When I went looking for inspiration for my own bullet journal I was immediately drawn to the neat layouts of minimalist bullet journalists. The lack of elaborate designs made the functionality of the notebooks shine. The functionality became art.
Since then I have run across many bullet journalists who mistake a lack of color for minimalism. Let me begin by saying that I encourage complete self-expression in your bullet journal. However, it is completely possible to screw this up and find yourself stressed out by the “minimalism” of your bullet journal which completely defeats the purpose.
In my efforts to avoid screwing this up I have learned these four things which I think can help you as well.
- Black and white is not the same as minimalist. You CAN use whatever color pen makes you happy and still be minimalist in much the same way that people use black ink and create elaborate layouts and drawings. Feeling like fuschia colored ink is your jam today? Go ahead and use it. You’re not breaking any rules (or are you?).
- Its a tool, not a year-long art project…unless it is a year-long art project, in which case do you, boo. If you’re like me, you’re just trying to get shit done without forgetting your grandma’s birthday. Yeah, I like washi tape and those k-pop cut outs look cute, but mostly I just need to be able to read what I wrote. Don’t give in to the pressure to make it pretty, unless drawing or sketching things is something you enjoy.
- Its okay to invest in tools. Everybody will tell you, don’t go out and spend money on fine liners and expensive pens if it’s your first bullet journal. Use what you have around the house. I concur. But on your SECOND bullet journal feel free to spend a few coppers on a nice notebook (I recommend the Rhodia Goalbook and the Tekukor notebook which is half the price). Buy a new pen or a new set of pens. Drop a whole ten dollars on washi tape. But remember that these are tools in your arsenal. They should be functional, first and foremost. If cute pens and fun colors will incentivize you to USE them, then splash out on glittery gel pens or whatever.
- Use good handwriting and straight lines. This last one is especially close to home for me. My handwriting looks like an arthritic monkey was given a Sharpie. Most of my daily notes look like the bitter scratches of a disaffected chicken. However, I take the time to write my headings neatly. I draw my boxes for my trackers using a ruler and do my best to make each day’s layout as clean and open and inviting as possible. Why? Because things that I must use every day need to be pleasing to the eye, even if they are plain. Something about clean lines and neat handwriting invites me to fill all of the negative space with my thoughts and ideas in my Unabomber-esque script.
Of course, you don’t get more minimalist than the system created by Ryder Carroll. If you haven’t already seen the original bullet journal video then here it is, as well as videos from other truly minimalist bullet journals to inspire you.
Everybody give it up for Ryder!
I love her videos because she truly focuses on what makes her bullet journal work for her. Every so often she drops an artsy thing into her journal but it’s a clear example of function over fashion with this girl.
Another super simple bullet journal that is nice to look at but you don’t need a fine arts degree to create. A stencil and a ruler is all you need for this look.
It can’t get any simpler than this.
This is another example of keeping it simple and letting the functionality become the art.