When I started my bullet journal, the whole experience overwhelmed me from the beginning. I spent hours on Pinterest, looking at what other people did for their spreads and collections. I scoured the internet for ideas to the point when I became afraid to start. Every time I’d sit down with my new Leuchtturm 1917 and my pack of Staedlater Fineliners, I froze. I didn’t know where to begin. How could I know that my bullet journal wouldn’t be total crap next to all the beautiful pages I researched? Bullet journal collections seemed to be my answer.
While the purpose of the bullet journal is to help you become more productive and reflective about your productivity, the collections are actually what got me started. For me, writing things down is a matter of survival. I often cram so much information into my brain that I easily forget the nitty gritty details, dates especially. Collections spoke to my natural need to record important, static information. For some reason, it didn’t have the same pressure as the planning spreads. So, I went for it.
Have The Courage To Dive In
This is the most important lesson I learned in the beginning months of bullet journaling. Sure, I’ve had pages and spreads that have looked like total crap. I’ve forgotten to bullet journal on certain days (and sometimes multiple days in a row). The real moment when I decided bullet journaling was ACTUALLY WORKING, was when I filled my last page of my first bullet journal. See my simple moment of triumph:
You see, I was never a consistent journaler. I always liked the idea of having a record of my life that I could read through years later. I wanted to be able to track my progress through life. But, there was this inherent problem. I’d start a journal and write maybe ten entries before abandoning it. I’d find it in a box a few months or years later, screaming from neglect. This would inspire a renewed intention for journaling. Rinse, wash, repeat.
I shouldn’t admit this, but I actually CRIED the day I wrote on my last page. I had known it was coming for weeks. I’d already set up my new bullet journal. For whatever reason, when I filled that last page, something amazing changed in me. No longer was I this notorious journal starter. I was a journal FINISHER. It always takes a little courage to start something new, but trust me when I say that bullet journaling has always proven worth it for me.
What’s A Collection Anyways?
Well, the Official Bullet Journal Website defines it as a set of notes/tasks that have a common theme. The bullet journal community has evolved it into so much more than that, though. A collection can be anything from your Chemistry notes to notable memories from the month! Seriously, there are so many different types of collections out there (which I discuss further down in this post, so stay tuned!). Ultimately it can be one page or several, as long as they are tied together by a common theme. Some people prefer to keep their collections in one space in their bujo. Others just add them as a new page as they go along. Some even have a separate journal just for their collections! I’ve been looking into that lately, since it took me SO LONG to transfer my collections from bujo to bujo back in this September post.
Ultimately, the limit is only your own imagination. Basically, if you find yourself wishing you had a bunch of information at your fingertips at all times, that’s your queue to make a new collection in your bullet journal.
Why I Began With Bullet Journal Collections
Here’s the sad truth: committing right away to planning in my bullet journal every day was too much pressure. Collections were fun. They inspired me with their colorful pages and static purpose. Collections were friends I could call upon any time I wanted with no pressure of the daily task list (Which, by the way, I now love). Collections became the toe I dipped in the water of bullet journaling before doing a massive cannonball into the deep end.
My very first collection was a simple calendar of the year. I messed it up before I got to April and nearly cried (I swear, I don’t cry that often!). I took a deep breath, printed out a mandala-inspired elephant, and colored it in. It came out so nice, I taped it right over my mistake and added the following quote to the bottom:
“All our dreams can come true – if we have the COURAGE to pursue them.” -Walt Disney
On my second try, I slowed down. I actually wrote the first number of each week before filling in the rest so I wouldn’t repeat my mistake. Thus, my bullet journal was born.
My First Bullet Journal Collections
Perhaps the most important first collection I did was setting up my big goals for the year. Now, these aren’t your average new year’s resolutions. For one, I wrote them in February. 😉 No, these included the things I wanted to accomplish in my life. Here are a few examples:
- Finish Writing My Novel (admittedly, I still have a long way to go on this one…)
- Bullet Journal Every Day for 6 months (I stuck with it! But… I did miss a few days)
- Start my new blog and make my first dollar(s) blogging. (CHECK! I’ve done this one!)
