Don’t look at me. (I have a lazy right eye).

eye

I have a lazy right eye.

I’ve always had my suspicions, but trying to take the obligatory, half-decent post-haircut selfie a couple of days ago confirmed it.

Thirty three attempts later, I managed to get a shot where Right Eye looked relatively normal.

A lazy eye.

Add it to the flabby stomach and double chin – and what have you got?

(Hint: The antithesis to Marie Forleo).

So…you can imagine my sheer horror when my right-hand woman, Erin, gave it to me straight yesterday:

 

“Yep, this new concept for the website looks GREAT. But…I can’t see YOU. How can you expect people to trust you, if you won’t let them see you?”.

 

I felt my back muscles tense.

Defense mode: engaged.

My mind had a canned response at the ready.

 

I don’t do photos of me because I’m an Alchemist. It adds to the mystery. Curiosity is part of my brand. And anyway – that’s the whole point of our work: honour who you truly are. I’m truly not a lifestyle-shot kinda person.

 

But my mouth had other ideas.

“Yup. I know”.

The admission stung.

The truth is – I used to blame the fact that I had nothing worthy to contribute to others – amongst other things – on my not-so-baby weight (she’s four now, so I’m not entirely sure I can legitimately use that excuse).

But now? Now, I have so much belief in my work that I’m anxious that my less-than-polished appearance will do it an injustice.

So, Erin suggesting that I need to face my demons and actually start allowing people to SEE me, understandably made my eye twitch. (Let’s imagine my left eye, just for visual effect).

But Erin hadn’t finished.

“It’s also about not wanting to. It’s a mini temper tantrum”.

Ouch.

“It’s not that I don’t want to be seen. Just so long as people don’t look at me”.

(I was hoping here that my dry sense of British humour would be enough to shift the discomfort. It was an epic fail).

“I can’t sit and talk you out of any of that. It’s your journey and really, there’s nothing to do but take the journey. You’re going to have to start living what you teach”.

 

This really got me.

 

Living what I teach.

If there is anything I consider to be virtuous about myself, it’s my integrity.

I pride myself on my willingness to be vulnerable. On being an open book.

When someone suggests that I’m not walking my talk, it hits hard. That’s exactly what I teach, and believe without question: branding can be the most beautiful journey to self-acceptance…but if you want to be seen, you have to get naked.

 

But what happens when you’re covered in scales…and you’re just not ready for the world to see them?

 

What happens when…no number of YouTube videos can actually make your curling wand do what it’s supposed to do?

 

What happens when…you just don’t translate well on camera?

 

What happens when…you know your work has immense potential, but you’re not sure that you can do it justice?

 

What happens when you have a lazy right eye?

 

Well-meaning cheerleaders may tell you to get over yourself.

That it doesn’t matter what you look like. That beauty isn’t skin-deep. That you’re never too old. That you’re perfect, just as you are. That all you need to do is tap into your brilliance, and hit the meditation cushion.

(Namaste).

On the surface, this all sounds…delightful.

But it’s not much comfort when you come across yet another website of a solopreneur who seriously has it going ON…and you can’t help but wonder whether you even stand a chance.

 

I don’t have the answer.

(I’m still comforting myself with rice cakes over my gravity-defying right eye).

I could tell you that you are so needed, just as you are.

That what you have to offer deserves more than comparison and self-doubt.

And whilst all of that is true…I know that if I said that, it would have to be my truth, too.

 

My gift may be the ability to see true archetypal beauty in my clients, and translate it into a brand identity that reflects every facet of their irresistible personality…but I’m being honest when I say it’s a whole lot easier to work magic on others than it is on yourself.

So…it isn’t my truth. Not just yet.

But I’m working on it.

Can you relate? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment here on the blog.

 

Why I’m no longer using my Bullet Journal.

My Leuchtturm Weekly Planner. I purchased the pen loop separately - also from Leuchtturm.

A few weeks ago, I published a pretty epic post called ‘My Complete Illustrated Guide to Bullet Journalling’. (You can find it here).

I could never have imagined how popular that post would become in such a short space of time. 

However, in honour of my love of all things unconventional, I’m following it up with my second post concerning Bullet Journalling: Why I’m no longer using my Bullet Journal.

(Yep. You read that right). 

Not long after publishing MCIGTBJ, I realised that – ironically – that my Bullet Journal was working for me as well as I’d like it to. 

 

Ultimately, for me, whatever system I used HAS to keep me organised. If I feel more confused than before I started, I know it’s time for a change.

 

I see so many people write about ‘planner peace’. Planner peace is finding your perfect system that keeps you on track (and when you do, angels serenade you and cherubs dance around your head playing the official ‘You found Planner Peace’ anthem). 

All joking aside – it is hugely satisfying to unearth a planning system that truly works for you. It provides relief from overwhelm, procrastination, and that frustrating sense that you’re forgetting something.

For me, I’m less about the stickers and embellishments, and more about the practicality of my system. Yes, I do use washi tape and stamps. But these are primarily for practical reasons (ie – to make things stand out so I don’t miss them).  For a long time, I was more focused about ‘doing it right’ (and, in truth, how good my system would look on Instagram) than whether it actually WORKED. 

 

My business has changed lately. I relaunched my brand identity and website design offerings, and the way that I fill my days as a result has changed. 

 

I run a VERY tight ship when it comes to working with design clients. I have to – I pride myself on delivering ahead of schedule, making the process feel like a fun collaboration, and making sure that I work in an optimal state of mind and creativity to produce unparalleled results.

