Keeping a minimal bullet journal
Less is more – Mies van der Rohe
Is there any better quote to describe the way I bullet journal? It’s pretty obvious, and if you’ve already browse through the blog, you’ll know what I mean, my bullet journal is super simple and minimal and I never doodle or decorate my spreads. This style is not a random choice, it’s really some part of my personality. I find that there are many benefits to keep my journal as plain as possible. Here are 5 advantages of minimalism when it comes to the bullet journal!
As I’m part of some bullet journal Facebook groups, I often see posts from people who would like to start their own bujo but hesitate because they can’t draw… Beside drawing squares, circles and maybe straight lines, having a bullet journal does not require any artistic skills. Anyone can start with a random pen and a notebook. The point is to try the original system and refine your style to shape something that will suit your needs and please your eye.
So today’s post is celebrating minimalism: how I came to minimalism, my view of bullet journaling and the advantages of keeping a bullet journal simple.
Going back in time
Like any other story, my bullet journal adventure has a starting point, but my love story with minimalism is older than that.
You probably don’t know about that, but before starting my professional life in the innovation field, I studied industrial design for 5 years. So I’ve been surrounded by books and course about Le Corbusier, Arts and Craft and Bauhaus, etc… This knowledge about style, objects and graphic design has had a great influence on my approach of the bullet journal system. I’m typically someone who think that the shape, the style of an object is bound to its purpose: form follows function.
My funtion oriented approach of bullet journaling doesn’t mean I don’t draw in my bullet journal. But my drawings are always there for a practical reason and not only as decoration.
When I discovered the system created by Ryder Carroll, I’ve fall in love at first sight with the simplicity of the concept, its versatility and the unlimited options of variations. And I find the presentation video super inspiring from this point of view. Browsing the Internet seeking for more inspiration, I first found Boho Berry’s blog, but to be honest, the posts and the style of Kim from Tiny Ray of Sunshine and Dee from Decade Thirty were the trigger of my bullet journal fever: their minimal spreads are just the perfect example of what I wanted my journal to be.
So I started my own bullet journal, keeping all these references in mind, and refined both my planning system and personal style during the last 18 months.
Less is more
If I don’t doodle and don’t put cute stickers in my bullet journal, it’s to be able to focus on the true goal of my bullet journal: tackling the tasks I plan i it. This function oriented approach of the bullet journal explains the plain and simple style, almost austere, of my spreads. Minimalism is not just a style, it’s also about how my system works.
The minimalism of my bullet journal starts with the system itself: I have a super simple key, very close to the one created by Ryder Carroll, with a few signifiers. This way, I can easily remember which signifier I need to use, and to be honest, I never refer to my key page as it didn’t change for more than a year. No color coding or fancy icons that take minutes to draw… In my opinion, having a minimal key is the first step to make the all system easy to use on a daily basis, and more efficient.
My key is super minimal so that I can jot down entries in seconds.
Keeping the essential
My organisation system and Ryder Carroll’s are similar, and my bullet journal is meant to be a planning and organizing tool. I love experimenting new ideas and spend some time writing in my notebook but it’s not a priority for me. So I keep only the spreads I really use and generally stick to the basics. If I feel something is not useful, I simply drop it. The criteria is pretty simple: do I benefit from this spread? If I feel like the benefit is lower than the effort the spread takes me to draw or update, I get rid of it in my next set-up (that’s typically what happened to my food log or gratitude attempts). This way, I keep my planning system simple and effective, with a minimal set-up.
10 minutes of bullet journaling for 23h50 of effectiveness
The main advantage of keeping my spreads minimal is that it doesn’t take me long to set-up my journal on a daily basis. It happens that I spend some time writing in my bullet journal just for fun, but I usually take 10 minutes per day to make to update my to-do list and monthly collections… And creating a new spread (monthly log or collection) is not longer. Keeping my pages plain and neat allows me to “invest” a very few time in bullet journaling at the beginning of the day, and to spend the rest of it actually doing things.
Keeping my monthly log minimal and super effective with the basics I need: events and appointments, monthly goals and weekly to do lists sorted in 2 categories (personal and blog).
Less but better
Keeping the look of my bullet journal minimal has also some concrete and measurable advantages: I save a lot of money on the supplies I use to set it up. No budget dedicated to masking tapes, stickers or fancy pens. There are many ways to get creative with a pen and some paper, and the cream paper, and the graphic composition of the layout lines are already enough as a decor for me. As a consequence my bullet journal budget is pretty low: I buy a new notebook and some new pens every 3 months for 15 euros or so. The money saved on pens and washi can therefore be spend more on a fancy notebook with quality paper that will last long…or on anything else!
The supplies I use are very limited, and beside the savings thing, it also allows me to carry everything that I need to plan wherever I go: my 2 notebooks are hold by my leather notebook cover and the only pen I need fits the pen loop of the very same cover. In addition to these basics, I always keep a ruler and some stickers sheets in the back pocket of my Leuchtturm. This super light bullet journal set can be carry everywhere in (almost) every purse and I’m not reliant on a whole bunch of pens to set things up. Actually, a table and my minimal planning kit is all I need to get started!
When I’m on the go, my planning supplies are reduced to the minimum: my notebook, a pen and my phone for future log.
Aesthetic is a major criteria to make the motivation to use your bullet journal sustainable, and I wouldn’t be so keen to use mine if I didn’t like its look. But as any other tool, the bullet journal shows its true potential when used on a daily basis. The whole point is therefore to find the right balance between the way you want your spreads to look and the available time you have to work on it, between your ideal supplies and the budget you have to purchase them… And if this balance involves stickers and doodles, it’s just fine!
The minimal look of my spreads is not a pure aesthetic choice, but more a consequence of my functional and pragmatic vision of the bullet journal system.
So are you in the #minimalistteam or the #artyteam?
– Leuchtturm 1917 : Medium, softcover, dotted
– Erasable Muji pen (0,4)
– Muji pencil
– PaperMate Flair M, black
– Stencil came with a stamp order from Ink By Jeng
– Plastic folder from Muji