Bullet Journaling the Easy Way

Bullet Journaling the Easy Way! Forget spending hours carefully crafting layouts, you can get started with your own unique bullet journaling system TODAY. I'm sharing my super simple method that costs next to nothing along with some layouts that you can whip up in a minute or two. So easy, functional, and I LOVE it! Have you joined the bullet journal revolution yet? :) p.s. This system also works awesomely as a blog planner, book quote tracker, or regular planner!

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When I first heard of bullet journaling, I was intrigued. A system where I could virtually make my own planner, where I could stash notes from books, ideas for blog posts, and my packing list for an upcoming trip?! That flexibility had always been a problem for me in traditional planners. (That and they’re getting to be so expensive—eek!) Now don’t get me wrong. For the last year, I’ve happily used an Erin Condren planner. And it was great for a planner. But the idea of making my own planner the way I wanted it to be, hmmm . . . now that got me thinking.

I started researching bullet journaling here and there and learned that the basic system is extremely simple. What ironically stopped me in my tracks were all the elaborate layouts people were making with their journals. The thought of having to draw out a beautiful weekly spread for what amounts to my weekly to-do list overwhelmed me. I suppose I’m not a planner girl after all . . . sigh. But seriously, all of the cute hand-drawn headers and arrows and call-out boxes kept me from going forward with bullet journaling.

Until one day. At that point, I had two notebooks where I started blog posts, wrote down book quotes, took notes from webinars, and really just stashed ideas. They were good in theory but terrible in practice since I never could find anything. “I’m writing a podcast about perfectionism, and I know I have a ton of quotes on that . . . but where are they?” (For those who are shouting, “Evernote!” at this moment, um, well, I’m a paper girl in a digital world. Something about typing something into my phone makes it go away forever. But I digress.)

Bullet Journaling the Easy Way! Forget spending hours carefully crafting layouts, you can get started with your own unique bullet journaling system TODAY. I'm sharing my super simple method that costs next to nothing along with some layouts that you can whip up in a minute or two. So easy, functional, and I LOVE it! Have you joined the bullet journal revolution yet? :) p.s. This system also works awesomely as a blog planner, book quote tracker, or regular planner!

That particular night I decided I’d grab a .50 composition book and try out bullet journaling. I figured the worst that could happen would be filling up some paper in a blank composition book. I decided to make it as simple as possible so I could easily whip out layouts each week and not be bogged down with that task. I also told myself I would not make it perfect. I would let it be messy, and maybe even a little ugly (to some) but it would be functional and perfect for my needs.

I dove in and LOVE it. No, my bullet journal is not going to win design awards anytime soon but it is so doable, I had to share with you. AND it is totally budget friendly. At this point, for mine, I’ve only used paint, some stickers and papers from last year’s Flow Magazine Book, a composition book, and pens/pencils we have around the house. The Flow Magazine book papers are totally not necessary but since I happened to have it on hand (and a year later, am still trying to use up all the papers and stickers), I figured, “Why not?”

Bullet Journaling the Easy Way! Forget spending hours carefully crafting layouts, you can get started with your own unique bullet journaling system TODAY. I'm sharing my super simple method that costs next to nothing along with some layouts that you can whip up in a minute or two. So easy, functional, and I LOVE it! Have you joined the bullet journal revolution yet? :) p.s. This system also works awesomely as a blog planner, book quote tracker, or regular planner!

For the cover, I painted the entire thing in gesso so I could start with a blank canvas. You could also paint a couple layers of a thick titanium white paint to cover up the traditional composition book cover. When that was dry, I mixed gel medium with turquoise and gold (separately), and quickly painted on a loose representation of a shoreline. I was going to go in and add more layers and detail, but when the first layer dried, I liked it as it was, so I stopped at that point.

You could also use white glue (or Modge Podge) to affix papers you like to the cover. Once those dry, you can add detail with Sharpies. I love how glue dries matte and clear and offers a bit of protection to your work.

Bullet Journaling the Easy Way! Forget spending hours carefully crafting layouts, you can get started with your own unique bullet journaling system TODAY. I'm sharing my super simple method that costs next to nothing along with some layouts that you can whip up in a minute or two. So easy, functional, and I LOVE it! Have you joined the bullet journal revolution yet? :) p.s. This system also works awesomely as a blog planner, book quote tracker, or regular planner!