When it comes to design projects? Bullet Journalling just doesn’t cut it. 

I use (and adore) Basecamp for these projects.

My clients are invited to the project, which makes them feel involved in the creative process (not to mention in the loop about where we’re at).

My team know exactly what’s expected, and by when.

Conversations are all kept in the client’s individual Basecamp, so we all know where we stand.

 

You just can’t get that level of organisation from a Bullet Journal. It’s just a fact.

 

I found that I was trying to squeeze my needs into my Bullet Journal, and it just wasn’t working for me. 

 

[bctt tweet=”If it’s not working, change it.”].

I found that I still wanted/needed to have a physical planner to carry round with me. But…a simple planner. Something that doesn’t require much maintenance, and something that didn’t require me to draw out my weekly spreads etc. 

I purchased the Leuchtturm Weekly Planner (available on Amazon) and I LOVE it. 

The weeks are all laid out for you. You don’t even need to add stickers (although I like to add some washi and stickers simply to brighten up my week). You can just dive straight in. 

These planners have all the same wonderful features as the Leuchtturm notebooks (stunning cover colours, great paper quality, a double-ribbon bookmark). They are a little slimmer, and more lightweight. 

They also feature some blank pages at the back, some of which are perforated for times when you need to rip a page out. 

The great thing, though, is that all the hard work has been done for you. You can really make it your own, and use it in a way that makes sense for you.

 

The Weekly Planner might be ideal for you if you:

  • Love the idea of having a physical journal, but minus the creative aspect
  • Love the idea of Bullet Journalling, but don’t love the idea of having to set up your own weekly/monthly spreads
  • Love having an at-a-glance overview of your week, rather than in-depth daily spreads

 

Here are some snapshots of my Planner so you can see how I’ve been using it:

 

My Leuchtturm Weekly Planner. I purchased the pen loop separately - also from Leuchtturm.
My Leuchtturm Weekly Planner. I purchased the pen loop separately – also from Leuchtturm.
This is a blank weekly spread.
This is a blank weekly spread.
I prepare for the week ahead on a Saturday or Sunday.
I prepare for the week ahead on a Saturday or Sunday.
I do sometimes incorporate the bullets into the days on the left, depending on how busy my week is.
I do sometimes incorporate the bullets into the days on the left, depending on how busy my week is.

In summary – no matter how ‘trendy’ a planning system may be, never be afraid to switch it up if necessary. 

Depending on my business (and life in general), I might switch back to the true Bullet Journal style of planning.

But for now, this adapted version is working PERFECTLY for me. 

It’s simple, clean, fuss-free, and I can see the wood for the trees.

(Which is always a good thing in my book. Literally). 

Let me know what you think of this adapted system in the comments below. Are you thinking of trying it? Got questions? I’d love to see how you plan out your week! 

Do the little things.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the small things.

I’m thinking less about growing my list…and more about appreciating my readers.

I’m trying to make a bigger impact…with a smaller to-do list. 

I’m letting go of the need to ‘go big’…and being content with finding fulfillment in the small things in my day. 

Today is St David’s Day here in Wales, so I thought that today is the PERFECT day to share these thoughts with you. One of St David’s most celebrated quotes was this:

 

[bctt tweet=”Do the little things”]

 

(I actually had no idea until recently that St David came up with this mantra before I did). 

I’ve noticed a trend over the last couple of years in my business: I seem to make the most significant progress when I get down and dirty in the smallest of things. 

When I focus on the big things (the big list, the increased revenue, more outreach, the grandiose plans and strategies)…the less impact I seem to make. 

Most of the significant breakthroughs I’ve experienced have been as a result of doing something small. 

Publishing a blog post that I intuitively felt the urge to share…that led me to an idea for a new offering.

Creating a mini course that had only had passion – and no plan – behind it…(unexpectedly) helped me pay off my tax bill. 

Tidying my office (especially after a certain four-year old has broken in and invaded my stamp collection)…unearthed a book I had forgotten about, that inspired me to keep moving forward.

Reaching out to a client to let them know I’m thinking about them…reminded them that they needed to hire me to design something for them.

Changing a graphic on my website…led to an unanticipated increase of people taking my Primary Test. 

Whilst I fully believe in the spirit behind the message of ‘go big, or go home’ – I wonder whether we sometimes get caught up in the logistics of ‘big’ so much that we forget that greatness can be found in the littlest of things. 

One of my favourite quotes (and, funnily enough, from another saint) is from St Thérèse de Lisieux:

 

“The splendour of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of it’s scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.”

 

(If you’re interested in exploring a spiritual path that revolves around the little things, I highly recommend St Thérèse’s autobiography – The Story of a Soul).

If you’ve been feeling less-than lately, or simply not enough…I hope that this email serves as a reminder that it’s safe to let go of the things that overwhelm you. They simply are not necessary.

Don’t want to blog? Find other ways to reach out to others who need you.

Tired of list-building? Focus on the small things you can do to grow your list organically. 

Don’t feel like you have a ‘big message’? Celebrate the breathing space that comes with simplicity. 

Haven’t got round to those lifestyle shots? Instagram it up, and rejoice in your real-worldliness.

Can’t write that sales page? Write a short love letter instead. 

Most importantly…look for the small things to be grateful for. Those little talents of yours – those quirks that you tend to overlook – they’re the ingredients that make up your own unique recipe of success. When you accept and acknowledge the gifts you have been graced with, you naturally exude a quiet confidence that doesn’t need big, loud packaging. 

