Investing in a new hobby with sparkles in your eyes and a determination to become the next big bullet journalist, you’re going to need to know everything there is before buying a bullet journal.
When you’re a beginner at anything, it’s a good idea to be well informed in order to know what works for you and what doesn’t.
Let’s put aside the hype of bullet journal for a second and really get to know what bullet journaling is before investing your time and money.
There are many factors that will affect your journaling experience in terms of the type of journal you use as well as the craft supplies among others.
So, if you have a few minutes to spare, here are 12 things to know about bullet journaling that will ensure your experience of journaling (especially if this is your first time) will go smooth sailing!
1. How A Bullet Journal Works
To quickly recap for those who aren’t quite sure what a bullet journal is, here’s what you need to know:
A bullet journal, created by Ryder Carroll, is used as a system to increase productivity and organize your life. It can be used to track, log, and take note of aspects that you would like to change and improve on.
It’s one of the best ways to actively record your life.
When it comes to bullet journaling, you’ll want to put in the effort in order to experience the full benefits.
Journaling for a long period of time can change your mindset and overall health.
2. What A Bullet Journal Is Used For
A bullet journal can be used for many things. It can be used to track your daily habits, schedule your work and daily activities, inspire and motivate you to achieve more, while also exploring your creative processes.
Let’s say you want to lose weight. Make use of your bullet journal to keep track of your goal, weight loss, measurements, and workout routines.
You can create individual spreads for each of these so that’s well organized and you’ll be motivated to completing these tasks while losing in the process.
Basically, if there’s a short or long term goal you want to achieve or maybe you just never want to miss another work assignment, or if you want to be more organized when it comes to managing the household, a bullet journal will be the best tool you can use to get a handle on your life.
3. Type of Notebooks
The first item you need to consider is the type of journal you will be using.
This will definitely impact the way you journal in terms of page bleeds or if you’re planning to do more artistic artwork that will require a thick page.
There are also other factors that take place such as whether a journal is dotted, graph, blank or even lined paper.
Many people prefer using a specific dotted grid journal that is designed to withstand different pens and allows you the opportunity to be more creative when it comes to journaling.
Here are a few examples of journaling with the different kinds of paper:
Dotted Grid Journal:
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Lined Paper Journal:
Graph Paper Journal:
Image Source: Without Elephants
All three notebooks can definitely be used as a bullet journal since the point of bullet journaling is to organize your life.
Another area to consider is the size of the journal.
Here again, you’re not bound to stick with one size but an A5 journal is typically preferred since it’s lightweight and you can take it anywhere with you.
If you’re interested to know the full dimensions and specifics of different brands, then you can read our bullet journal cost guide that will help you make a better choice to suit your needs.
4. Essential Things To Have
Now that you have a rough idea of the kind of journal you want to use, you’re going to need art supplies to make your journal look amazing and try those gorgeous spreads you often see on Instagram.
Of course, please do note that your journal does not have to be colorful or full of drawings and images.
There are plenty of minimalistic designs to try but if all you want to do is use a black pen, so be it!
It’s completely and totally worth it to just bullet journal with a black or blue pen.
In order to add splashes of color to your bullet journal, you will need a few essential products such as pens, markers, midliners, fineliners, stencils, stickers, and washi tape.
The last three are optional but are great if you’re not very good at drawing or decorating.
Why You Might Need These Supplies
There are plenty of ways to make your journal look good which is something I struggled with for a while until I discovered these useful hacks.
However, here’s why you will need these supplies eventually:
Fineliners: Are perfect if you want to really show the difference in font size or to doodle cute things.
Brush Pens: Creating fancy fonts is a hundred times easier when you use an actual brush pen. It saves time from having to do fake calligraphy.
Midliners: These will make certain words stand out and look amazing. They normally come in light shades (pink, yellow, blue, purple) rather than stark colors that look too bold.
Washi Tape: A common craft supply that will make you obsessed with its vast range of colors and patterns. They’re cheap and easy to use. All you have to do is stick a piece of it anywhere on the page or create a border and you already have a lovely spread.
Stickers: These are handy if you want to add a cute image to your weekly spread. It’s a much quicker way rather than drawing especially if you’re pressed for time. Also fantastic for those who can’t draw.
6. Cons of Journaling
Like with just about anything in life, there will be negatives to balance things out.
Bullet journaling can be extremely helpful in changing your life but the one concern is the time limitation.
Depending on how you will use your bullet journal, it will have an effect on how long it takes to design a spread.
Minimalistic spreads can be designed in just a few minutes whereas if you had to create detailed spreads this will require a much longer time frame to complete.
Another aspect to watch out for is becoming too obsessed with your progress and past. We can become easily frustrated when there isn’t any progress being made which in term can make us feel bad ourselves.
So, approach your bullet journal with an open mindset that there areas to improve and the effort you put in is enough for now. Allow yourself to make mistakes and you’ll find.
