Bullet Journaling
A Versatile Way to Stay Organized

A bullet journal is a do-it-yourself planner/journal/habit tracker rolled into one blank notebook. You create the structure. You decide what to include. You design it any way you wish. And best of all? If you hate what you make, you flip the page and start again. If you miss some time using it, you aren’t wasting pages like you would in a pre-made planner. The next page is blank and ready when you have the time and energy to return to it. And if you want to try something new, you have the flexibility to create it next time.

At its core, a bullet journal is as simple as a pen and a blank notebook typically in a dot-grid style.

A minimalist bullet journal will often use:

  • Simple planner structures
  • To-do lists
  • Reminders

Color and doodles are optional with a minimalist style, but generally if used, they provide organization and structure.

Minimalist bullet journals are great for those who don’t enjoy creating their own art, or for anyone who may not have a lot of time to devote to setting up elaborate bullet journal pages and spreads. You can also get artistic with it.

But how artsy can you actually get with a bullet journal? Some examples I’ve seen use:

  • Lots of stationery supplies (stickers, pictures, washi tape, string, stamps)
  • Complex water paintings
  • Stunning hand-drawn depictions of real life
  • Multiple pages, trackers and collections with tons of detail and color

Why should you consider keeping a bullet journal

Bullet journals are great for people who:

  • Like to create their own organizational systems
  • Love stationery and art supplies
  • Struggle keeping a traditional planner
  • Enjoy trying new things

Benefits of bullet journaling include:

  • You get a creative outlet, especially because it mixes leisure, self-care and productivity in one place.
  • It’s easier to remember appointments and tackle to-do lists when you write it all down.
  • You can set it up and use it anytime, anywhere. Plus it makes for a fun conversation starter.
  • If you work with a therapist, a bullet journal can provide both you and your therapist terrific insight into your day, which can lead to helpful conversations.
  • You  have something tangible to look back on. It’s fun to get to see how your style changes and how your art improves and get to reflect on the past.
  • This may be a personal benefit, but I believe that when you create something yourself, you are more likely to use it.

Does it take a lot of time to set up a bullet journal?

Bullet journals vary from person to person. It can be hard to say specifically how much time it will take you to start setting up.

You can set up a minimalist weekly layout in 5 to 10 minutes. I once challenged myself to create an entire month’s worth of bullet journal spreads (a cover page, a monthly calendar, four to five weekly pages and a habit tracker) in an hour, and it’s doable! The more complex the art and design, the more time it takes. 

Once you’ve created your layouts and move toward regular daily use, it can be as simple as using a pre-made planner. Make it part of your morning routine, or open it up after you get to work.

There are times when I have to set my bullet journal aside to focus on other priorities, just like you may have to with a planner. But the fact that you can start where you left off removes a lot of pressure.

What would you recommend for somebody new to bullet journals? 

  • Start with a few supplies (a dot-grid notebook, some colorful pens and non-alcoholic markers, a ruler and some white-out tape). 
  • Use Pinterest, Youtube and social media to find inspiration and ideas. 
  • You don’t have to make everything all at once; find a few different types of bullet journal layouts that you may find helpful. Save ideas for later.
  • Don’t get intimidated by the amazing artists in the community. It’s not a comparison game. Have fun with it.
  • Stationery supplies such as stickers, washi tape and photographs are quick ways to add style if you don’t enjoy creating your own art. 
  • Printable pages are another option. There are many free and paid templates you can tape right into your journal.
  • Bullet journaling can also be done digitally on apps, offering templates, stickers and stamps to get you started.

I offer a “How to Bullet Journal for Beginner’s Guide” on my blog @planningmindfully. This guide provides more detail, insight into the types of layouts that exist, suggestions for specific supplies recommended and so much more. I highly recommend using it as a resource to learn more!

You may be wondering how I started bullet journaling and why I highly recommend it to others.

Back in 2016, my therapist introduced me to bullet journals as a way to cope with my emotions, record my day-to-day life and to showcase my creativity. Those seemingly simple tasks helped me cope with my mental health challenges at the time. The creative aspect of setting up a bullet journal kept it fun and made me want to come back to make more. The planner aspect allowed me to stay on top of my schedule and achieve tasks in a more organized manner. Tracking my habits and moods allowed me to learn my patterns in behavior and actions, and I could make adjustments that improved some of my daily challenges.

This was a pivotal turning point in my life. I figured that if it was that beneficial for me, it would likely be useful for others. So in 2017, I started my blog and social media channels. Because I really wanted to share my message, I invested in blogging education which allowed me to learn how to direct more people to my website. The work I did paid off.

Because of my blog: 

  • I’ve had over one million visitors to my website.
  • I published a workbook.
  • I’ve spoken at and attended planner conferences around the country.
  • I’ve gotten to work with some amazing stationery brands.
  • I’ve made many friends who also love bullet journals as much as I do.

In 2019, I started experiencing more challenging physical health issues which lead me to step back and focus on my recovery. The work put into my blog has allowed me to continue to receive monthly income through affiliate marketing, advertising and sponsorship opportunities- even in 2022. Now that my health is improving, I look forward to re-engaging with my blog and social media communities to share what I’ve learned as I’ve recovered! ::

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