Setting Up a Bullet Art Journal

Sample bullet art journal page

Are you falling behind on your New Year goals? Instead of bumming yourself out and beating yourself up for the things you are not accomplishing, set up a new bullet art journal for 2020. It’s immensely helpful! Here is a complete guide to setting up a bullet art journal to help you be more creative and productive in 2020.

To understand the system, it’s vital to understand what a bullet journal is, what an art journal is, how to establish attainable goals, and then how to put it all together in a kick butt book.

Bullet Journal

A bullet journal is a type of planner. As Ryder Carroll, the original bullet journal system creator said, “Bullet journaling is a mindfulness process disguised as a productivity system. It helps you get more organized and juggle your responsibilities. At the same time it helps you track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future.”

The bullet journal system is super flexible. It’s great for prioritizing and accomplishing things on your to-do list. And, as a bonus, it’s super easy to set up. All you need is a blank book and a pen.

Dylusions 8.5 inch square journalMany people get lined journals or journals with dotted paper, but I’m using a new art journal I received for Christmas — a Dylusions book in the 8.5 x 8.5 inch size (pictured). The mixed media paper in the book is perfect for the dual purpose bullet art journal book I’m creating in 2020.

Regardless of what book you choose, setting up a bullet journal (also known by the cool kids as a BuJo) follows this general formula:

Bullet Journal Anatomy

  • Title Page
  • Index
  • Future Log
  • Monthly Spreads
  • Weekly Spreads
  • Collections

Here is Ryder Carroll with a super fast explanation of each of the pages and purposes.

Art Journal

As opposed to a productivity boosting system, an art journal is a creative book kept by an artist as a visual record of thoughts and ideas. Although it is sometimes similar to a sketchbook, art journals generally combine visual journaling and writing to create finished pages. Every imaginable style, media, and technique is used by art journalists. When it comes to the types of work represented in artist journals, there really aren’t any rules, and each book is as unique as the artist who created it.

Some of the many reasons to art journal include:

  • Art therapy / to get your feelings out
  • An art warm up exercise
  • Experiment with new ideas, products, media
  • Document a moment in life
  • Satisfy your creative bug
  • For the hell of it

Art Journal Supplies

Since art journaling can be done in an infinite number of ways, the supplies needed vary by artist. If you’re looking for a starting point, I put together this list of what I consider must have art journal supplies.

Art Journal Examples

If you’d like to see some samples, check out:
Art Journal Round Robin 1
Art Journal Round Robin 2
Art Journal Round Robin 3

— Or see this full video tutorial on making a summer themed page.

Setting Attainable Goals

In addition to other goals, one of my visions for this year is to create an art journal page every week. Many people complete a daily art journal page. I think that’s great, but for me, it’s not a practical goal. I follow the SMART goal principle when I choose my goals.

SMART Goals

SMART goals are established using a specific set of criteria that ensures your goals are attainable. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

When writing a SMART goal, you work through each of those terms to build a goal that shares exactly what needs to be accomplished, when it needs to be accomplished by, and how you’ll know when you’re successful. Setting goals this way is helpful, because it eliminates nebulous ideas, sets a clear due date, and makes it easier to track progress and identify missed targets.

So, for me, completing an art journal page daily is not achievable. My goal is to complete one art journal page or spread a week. It is specific (I’ll complete an art journal piece), measurable (there should be 52 at the end of the year), achievable (for me, weekly is achievable), relevant (art is my passion), and time-bound (weekly).

Beyond just making goals, though, I am making a journal to track them. In a study conducted by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California, it was concluded that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down on a regular basis.

My Bullet Art Journal

So, by making a combined bullet art journal, I am not only writing down my goals, but completing them in the same book as the accountability log.

Now that you know what I’m doing and why, here’s what it looks like:

Title Page

I wanted to use the Color of the Year on my journal cover page. Hello 2020 seemed like a great opening message and counted as my week 1 art journal page since I didn’t actually start this bullet art journal in the first week of the year. You can see the full process video for the title page on the Pantone Color of the Year post.

Also, opposite the title page, I included a key to my journal. This is another way to personalize the system so that it works for you in the best way possible.

Bullet Journal Title Page and Key

Index

I haven’t indexed much yet, but I set aside these two pages which I will continue to fill out as the journal becomes more and more full.

Bullet Journal Index

Future Log

I measure the pages and split them into 4 rows for the future log. I have a really old set of calendar stamps from my old scrapbook days. [The ‘Moments in Time’ (D1339) set was from Close to My Heart. Currently, there are some available on eBay.] On Amazon, there’s this similar set. Anyway, it’s a great set because it includes 7 generic small calendar stamps, each starting on a different day of the week. I stamped in each month on the left and left room to the right to add any future events as they arise. Hand lettering the months helped make the spread feel less manufactured.

In the middle of the future log is an art journal page with a bird on it. I adore birds. They show up very often in my work.  I knew he’d make me happy each time I flipped back to my future log to add in new items 🙂

Bullet Journal future log

Monthly Spreads

I have created a monthly art calendar for my blog subscribers and myself. Since it’s already done, I just printed it out and used double sided tape to adhere it to the monthly spread page.

Additionally, I thought about some of my other goals for the month. I determined I would focus on 3 goals. In January, my goals are to practice art 4 times a week, exercise for 20 minutes or more 3 times a week, and work on my blog 5 times a week and publish one post. I set up a tracker system on my monthly spread using a Studio Calico stamp. So far, I’m doing well with the art and the blog — the exercise not so much.

Bullet Journal Monthly Spread

Get your free art calendar download.

Weekly Spreads

Weekly spread exampleI created a template for my weekly spreads after doing a lot of Pinterest research. I used a piece of chipboard and cut out the squares so I have a sturdy, reusable stencil. Investing the initial time in making the template will make the entire project more achievable.

Each week, I turn the template to a different orientation. It makes it more interesting than repeating the exact same page over and over yet maintains continuity. It also makes it quick to replicate. If it took a long time to create a weekly spread, I might get tired of keeping up with the practice.

Speaking of not keeping up with old practices, I used to keep up with Project Life when my kids were younger. I have a lot of different stamps with the days of the week and numbers on them that I’m pulling out and using each week. It’s nice to finally use some of the items I’ve been storing for a long time.

Sample bullet art journal page

Art Journal Page Week 2: Word of the Year

The art journal entry for week 2 focuses on my word of the year. I joined Ali Edwards One Little Word tribe {insert link} long ago. Every year, I choose one word to use as a theme for the year. I was brainstorming all the first week of January when my word finally struck me. Vision. 2020 Vision. It’s perfect. On the vision art journal page, I define vision and list several synonyms. On the opposite page, I included a profound quote from Helen Keller. She is seriously inspiring.

Remember how writing down your goals makes you 42% more likely to achieve it? Make an art journal page or spread with your word or the year or resolutions to help you attain your goals.

Daily Logs

On a daily level, I’m trying to prioritize no more than 3 to-dos, so the small boxes are working for me so far. I’m using the larger box to catch some additional “any day” to-dos for the week.

Collections

I haven’t started any collections yet. I’ll keep you posted. I’m considering a collection of the movies I see in 2020, the books I read, the TV show I watch, etc… There are some gorgeous examples on Pinterest, but right now I’m just getting used to this new system. I’ll add in more when I feel I can.

Materials

In general, a book and a pen will cover your needs, but here are the materials I’ve used so far:

 

Are you ready to get back on track with your 2020 goals? I hope you’ll join me in setting up a customizable bullet art journal to help you be more creative, set attainable goals, and increase overall productivity.

Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter to receive your free art calendar printables.

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