Or as Thérèse puts it so eloquently:

 

“If a little flower could speak, it seems to me that it would tell us quite simply all that God has done for it, without hiding any of its gifts. It would not, under the pretext of humility, say that it was not pretty, or that it had not a sweet scent, that the sun had withered its petals,or the storm bruised its stem, if it knew that such were not the case.” 

 

If this post has left you feeling a little more inspired, let me know in the comments below. I’d LOVE to hear what small things YOU are going to celebrate this week. I adore reading your comments, and I reply to every one. 

Have a great week, and sant hapus dydd David!

(Happy St David’s Day!)

How a fridge got me the perfect VA.

fridge

One of the questions I get asked aaaallll the time is this:

“Where did you find Erin???”

If you’ve interacted in some way with my work, chances are you’ve met Erin.

Erin is my Chief Joyologist. And she’s SO good at it.

Our relationship started two years ago, around this time of year. 

 

It all started with this photo of her fridge.

 

At the beginning of 2013, when I was relaunching my business, I knew I needed help.

(Probably in all senses of the word). 

I didn’t know what I needed. I didn’t even know if I could afford it. 

But I had a suspicion that I just couldn’t do this alone.

 

I asked the Universe to hook me up with the PERFECT assistant. An assistant who would not only answer emails, but who I could consider to be my support network.

A tall order, I know. 

Undeterred, I posted an ad on eLance, and I had some pretty insane applications. 

But one caught my eye. 

It featured a photo of the applicant’s fridge.

Maybe it was the way the beverages were all lined up on the top shelf. Or, maybe it was the plastic containers, stacked neatly at the bottom.

This girl was on top of her game.

Of course, I hired her without even reading the rest of her resume (only kidding. Or am I…?). 

I remember telling Erin that I could only afford her for a couple of weeks. There was no guarantee of ongoing work. 

That was two years ago, and our working relationship has never been better. 

The truth is, I didn’t hire an assistant. I hired my support soulmate.

Although this post isn’t intended to be a gush-fest (although it quite easily could be), I still can’t believe how lucky I am to have someone like Erin by my side as I try to figure out this thing called solopreneurialism. It makes everything so much easier when you’re not so…solo. 

Not only does Erin take care of making sure everyone is happy, answering emails, and keeping me organised…she also supports me emotionally, keeps me motivated, and encourages me during my low times of anxiety and depression.

Not only does Erin take care of our private design clients, she makes THE most amazing, fun videos for our courses. Like this one for the Initiation Kit.

 

I didn’t go into hiring a VA looking for someone with great social media skills. Or a friendly demeanour. Or even a particular hourly rate.

 

I knew I needed help, but I was TOTALLY open to the outcome. 

I resisted the urge to have any expectations.

I was completely trusting that if I kept an open heart and an open mind, that this would become a mutually-wonderful relationship. 

And that’s exactly what happened. 

 

[bctt tweet=”The best things happen when you surrender your expectations”]

 

I know this might sound so simplistic, but I really do believe that hiring the perfect VA has everything to do with intention, and very little to do with credentials.

(Not that Erin didn’t have the credentials. She had plenty). 

Don’t go into looking for help with the intention of hiring someone to just answer your emails. 

Set an intention to hire the PERFECT assistant…for you.

Even if you’re not sure what their responsibilities will be – or how much work you’ll be able to offer them – be upfront and honest about it. Let them know you’re looking for a collaboration, and give them the space to explore their role within your business.

(Oh…and don’t forget to ask them for a photo of their fridge. If they have mouldy salad in the crisper, you’ll know they’re not the one for you).

Have your own VA story to tell? I’d love to hear it in the comments below! 🙂

I’m back to square one with my purpose…and it feels good.

drawing

 

During 2013 – my first year being self-employed – I was clear on my purpose.

When I initially quit my job, my intention was to earn a living being a brand identity designer. 

Design and branding are all I have ever known. From my pre-school years, to the work experience I had for a branding firm in Manchester when I was 15 (they even offered me a job, and asked me to contact them when I was a grown-up), to working as a promotional merchandise consultant (where I would advise clients on how to get the most out of their visual identity).

My purpose was to help solopreneurs communicate themselves visually, in a way that was truly authentic, charismatic…yet simple. 

 

By the end of 2013, however…I was exhausted, depressed, and felt that my purpose had been shattered. I had no idea what I was even trying to achieve.

 

My first year in business was, by most people’s standards, a roaring success. I was part of some truly wonderful collaborations, had a client base that many designers would give anything for, and on the surface it all seemed so…perfect.

 

But it wasn’t perfect. I felt scattered. Confused. Disconnected from my business…as if it wasn’t even mine, somehow. And…although I was delivering great work, I knew that many of my clients weren’t ready for the brand identity development process. I was giving them what they wanted, not what I believed they truly needed – clarity, and self-acceptance.

 

As someone who prides themselves on acting with integrity, I found it challenging to work on these particular projects. On the one hand – my clients were delighted. But on the other hand – I knew that some of my clients were aching with self-doubt, and using a logo and colour palette to skim over the fact that they didn’t feel ‘enough’.

This really bothered me. 

It bothered me so much, that one year into the business, I knew I had to take a break from designing to figure out some way of helping my clients set the foundations for their brand – on a deep, soulful level – before the word ‘logo’ was even mentioned.

At the time, I felt confused. I had been so clear that my ‘strength’ was design. Not just a strength, but a skill I have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours of my life dedicated to mastering.

So why was I being pulled in a new direction…where I had little experience, and absolutely no clarity on where I was headed?

