How I Use My Bullet Journal

2019 Bullet Journal - title page watercolour of a queen, eyes closed, head positioned as if looking back over her shoulder. Brown tones. Above her crown is three stars, the background is spotted with gold stars

So when I began bullet journaling way back in 2017, I wrote a post all about it. Honestly, looking back on that post makes me laugh slightly – my bullet journal has had a serious glow-up since then. My excitement to share meant I wanted to chat all about it, and so I did. Now, 2 years on, I’m still very much in love with bullet journaling, and have been creating Plan With Me videos on my booktube channel for every month ever since. But in those videos you don’t get to see how I actually use my bullet journal. You see me painting, drawing, cutting and sticking away, but never see if my designs are actually practical as well as pretty. I also know a lot of fellow bloggers are trying out bullet journaling for the first time this year and so hey – why not show you how I use my bullet journal?

P.S. This will be a loooong post, but dominantly photos and broken down in small sections. Hopefully it’s not overwhelming!

First things first, for those of you new to all this, bullet journaling is basically a process of you creating your own planner/diary. Sounds like a huge effort, I know. And it can be, depending how you do it. But you have free reign to do as you please, whether that be creating a whole art project from it or simply writing the days of the week as a checklist. Have a really busy day scheduled? Dedicate an entire page to it if you want. Going on holiday and have no need for to-do lists that week? Skip it altogether! All you need is a blank notebook and a pen, and you’re good to go.

How I Use It – I wouldn’t say my bullet journal is overly complicated, but I do personally like to use it as a creative outlet.

Supplies – You don’t need to go mad with supplies, a simple notebook and pen will do! But in case you wanted a peep into my staple supplies…

  • A Leuchtturm 1917 Hardcover Notebook with dotted pages.
  • Pigma Micron Fineliners in sizes 005, 01, 02, 3, 05 and 08
  • Uniball Metallic Gel Pens
  • Watercolour Paint (for my title pages)

So for 2019 I’ve decided to make my bullet journal magical and mythical. That’s my theme. For every month, I’ll be painting a watercolour piece featuring something that reminds me of magic or myths, or rather stories of old. And so my title page for 2019 is…well, I’m not quite sure what she is. A sorceress queen, I suppose. But she creeped into my head as naturally as ivy and I had to make her my introduction to the year. Complete with stars in league with her crown and surrounding her very being, I’m thrilled with how my queen turned out. I added “twenty nineteen” down the edge in a minimalist calligraphy style so as not to distract away from her.

We then turn to my yearly overview, which is kept simple just because lord how easily this thing can look overwhelming. I mean, look how full February is already. But this design is the same one I used last year – I found it worked for me so why change it? And you can’t tell too well from the photo but the numbers for each month alternate between green and brown ink. I love earthy tones, so they’ll definitely be the key theme in all this.

Opening up then to a few pages I love – a list of all the books on my physical TBR. Fun fact: this actually spills over two pages, and another double page spread follows that leaving space for more. If you haven’t seen my Reading and Booktube Goals video, you might not know that one of my reading goals is to get my physical TBR under 100 books (starting on 125). I’ve found that when my TBR is written down, I’m much more likely to return to the books that have been on my shelves longest and feel more motivated to tick them off the list. So every time I finish a book, I’ll colour in the little black square next to it. If I get rid of a book, I cross it out. I recently did a big book unhaul (video going up on Friday!), hence all the cross-outs you can see.

Then we come across what has become an absolute staple to me. I usually end up with a couple of these lil grids in my bullet journal per year But what is it, you ask? My university reading schedule. Studying Literature at uni means I’m expected to read at least two or three books per week, and do you know how hard it is to keep track of which books you need to read in what week when they’re all scattered across separate module schedules in different word documents? No thanks. I’ll create my own. This is as simple as having twelve rows for the weeks, and three columns for the modules. I gather together the separate reading schedules for the modules, translate it into my grid, and BAM – now I can simply go to week 3 and see I have to read this, this and this book for next week. Simple! Unfortunately I didn’t have my reading schedules in time to fill this out before writing this post, but if you follow my bookstagram account, I have a story highlight dedicated to my bullet journal so I’ll be sure to update it when the grid is filled out!

Then I have a page that doesn’t need much explaining – a place for random ideas. This actually reminds me that I need to come back to this page and fix the title, but hey, that’s fine. This is a double page spread but the right hand side only has post-it notes for upcoming video ideas on it so far. But the plan is to fill these pages with lots of random ideas, exactly as the title says!