When I started, I didn’t really know what to write for my goals, so I just wrote down everything I wanted to accomplish. Admittedly, I won’t achieve every goal I wrote down. Some of them were never realistic to accomplish this year. For example, I also wrote down that I wanted to be making a full paycheck blogging by December. I’ve been blogging about 4 months now, and I just made my first $10 on a commission from an affiliate link. Now, maybe a miracle will happen and I will be making a lot more by December, but I think a full paycheck is stretching it.
I only created two other collections in the beginning. The first was books I wanted to read. It was just a simple list. My second was a bit more meaningful. After seeing Kara Benz’s post on her Level 10 Life Spread, I immediately created my own. It continues to be one of my most inspirational bullet journal collections. I return to it at the end of every month to assess my progress.
Good Starter Collections
If – like me – you’re afraid to dive into the planning aspect of bullet journaling, I highly suggest you try starting with a collection. I have a lot more bullet journal collections now that I’ve been doing this for 9 months. Some, I wish I had started from the beginning. Here are a few that inspired me in the beginning, so they might be a good place to start:
Level 10 Life, by Kara at Boho Berry. As I mentioned before, this was one of my first spreads. What I love about this spread (though I don’t make 100 goals like she does), is that the aspects of your life are broken down into categories. You assess how happy you are with each aspect and then create goals to improve that level of happiness. It’s a good exercise to find a baseline for your journey, both in bullet journaling and in life in general.
Planning Routine — This may seem like a silly spread, but it can help you decide how to incorporate planning into your day, try new things, and find what works for you. It helped me so much in the beginning I wrote a blog post about it! It helps to develop the habit of planning using your bullet journal (or a regular planner) to its potential.
Gratitude Log, by Kim at Tiny Ray of Sunshine. I use this spread every day. At the end of every day, I write down the things I’m grateful for that day. No matter how difficult or frustrating a day may be, it really helps me go to bed feeling satisfied and grateful for my life in general. It has done wonders to improve my positivity and mood and is a staple in my bullet journal.
Types Of Bullet Journal Collections
There are tons of bullet journal collections out there to gather inspiration! I have been a bit on a health kick, so lately I’ve been looking at how people track their exercise and plan meals, etc. There are TONS of healthy living collections, everything from The Whole 30 to fitness challenges. You can get sucked into researching for hours on end (and I often do).
There are also static collections that can be very useful. I call them “static” spreads because they are more for reference than anything else and don’t undergo tons of change. For example, birthday spreads are great if you have a hard time remembering the birthdays/ages of everyone you love (again, like me). The yearly calendar spread I talked about before is another great example. Lots of people have books they want to read or bucket lists, too.
Work/Productivity collections are also pretty common in the bujo world. These can be time trackers, project spreads, or stats pages. Depending on your field, I’m sure there is something out there to help you. I have a spread that tracks my social media stats and also includes reminders of what kinds of posts I should be posting at any given time. It really helps me reflect on what worked and what I should be doing more of to grow my blog.
On top of all these collections, there are also a lot of Just For Fun bullet journal collections. I’ve seen entire spreads that are themed around Harry Potter quotes and Dr. Who character sketches. These types of spreads tend to be more personal to the bujoer. I have an entire bullet journal dedicated to the novel I hope to someday finish writing. This makes your bullet journal more personal to you, so I definitely suggest including some of these spreads in your own.
If You’re Feeling Motivated (And Have Time To Kill)
Pinterest and Instagram are great resources for collection inspiration! I usually spend a few hours every few weeks scouring these for new spreads and ideas on how to improve my bullet journal. Do yourself a favor. If you already have a journal but are afraid to dive in, go get it and a PEN. That’s right, I said it. A PEN. Find a collection you love somewhere online (or within this post!).
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I would love to hear your thoughts on this post! Comment below with collections you’ve tried and loved, as well as any you didn’t end up loving. I want to hear it all!
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Bullet journaling has changed my life and I know it can change yours, too. Give it a shot and let me know how it works out! Life is an adventure, so take a chance!
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