As you can probably guess, I decided to follow the thread. Despite the fear and complete terror of the prospect of not being able to make ends meet, this was something I just couldn’t get out of my head. 

 

[bctt tweet=”Sometimes, you just gotta follow the thread”]

 

I launched ‘The Brand Alchemist’ (later to become Cerries Mooney) at the beginning of 2013 with no plan, no savings, and no clue how I was going to earn a living if I wasn’t designing.

But it was something I knew I had to do. 

From that point – until very recently – I have only worked on a very few design projects (mostly with clients I’ve been working with since 2012). I have made my income from creating online courses, like this one, and brand mentorship

During that time, I have received hundreds of requests about whether or not I’m accepting new design clients. 

Fear – and the little voice that says ‘stick with what you know’ – has thrown all it has at me to try to get me to waiver from the work I knew I had to do. 

 

[bctt tweet=”Familiarity promises relief, not fulfillment”]

 

Time after time, I turned down business because I knew my heart was somewhere else. I knew that there was something else – my ‘right now’ purpose wasn’t designing brand identities, and I had enough faith to trust in my instinct.

Now – three years later – I’m back to where I started. Designing brand identities and websites for soulful solopreneurs.

And I’m LOVING it.

Not only has my archetypal work earned me a living during the last three years, it has taught me how to be a better designer. 

It has provided me with an archetypal system for preparing my clients for the process – making it smooth, fun and almost effortless.

The Archetypal Blend Board my clients complete before starting the design process means I can complete projects within two weeks – with next to no revisions.

It means I am more efficient, more fulfilled by my work, and my clients are utterly delighted not only with the end result – but with the whole experience of working with me.

(A couple of years back, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to say that).

alexphone

 

If you’re feeling the pull to explore something – a new angle, a different technique, or an entirely different thing altogether – don’t question it. It’s ok to make a decision that seems like it’s ‘off purpose’. If you feel it, it means something. The meaning may not be clear, but it is ALL leading you somewhere. Even the irrational bits that seem to be leading you away from where you thought you were going.

For now, I’m thoroughly enjoying myself. 

I’m at peace with the fact that I will probably only focus on design for a while, and then feel called to create a new program (I have an AMAZING one in the wings, that’s currently brewing in my mind). 

I may have come full circle, but the truth is this:

 

[bctt tweet=”The delight is in the diversion”]

 

My Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling.

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo

Welcome to my Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling.

If you’ve never heard of Bullet Journalling before, you’re in for a reeeeal treat.

Before I dive in to the good stuff, just a couple of disclaimers about this post:

  1. It’s looooooong. I’m not going to make any apologies for that, because it’s PACKED with ideas, suggestions and guidance on how to start (or restart) Bullet Journalling. You can devour the whole thing, or you can click on the little sub-menu below to hop to exactly what you need 🙂
  2. The photos are big. I left them big on purpose, so you can get up close and personal with my BuJo.
  3. For the sake of time and brevity, I’ll refer to my Bullet Journal from now on as my BuJo.
  4. As I just started this BuJo a couple of weeks ago, some of it is blank, or doesn’t have much info in it. The pages fill out as the days progress 🙂
  5. Most importantly – DON’T be overwhelmed! This post makes Bullet Journalling look way more complex than it actually is – I’ve just included lots of info to get your creative juices flowing. This really is such a simple system (that’s the whole point!), so once you’ve nailed the basics, you’ll find yourself using your BuJo in your sleep (figuratively speaking).

 

Here’s what I’ll be covering in this guide…

:About Bullet Journalling:

~ What exactly IS Bullet Journalling, and why should anyone care?

~ Who is Bullet Journalling for?

~ Why I love my Filofax…but love my BuJo more

:Essential Supplies:

~ What you need to get started

~ Finding the PERFECT notebook

~ Finding the PERFECT pen

~ Why I used to use a Moleskine…but now use a Leuchtturm

:Optional Extras:

~ Washi, stamps and accessories

:My Bullet Journal Setup:

~ Bullet Journal Overview

~ How to set up your Bullet Journal for the first time

:More Bullet Journal Inspiration:

~ Tips & Tricks

~ Leuchtturm giveaway!


A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo

 

What exactly IS Bullet Journalling…and why should anyone care?

Bullet Journalling is an analogue planner ‘system’ created by Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer based in Brooklyn, New York. 

You can find out the backstory, as well as the original guidelines, at www.bulletjournal.com, but in a nutshell:

Bullet Journalling is a way of taking planning and organisation back to basics.

This is the official description from Ryder:

“The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less”

The basic concept is that you take a notebook (any notebook)…and use it to help you get – and stay – organised, clear and productive. 

As solopreneurs, we are not strangers to overwhelm and procrastination. Bullet Journalling is the ONLY system I’ve found to date that truly helps me stay on top of what I’ve got going on, and keeps me moving forward. I attribute this to its simplicity – it’s simple, flexible, and completely practical.

 

**IMPORTANT! Before you read any further, please watch Ryder’s video that explains how the Bullet Journal system works. There really is no-one better to demonstrate it than the guy who created it, so make sure you watch this four-minute video to get a grasp of the basics**

 

 

Who is Bullet Journalling for?

 

Anyone who wants to get more organised…in  the simplest, most efficient way possible. 

Anyone who loves the idea of a Filofax, but can’t be doing with inserts and printables.

Anyone who prefers using a pen to a keyboard.

 

Why I love my Filofax…but love my BuJo more

 

I have always loved Filofaxes.

I love how just owning a Filofax (or several) makes me feel like a more organised person. 

