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5 Essential Tips to Starting Your Bullet Journal, and How It Can Actually Save Your Life

We’ve all been at some point in life where we’ve fallen prey to the hype that is bullet journalling (bujo) — a notebook that accommodates a huge variety of planning schemes such as calendars, to-do lists, a diary and so on. 

A forgotten art/organiser method, it came back in full swing a few years ago, catering to mostly the ‘hipster’ or ‘snowflake’ generation that forwent digital planners and calendars to settle for more rustic ways of keeping track of their lives, as well as those who didn’t like the pre-set format of planners that didn’t fit the way most people’s brains work. 

So, yes, we did aspire to become that intriguing person, or at least fantasise about it more than once. Otherwise, why else would we have so many nice notebooks lying around our house, untouched and unopened? You know what we’re talking about. **wink wink**

However, despite our visions of artistic beauty that would make those pages become neatly inked and designed to house inspirational quotes, to-do lists and habit trackers, we’ve all given up, or feel like our work isn’t up to par.

We spoke to Cynn Chua and Pei Ying, the founders of Summorie, a (Malaysian!) personalised journal brand that seeks to ease the lives of those with the desire to get into a more aesthetic, analog way of jotting down important details, and they agree.

The founders of Summorie, a local personalised journal brand. Image: Summorie

“Most people are scared of making mistakes or messing up their notebooks or journals. We are all for making mistakes!” they say, “There is no right or wrong way of doing this – that’s the true beauty. A mistake can always be easily fixed by covering or hiding the errors with washi tape or a sticker.”

Most people are scared of making mistakes or messing up their notebooks or journals. We are all for making mistakes!

Pei Ying and Cynn Chua

  1. Start with a simple format – pen down thoughts. You could start writing down things you are grateful for, or even a saying or quote that you particularly like. Once you are comfortable with writing, you will begin to have the self-discipline to do it regularly.

  2. Don’t force perfection on every page. Bujo is something personal, get inspired and just start writing and creating. We don’t do it every day, but it is something we usually look forward to.

  3. Get comfortable with the idea. It may be hard to stick to the habit of penning things down at the end of the day or if you’re on the go. But make a point to input a couple of things daily. It could be parked under ‘something you’re looking forward to’, or ‘ideas’, or ‘songs I like right now’.

  4. Don’t be afraid of mistakes. As Pei Ying and Cynn Chua said, there is no such thing as a mistake when it comes to your own bullet journal. It can be covered, decorated or even be struck out as part of the ‘art’.

  5. Do it for your eyes, and not for others’. Take what works for you, and don’t think about what works for others. If the index page feels very constricting, then by all means, remove it. If you’re bad with colours and matching them stresses you out, then stick to a single black pen. It really is up to you. Who cares if it’s ugly or messy? It’s artistic, baby!

Image: Summorie

Not convinced yet? Need to think of more reasons why you should get into it?

The founders of Summorie gave us some  pretty persuasive reasons:

  1. It sparks joy! We believe that bujo is definitely something that will inspire and encourage people to start journaling. It is a very fun method of documenting.

  2. It has been proven that information retains better in your memory when you write it down with a pen and paper, it certainly works for us. In general, as creatives, note taking and documenting something on physical pen and paper – whether using bujo or other means – enhances creativity and experience.

  3. We think that bujo is definitely a habit you need to get into as it is slightly different, from a basic planner for example. You are less constricted in terms of layout on a page and you plan the format of how you want to document your notes. It definitely has helped us keep things organised, all while looking aesthetically pleasing.

  4. Other than that, the system can help prioritise your day, track goals and overall just document important moments in your life in a ‘therapeutic’ and creative way.

  5. While travelling, we like to keep little bits of things along the trip – like tickets, postcards and so on. Our little pockets on the cover and at the back allows us to keep them safe. Sometimes we just carry our small linen notebook and store our ID or credit card in the pockets.

An example of a Summorie journal, which comes with a pocket at the front. Image: Summorie

Personally, however, we think that bullet journals can really become that safe place for us.

Amid the digitisation of nearly everything, it’s hard to pull ourselves away from the Internet and social media. And you know what happens when we spend too much time online…we get this thing called digital burn out, and we feel depressed and tired. Spending time jotting down what matters to you will help you release your thoughts and emotions (both bad and good, which is healthy!) 

It sparks joy! We believe that bujo is definitely something that will inspire and encourage people to start journaling. It is a very fun method of documenting.

Pei Ying and Cynn Chua

That being said, here’s what you need to start your own bujo:

  1. Fancy pens, or just ONE pen that you think would work for you throughout this journey. Fancy pens if you like to step up your writing game once in a while, or just one pen for consistency. Your call.
  2. Coloured pencils/pens. It’s handy for coding or highlighting things, and will help to separate one thing from another. But again, it’s up to your own format. If you need this just to decorate, then go ahead.
  3. Washi tape. Again, this is completely up to your preference, but this is just for aesthetic reasons if you need to decorate or cover an error. They do make errors look pretty. Otherwise, you could use it to mark pages. Too much work? Just ‘dog-ear’ your page, or use a regular paperclip.
  4. A bullet journal. We are all for supporting Malaysian products, and since Summorie is a Malaysian brand with so much to offer, we highly recommend this one. You can fully customise your own journals, from name finishing to colour combinations. Did we mention that the notebooks come with a pocket at the front to make receipts and other paper-keeping easier?

You can personalise everything when you get a Summorie journal. Image: Summorie

“When conceptualising what we wanted our notebooks to feature, we basically listed out all the things we would love to have in a notebook. We knew from the start that it needs to be aesthetically pleasing as well as functional – little things like pockets, custom choice of page inserts, material, open-flat capability, etc,” said Pei Ying and Cynn Chua.  

“We understand that not everyone uses a notebook one way, we are looking to reach a wide audience with our customisable and personalised notebooks. With these features and thought put into designing our notebooks, we hope that our customers see the ease of use and comfort when taking notes.”

Image: Summorie

So, there you have it. Are you ready to start your own journal? Have a look-see at Summorie online or on Instagram, or visit their physical store at Mano Plus GMBB.

SEE ALSO: Meet The Malaysian Artist Preserving Life In Miniature Form

What do you think?

Written by Kathlyn Ursula D'Souza

Professionally a journalist, personally a lover of all things fried chicken, Gogorn (her big black German Shepherd) and ice cream.

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