Bullet Journal

I Started a Bullet Journal

Hold on to your seats, my friends, I’ve started bullet journaling.


I didn’t even know this EXISTED until about two months ago. I was browsing YouTube, as I tend to do way too much nowadays, and this cute little video about bullet journaling popped up in my recommends.

Hold up … what the heck is bullet journaling??

“Though it does require a journal, Bullet Journal® is a methodology. It’s best described as a mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system. 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.” from BulletJournal.com.

This system was developed by Ryder Carroll as a way to manage his ADD. It’s a great method. But I think the real beauty of the system is that it’s customizable to you and your needs. I’ve always wanted to keep a journal/planner, but I never felt the pre-made journals out there were right for me. So when I stumbled across Bullet Journaling, I was immediately intrigued.

Bullet journaling has been around for a few years and I CAN NOT believe I’m just now discovering it. But now that I have, I have jumped into the middle of it with both feet.

For me, I was more interested in the journaling part of the Bullet Journal as opposed to the planner part of the process. I’ll be honest, now that I’m an empty nester, the boys have moved out and it’s just me and Kevin again, I don’t have a lot TO do. I get up, go to work, come home, watch YouTube videos and then go to bed. Weekends, I read, do chores, nap … I just don’t do a lot. And I like it that way. I don’t want to be super busy. I’m selfish with my time. Probably because 40+ hours of the week do not belong to me, they belong to my employer. So for me, there isn’t a lot to write down as far as a planner, but the journaling part …. NOW we’re talking.

I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed with my own death, but I’ve been thinking a lot about how it will be for Kevin and the boys when I’m gone. (Assuming I pass before Kevin). I would like to leave a bit of myself behind for the boys to enjoy and remember me by so that’s why the journaling part of this process appeals to me. I watched A LOT of videos (still do because I like to see the different spreads that people do every month – “spread” just meaning the categories/pages people divide their journals into and how they create and decorate them) and it took me a bit to get the gist of Bullet Journaling, but here’s a video that I found helpful to help me get started.

I read somewhere, or maybe Ryder Carroll mentions it in his video, that you’re 40% more likely to actually DO what you want/need to do if you write it down. Apps are great, but they don’t really help you actually get the job done.

And I have to agree with that. For example, I have been making step tracker spreads and it really motivates me to get my steps in so I can color in the appropriate symbol with the color I’ve designated. It seems silly, but somehow, it works for me.

Bullet Journaling also satisfies the stationary nerd in me. I have had A BLAST shopping for supplies for my Bullet Journal. In fact, I find myself getting excited to leave work so I can work on my journal when I get home.

I hope this excitement lasts because it’s already fun to flip through my January spreads to see what I’ve done.

Okay, first things first: supplies.

As studyquill says in her video above, you really only need a bullet journal and a pen to get started. However, I do recommend you also use a pencil and have a good eraser on hand so you can sketch your spreads in pencil and then go back over with markers later so there are less mistakes.

And side note: You WILL mess up. Do not stress out about this journal. You will learn so much by actually doing it and  you will only get better. I’ve already learned so much and trust me, I have goofed up plenty. For example, I did a spread that I absolutely hated. What did I do? I glued the pages together and VOILA! They are gone and no one is the wiser. I have also put paper over parts of my spreads that I hate so that I could, in essence, “redo” portions of my spreads. And there are definitely sections I’m less than pleased about but oh well, I will try something different next time.

It’s a learning process and quite honestly, I’m having a BLAST learning as I go.

Okay, back to supplies:

After MUCH research, I decided to buy this Bullet Journal:

It’s a Minimalism Art “New York” journal. I like it because I think the cover is fun (and I love New York and have been a few times), the pages are numbered, (which was important to me as I don’t want to spend time numbering my pages in order to fill out my Index), and there are 234 pages in the journal because DUDE, I have a lot of spread ideas and wanted plenty of room to spread out. (See what I did there?)

So, the link takes you to the page, but it looks like the New York style is no longer available. Which scared me enough to go ahead and buy the San Francisco journal as well, because again, we’ve been to San Francisco, and I wanted to make sure to buy the journal before it’s discontinued. I also went ahead and bought the pink version as well, because, I’m that extra.

I’ve been using my normal pilot G-2 pens, the same pens I use at work, but I have found they don’t tend to trace over pencil very well so I went ahead and bought the type of pens a lot of YouTubers have been using for their Bullet Journals, the Micron pen set.  I just got them today and haven’t had a chance to use them yet, but I”m looking forward to trying them.

And because I’m not the most artsy person and can’t draw worth a crap, (Hi Heather!), I went the cheesy route and bought a ton of stencils. And even more stencils. I even bought a circle template because again, NOT ARTSY. And boy howdy, I’m having fun with these stupid stencils.

(Side note: you’ll need a ruler, too. TRUST ME).

But I didn’t stop there. Oh no, I then needed markers. And after watching A TON of YouTube videos, I found that many were using the Tombow markers. Which I bought. And have been collecting from Hobby Lobby every week using the weekly 40% coupon. Which I must say, ARE AWESOME.