But…I’ve never quite found ‘planner peace’ in a Filofax. 

I really dislike the available inserts for Filofax, yet I also get frustrated printing, cutting and punching my own. 

I love the flexibility of the Filofax (you can’t exactly move pages easily inside a notebook, unless you use a disc-bound system such as Arc by Staples) – but love the simplicity of just turning over a fresh page and getting stuck in. 

The reason why I love my Bullet Journal more than my Filofax is because my Filofax is a breeding ground for perfectionism. I get so caught up in the organisation of the Filofax itself, that it almost becomes yet ANOTHER thing to organise. 

I’ve tried soooo many things to find ‘planner peace’ with my Filofaxes, but eventually I reached the conclusion that a simple notebook soothes my soul more than the idea of having the perfect Filofax planning system.

If you have found yourself getting frustrated with a Filofax, and feeling like it’s just another thing you have to keep on top of, you’ll probably find the BuJo system a REAL breath of fresh air.


A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo

 

What you need to get started

 

Unlike most other organisational tools or planners, the Bullet Journal requires no expensive or special materials to set up. 

All you need is:

~ A good notebook

~ A good pen

And that’s it! That’s all you need to start your own BuJo. 

Of course, there are so many other things you can use in your BuJo (such as washi tape and stamps). I cover these further down the post. But all you really need is a notebook and pen, and you’re good to go.

 

How to choose the PERFECT notebook

 

As you’ll be using your BuJo for probably at least a couple of months (depending on how much you use it), it makes sense to choose a notebook that can stand up to the strains of everyday life. 

Size: 

Probably the most important thing to think about when it comes to choosing your BuJo notebook is size. I personally find an A5 (half-letter) size notebook is perfect, although I know of others who use letter sized, and others who use Midori (personal) sized notebooks. Size really doesn’t matter – but what does matter is that you choose a size you’re most comfortable with.

Cover:

Another thing you might like to think about is whether you’d prefer a hard or soft cover notebook. I personally prefer a hard cover, as I like to throw my BuJo in my handbag when I head out. With soft covers, I find that the edges are more susceptible to curling and tearing, so I like the protection that a hard cover offers. If you plan on adding pages or sticking things into your BuJo, a soft cover may be more suitable, as there is more give in how much the notebook can expand.

Binding:

Hard-bound, spiral-bound, ring-bound – there are many different types of notebook to choose from. Again, choose something that you feel most comfortable with. I personally prefer a hard-bound book format, as I just love the way it feels! I have tried to incorporate my BuJo into my Filofax, and although it didn’t work for me, I know many people who have done this successfully. 

Paper quality:

I would ALWAYS recommend spending just a little more on a quality notebook (and I’ll share my favourites below), as paper thickness and weight can make all the difference. I personally hate bleeding and shadowing, so using good quality paper can stop your ink looking ugly and messy. Experiment with what feels right to you, and remember that this notebook should last you a while, so it makes sense to buy the best quality you can afford.

Paper style:

Most notebooks – especially Moleskines and Leuchtturms – are available in a variety of paper styles: plain, lined, gridded and dotted being the most popular. Gridded and dotted tend to be the most versatile, as they’re extremely handy for tracking and sketching. If you don’t really plan on tracking anything in your BuJo, lined may be a better option for you. I personally use dotted.

 

How to choose the PERFECT pen

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
Pen sampling by Kim @tinyrayofsunshine | tinyrayofsunshine.com

 

Pens are a BIG deal in the BuJo community! Some people are extremely particular about which pens they stick to for their BuJo (and I must admit…there is something strangely sexy about gliding a fountain pen over crisp white paper).

The way to choose the PERFECT pen for your BuJo is to experiment. Try lots of different types to see what works for you, and what you feel most comfortable with. 

I personally love my Pilot Frixion pens. These are erasable pens (perfect for crazy creatives like me who change their minds every five seconds 😉 ). The only downside to Frixion pens, however, is that if left in the heat the ink disappears. You can bring it back, but the ink isn’t archival quality (which may not be so great if you’re planning on keeping your journals to reflect on in years to come). 

Many people swear by Staedtlers, and others love the Sharpie Pen. 

Again – experiment, and try to choose something that flows freely and easily. I have a page at the back of my BuJo that I call my ‘scratchpad’ – when I want to try out a new pen, I doodle on that page to get a feel for how the pen writes, and how much ink bleed there is.

 

Why I used to use a Moleskine…but now I use a Leuchtturm

 

Moleskines have long been considered the ‘writer’s choice’ when it comes to quality journals. I have enjoyed many a Moleskine over the years, and still love and appreciate the craftsmanship that makes them such beautiful notebooks to use. 

However.

In the last six months, I’ve found myself jumping the Moleskine ship, and instead have been using a Leuchtturm 1917 notebook.

I LOVE Leuchtturms.

Aside from the fact that the paper has a much more superior feel to the Moleskine (which I think feels a little flimsy), here’s why I abandoned Moleskine and opted for Leuchtturm…

Size: The Leuchtturm A5 (half-letter) is a touch bigger than the Moleskine Large…and for me, it makes the world of difference. That little bit of extra space does make the Leuchtturm easier to hold (for me, at least), and I just prefer the slightly larger size.

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
Comparison of a Large Moleskine to my A5 Leuchtturm
A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
Comparison of Large Moleskine with A5 Leuchtturm

Index: As you’ll see in the setup section further down, an Index page is an important part of the Bullet Journalling process. With a Moleskine, you have to draw out your own Index page at the front…however Leuchtturms have done the hard work for you, and have included a three-page Index section that’s ready to go. 