And so you now meet my baby dragon. After reading Samantha Shannon’s The Priory of the Orange Tree, dragons have very much been on my mind, and so January just had to feature a lil baby dragon perching on a branch, nosing at stars. On the left I’ve added a quote from Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey (one of my favourite books), saying “Be strong, my heart. You were haunted by worse.” – Book 20, Line 19. I just had to add it as a tiny motivator at the beginning of a year. This layout of having a watercolour painting on the right page paired with a quote on the left is what I plan to carry on throughout all of this year, and I’m excited to see all the watercolours come the end. My February one is already designed, and the video of me creating that will be up on Monday so keep an eye out!

My calendar and upload schedule for January, which I was tempted not to include because wow I hate these pages. First they looked too minimal for my liking, so I attempted to add leaves and hated it even more because the spacing wasn’t right. Then I added writing and it just looks a mess. I don’t like how it’s sectioned off at all. BUT I have changed it up for February and am getting along with it a lot more, so again, keep an eye out for monday’s video if you’re intrigued.

My weekly spreads typically feature a few photos found online, a to-do list for the week and whatever doodles are needed to fill the gaps. I’m not entirely happy with how these turn out a lot of the time, so I planning on spending more time creating them from now on. I draw all of my monthly spreads out at the beginning of a month so that I can plan the month ahead, and also because I just wouldn’t have the motivation to get all my supplies out every week to draw in another weekly spread. But it means that I start rushing at this point, which isn’t good. So yeah, slow it down Ashleigh. Take your time.

But as you can see it’s pretty simple – just a collage of photos, doodles, and a very full page come the end of the week. I love how busy it looks.

Onto my final spread for this post, I decided part-way through January to add a reading tracker. I want to be more aware of what I’m reading, so I’ll be tracking how many of my books are diverse, translated, uni reads and nonfiction. On the left page I’ve also left space for me to write down any of the series I finish this year, as it’s one of my reading goals and I reckon I need a LOT of motivation to hold myself accountable.

green watercolour line

So that’s how I use my bullet journal! Apologies for this being SUCH a long post, but I figured this would be the easiest way for you all to have a lil nosy into my bullet journal via blog.

Let me know if you’re a bullet journaler yourself and if you’re trying it out for the first time this year. I’d love to hear from you!

Feel free to ask any questions about what you see in the photos/anything that comes to mind!

Until next time,

sign off handle saying "Ashleigh" for A Frolic Through Fiction blog

17 thoughts on “How I Use My Bullet Journal

  1. It looks beautiful! I’ve tried bullet journaling a couple years ago, but I gave up because it didn’t work out for me haha Not enough time and too little talent

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am always in awe of your pages Ashleigh!! I high key want to add a physical TBR page – not because I necessarily want to get my TBR down – but just because I love tracking that kind of thing.
    Also can we name the tiny dragon?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Do it!! I’ve always done it, not just because I want to get my TBR down. But I’ve found it reminds me of the books that have been on my shelves for awhile that I’ve forgotten about – and for some reason, seeing them written down motivates me to read more 😆 Maybe I just like ticking off lists too much lmao
      I desperately want to name my lil dragon! I need to find a name that suits it though.


  3. I love your watercolour paintings! It’s definitely something I want to experiment with at some point since my bullet journal is also being used as a creative outlet. For the time being, I’m still trying to figure out which types of spreads I actually need!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your bullet journal is stunning Ashleigh! I love it and it has definitely inspired me to be more creative with mine 😀
    I love the Physical TBR section, I should have done that, hehe. Oh well, it’s a little bit too late for that but maybe some other time 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank youuuu!! Aw that’s so lovely, I’m glad!
      It’s never too late, you can add it in anywhere! Last year I had it in the middle of my bullet journal, somewhere between June and August I believe ahaha. Or maybe add it in the back? Anything can be done 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My god your bullet journal is gorgeous! And your paintings are wonderful. The actual basic bullet journal idea never sounded like it worked for me but I love how it has evolved. I might start one for habit tracking and blog post planning but can only hope for it to be nearly as nice as yours Ashleigh!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw thank you!! I wouldn’t have gotten along with the basic bullet journal idea either – luckily I was introduced to it just as it evolved into what it is today – anything you want it to be! I love it for tracking things, would definitely recommend giving it a go 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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