Getting Started with Bullet Journaling

Towards the end of last year, I decided to pick up journaling after buying some beautiful Cloth & Paper goods for a gift and getting inspired by the whole journaling space. I had several blank notebooks collected over the years that needed some love, so this was perfect timing.

My Goals

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with bullet journaling. There are so many journals out there with amazing illustrations and designs, which is daunting. However, the beauty of bullet journaling is creating a system that works for your specific needs, as simple or complex as you’d like.

The original bullet journal method is very straightforward, and doesn’t require any fancy materials. I actually used this in the past for keeping track of work tasks, and found it very helpful. So, I’ve been taking a more low-key approach compared to all the inspo out there, specifically to:

  • Stay on track with both work & home to-do’s (daily list)
  • Improve timeliness of my share of chores (habit tracker)
  • Stay on track with my healthy habits (habit tracker)
  • Visualize special events and dates across the month / year at a glance (future log)

And lastly, I am choosing monthly themes and including spreads that act like a scrapbook. 2020 was such a blur, I’d like to be able to have a physical manifestation of 2021.

Thoughts So Far

I find it both energizing and calming to go through my journal. I don’t necessarily use it every day – especially on Fridays & Saturdays when we spend most of our time relaxing. 

Above: My February daily habit tracker

It’s been eye-opening to see data on how I spend my time. For example, in January, my book-reading was clearly a bust. So in February, I decided to really focus more on reading (or audiobooks) with less time on sewing. It was actually a relief to take an intentional break from sewing, which I know I’ll pick up again as the weather warms.

Above: My March monthly spread

While I am not a skilled artist by any means, I find myself looking forward to planning the theme of each new month. My spreads are not crazy – I have a themed month page (where it just says the name of the month), month calendar, and habit tracker. My daily logs follow the same color scheme but don’t have any fancy drawings. I try to draw ideas from what’s currently happening. If I need additional inspiration, I’ll go browse AmandaRachLee’s YouTube channel.

So far, my journal set-up is working for me, so I don’t plan to make any modifications in the near future. Of course, if any of my goals or lifestyle somehow changes, I will revisit!

Bonus: My Materials

These are all items I already had at home — the best part about journaling is that if you have a notebook and a pen, that is plenty enough to get started. I enjoy the creative aspect of journaling as well, so I’m glad I had a few other art supplies lying around waiting for this moment!

  • Notebook
    • Baron Fig Confidant Dot Grid. Just so matches with Pantone’s color of the year. The paper weight is 100gsm, which is a nice medium weight paper. Ink doesn’t go through, though some of my markers do if I’m coloring in something.
    • [New] Cloth & Paper Leather Agenda Cover. My notebook has a cloth cover that was getting… dirty. So I bought a lovely leather cover, shown in my header image. Note that the Baron Fig doesn’t fully fit into the holder, but I plan to use B6 sized notebooks in the future which will.
  • Regular Pen: 
    • MUJI gel pen 0.5mm
    • Sarasa 0.5mm – I have tried the 0.4 and 0.38 and they’re too thin for me, personally
    • Colorful Gel Pens – I have a box of these from when the adult coloring books were all the rage – remember those? Maybe I’ll revisit mine during 2021 too, ha.
  • Drawing Pen: 
    • Tombow Mono Pens – Won these from an Instagram giveaway, and use them for journaling and tracing sewing patterns.
    • Sakura Pigma Micron – Very similar to the Mono Pens, I’ve had mine for 10+ years, used sporadically to draw holiday cards for friends and family. 
  • Markers & Brush Pen:
    • Crayola Super Tips Markers – Honestly, these are great and inexpensive for 100 colors. I use these for both brush lettering and general drawing / coloring. The tips will wear down over time when used for brush lettering, but honestly it’s fine to me for personal use. Also, they may fade over time, though it shouldn’t be as bad inside a book vs. constantly exposed to light.
    • Tombow Dual Tip Brush Pen I have the Galaxy pack. Not cheap – in packs, they’re ~$1.50 per pen and individually, they cost $2 – $3. If you’re doing a lot of brush lettering, they do make a difference. I won mine as part of a giveaway (the same one as the Mono Pens above).
    • I have a few other brush pens that I got as part of a class I took in 2017, and also from local Asian bookstores.

Other notebook options:

  • Amazon, of course. This journal from Amazon is less than $10 and thousands of reviews. Which is not bad for 120gsm paper.
  • Archer & Olive, women-owned small business very popular with The Influencers, pretty designs like this and this. The pages are thick at 160gsm – I will give them a try because they are one of the few makers of B6 notebooks with medium+ weight, dot grid paper.
  • AmandaRachLee Shop, more whimsical notebooks from one of the largest creators in the BuJo space. From plain dot grid notebooks to pre-illustrated notebooks for those who daunted by (or don’t want to) build their own spreads

Partnership Disclosure: This blog post was not sponsored by any of the brands listed above. As always, all opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links, in which I earn a commission on purchases.

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I'm Kristy, a growth marketer based in not-so-sunny San Francisco ⛅ This is my personal blog, where you will find my random musings, in-depth reviews, and latest sewing endeavors.

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