So you were browsing Pinterest or Instagram and you stumble upon the term Bullet Journal. It looks like a planner, but it seems like there’s more to it than that, people are excited and there is a whole community…
“What the hell is this and how do I get involved?” I hear you ask!
Here is my definitive guide to all things bullet journal…
What is a Bullet Journal?
This is a question I get asked a LOT!
In its most basic form the Bullet Journal is an organisational tool, part diary, part planner, part to do list. But it is so much more than that…
It can be a self care tool, mindfulness exercise and creative outlet. In short, it can be whatever you want or need it to be!
Most bullet journalers create what are known as ‘spreads’, outlining their months, weeks and days, then adding to-do lists and areas to track the important parts of their lives.
Where did it come from?
The Bullet Journal Method®, or Bujo® for short, was created by Ryder Carroll.
“It’s designed to help you organize your ‘what‘ while you remain mindful of your ‘why‘. The goal of the Bullet Journal is to help its practitioners (Bullet Journalists) live intentional lives, ones that are both productive and meaningful.” – Ryder Carroll, 2013
What do I need to get started?
You really only need a notebook and a pencil to get going, however most Bullet Journalers seem to be closet stationery addicts!
Before you go ahead and spend a fortune on stationery, I’d advise experimenting first. I’ve spent a fortune on brush pens and it turns out it’s really not my thing!
Of course, here at Oops a Daisy, we specialise in creating journal stencils to help journalers create beautiful and useful spreads quickly and easily, no artistic talent required!
What notebook do you use for Bullet Journaling?
There are an endless amount of variations in what type of note book you could use.
They vary in size, paper weight, number of pages, page design (plain, lined, squared or dot grid), even page colour.
I would suggest picking up a cheap notebook to get started, play with it and see what you like and don’t like about it. Once you get a bit more experienced you can then invest in a more expensive book if you like… however any notebook will work so don’t feel pressured to do so!
What I use: My current journal is custom made by a small UK company called Citrus Book Bindery. It is A5 in size, has a 5mm dot grid, handy markers on the centre of the page to allow you to design your pages easily and lovely thick 140gsm paper that prevents ghosting*!
*Ghosting is where your pen bleeds through to the other side of the page – journalers hate this!
Why Dot Grid?
You will often see the term “dot grid” being used to describe a style of notebook. This refers to the dotted page (instead of plain or lined pages) which Bullet Journalers tend to prefer. The Dot grid allows you to easily space items on your page, set up tables or write fonts without limiting the creativity of the page like a lined page might.
What pen do I need?
This again depends on personal choice. Pencil, Biro, Fountain Pen, Fibre Tip etc.
My Pen of choice is the Staedtler Pigment Liner in 0.3 thickness – I have a pack with a selection of pen tip widths that allows me to change up the style of my font.
Can I add Colour?
You can journal just using a simple pen but you might want to experiment with colour.
The following are a few I have experimented with!
- Tombow Dualtip Brush Pens – Brush pen one end and fine tip the other. Available in a rainbow of colours available from brights to pastel, use for brush lettering, drop shadows and just about anything you wish!
- Zebra Mildliners – Chisel tip one end and fine tip the other. Use for highlighting and all of the above, adding a more muted tones to your journal.
- Sakura Gelly Roll – White Gel Pen (for adding white details or the white on black style)
- Faber Castle Polychromos Coloured Pencils
Do I need to be super creative?
Not at all! There are a ton of ways to add creative touches to your journal without any skill at all!
First up, stencils! I love stencils, they make setting up spreads so simple, and you can add design touches easily! Our Oops a Daisy stencils are durable, lightweight and gentle on your precious pens. As you can see from our shop we have LOTS of designs available, but we have created a Beginners Journal Kit containing a selection of our favourite stencils and stickers that are perfect for beginners.
What the heck is Washi Tape?
Once you enter the world of journaling you will be quickly introduced to the mighty Washi Tape! A pretty patterned tape that can be used in your journal in a variety of different ways and is available in an infinite amount of patterns.
Can I use stickers in my journal?
Yes absolutely! Stickers can be used to add design elements or functional elements to your journal. I use our Monthly Calendar Tab Stickers to navigate from month to month, and our Monthly Stickers to set up my Future Log at the start of every new notebook.
I have all the kit, what now?
Now you have the kit, the next job is to decide what you want to include in your journal. Remember, this is just a starting point. You can (and probably will) change your journal process over time… THIS IS THE BEST PART OF BULLET JOURNALING!
The basic pages are:
- The future log – a place to log tasks and events that are planned in the future, such as birthdays and anniversaries.
- The monthly spread – a place to plan the major events for the month ahead.
- The weekly spread – a place for you to plan out the week ahead.
- Daily spread – A way to log the elements of your day, things that have happened, things for you to do, events scheduled and timings.
Once you have these set up then you can get really experimental. There is an endless variety of pages you can add! If you haven’t already, check out Pinterest and Instagram for more bullet journal inspiration!
If you don’t know where to start, check out our guide to setting up a brand new bullet journal.
I have 3 key pieces of advice for anyone that is new to Bullet Journal!
1. DO NOT FEAR THE JOURNAL!
You are in charge of it, it is not in charge of you. If setting up your journal starts to feel like “work”, then switch up what you are doing. Maybe simplify your spreads or use printables. Journaling should be fun, not stressful!
2. THERE ARE NO RULES!
The journal is yours, you can include anything you want, if you find you don’t use a daily spread, leave it out. If you want it to be brightly coloured, great! If you prefer monochrome, go for it!
You can start mid week, ignore it for a few days and then jump back in, it’s all up to you! The most frustrating thing I read in Bullet Journaling Groups is “Is it ok if…??”
3. DON’T RUN BEFORE YOU CAN WALK
One thing I would suggest when you first get started is to not get too ahead of yourself. Do a few pages and see how they work for you. There is nothing worse than creating a whole month worth of daily spreads only to find out that daily spreads don’t work for you and you would rather use weekly spreads.
Your journal only has to work for you. If it helps you be more productive, or if you enjoy creating your pages and being mindful, these are the only things that matter! Don’t copy others just because you think you should!
Now get started!
If you’re interested in using stencils to set up your journal spreads, then have a read of our stencil FAQs first.
Not sure where to start? Read our guide to setting up a brand new bullet journal.