Disclosure: This post about a beginner bullet journal contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something using one of the links, I receive a commission at no cost to you.
I have tried allllllll kinds of planners. And each time I spent cash on one, I had high hopes that THIS would be the thing that helped me get my crap together.
Didn’t happen. I finally decided to create my beginner bullet journal.
I’ve been lurking on the edges of the whole Bullet Journal craze. Here are the basics. A Bullet Journal is a planner YOU create. There’s no need to search for the perfect planner when you can design one yourself. Check out the site that started the whole thing: BulletJournal.com There’s a great video that explains the basics.
Beginner Bullet Journal : The Notebook
You’re going to hear me say this a lot – you can make this whatever you want. That’s the beauty. A lot of people start with simple notebooks. Notebooks with dots in rows across the pages are popular but I chose one with grid lines in it. It’s just a matter of preference. The above notebook is a Miquelrius Soft Bound Medium Journal, 300 Sheets/600 Graph Pages, 6 x 8 (Red) and I ordered it from Amazon for $19.99. If you want baby steps, order something thinner or even start with a .69 spiral notebook.
It’s Already January. Already 2018. It’s Too Late.
This, my friends, is the beauty of a beginner bullet journal. You are the creator, so you jump in wherever you want. If you buy a pre-made planner in February, you feel like you’re wasting part of your money. Those unused pages remind you that you didn’t have your crap together enough to start when “everybody else” did. It’s never too late for a beginner bullet journal.
Beginner Bullet Journal : The Supplies
My best advice is not to get nutty. Don’t drop a load on a bunch of supplies you may never use. Start out trying a few things to see what you prefer. I bought a small set of the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens that I saw mentioned repeatedly. I like them for setting the pages up; they glide easily down a ruler and the tip is a good size. However, I found myself adding embellishments and going over borders with basic Crayola Fine Line Markers and filling things in with classic Crayola Colored Pencils . Test out a few pages to see what works, keeping in mind ink bleed onto other pages.
Aside from pens (and a good ruler), the other supply I recommend is a Washi Tape Set . Washi is a decorative tape that is an incredibly easy and relatively inexpensive way to add pop and color to a page. That’s important if you are like me and a little lacking in the ability to create your own pop.
Beginner Bullet Journal : The Pages
Here is what kept me from starting this journal earlier. I have ZERO artistic ability. Zero. This is about to be clear. After a few spins on Pinterest, though, I realized that I don’t have to be for two reasons. First, there are plenty of page layouts that gear toward a more minimalist style that I could handle. Second, and most important, I’m not making this for anyone but me. Yes, I’m showing all of y’all but that’s to prove a point. My blog’s tag line is “Less Perfect, More Fun” and that has been my exact experience with creating my journal so far.
Here are some of the page layouts I’ve done. I’m including a source link to either Instagram or Pinterest for the account that gave me the inspiration. Be sure to follow them on social media for tons of great ideas!
Books I’ve Read Tracker
This is the first page I created because I’m an avid reader and I’m a little OCD about it. I love how pretty this page looks and it was super easy to create. Once I finish a book, I’ll add the title to the spine of a book in the picture and watch my book shelf gain some personality!
TV Series Tracker
This is where my Geek Flag unfurls. The DC superhero tv shows crossover into one another. My kids got me hooked on Flash and then Arrow. Then they started watching Supergirl. Then some of the characters from Flash and Arrow moved to Legends of Tomorrow. I was so confused. God bless the internet, because I found sites that told me what order I should be watching alllllll the shows in. I was even happier when I found inspiration to track this in my bullet journal instead of keeping up with a wrinkled piece of paper from a legal pad that I could never find when I needed it. Once I complete an epi, I’ll throw a big black X across the box.
I’ve never been much good at this so I’m starting small. I don’t have a specific goal, either. It will just be nice to have a stash of cash for something fun at the end of the year. $20 per month is a manageable goal for starters. I’m going to shade in between the lines every time I hit a new level. If I exceed my goal mid-year, I’ll just create a new page to continue my savings trackings.
Pointing out the “less perfect” here. The tape is on the right hand side because I messed up my increments. Covered it up with the tape. I thought using “change is beautiful” terribly clever because I make it a habit to throw my loose change into a jar periodically.
This might be one of my least favorite pages. It just didn’t turn out how I wanted. That’s okay; this is just for January. I have the freedom to try a new layout for February. I’m not overwhelming myself with the idea that I’m going to develop 532 new habits in January. I started with tracking the days that I don’t get fast food (a weakness for a girl with tricky blood sugar and little patience), the days that I don’t spend ANY money and date nights with the hubs. I realized that I needed to be more diligent about reminding my kids to develop their own habits of checking their teachers’ sites each day to verify their homework assignments. Mom is going to be all up in their business this semester.
I had determined not to use my bullet journal as my main calendar. My monthly calendar is online because with three kids and a busy lifestyle, my husband needs access to the calendar, too. I did want to include weekly pages where I can keep “to do” lists and track other habits, too.
The layout allows plenty of room to write events as well as my tasks for the day. I found Me & My Big Ideas Fitness Stickers that offer an easy way to make me mindful of drinking more water. The “hydrate” stickers fit under each day’s heading and I color in a drop each time I’ve taken in 8 oz. The banner above the days of the week is washi tape. I found paper with colorful phrases on it at the craft store and am cutting the words out for embellishment.
I’m also tracking some social media habits on the weekly page. With so many channels, I sometimes forget to post on some of them regularly or even go engage with other accounts. I’m hoping this will be a visual reminder to keep on task.
Yup, I’m learning hand lettering from Pinterest posts. Definitely shaky, but that’s okay. I’ll get better with practice. This page was pretty blah until I threw that strip of cute washi tape on there.
I’m trying to curb impulse purchases by having “no spend” days that I’m tracking in the habit tracker. Managing a household with three kids, however, requires stuff. I need to get a hold on where the money goes. I’m completely guilty of being the 1950’s housewife who assumes there is money to spend until her husband tells her to put on the brakes. He shouldn’t have to be the only one to be responsible for this and I think this will be eye-opening for me!
This page was my lesson in revisiting the design. My first pass was plain. The “Spending” banner up top and that’s it. Then I just randomly drew those green blocks to add color. It occurred to me that they looked like dolla dolla bills so I added the $ to them. Then I went over the borders and letters with a Crayola marker. I liked it a lot better after I fiddled with it.
Hobby Tracker / Travel Tracker
This page is one of my favorites because it’s unique to me and personal. I’m proud of it. The kids and I like to get out and explore. My oldest and youngest are nature boys; the middle gets pulled off video games to participate in our shenanigans and is generally a good sport about it.
We’ve got some pretty amazing state park facilities here in Georgia and we are on a mission to visit all of them. When we do, I’ll fill it in on our map and go over the park name with a different color to set it apart. The pink are Georgia State Parks and the blue are the National Park Service sites in Georgia.
Beginner Bullet Journal: My #1 Piece of Advice
JUST START. Wherever you are. Whenever you are. If it’s the middle of the month, start in the middle of the month. There are no rules here and the whole idea is to cater the journal to you.
You don’t have to be an artist. I think I’ve proved that. Pin a bunch of inspirational page layouts and I think you will be surprised at how easy it is to copy some of the more simple ones. Use stickers. Washi tape. Stencils. But lose the idea that it has to be perfect, or you’ll never do it and you’ll never be happy with it. Set up a month at a time. If something doesn’t work for you, well, you can change it up for the next month. Get started and have fun!