For the interior covers, I printed off the end sheets from my digital copy of The Creative Retreat, cut them to size, and glued them in place. I love how those end sheets turned out and seriously want to play with a lot of different painted patterns this year to make more papers. Anyway, back to the bullet journal. :)

Probably the most important part of a bullet journal is the index. This is your home base. I wrote in pencil just in case I need to go back and amend things. Originally I wrote in pen and pencil but it just started looking chaotic, so I used a piece of decorative paper and taped it in. Nothing fancy here, I just used masking tape and then drew on it with a Sharpie. (You could definitely use washi, if you’d like.) My three index pages all look the same with a lightly lined sheet of paper glued in, a sticker on top, and penciled in page numbers.

The genius behind the bullet journal idea is you seriously can have a weekly layout for one spread and then jump directly into a grocery list for the next page. It’s up to you. Just number the pages, and record them in your index. Done. My monthly calendar is literally a table I created in Word that is 7 boxes across and 6 down. I cut it out and glued it onto the pages where I needed a monthly spread.

Bullet Journaling the Easy Way! Forget spending hours carefully crafting layouts, you can get started with your own unique bullet journaling system TODAY. I'm sharing my super simple method that costs next to nothing along with some layouts that you can whip up in a minute or two. So easy, functional, and I LOVE it! Have you joined the bullet journal revolution yet? :) p.s. This system also works awesomely as a blog planner, book quote tracker, or regular planner!

Here’s my weekly layout for now. After seeing all the cute and inspirational layouts out there, I was kind of overwhelmed as to where I should even start, so I started very simple. And then I ended up really liking it. On the top of the page, there is room for a quote of the week and to jot down what I’m reading at the moment. In the case above, I also added a bit of decorative paper just for fun. On the left side at the top, are my major priorities. I have three columns: my home, my daughter, and my business. In each of those spaces, I write down 3-5 goals or reminders of things I need to do sometime during the week.

The blog column goes down through the entire week because I tend to work on it at the same time most every day (during nap time.) I also like to keep the work to-dos separate from my home life list because it gets jumbled in my brain for some reason. On the left for each day, I write the day/date and then I write my to-do list for the day. I don’t write every last thing I need to do, though if that’s your style, you could make a layout to reflect that. You honestly could have one page per day if you wanted.

Throughout my bullet journal I have pages where I’ve written ideas for blog posts, a food journal, and as I mentioned above, a packing list. I’ve also added in the half sheet version of my goal and habit tracker for each month. I glue it to the opposite page of the monthly calendar.  It’s so nice to have everything in one place—relief! And as I keep on saying, I LOVE that I can make this journal whatever I want it to be. If the ruled lines are bugging me one week, I can glue in plain copy paper. If I want to doodle with my daughter, I can go ahead and do that. (We had a collaborative drawing on page 22, haha.) I also love that though this planner does serve me well and is needed for me to keep organized, it isn’t so precious that if I spill some tea on it, I’ll faint because I spent $100 on it, you know? Actually, the more likely scenario is my munchkin getting a hold of it and “decorating” it with her drawings, which she very profusely did to my Erin Condren planner. Um, yeah.

I also like that I could use this same system for other journals where I need to keep tabs of what is in the notebook. So I have one for book quotes now that is way more organized. And as of this week, I migrated my blog notebook into the journal as well to see how that works. (Update: Here’s my blog layout post, if you’re curious.) So far, I love having everything in one place. Now I only need to break my habit of writing notes on Post-its and scraps of paper! :)

Have you ever dabbled in bullet journaling? Tell me about it!



28 thoughts on “Bullet Journaling the Easy Way

  1. I usually just start on the first page and write what I need to do (or want to do) down and go on to the next page. My thoughts and dreams are intermingled with my To Do Lists. I’ll have to try your more structured format. Congrats, you’re feature this week at the #ThisIsHowWeRoll Link Party.

  2. I take the easy approach to bullet journaling too and bullet journal in my planners. I love looking at the artistic spreads but know it would take me all day just to draw it then I would not get anything done! Thanks for sharing with Small Victories Sunday Linkup, pinned to our Linkup board and hope you join us again this weekend, party start Sat 8pm EST!

    1. Thanks so much for visiting, Tanya! Yes, I totally agree about the beautiful spreads for bullet journaling. I know I would have fun drawing them but then I’d probably get tired of it one day and go back to post it notes everywhere, haha. I absolutely love using it for blogging. Total game changer! Have a great weekend! :)

  3. What a fantastic idea! I ALWAYS need to be more organized, and this idea is perfect! Very cute design you have there too! #smallvictoriessundaylinkup

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Kristine! I’m really liking my bullet journal—where has it been all of my life? :) Hope you have a nice weekend!

  4. Hi Jennie! Loving your post, very informative indeed! I am secretly obsessed with notebooks and stationary. I’ve been waiting to try bullet journaling out for so long! I actually find organisation really great when I’m feeling anxious so I think I’ll start it now. Thanks for giving me the push I needed!