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
Index page in my Leuchtturm

Page numbers: As with the index pages, Leuchtturm have made life even easier and added page numbers to the bottom of each page. Numbering each page is essential to the Bullet Journal system, so this little touch just means there’s one less thing to do in terms of setup of your pages.

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
Page numbers inside my Leuchtturm

Bookmarks: The Leuchtturm comes with two bookmarks, not one. I know this sounds like such a trivial thing to mention, but I personally find this SO useful. The two bookmarks are different designs (one plain and one patterned), and I tend to use the patterned bookmark to help me flip to the current week, and the plain bookmark to help me flip to the current day.

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
Leuchtturms come with two bookmarks

Colours: I ADORE the colours that Leuchtturm notebooks are available in. I have always felt that Moleskines tend to be a little bland and unremarkable when it comes to colour, so I really appreciate the vivid, bright selection of Leuchtturm colours. I personally love ‘Emerald’ (which is my current BuJo you can see in this post), and I also love the Orange and Pink. (I do also covet the Gold, which I’ll be moving onto after this one 😉 ). 

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
Orange & Emerald Leuchtturms

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo

So long as you have your notebook and pen, you’re good to go. 

But…for many people BuJo Junkies, your Bullet Journal is so much more than a planner: it’s an outlet for creative expression. 

Your BuJo is a place where you can experiment with fun stuff like washi tape and stamps…minus the pressure and perfectionism. 

Some folks go a little crazy decorating their BuJos. I personally like to keep mine on the minimal side, as too much decoration distracts me from the main purpose of the planner (ahem…staying on top of things). However…I do love a bit of colour, and I love to use washi tape and clear stamps. 

There are all sorts of things you can pick up from craft stores to bring your BuJo to life, and I recommend playing around and ENJOYING finding out what you love. If zero decoration is your thing, great! If you find you have an obsession with washi tape, it’s all good! 

Here are some hints and tips on how to spruce up your schedule:

WASHI TAPE: Washi is probably the cheapest and easiest way to make your BuJo your own. It’s basically masking tape, but looks waaaay nicer! It comes in many different shapes, sizes and textures, and it’s not unusual for you to need to find a specific home in your workspace for your washi to live. 

My favourite brand of washi tape is MT – you can find it on Amazon, and if you Google MT Masking Tape.

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
My modest collection of washi

STAMPS: I’m not really big on stamping, but I do like a bit of stamping action in my BuJo. It took me a while to get my head around the right supplies I needed, and I made a few mistakes along the way, but now I do enjoy playing with my stamps on a Sunday evening.

I like to use clear stamps. You buy the stamps in a sheet, and attach them to an acrylic block…then ink up and stamp away!

I learned the hard way when it comes to ink. If you are planning to use stamps over the top of washi, something like StazOn is a good bet. If you’re wanting to stamp onto the actual paper itself, though, you may be best opting for a chalk based ink, such as Dew Drop VersaMagic, as this won’t bleed through the paper like other solvent-based pigments.

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
Clear stamps, acrylic block and chalk ink
A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
My collection of stamps, which I’ve picked up from Amazon and other craft stores here in the UK
A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
Stamps in my BuJo

STICKERS etc: You can pick up some really beautiful stickers and embellishments from most craft stores these days, and on Amazon. I love Heidi Swapp stickers in particular. Stickers can be a great way of highlighting special events, or things you want to make sure you don’t miss, such as birthdays and holidays.  

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
Some stickers I love to use

PEN LOOP: This is one thing I really can’t live without when it comes to my BuJo. It drives me crazy to not have anywhere to keep a pen close by, so this pen loop from Leuchtturm is a lifesaver (not literally, but you know what I mean!). I got mine from Amazon, and they are available in colours that match the notebooks themselves. You simply peel off the adhesive backing, and attach to the back of your notebook. At first, I wasn’t sure how well the pen loop would hold up, especially after continued use…but they really do stand up well! 

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
My Leuchtturm pen loop

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo

When it comes to setting up your BuJo for the first time, I highly recommend that you watch Ryder’s video to get a grasp of the basics. There are so many ‘adapted’ Bullet Journal systems out there that it really does help to see the system in its native form. You can then adapt it from there as you need to. 

In addition to watching Ryder’s video, here are some examples from my own BuJo that will hopefully inspire you to get yours up and running.

INDEX PAGE: I must admit, I don’t use the Index page as much as I probably should, but it’s still really useful to have as a reference. I personally prefer to identify my key pages using tabs (I’ll talk about those later in the post), however having an Index means you can easily find certain pages. In my first BuJos, I used to enter all of my pages into the Index; now, I just enter important things I want to be able to reference quickly. I don’t generally index daily pages.

