in the journal, whether that be lists, ideas, doodles, or routines. They are always my favourite because they are so fun and different compared to a typical diary layout.

This spread is my absolute favourite. The concept behind the bookcase is that every book you read gets coloured in, which is really motivating! The film list is similar, coming in handy for those times when I say “I need to watch that” and then forgetting.

This spread from my bullet journal features a brainstorm of blogging ideas and a weekly planner on the right page.

The collection here is a quick brainstorm of ideas from when I first had the idea of launching this blog. It’s handy to refer back to and I love how brainstorms look too!

For some more collection ideas, check out my pin board here!

November

This monthly log from my bullet journal features a November calendar covered by a hand-drawn yellow umbrella to protect it from droplets of rain. There is a brainstorm of November goals with tick boxes to check once completed.

Onto the November spread, where I used a tiny monthly calendar since I hadn’t written in my large October one. I’ve since brought them back for December even though I still forget to fill it in! Nevertheless, it’s nice to be able to see the whole month without flicking back to the future log constantly.

For my goals in November I created a brainstorm with tick boxes, which has a lovely simplistic feel to it. 

A weekly spread with to-do, shopping and notes sections surrounding a weekly planner, using blue highlighter and fireworks to decorate.
A weekly spread with to-do, shopping and notes sections surrounding a weekly planner, using purple highlighter to decorate. This also features a section for present ideas for my boyfriend's birthday.
A weekly spread with to-do, shopping and notes sections surrounding a weekly planner, using pink highlighter to decorate.

These weekly spreads are what I’ve been doing for the rest of the year! I love how I can change them up simply by switching the colour of my highlighter. I also like having each day in the centre of the page with the extra boxes surrounding them.

Here is my first attempt at a budget plan and expenses tracker. Surprisingly, this is the first time I’ve sat down and worked out my income, my bills and other expenses and it’s made me feel so much more in control of my finances. The expenses tracker is helpful for showing you what you spend too much money on (£9.10 on a Costa lunch? Why?) and what you can do to save a few pennies.

A section from my bullet journal which contains wishlist items and their prices. There is also a page with a stack of presents drawn on, where I have written down present ideas for family and friends.

Next, I have my wish-list and Christmas gift list. I always find myself stumped when I’m asked what I want for Christmas and birthdays, so I thought by writing down a wish-list I have something to share with people. Plus, it keeps me focused on what I really want so that I stop buying things that I don’t love!

As for the gift list, I really want to make a special effort this Christmas so I’m writing what people want and also what I’ve already bought them so I can track what I need to buy before it’s too late.

December

The last two spreads I have to show you are my December monthly log and my December budget planner. I really like the monthly calendar and mini goals brainstorm here, and how pretty are those snowflakes?!

For the expenses tracker I allocated three blank pages because I was running out of space in the November one. It seems that one page for the whole month day isn’t enough to track my spending habits!

I kept the same layout for my weekly logs as they’re perfect for me, but everything else needs some extra work. Nevertheless, I really enjoy using my bullet journal and my organisation has never been better. I hope I’ve given you some inspiration whether you’re a complete newbie or more experienced.

In 2019 I’m going to be bringing out more planning posts, so make sure to scroll down and subscribe to keep updated with my new posts!

Lots of love, The Amber Approach

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