Then, after watching MORE Bullet Journal videos, I started buying rubber stamps. Which required ink. And now I’m on a mission to buy more stamps and DIFFERENT colored ink.

Wait, we’re not done. Then I started buying stickers.

I bought Gold gel pens and little coin envelopes to add a little something-something to my journal. (More on that later).

And God help me, Washi tape. (I didn’t even know Washi tape existed before this!)

And now I’m on the hunt for a bigger box to put all my supplies in because the kitchen table is just not working for Kevin.

I think I might need help.

Now that I have my supplies, it was time to turn my attention to what I wanted to put in my Bullet Journal.

I opted NOT to have a key because again, I wasn’t planning on my using my Bullet Journal as a planner so there was no need to put a key into my journal. I do have an Index though and find that helpful when I need to find a section fast. (This is when those numbered pages come in handy!)

Here is a breakdown of what I have in my journal (so far):

  1. Yearly goals
  2. Monthly Quote page:
    1. January quote is: “Take Risks: If you win, you will be happy, if you lose, you will be wise”
    2. February quote is: “A friend is someone who know all about you and still loves you.”
  3. Mood Tracker. My categories are: happy, focused, tired, angry, stressed, uncomfortable, relaxed, meh and hangry
  4. Story Ideas
  5. Monthly Question – this is a question about me that I answer and address to the boys (or Kevin). I then print that paper off and put it in an envelope for the boys to read at a later time.
  6. Brain Dumps – these are pages that give me space to just vent, or write about something that is bugging me – a chance to clear the clutter from my brain
  7. Future Log
  8. Monthly Log
  9. Step Tracker
  10. Blog page for each month to write down ideas for blog posts
  11. Monthly favorites that consist of favorite YouTube vidoes, TV shows (or movies), and songs
  12. A bookshelf that has 100 books on it because my 2020 goal is to read 100 books (again).
  13. A timeline of a typical work day and a typical weekend to give whomever is reading a bird’s eye view of how my days are structured.

And that’s it for now. I plan on making a spread of my 5-star books including colored print outs of the book covers, a travel log to fill out when we go on our yearly cruise, and some sort of spreads about my writing (though I bought yet ANOTHER journal to use for just my writing projects), and a page for my ARCS (Advanced Reader Copy) that I’m reading from NetGalley.com. (More on that later).

I’ve used 44 pages so far.

Here is a good website to visit for category ideas and spread ideas to help you get started.

You can watch Studyquill set her 2020 Bullet Journal up as well to give you an idea of how it all fits together.

I will warn you, once you jump down the “Plan with Me” bullet journal YouTube videos, you will never come out. THEY ARE STRANGELY ADDICTING! And some of them are just BEAUTIFUL spreads, beautiful artwork, watercolor paintings …. wow. Mine is nothing like that, in fact, I think it’s actually quite ugly, but it’s my ugly duckling and I’m being patient because every time I create something ugly, I learn and grow and get a little better the next time I work on it.

In fact, it has quite inspired me to teach myself calligraphy. It’s actually one of the things on my yearly goals list and I’m excited to try it. Of COURSE, I bought the necessary pens and this workbook to help me get started.

Did I mention I might need professional help?

What’s that? You want to see a few of my spreads?

Well, since you twisted my arm …

I’m warning you now, don’t expect to be blown away because you won’t be. But again, I’m a newbie and and I’m having fun trying, be kind, please.

Here is my January weekly spread.

Let me explain – since I don’t have a lot of tasks to write in on my monthly spreads, I have decided to use the space to write a short blurb about my day. What did I learn from the day? What one thing stuck out for me? I wanted space to “journal”, in essence. And the little box on the left of each daily block? That’s where I record the weather. I think it will be fun to see what sort of weather we had on such-and-such day. I typically draw in a sun, or a sun/cloud, or a cloud/rain, or a cloud/snow .. whatever the day held. And the penciled in part at the bottom – the “to do” part? Well, it’s penciled in because I’m not real sure what to do with that space yet. I’ll likely put appointments or events that I need to remember for that week there.

Here is my January step tracker:

(The left side is the monthly tracker – I blocked it out because it’s private).

Here is the Question page with the little envelope for the boys to open at some point.

Yes, ugly. But I’m getting there.

Here’s my February Quote and February Brain Dump:

Here’s my weekly February spread:

See the To Do at the bottom? I bought a stamp. 🙂 I’m getting better. I also made the weather boxes a bit bigger.

And one of my favorite spreads, my bookshelf:

Obviously, it’s not done. I’ll go over it with pen and of course write the books that I’ve read on the book spines and give it a header, but I had SO MUCH fun putting it together – I can’t wait to fill it out.

And that’s pretty much it, so far. I’ll keep you updated on future spreads and give you a peek into what I’m working on. But honestly, it surprises me just how much fun I’m having with this project.

I hope you found this information helpful and maybe it will inspire you to make your own Bullet Journal and leave a bit of yourself behind for your loved ones.

Happy Journaling!