Cathy Proctor, Independent Stampin' Up! Demonstrator, Northern Beaches, Sydney

Bullet Journaling with Stampin’ Up!

So What Exactly is Bullet Journaling?

You’ve probably seen the term ‘bullet journal’ popping up all over social media and been wondering what the fuss is all about.

Instagram and Pinterest are full of beautiful images of customised pages and I have to admit it…I’m officially addicted. From the moment I discovered it was a ‘thing’ I knew I had to create my own.

But describing what bullet journaling is can be a little bit tricky because everyone’s bullet journal is so unique.

And that’s what makes it such a great concept!

So, six months on after starting my very own bullet journal (and after much trial and error) here’s the guide I wish I’d had to help me get started.

Because as it turns out, bullet journaling is actually super easy to do once you know what you’re doing…but it can be incredibly difficult to explain to people who have never tried it before!

Will I like bullet journaling?

A bullet journal is perfect for you if any or all of the following apply to you.

  • You love writing ‘to do’ lists
  • You enjoy papercrafting, cardmaking, scrapbooking, stationery, journaling, beautiful pens, stamps, paper, washi tape, etc
  • You are constantly writing things down on scrap pieces of paper that you can never find when you need them!
  • You want to set goals and have a tangible method of tracking your progress
  • You love to doodle, colour-in and decorate things with washi tape and stamps
  • You want help with forming new habits
  • You’ve tried in the past to keep a journal or diary but become quickly bored and give up
  • You want to be more organised
  • You’ve always loved planners and are constantly searching for the perfect one for you
  • You love stationary shops

Your bullet journal can be a to-do list, a planner, a diary or a combination of all of these things. My bullet journal is all of these things. I love that it helps me:

  • Preserve my memories, like a traditional diary
  • Focus on the present, keeping my life organised by bringing together my personal to-do list and my work tasks
  • Achieve the things I want to do in the future by tracking my long-term goals and allowing me to build and add to lists such as books I want to read, places I want to visit, etc

I also love its flexibility. I can make it as pretty as I want or keep it really simple and user friendly. If I find a layout or system isn’t working I can change it on the next page.

What do I need to get started?

All you really need to get started is paper and pen. That’s it! But the right paper and pen will make all the difference. And there’s a bunch of other tools that will help you make your bullet journal look as pretty as those pages you see on Pinterest…

…and most importantly, make your bullet journal work for you.

  1. Paper (in the form of a journal)

As the bullet journal website says, “The two main things to keep in mind are size and quality. If it’s too big you’ll never take it with you. If it’s too small it will be impractical. Be sure to get something that’s rugged enough to keep up with you.”

The main size everyone seems to use is an A5 notebook. Because you will probably want to use marker pens on both sides of the pages you want to ensure the paper is thick enough to prevent bleeding.

I love my Leuchtturm 1917 journal because it:

  • comes with the page numbers already on it
  • has a blank index ready for me to fill in so I don’t have to create one myself
  • has dot grid pages which let me write neatly, whilst also giving me the freedom to draw charts and images
  • has thick paper prevent bleeding through pages
  • comes in a variety of amazing colours
  • has 2 bookmarks so I can easily mark and find pages
  • contains a handy pen loop
  • has an elastic closure to protect my pages

Other bullet journalers love their Moleskins journals but most journalers prefer to use a Leuchtturm 1917.

  1. Pens

Find a pen that works for you. As a left-hander, smudging is a real problem for me whenever I use ball point pens, which is why I love using the Stampin’ Up! Journaling pens.

You can write in whatever colour suits you. I find black is best for most of my journaling but I enjoy using Stampin’ Up! coloured makers for headings, lists, doodling and colouring in.

  1. Coloured markers, washi tape, stamps, etc

How do I bullet journal?

How you bullet journal is totally up to you and your journal will be as unique as you.

The official bullet journal website and video explain why Ryder Carroll came up with the method and how to start a journal using his system. However, many people (myself included) find the website a bit overwhelming at first, especially if they haven’t tried to bullet journal before.

So here are the basic rules of how it works. Just remember, if something’s not working for you, change it. That’s the beauty of this system…you can tailor it to fit your needs.

  • Create an index (or a table of contents) at the start of your journal. This allows you to quickly find any entry and also you can update it as you go
  • Number every page as you go. This allows you to customise your journal.
  • Your daily log can be any or all of the following: to-do list, appointments, work meetings, habit tracker, sport training, weather recorder, etc
  • A weekly or monthly log is like a traditional diary or calendar, helping you to track what you need to do (including uncompleted tasks carried over from the previous week or month). I particularly like to include a meal plan in my weekly log.
  • Including a future log in your journal allows you to have a year-at-a-glance calendar where you can record events, birthdays, etc and remain focused on long-term tasks and goals.
  • Create any special pages for things such as books you want to read, a gratitude journal, bucket list, travel plans, fitness goals, birthday calendar, etc
  • Bullet points form the core structure of your journalling and note-taking. The bullet journal system is designed for quick short notes rather than long entries, but if you want to use is like a traditional journal or diary that’s fine too.
  • Rapid Logging is a system of symbols that help you get everything done. You can devise your own or use the original bullet journal symbols.

Once you understand the basic symbols and approach you can use your bullet journal to record and organize basically any type of task, thought, or idea — yearly, daily and monthly for work, home, family, school, etc.

Where do I begin?

  1. Create a key system that works for you and write your key somewhere where you can easily find it: the inside back page of my journal works for me.
  2. Keep it simple. Begin with a layout you think might work for you—I like creating a ‘week at a glance’ format on a Sunday afternoon so I can plan the week ahead.
  3. Look at other bullet journals on Pinterest and see which layouts/colours/designs/formats appeal to you.
  4. If you’re not a huge fan of your writing and want your journal to look more professional, try using some of the Stampin’ Up! bullet journal hacks here.

I began my journal using the original key system but found it too hard to remember so have changed it to a simpler key I can remember.

A top tip for when you’re beginning your journal is to practice first on a couple sheets of scrap paper, working out what you want to include on each of the pages. Once you’ve worked out a layout that works for you, you can then begin your journal.

When it just doesn’t work

I stopped journaling for a while because I was trying too hard to make every page look amazing. And so instead of saving me time my bullet journaling had become another chore.

I decided to go back to a simpler layout and to also put aside some time every Sunday to create my weekly layout for the week ahead. I now also take my journal everywhere with me and when I get a few spare minutes I decorate pages or add to my special pages.

If you make a mistake…don’t stress. You can always cover a section or the entire page with fresh paper, washi tape or a beautiful image.

But if you’re really worried about making a mistake you can write in pencil first and then in pen once you’re happy with what you’ve written.

Why are you waiting?

My only regret with bullet journaling is that I didn’t start it earlier.

Bullet journaling is not something that will take up a lot of time. Unless you want it to…and that’s totally cool too.

My initial setup took about an hour and I spend 30 minutes every Sunday afternoon writing up my weekly log. Every day with my morning cuppa or before I go to bed I add in new tasks or appointments.

It’s really that simple once you get started.

If you’d like some inspiration for setting up your journal see my Pinterest board here.

And my top tips on how to use your Stampin’ Up! Products to create amazing Instagram-worthy bullet journal pages are here.

Whatever style of bullet journal you decide to do…don’t overthink it!

Just dive in, have fun and enjoy.

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