    1. Thanks so much, Jess! :) I think you’ll really like it; start slow and add more detail as you get into your groove. :) And have fun!!!

  5. I love this idea! I’ve just been dreading having to begin a search for “just the right planner” (which does not exist:) Thank you so much! And just a note for Mairead, I understand what she is saying, however, ‘bullet’ is a printing term and it stands for that small circle we use while making lists in order to bring emphasis to the items listed.

    1. Yes, I so agree, Betty. Every year, I go out to find the planner of my dreams and then end up using only half of the pages. This system has been really helpful for me; I hope you like it! :)

  6. I used this style of planner in a traveler’s notebook system last fall. One difference I made was to have my planner in one booklet, my notes journal in another-using color and category coding, and my personal fitness tracker in the third. It worked very well for me, but I decided I wanted to give a ring bound planner in A5 size a try for this year. I appreciate the pluses of both, but I think I will be moving back into the TN and a list style planner for next year, making a few adjustments to the system I used last year.
    This style is so flexible! And for Mairead, I’ve been a bit put off by the ‘bullet’ title to, even though I know it stems from our American term ‘bullet list’, and refers to the symbols used to code the journal. Because I don’t use the same symbol system as the ‘bullet journal’, I just call mine my personal planner. When asked what style or system I use, it’s basically a custom design, right? so that’s what I say. Then I can explain further for those who want to hear details. :)

    1. Wow, love your system, Elizabeth! It’s been fun adjusting and changing up my planner here and there too so that it works for me. Your system sounds amazing. (I also love how in your About Me page you start with, “I have a passion, no, a need to create.” I can relate!) Have a great day!

    1. Yes, Meredith, now’s the time! :) You actually might find that you really like it since you literally make it into what you want it to be. :)

  7. This is a great way to start the new school year! Though I’m retired from teaching, the school cycle is firmly implanted within me :) Besides, most calendar systems are way too confining for us list and idea keepers. Thanks for the inspiration, Jennie.

    1. Yes, I so agree! How many half-empty planners from years gone by do I have? haha Thanks so much for stopping by and saying “hi!” :) :) :)

    1. I LOVE your layouts, Kate! And I wish I had discovered this method long ago; it just makes sense to me, and I’m spending less time thinking, “Now, where did I write that down?” (I’m famous for jotting phone numbers, et al onto scraps! :/)

  8. I can so relate to wanting to do a bullet journal but get back to basics with it. Thanks for sharing your very simple but still cute version. I have many partially files notebooks, and plenty of post-its and papers, everywhere! I’d love to have a notebook for book quotes too :)

    1. Yes, you should try, Lizzie! I think you’ll really like it. My motto with myself has been to just do it and to not let my perfectionist part have a say, haha. (Otherwise, I would most likely take two weeks to carefully make one layout . . . and then never do it again! Too much work!) :) The quotes book is working nicely so far. I only wish I had started it earlier. I have quotes EVERYWHERE that I’d like to use in writing, etc. someday and well, they’re a bit difficult to manage. :/ Have a great weekend!

  9. I loved your post! I love the bullet journal idea too, but it seemed like it would take too long to set up each week (thank you, Pinterest). Thank you for sharing your process and making this seem do-able! And yes, please do share about migrating your blog journal over! I’d really like to see how that works. (I’ve got cheap-o comp books full of ideas that rarely seem to see the light of day again. I could use the help!)

    1. Thanks so much, Claire! I know, aren’t the layouts so cute (and overwhelming?!) on Pinterest? I’m working on a blog bullet journal follow up to this post, so keep an eye out. Should be up next week sometime. Again, it’s super simple, but it works. Ironically, I reference it much more than I did my big bulky blog notebook. Go figure.

    1. Oh, I can’t wait to see, Celeste! Definitely tag me on Facebook when you share. I always love to see your creations. :)

  10. I like your painted journal cover Jennie. As well as your approach of simplicity. And you are not alone in your habit of of writing notes on Post-its and scraps of paper!

    I’m really considering starting a bullet journal! Is there any other name for this kind of journal? The word “bullet” doesn’t sit well with me.

    1. Thanks so much, Mairead! :) Glad I’m not alone in the scraps of paper category. You can honestly call it any creative name you’d like; I’m not the person who “invented” the idea of the bullet journal system, so I just stuck with his name so others who are using them could find a simpler approach to the layouts. Hope you have a great day!

    1. What a creative idea, Stephanie! That would be so sweet to make a coloring book. My daughter would love something like that too. Hope you have a great day! :)

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