Raise your hand if you’ve ever owned and used a planner. Raise your hand if you stopped using it after a month or two because it wasn’t working, for whatever reason. My hand just shot up in the air, because that happened to me so many times. In fact, I tried three different planners to find what worked for me, and none of them did.
Then I decided to try a bullet journal, and my life changed.
Several months ago, I’d been lamenting with a coworker about my planner struggles and asked if she had any suggestions. She said she’s been a bullet journaler for over a year and couldn’t recommend it enough. That was enough for me, so I ordered my journal and some fancy pens later that night.
It may sound a bit silly, but as far as organization goes, my bullet journal has been a game changer.
Okay so, what is a bullet journal?
Simply put, a bullet journal can be whatever you want it to be! But to be a little more “technical,” a bullet journal is a hybrid planner, diary and to-do list. It can have calendars, bucket lists, to-do lists, shopping lists, mood trackers, finance trackers, coloring pages… literally whatever you want it to have.
If you look on Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube, you’ll see a huge range of bullet journals. Some are super artsy and bursting with creativity and color. Some are structured to a tee; others are pretty minimalistic. Mine falls somewhere in the middle of all that. I want my bullet journal to be functional but still a space for creativity and my ideas.
Why should I use a bullet journal?
My main motivation for starting a bullet journal was pretty simple: I get to create my own planner. I can set up my monthly and weekly spreads the way that works best for me. I can make my to-do lists the way I want them. I can add whatever other lists and trackers I’ll need for the month and not have to sacrifice space elsewhere for it.
The best part, though, is that I have everything in one notebook. Each month I give myself a page for blog and podcast planning and at least one “ideas and inspiration” page. This way I don’t have a separate blog book and a planner and whatever other notebook I had. Carrying one book is so much nicer than carrying three (or more).
A bullet journal may look like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be! Creating monthly spreads is actually kind of relaxing, so it may be good for calming anxiety. Just like coloring!
What do I need for my bullet journal?
Oh, my favorite part! Is anyone else weirdly obsessed with pens and office supplies, or is that just me?
Anyway, obviously you need a journal. Dotted journals work best, but square grid ones work just as well! If you’re feeling adventurous, go for a journal with blank pages. I opted for the Leuchtturm 1917 medium dotted journal and I love it!
Next, the pens! You can use the simplest ballpoint pen and markers and they’ll work just fine, but I’m an office supply geek so I went for fancy pens.
Side note: my calculus teacher in high school had a similar obsession for fancy pens, and he used to trade fancy pens with students like they were Pokemon cards. He was super cool.
ANYWAY… these are the pens and markers I use:
- Faber Castell Pitt artist pens (I got mine at Michaels but you can also get them here)
- Sakura 12-piece Koi artist brush pens (get ’em here)
- Staedtler Fineliner pens (I’ve had these since college, they’re fabulous)
- Crayola Supertips markers (can’t go wrong with those)
Some other really handy supplies for bullet journaling are:
- Sticky notes, in case you run out of space on a page.
- White-Out, for redo’s and mistakes.
- Washi tape, because it’s pretty, and it’s great for bookmarking pages.
- Stickers, for the same reason.
- Rulers, for neat lines.
What does a bullet journal “spread” look like?
It can look however you want it to look! A lot of bullet journalers do different themes for each month. Some keep a theme for a whole year. I’ve been trying different themes each month and experimenting with what pages work best for me.
So far, every month I’ve had:
- Monthly overview (calendar)
- Important dates
- Blog & podcast ideas
- Some kind of mood tracker
- Habits tracker
- Weekly spread
Notice I don’t have any finance or expenses tracker? I tried it for two months and I never used them. So they didn’t make it into the next month’s spread! I’m also experimenting with a “word a day” tracker for June instead of a more “traditional” mood tracker. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet, so it will probably change for July.
These are some other fun ideas for pages to include in your bullet journal spreads:
- Fitness tracker
- Movies/TV shows to watch
- Books to read
- New music/albums/playlists
- Shopping lists
- Recipes/meal planning
- Packing lists/travel planning
- Monthly or weekly goals
What else do I need to know to start a bullet journal?
Bullet journaling is a huge trend on the Internet so there are tons of resources and inspiration out there! This roundup from Buzzfeed has links to hundreds of journal spreads, designs, aesthetics, pretty much anything you’d want to know.
Buzzfeed Nifty also has a series about bullet journaling on Youtube. I recommend checking those videos out for a good taste of what your bullet journaling routine could be.
There’s some great bullet journal inspiration on Instagram, too. Some of my favorite follows are:
- Steph Cozza (@stephcozza)
- AmandaRachLee (@amandarachdoodles) – also has a killer YouTube channel!
- Dan (@pacificnotation)
- Kara (@boho.berry) – another great YouTuber!
- HulloAlice on YouTube
I also started a Bullet Journaling Pinterest board! Follow it for all my favorite ideas, inspiration and more.
Have you ever tried a bullet journal? How did it go? What tips do you have?
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