The Ultimate Guide To Collections in Your Bullet Journal

ultimate guide to collections in your bullet journal 10+ ideas and spread layouts

If you’ve been bullet journalling for a long time, you’ll probably have a heap of collections you’ve recreated in every journal.

I definitely have my favourites.

But but for some of us, the term “Bullet Journal Collection” might still make us think of a shelf full of notebooks. And that’s okay! I only learned these terms by doing lots of research, reading the official Bullet Journal website and asking dumb questions in Bullet Journal Facebook groups

The whole Bullet Journal method and getting your shit together is a process. Even now, I’m still always trying new things, adapting old routines and picking up whatever organisational tips I can from whoever is willing to give them to me.

With that in mind, this is what I mean when I talk about a Bullet Journal collection in this post.

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What is a Bullet Journal Collection?

It’s simply any spread that is not a calendar or tracker spread. That’s to say it’s not a monthly, weekly or daily spread, nor a habit tracker, mood tracker or health tracker. It tends to be relatively static – they only get updated as necessary, and not weekly or monthly, but they are comprehensive around their topics.

If you’re still a little confused, I promise it will make more sense when you see some examples, which I have got down below.

But whether you use collections to keep track of books you’ve read, movies you love, your cat’s Christmas outfits or your pen obsession (anyone else love a good colour swatch?) the theory behind them stays the same.

Why use collections?

As always, your Bullet Journal is uniquely yours. You don’t have to do, well, anything if you don’t want to. But you likely started a Bullet Journal because you wanted to be more organised, you craved a more streamlined life or you simply like craft and pretty things.

And, for most, the Bullet Journal keeps your appointments and to do lists neatly organised. But what about your hobbies?

This is where collections come in handy. We all have things in our lives that we love, that we want to keep track of. So collections are a way for us to do that!

How do I make them?

Like any Bullet Journal spread, it depends on the purpose of the spread and your preferences. Personally, as I tend to only keep one collection of any one kind in any one Bullet Journal, I justify spending more time on it than most of my spreads and like to make them a bit more ornate and decorative. Thus, they become some of my favourite spreads and part of the reason I decided to write the Ultimate Guide!

The trick is to really consider what the spread is for and plan it out to include everything you want beforehand. (My fiancee and I will bicker constantly about my use of the word “pre-planning”, but for my Bullet Journal, it’s totally a thing!)

For example, do you want space to review the books in your list? Do you want to inspire yourself? Do you want it to be easy for someone else to find the information?

Once you are clear on the purpose of the spread and what it needs to be used for, you can plan the perfect Bullet Journal collection.

Still trying to find the perfect Bullet Journal layout? Check out my post: How to Pick the Perfect Bullet Journal Layout

ultimate guide to bullet journal collections print pictures using Polaroid

Pro Tip: Use Pictures

One thing I’ve learned over the last year specifically, is pictures work wonders in Bullet Journal collections, especially if you are artistically challenged (like me!).

I use my Polaroid Zip to print out pictures of things for real life collections, memories of places or important information that’s already captured on my phone, such as blood test results or motivational quotes.

The paper already has a sticky back, so I simply print from my phone, peel and stick! Check out how I use the zip to improve my hand lettering in this post.

Examples of Bullet Journal Collections

Below are examples of collections I use and love in my Bullet Journal.

ultimate guide to bullet journal collections crystal spread

Collections of things you own & love

Collecting things is not new to me – from Beanie Babies when I was young, to lighters when I thought I was rebellious, the urge to have a growing collection is common.

For now, my collections are crystals (the pretty, energy making kind), pens and washi tape. For my crystals, I put four on a spread and use my Polaroid Zip to print pictures and stick them in. I’ll be filling in the gaps with their history, meaning and uses, as soon as I find some time to write it all out neatly.

For my pens and washi tape, I love making swatch pages, which are really popular on Instagram. Organise by brand, number, colour or style! Whatever makes the most sense to you.

 

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Tracking books, tv shows, movies

I’m going to admit something here, I watch TV almost every night. My partner and I love to sit down and watch an episode of our newest obsession together (we’re currently raving about Making a Murderer – we even followed the lawyer on Twitter!).

So, for me, tracking TV shows isn’t something that I have any need or urge to do – I just watch them as they come.

But books are much more important to me. I list books I want to read, as well as rate them once they’re read! I spent an afternoon making my little bookshelves, but the spread itself is pretty simple.

I love this because as soon as I finish a book, I can look down the list and pick my next one. There’s also a designated space for me to write down books I want to read while I think of them, rather than trying to remember them, because we all know that’s like playing Chinese whispers with yourself.

Here’s an example by @bulletonmydesk.

 

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Important information, such as Vax and medication

One of the most useful collections I have ever made has been my vaccination and medication spread. I refer to it every time I see a doctor, and I’m able to tell them exactly what medications I’m currently on, as well as what I’ve had in the past and how long ago. No one is going to convince me to pay for another tetanus booster jab because I know exactly when I had my last one and when the next one is due.

