In last year’s bullet journal review, a lot of you were appealed by the idea of having one, but didn’t want to start because it seemed like a big commitment. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s not! You can absolutely start a bullet journal with the things you probably already own (a notebook and a pen), and invest and upgrade later on when you know it’s for you.
For those of you who are new to the concept of bullet journals, it’s basically a planner that you fully customize. Planners that you can buy are great for, er, planning already. But have you ever wished for a bigger space here, or a smaller space there, or even getting completely rid of something? If so, that’s where the bullet journal comes in! Of course, you’re the one that will be manually customizing it. It’s a lot to take in, but once you get the hang of it, it’s super useful and even therapeutic at times.
So, how do you start a bullet journal?
I get that it’s overwhelming when we see others having these intricate spreads full of colors and doodles (have you seen Cheyenne’s? *droooool*) and thinking that we have to do the same. If you don’t want to doodle in yours, don’t. If you don’t want that intricate-looking habit tracker, don’t. And if you don’t want to have a key that’s full of symbols for everything – don’t!
Start with the basics first – what do you absolutely need in a planner? For me, that’s a monthly calendar and enough space for my daily tasks. It should be functional and practical, not something to stress over. It helps a lot to think of it as a literal to-do list with useful or visually appealing extensions. Personally, I use boxes that I can either check off. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes and crossing things out, either. It’s literally a planner, and plans change all the time!
What kind of notebook should you use?
A lot of “serious” bullet journalists (is that a term? if not, I’m coining it now) use expensive notebooks like Moleskine and Leuchtturm and Rhodia (I’m currently using this one!). I get it, spending $20 for a notebook isn’t the most appealing when you’re starting out. You don’t need anything fancy – if you have a spare journal laying around, that works! And if you have half a used notebook, that works too. When you know bullet journaling is for you, go ahead and upgrade to that classier notebook if you’d like.
What about pens?
If there’s one thing I think you should invest in from the get-go for bullet journaling, it’d be a nice pen. It doesn’t cost much – probably $3 or $4 tops, and it looks nicer overall. Micron pens are a popular choice (it’s my favorite pen!), and I’ve seen the Pilot G-Tec being used often too. If you don’t want to go out of your way to get a nice pen, your regular ballpoint pen will do just fine.
Adding some color
This is what I think makes bullet journaling fun! This is a perk more than a necessity, but I think it adds more flair to my bullet journal. It also helps my more important tasks stand out from the page. If color is something you’d like to add, you don’t need to spend a fortune on markers and colored pens. Start with one or two colors first and build up from there. Don’t know which ones to start with? Go with your favorite color! I’d recommend light or pastel shades so it won’t compete with the pen. If you’re using a pen on a dark background, it’s harder to see. My favorites are the Tombow Dual Brush Pens and Zebra Mildliners.
Once you get more comfortable with your bullet journal, you can start adding more things to it, like trackers and doodles – only if you want to, of course. Personally, it’s more practical for me to leave it just the way it is as more of a planner and less of a creative outlet. I put more of my creativity into the monthly spreads, which are like “cover” pages for each month. Either way you do a bullet journal, there’s no right or wrong. The most important thing is that it works for you!