Here I am using my A4 lined notebook from The Works. It’s spiral bound, so it opens flat or folds completely back on itself, and that’s a very helpful thing. It’s also easy to tear out a page if you make a terrible mistake … which is exactly what happened to my first attempt at this monthly. Happy endings though, as I like this spread more than the first one.
I have stamped the title but everything else is my own writing. I planned the spread with a pencil and ruler, then added the pen. After I had waited an extraordinary amount of time for all the ink to dry, I gently erased the pencil marks and hurrah no smudged ink.
I would always recommend a few light pencil marks to begin with as it does reduce the likelihood of making an error.
This series is specifically about journaling on a budget and simple spreads for beginners … BUT … I did get a Leuchtummmmmmm* Journal with dotted pages for Christmas – yay! If you would like to nosy at those pages then I have dedicated a whole new Instagram account to it 🙂
A gratitude log will help you keep track of the positives, and you can reflect on them as and when you need to. It would be a good habit to get into, so I suggest if you are going to create a habit tracker later on, then definitely put gratitude on the list.
You can write whatever you like on your gratitude log, so long as it is a positive. It can be smallest thing, but that doesn’t matter, because all those small things will add up.
This page needs no excuse for lots of cute decorations and doodles, so get extra creative! Experiment with writing inside heart shapes, clouds, bubbles, balloons …
A habit tracker is basically lots of cute boxes you colour in to keep track of when you do something, or don’t do something 😉
There are so many things you can use it for, such as keeping track of
food and drink
I track habits over the period of one week usually, and the following week I might track different habits, depending on how the previous week went.
There is absolutely no point in continually tracking something you are not doing. Instead, work out why you are not doing that something (if it is definitely something you want to do) and see if you can reorganise your routine to include it. Is there something else you can drop instead? For instance, I try to track my blog commenting, but if I go a few days without visiting other blogs, then I would consider not writing blog posts one day and commenting on others instead.
One very obvious reason for having a planner or [bullet] journal is to be able to see ahead.
Upcoming events and tasks are recorded in a future log. You can create one for any period of time you choose. You could make one for the whole of the coming year, or for the month ahead, or anything in-between!
I would recommend starting with the month ahead.
A future log is useful for remembering things like birthdays though, so jump right in to the year ahead if you want to be very organised.
Decide how much space you need for each day. You don’t need much detail at this stage because you can put more detail into your weekly spread as it comes round.
You could divide your month/year into columns for different things, depending on how busy you are. Mine is very basic.
Remember to update your index
My example above shows a full six weeks and has space for notes or a quote at the top. I’ve used my favourite calendar stamp in the top right. I can use this as a tracker or to highlight important dates …. Or just to cross off the days as they happen.
I do hope that you are finding this series helpful. Please share your planners and journals with me.
Now you have your book you will probably want to start writing in it straight away, but that can be quite daunting.
My best advice is to skip a few pages
Leave yourself some space to come back to. I will make some suggestions for those blank pages later in this series. Number a few pages then start writing on page 3 or 4.
I suggest you make yourself a simple weekly spread first, because you can get your immediate time organised straight away.
Even if you’re starting your journal in the middle of the week, it doesn’t matter. Draw yourself a grid for seven days.
Beginning on the Monday, write the dates in and fill in your appointments for the week, including those you have already been to.
Add a to-do list with check boxes ☑️ so that you can keep track of your important tasks. At the end of the week, transfer any unfinished tasks to your new to-do list for that week.
I have created a space to write important reminders for the following week too.
The next step is to create an index. I start mine in the back of my notebook. On the left hand side of the page, write the title of your spread eg “weekly spreads” and next to it put the page number. When you add more weekly spreads, just write the page number next to the title, so it will look like this:
INDEX Weekly spreads ….. 3, 10, 15
Update your index every time you create a new page.
If you would like to share your “before the pen” pages with me, I would love to see them.
Either leave me a link below, or comment on my pinboard
I don’t have a hard and fast bullet journal, but I’m hoping this series will make starting a journal a bit less daunting for some. I’m going to look at the fundamentals of “bujo” and show you how I have used them to shape my own journal.
A bullet journal compared to a diary is totally flexible because you create the pages as you need them, making space for whatever it is you need. A diary only offers a fixed space. Some days you might want to write lots and other days not so much. Having a journal which adapts is liberating!
You can buy a blank bullet journal but they are not cheap. If you are just starting out and want to try keeping a journal, then you don’t need an expensive one really. Once you have got into the habit of writing regularly, then you are probably going to want one of course, but they can cost about £20.
I’m happy to buy bargain notebooks and have more to spend on pens 😉
Joking aside, a proper bullet journal is going to look and feel classy, and the pages will be better quality, etc. The main reason it is different though is because the pages aren’t lined but they have a dot grid instead. It will have page numbers and an index probably too.
I don’t want people to be put off journals because of the price, and so I will repeat that you do not need an expensive one to start with.
I use a lined notebook and a ruler and pencil … okay sometimes I don’t bother with the ruler – shocking I know … and I have a huge selection of coloured pens.
My first three journals were A5 which is okay, and that’s a comfortable size if you’re taking your journal around with you. My current journal is A4 and I’ve found the larger pages make it much easier to do monthly spreads.
An alternative is to have an A5 journal but to stick extra A4 sheets in if you need more space for a spread. When that larger sheet is folded in half it will sit neatly inside the journal.
Once you have those you can make a start. It’s up to you if you want to decorate your pages, and colour code things, but as I’ve said before, this is basic journalling on a budget.
It is very important not to get journal envy of course. While scouting for inspiration you can fall into a big pit of the most fantastically artistical (is that a word) pages which may make you want to give up your journal, but don’t get disheartened. I warn you now, my journal is not as pretty as some, but it is mine and I journal because I enjoy it, not because I want 3000 followers on Instagram.
In my next post in the series I will give some examples of my page layouts, so if you would like to journal along with me, it would be a good idea to subscribe to my blog. Use the follow button or sign up with your email and make sure you are getting notifications. You don’t want to miss anything!
The photo below is not my journal but just an example of a habit tracker I found on Unsplash … I wonder what was on that toast? Any ideas?
I will confess at this time though that I do own a set of pastel highlighters and that lilac colour is adorable.