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo

 

YEAR AT A GLANCE: The first page of my BuJo isn’t something that’s included in Ryder’s original setup, however I find it invaluable for quick reference. I have a ‘year at a glance’ page, where I can quickly look up dates for the whole of 2016. I was inspired to do this page by an image I found on Pinterest, though I can’t find it now. If you have seen it, please let me know so I can attribute it! This is my version…

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
My Year at a Glance page

 

FUTURE LOG: One of the challenges with the Bullet Journalling system has always been future planning. As it emphasises logging and planning ‘as you go’, traditionally there wasn’t much accommodation for future plans to be made. Ryder has recently updated the system to make it easier to log future events, and he suggests that your first ‘spread’ is your ‘Future Log’. This is simply a convenient place to log any events that you want to make a note of that are coming up in the following months, and it looks like this:

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
My Future Log

PROJECTS TRACKER: Straight after my Future Log, I have my Projects Tracker. This isn’t something that is included in Ryder’s setup, but I like to have an at-a-glance view of how my months are shaping up with design projects and mentoring. I have tried soooo many ways to keep on track of client projects, and I really find that this simple method is so quick, easy, and gives me a birds eye view of what my workflow looks like (NB: the photo is blurred to protect client privacy):

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
My Project Tracker

ILLUMINATION TRACKER: My brand identity design service – Illumination – has various stages of the project that I need to keep a track of. I have tried all sorts of apps and online tools to help me keep track, but nothing compares to keeping a manual tracker in my BuJo. I have my scheduled clients along the left, and across the top are the various milestones for each project. Every time I complete a milestone, I check it off. I also have the start date and deadline on the right, along with notes, for easy reference. I LOVE having my design projects laid out so clearly in this format – I can see exactly where I am, at any given time: 

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
Illumination Tracker

RUNNING TO-DO LIST: After my Illumination tracker, I have a running to-do list. I didn’t really need two pages for this list, as it’s just general things I know I need to get done at some point. The GREAT thing about the Bullet Journal is that there is no wasted space – you just turn to the next blank page and fill it with whatever you need to. In this case, I have a reference for what counts towards my five-a-day. 

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
My (as yet empty) running to-do list

WEEKLY SPREADS: This is where I think I have quite radically departed from the original Bullet Journal system. In general, Bullet Journals have a spread for the month, and then you start a new page for each day, logging your tasks and notes as you go. These are your daily spreads. 

I personally much prefer to have my week on a spread, because I like to think in terms of what I have on each week. 

The whole point of Bullet Journalling is that it’s meant to make your life easier, and for me…I just can’t do without my week at a glance. Some people create just one weekly spread on a Sunday for the week ahead on the next available double spread of pages. I personally like to create all the weeks of the month in one go, all together. I like the fact that my weekly pages are together, and laying them all out in just one sitting is so much easier than creating one a week. 

My weekly spreads are probably the main thing that I do decorate in my BuJo. I like to give each week a different washi, and I like to use my stamps. I’ve played around with layouts over the years, and I feel like I’m starting to really settle into these now. If you’re looking for some inspiration on weekly layouts, this is a wonderful resource.

Here are some examples of my weekly spreads:

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
Weekly Spread
A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
Weekly Spread

 

As you can see from my current weekly spread (below), it usually starts off quite empty at the start of the week. I add things as they come up during the week, and it *usually* is quite full by the end of the week. 

I actually made a mistake on the bottom right corner of this spread, and rather than rip the pages out, I just covered it with some Heidi Swapp scrapbook paper, washi-taped it in, and wrote an inspirational reminder. That’s the great thing about the BuJo…nobody care if you mess up, as it’s (usually!) for your eyes only!

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
Weekly Spread

 

MONTHLY TRACKER: There are certain things that I like to track throughout the month, such as medication, diet, and business goals. These objectives tend to change each month, so I don’t have a set list of things I ‘track’ – I just add them in as I feel like it. Here is my tracker for January:

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
Monthly Tracker

 

That’s about it as far as my setup goes! 

The only pages I’ve not shared here are my daily pages. Every day, I start a fresh page with the date, and I write out the things I have to get done that day. This really is more about being conscious of my time, and grounding myself in the day. I do this first thing in the morning, while Poppy is eating her breakfast – that way, when I get back from the school run I’m ready to hit the ground running. 

Part of the original Bullet Journal system is ‘Migration’. This is where you take any incomplete tasks and migrate them over to a new day or month. I personally don’t migrate my tasks all the time – I just start a blank page each morning, and centre myself in what I know I need to do. 

Sometimes, my daily pages become filled with notes, or brainstorm pages. I free-flow these pages, and don’t think about presentation at all. Whatever’s on my mind, I simply jot down on my daily page. If it’s something I want to come back to, I’ll put a page flag to remind me that this was something worth revisiting.

 

How to set up your Bullet Journal for the first time

 

Hopefully you’re feeling all inspired and fired up to create YOUR own Bullet Journal. 

I’ve told you everything you need to get started (all two items – a notebook and pen!), but when you’re sat holding your new notebook in your hands and open it up to the first blank page…you may FREEZE, and not know what to do first.

Here’s the thing about Bullet Journalling:

It’s not meant to be perfect!

It doesn’t matter how much of a perfectionist you are – learning to let go when it comes to planning and keeping track of your life is seriously the best move you could ever make. 

There are going to be things in your journal that don’t work for you…and that’s fine. As you keep using the system, you’ll soon figure out what works and what doesn’t – it’s all about trial and error. 

With that said, it can still feel ridiculously daunting to make that first move in a new notebook. 

My advice would be to watch Ryder’s video again, and just start practising the basics (if it helps, tell yourself that this first notebook is just an experiment – no pressure!). 

Set up your first BuJo as per Ryder’s instructions, and just notice what helps you, and what doesn’t. The more open you are to experimentation, the more quickly you’ll find your BuJo groove.

Within a short space of time, you’ll be rapid logging like a pro. It does take a bit of practice, but don’t get overwhelmed by doing it ‘right’. Find out what your style is by trying out new things, and don’t be afraid to make it your own 🙂 


A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo

 

Tips & Tricks

 

Here are a few of my own personal favourite tips and tricks, and a few inspirational ideas from the Bullet Journal Community.

