There is something calming and reassuring about a piece of paper and a pen. Sure, I could updated my phone calendar, use a budget app to keep track of my finances,and keep my meal plan and grocery list in a note on my iphone. Honestly, just thinking about doing that with technology makes my head spin. Having all of my important dates, figures, ideas, and memories in one place that I can flip through, touch, cross out, and change has always been my selling point on a good ol’ fashioned paper planner.
I have tried an embarrassingly excessive amount of planners in the past, and have never fully been satisfied. A few weeks ago I was on my “declutter the office” mission and threw out at least 6 past planners. These partially used past planners included:
Erin Condren: My first life-type planner. Cute and sturdy, I was pleased with the space that there was to customize the pages to my liking as well as the inspirational quotes. I disliked the vertical layout and that the bulkiness made it difficult to carry with me. There was also a lot of “life planning” that I did not seem to have pace for.
The Happy Planner: Similar in layout to the Erin Condren planner. The add-on packs helped customize this planner to what I needed, but again, it was bulky and the binding did not hold together well for me. Plus, the add-on packs had some things I needed (budgets) but were not tailored to my life and personal habits. This meant a lot of extra unused pages.
Passion Planner: I liked the size of this planner. large but thin and the cover was sturdy. I thought all of the extras would be useful to me, but turns out I just left a TON of pages unused. I made my passion plan for the first month, but had a hard time keeping up.
What did I learn from the (
hundreds of dollars) time spent on these impressive planners? None of them were worth the cost for me. I needed a planner than was small enough to carry in my purse. Something that had space for budgeting and finances (but not pre-filled choices as our finances are not typical). I needed a space for meal planning and grocery lists as well as to-do checklists. Maybe a log for christmas gift ideas or a running list of blog ideas? I know what you are thinking, there must be no pleasing me. Then, when I thought all hope was lost and I would forever be spending money on hopeless planners, I came across the mysterious bullet journal while scrolling through pinterest.
Here is what you need to get started with your own successful bullet journal journey:
The best thing about starting a bullet journal is that you can literally use any notebook you want. A cheap composition book or a pricey and aesthetic leather-bound option. Either choice will get the job done. Two of the most common choices I found in my research prior to beginning the bullet journal journey were the Leuchtturm 1917 and the Moleskine notebooks. Both of these options have high quality paper that reviewers claimed to resist bleed through. Along with high quality paper, you also have the option to chose which type of paper you would like to use. Both brands have options including ruled, dotted, or squared pages. For those of us a little OCD and like clean neat lines, this is an excellent perk. I chose the Leuchtturm 1917 dotted notebook for my first bullet journal. Another nice feature is two book marking tassels and a elastic strap to keep the book closed. There is also a accordion file on the back page to keep pieces of paper, cards, etc. The dots are easy to connect to make lines and boxes clean and neat.
If you are the artistic type (my hand shall remain down for this), a ruler may not be essential. For me, a person who cannot draw a straight line, let alone draw a whole calendar, a ruler is essential. Here is the ruler I use for my journal.
Markers or pens
I occasionally get a little creative and add design to my pages (search #bulletjournal on instagram for some amazing inspo) but for the most part, function trumps all. It can get a little overwhelming looking at others’ journal pages with their fancy “doodles” and colorful pages. I prefer my pages to be clean and simple which may or may not be related to my lack of artistic ability. A 10 pack of colored Staedtler Triplus Fineliner 0.3 mms Porous Point Pens has been all I have needed. I don’t have bleed through unless I am coloring something in, in which case it may show through slightly, but nothing significant.
Here are some of the ways I like to use and set up my journal. The best part is that if I use a certain layout one month and don’t care for it, I can always change it up the next month!
Monthly views + habit trackers
Weekly View with Meal Plan and To-Dos
Meal Plans and Grocery Lists
Christmas Gift Ideas
I am not at all artistic, but I enjoy creating the pages of my journal. They are tailored to me and my family’s needs without any extra nonsense taking up valuable space. There are a million other ways I have used this journal as well to accommodate my needs any certain month or week.
Have you ever tried to bullet journal? What are some of your favorite pages to include?
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