A Beginner's Guide to Bullet Journaling

If I had a dollar for every planner that I have started and never finished, let’s just say that my student loans would be a thing of the past. Planners have always seemed like a great way to organize my personal life, but those Target calendars were far from helpful. I searched online for planners of all shapes and sizes, but never found a match. So one day,  as I was feeding my Pinterest addiction, I came across this adorable planner that seemed to fix all of my organizational problems. The only twist is that you can’t find it anywhere in stores (filled out that is). It’s called a bullet journal. A self-tailored planner that is 100% unique to you and your organizational needs.

Now I know this can seem intimidating. Not everyone is an artist, so the idea of having to draw it out from scratch seems impossible. But I can assure you that the point of this planner is to be as minimalist or maximalist as you want. Its purpose is whatever you need. A bullet journal seemed appealing to me because my personal life is very chaotic, and this was a way to organize it.

Just because this is a planner doesn't mean it has to be boring. And if you are anything like me, a cohesive spread is a must. I have found that printing out pictures or using patterned tape is an easy way to fill the space, and can give you the aesthetic you desire. You don't have to be an artist to get the look you want. Also if you have not discovered Pinterest, that will become your best friend when it comes to finding the inspiration for your spreads.

It can also be hard to know what materials you’ll need. But I have combined a list of items that can get you started. All of these products can be found at a local craft store and are relatively inexpensive. I would recommend:

  • Journal (dotted, lined or blank)

  • Crayola Super Tips Washable Markers

  • Fine liner pen

  • Washi tape (colored/patterned tape)

  • Stickers

I usually start mine off with a title page with the month and a calendar with all of my important dates listed in the boxes. This is where you can establish your monthly theme, with seasons or maybe a favorite TV show! From there, you can let your imagination run wild with the rest of the pages. For my journal, I like to include a mood tracker. This page is designed to track your mental health throughout the month and allow you to do a daily check-in for self-care.

The layout of your monthly spread does not have to be the same throughout the year. If one month you want to have a spending tracker and the next month you make a collage instead, that’s totally okay! One thing that remains consistent is my weekly spread. This is what you would see in a traditional planner, where each day has a space for notes and whatnot. The difference is that you can change the layout to accommodate your schedule. I personally do not like to write very much in mine, so I like to fill the space with fun pictures and doodles.  

Bullet journaling has definitely changed my life and the way I organize it. I used to dread my schedule and felt so overwhelmed. But this allowed me to take control and use it to my advantage. The Sunday nights before bed that I spend planning my next month is what I look forward to. And not only does it look amazing, you can also brag to all of your friends about how organized you are. So the time wasted on those generic journals is gained in self-care, organization and an aesthetically pleasing personal assistant through the art of bullet journaling.

[All pictures by author]