I’m also confident that, if anything happened to me, my partner or friends would be able to pass on all this information on my behalf, as well as contact my parents, family doctor and other specialists, as necessary.

I often refer to this as my most useful spread.

ultimate guide to bullet journal collections vaccinations and medication
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Lists, routines and rituals

When forming a new routine, you might decide to add it to your habit tracker – It makes perfect sense after all.

But sometimes you don’t need or want to tick anything off, you just want to be reminded of what you want to do and what order you want to do them.

For example, after reading the Miracle Morning, I spent a little time tracking the routine, before solidifying how I wanted my mornings to play out. From there, I just created a single spread that mapped it out for me.

This was the perfect excuse to make a pretty spread that was also going to help guide me through sleepy 6am eyes.

Also great for bucket lists, fuck it lists, reasons you’re awesome and goals you’ve already achieved (to read on low days).

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Goals + affirmations, including achieved Vision board

Have you ever gone to bed, promising yourself you were going to do X, Y and Z the next day, but promptly “forgot” when your alarm went off in the morning?

Yea, me too – sometimes our brains need a little hand when changing behaviours.

We’ve all heard about the benefits of a vision board , but don’t always have access to them while we’re on the move.

That’s why I love making vision boards in my Bullet Journal, using my Polaroid Zip, magazine cutouts and quotes. I usually let them build up over time, rather than do the whole thing in one sitting. That way, you’re including things that really inspire you, and not just things to fill up a page.

I love writing down my goals and affirmations, too. I find if I look at my goals and vision board spreads first thing in the morning, it helps me stick to my goals and keep them front and centre of my mind.

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Places you’ve been, events you’ve attended, coffee you’ve tried

Maybe you’re really into fun runs and travel the world completing different 10ks. Or, perhaps you’re a coffee addict, with a goal to try every coffee shop in your area in the search for your favourite.

We all have things we enjoy trying, or events we love attending. Why not keep track of those in your Bullet Journal?

A picture from every state line you’ve crossed, or a ticket stub for every boxing match you’ve seen, will quickly produce a colourful spread, full of memories.

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Ideas for videos, blogs, creative pursuits

One of the biggest things I’ve learned about myself is that my memory is terrible. I walk into a room, and instantly forget why I walked in there in the first place.

It’s not uncommon for me to be full of ideas one minute, and draw blanks when I finally sit down at my computer to write.

So having designated lists for ideas – kind of like a topic-focused brain dump – is exactly what I need on a daily basis.

I also firmly believe that getting ideas out of your head and down on paper, somewhere you trust, is one of the easiest ways to calm your mind and lower your stress levels. Simply writing things down can take a massive strain off your brain!

So create spreads that will hold your ideas for videos, blogs or any other creative pursuits.

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Wishlists

Have you ever been asked what you’d like for your birthday, and have absolutely no ideas? Or what about forgetting to pick up your favourite lipstick when you finally get a chance to visit a mall?

Sometimes, you see things or hear about things that you’d like to get, but it’s not urgent or important, so it promptly gets forgotten about or put on the bottom of your priority list.

Or maybe you see something that would make the perfect gift for a friend, but their birthday isn’t for another 5 months and you won’t be able to keep it a secret if you buy it now. (Guilty)

Just like the ideas for creative pursuits above, I find it super handy to have a spread for my Wishlist and Giftlist, organised by price range, so that when I’m at the mall, or am looking to reward myself for completing a goal, or someone asks what I’d like for my birthday, I actually get what I want and need, instead of a million things that will just sit on a shelf collecting dust.

And if you feel awkward telling someone what you’d like, show them the list so they can pick something themselves. It’s much better than allowing them to spend money on something you’ll never use – I promise if they asked, they want to know what you want. It’s not rude to answer their question.

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When did you last

Do you remember the last time you cleaned your car, flipped your mattress or changed your toothbrush?

Neither did I until I started a “When did you last” spread. There are two steps to how I like to do this. The first is simple. I note down the date I last changed my toothbrush, for example. I then put a note in my future log three months from now, to change it again.

Once I change it again, I note it down on my “When did you last” spread, and make another note, three months from that date.

This way, if I’m ever in doubt, I can simply check the spread for when I actually changed it (not when I planned to change it, sometimes two different dates), but also help myself to remember to change it. See? Simple and genius!

The below example is a printable you can download from Lauren’s Notebook to get you started.

when did I last bullet journal collection

Outfits

If you’re like me and you struggle to get dressed every morning, or it takes you a million years to pack a suitcase, you’ll love these spreads.

(There are also heaps of apps you can use if you prefer digital, but I’m personally a big fan of my Bullet Journal, obviously.)

I split them up into event types – so casual, evening, work, cocktail etc. When I’m wearing an outfit I like for an event, I snap a picture, print it out on my zip and stick it in my journal.

Next time I’m going to a similar event, I can look at all my favourite outfits, and pick one from there. Easy!

It’s also a lifesaver when it comes to packing, as I know how many of each “event” wear I need, I can pick my favourites and know exactly what I need to pack to ensure I have the whole outfit.

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ultimate guide to bullet journal collections spreads 10 + layout ideas

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