One last thing to note is that journaling is a process that takes time and it’s a daily activity that requires active participation rather than passively using something.
Beware of becoming burned-out or bored.
Look for new things to track or new pages to add that will make a bullet journal more interesting and fun rather than recording the same things day after day.
7. Privacy Issues
One of the main issues (and negatives) to bullet journaling is privacy.
Unlike an app where you can use a password, a bullet journal can be read by anyone if it’s left behind in someplace.
If you’re fine with people seeing your journal, then this wouldn’t be of much of a concern.
However, if you often take part in daily journaling where your thoughts and feelings are discussed in detail, then you’ll want to make sure that you keep your bullet journal in a place where no one knows.
8. Other Ways To Use A Journal
There are plenty of other ways to make use of a bullet journal in case you don’t want to use it just to track or schedule your day.
Perhaps you’d like to try something new to make your bullet journal more appealing so do remember these fantastic options that are available to try.
You’re definitely bound to love if not all but one that will peek your interest for a long time.
Whether you’re using a dotted grid paper or a blank paged notebook, you can easily add a few sketches to fill those pages up.
Sketching on lined paper won’t be ideal since this will affect the way your drawings turned out but they will do, just not as good if you had used the first two papers.
On the other hand, if you are using a lined or graph paper journal, try using printer paper or sketchbook paper and stick it in.
You’ll find this one incredibly useful if you’re a student or at the office who always needs a place to quickly jot down important notes.
You won’t need to have to stress about finding those important notes when you dedicate a few pages for note keeping in your bullet journal.
It’s not typically ideal if your notes are completely rough but it does make your bullet journal meatier and rich in content and details from your daily life.
You could also include diary entries that document your daily life, thoughts, feelings, and ideas.
This will definitely make your journal meatier and rich in content especially since there are various prompts to try that will make sure you get to explore different topics and aspects in your life.
Daily journaling is a great way to discover more about yourself while also helping you recognize your strengths and weakness while highing certain areas to improve on.
It’s also perfect for letting go of the past and moving forward.
If you’re an avid reader then you’re sure to appreciate this idea. Include reading trackers or separate your journal into sections to include a reading journal.
Here you’ll be able to actively keep track of the books you’ve read or want to read, describe your thoughts and feelings about a book in detail rather than passively reading a book, and participate in reading challenges.
It’s definitely a fun way to journal that will guarantee you’ll also be productive when it comes to reading.
Important Questions You May Have
Now that you know the bulk about bullet journaling itself, you may be wondering a few more things that will help you decide when buying a bullet journal.
Let’s take a quick look at these questions:
9. How Long Does A Bullet Journal Last
A bullet journal will last longer depending on how you make use of it. On average, it will last anywhere between 3 – 6 months or 1 – 2 years.
The more items and pages you use, the quicker it will run out. But the good news is that the challenge of filling and finishing a bullet journal is something you’ll be looking forward too.
10. Does It Have To Be Artistic?
No. A bullet journal can be as simple or as fancy as you would like.
This depends greatly on personal preferences, art skills, and the amount of time dedicated to journaling.
You’ll find many minimalistic spreads that mainly use a black pen or spreads that have zero images or pictures but are just filled with words.
11. Does Bad Handwriting Matter?
Absolutely not! Who cares how your handwriting looks as long as you are writing something down and that’s all that matters really.
However, if you do have bad handwriting and looking for ways to improve it, you can check out these ideas that will no doubt help you to write better over time and with practice.
Also, you may see many bullet journal spreads with fancy fonts and I can tell you for sure, these heads really do make a huge difference if you’re aiming to make your spreads look artistic or pretty.
I highly suggest you watch this hand lettering guide that will show you how to use a brush pen and create pretty fonts:
12. Be Open To Learning New Things
One of the best ways to keeping a journal interesting and unique is to always look for new ideas.
There are plenty of ideas on Instagram, Pinterest, and Youtube to draw inspiration from as well as detailed guides to recreating masterpieces.
Another great way to actively journal is by trying bullet journal collections.
There over 100-page ideas that will keep you journaling all the time and make your bullet journal more memorable.
Looking back at the end of the year will be a great experience to see what you had done, places you’ve been, things you did or drew, as well as simple stuff like tracking your habits.
Your motivation will be boosted for the next year and you’ll feel proud to have tried something new.
By now you might be wondering, is bullet journaling worth it?
I can tell you will 100% assurance that bullet journaling is a hobby worth trying.
It doesn’t matter whether you use it every single day or just a few times in a month, the journaling experience itself opens yourself to massive improvement.
Now that you know everything there is before buying a bullet journal, I’m sure you can go ahead and grab a copy of your own to get started.
My only advice to you is to enjoy the process and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Make the journal yours and don’t worry about being perfect.
You’ll learn and improve over time. Bullet Journaling is fun, so enjoy it!