KEY PULLOUT: 

The ‘key’ is a crucial part to the Bullet Journalling system. As you saw in Ryder’s video, the icons help you distinguish events, tasks, notes, appointments etc quickly and easily. You can either use the original BuJo key, or design your own…whatever works for you! When you’re first starting to use a key, try creating a little pullout to attach to the back of your notebook. Once you get used to the icons, you won’t really need it, but it’s good to have as a reference:

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
My Bullet Journal Key Pullout

 

PAGE TABS: 

During my first year of using a Bullet Journal, one of the things that frustrated me the most was not being able to find important and regularly-used pages quickly and easily. Sure…that’s what the Index is for, but that seemed like too much hard work to keep flipping to the front page all the time 😉 

This in itself caused me to abandon my BuJo on many occasions, as the whole point of the exercise was to leave me feeling more organised…not more confused and scattered.

Last year, however, I had the light bulb idea (!!!) to, um…add sticky tabs! (How it took me so long to realise this I have no idea). I purchased these re-positionable tabs from Staples (they are the Post-It brand, and although expensive they are REALLY hard-wearing) and I absolutely love them. I just write on them with Sharpie (or stamp wth StazOn) and I can move them about as much as I like. I generally have my main tabs on the right, and important quick-reference tabs such as ‘Current Week’ and ‘Food Diary’ along the top:

A Complete {Illustrated} Guide to Bullet Journalling | #cmbujo
My re-positionable tabs

 

FAVOURITE TIPS FROM THE BUJO INSTAGRAM COMMUNITY:

Here are some of my favourite tips and tricks from the Bullet Journal Instagram community. Why not follow these lovely people so you can get even more inspiration directly into your Instagram feed?

Just start! You won’t know until you try:

#letteritjanuary // #thelifeinbetween

A photo posted by Tawni Sattler (@thelifeinbetween) on

Experiment with layouts! My FAVOURITE site for layout inspiration is www.tinyrayofsunshine.com – Kim has created posts with so many different ideas for layouts, and it’s just such an awesome resource to find a way to make the system work for you:

#bulletjournalchallenge What are you considering trying out in your next #BulletJournal? Or next month? ☺

A photo posted by Kim (@tinyrayofsunshine) on

If you love the simplicity of a notebook, but love the feel of a Filofax, why not buy a folio-type cover? This can provide a great space for keeping stickers/page markers/important documents, and can provide extra protection if you like to throw your notebook in your purse or handbag:

Day 16 & 17 in my #hobonichi

A photo posted by ModernMissJournaling (@modernmissjournaling) on

Experiment with colour coding to help you find things more easily:

#PlanWithMeChallenge #day17: hacks. I'm new in #bulletjournaling so I don't have many hacks yet, but I just did this little #colorindex in my #bulletjournal last night. The colors have no specific meaning, I have a #colorcoding system apart from this (I gonna show it on… ummm… #day19 I guess), this one I just wanted to be in a happy rainbow style. 😉

A photo posted by Timi (@timi_kincsesfuzet) on

Be as creative (or not!) as you like! Use your BuJo in a purely utilitarian way, or more as an outlet for creative expression and exploration:

Conversations. #day11 #healing #positivity #accountability #love #create #thewanderingbedouinjournals #dubai #uae #unitedarabemirates #quirky #eccentric #bulletjournal #plannerlove #leuchtturm1917 #zigcleancolorrealbrush #fabercastell #bujo #maryartisanchocolates #tea #happiness #meditation #art #blessed #beautiful #unique #yes #pilotvanishingpointM #chocolates

A photo posted by The Wandering Bedouin (@thewanderingbedouin) on

Join a free challenge to get started! @tinyrayofsunshine hosts a fabulous monthly planning challenge, as shown here by Kara from Boho Berry @boho.berry | bohoberry.com:

I've spent the morning getting totally pumped up for November's #planwithmechallenge ☺️ #Repost from @prettyprintsandpaper… BAM. @tinyrayofsunshine Kim and I are at it again. Join us for the 4th #planwithmechallenge to reflect, experiment, share your planning system with others looking to share or refine theirs. 1. Follow along with me @prettyprintsandpaper and Kim @tinyrayofsunshine if you'd like 2. Repost the challenge to spread the word to other pals 3. Share your photo response to each day's prompt and elaborate more if you can, adding #planwithmechallenge (and other relevant hashtag) to your post 4. Check out the hashtag and engage with others in the #plannercommunity – ask questions, encourage, connect That's it! Can't wait to get started. 😎 #planwithme #plannerlove #plannernerd #plannercommunity #planner #planning #midoritravelersnotebook #mtn #foxydori #fauxdori #plannergirl #bulletjournal #bujo #instagramchallenge #novemberplannerchallenge #plannerchallenge #kikkik #eclp #erincondren #inkwellpress #filofax #thehappyplanner #happyplanner #planneraddict

A photo posted by Kara | Boho Berry (@boho.berry) on

 

You did it!

You actually made it to the bottom of what has to be the longest post in the entire history of blogging. Ever

I really hope that you’ve enjoyed all of the ideas and resources I’ve shared, and that you’re ready to give this wonderful system a try.

If you have ANY questions, I’d love to hear them in the comments below! I respond to each and every one, so if you have anything you’d like to pick my brain on, leave me a comment below and I’ll get back to you asap. If I don’t know the answer, hopefully I’ll at least be able to point you in the right direction. 

 

{UPDATE! Whilst I ADORE Bullet Journalling – and everything in this post is just as relevant – I’m not longer using my Bullet Journal. You can find out why here}.

photosig