5 Bullet Journaling Tips AND GIVEAWAY

Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links. When you purchase using them, I make a little bit. It helps support this blog, my family, and allows me to buy cool things to give away. . .keep reading to learn more about today’s bullet journaling giveaway!

When it comes to organizing my life, I’ve tried about every planner imaginable from Erin Condren’s beautiful books and supplies to Lily Pulitzer’s large agendas and more.

Something didn’t fit, however. It’s not just that I chose a few oversized bound books. They just didn’t fit me.

Like many of you, I wear a lot of hats. I am a wife, a mom, a student, a teacher, and a freelance writer. Sometimes I even have time to be a friend and a compulsive online shopper and ebook addict. The thing that the other planners missed out on was the ever fluid, constantly changing life. Sure, Happiness Planners will customize tons of inserts, but it can get quite pricy. What could I use to get my work, home, and school life organized?

Enter Bullet Journaling


So. . .what is bullet journaling?

Essentially, bullet journaling is an organizational system that is customized for each individual user. Some bujoers use it as a daily calendar of tasks, events, and notes while many others add collections and additional features.

I first discovered bullet journaling online, and it looked so complicated that I almost gave up.


Then I discovered Facebook groups (like this one that I run now), and I realized that the only requirement for bullet journaling was to make it your own. Still, it helps to have some guidance to get started. Here are my 5 tips to start bullet journaling!

1. Don’t Worry About the Perfect Supply List

Here is what you need to start bullet journaling:
-a notebook
-a pen

That’s really it.

Now, I spent time googling the best bullet journaling notebooks, pens, washi tape, markers, and a dozen other little things you can buy. What you really need, however, is a simple notebook that has pages that won’t bleed through with whatever writing utensil(s) you choose. Period.


Before you buy your notebook, decide if you want a dot grid, box grid, ruled, or blank notebook. It’s really a preference, but many people like the guidance of dots or boxes. Some appreciate the freedom of blank books while others stick with the writer’s fave ruled notebooks. Switch it up with each journal if you choose!

Bullet Journalers often recommend the Leuchtturm 1917 or the Moleskine. Something as simple as a composition notebook is fine!

I went with the Essentials Grid-lined notebook from Peter Pauper Press, and I’ve been very happy. There’s no bleed through with the markers I use, and I have plenty of space. I also love the grid (like graph) paper since I don’t draw very straight lines. It’s less expensive than the two mentioned above, and the quality is great!


Many seasoned bujoers recommend Staedtler Fineliner Pens in a plethora of colors. Still, the Stabilos are also high on the wish list of many a journaler. I chose an inexpensive pack of Monami pens (fine line markers). The colors are limited (12), but they work fine for a beginning or minimalist journaler. For my money, however, my favorite pens are ones that I have used in my classroom for years. I love the Papermate Flairs! They are so easy to write, draw, and color with, and I don’t have any problems with bleeding. I even use them to grade multiple page papers! Love them! The price is right too. I also love, love, love Sharpie Pens. These are not the markers but the fine point pens that don’t bleed. Also a favorite school supply for me!

There are other things you can add to your bullet journal supply arsenal.

-Decorative tape, called washi tape, can come in handy and is really affordable. Find some good deals online or check out the One Spot at Target!
-a ruler is my best friend, even with the grid guide
Organizers to keep your supplies together can come in handy.

2. Make a KEY.

Have a key for your bullet journal of the symbols (and possibly colors) you will use for different tasks.

Some bujoers write their key on one of the first pages. Others put it on a separate paper inside an envelope in the front or back cover. The journal I started with has an envelope in the back I use for my key and receipts.

Others, like Hillary Lynne (@thatgirlsparkkle) use a pop out key.

Make a key that works for you. I like to use boxes and fill them in when I complete a task. I draw a right arrow to move a task forward to a different day or an X to cancel the task. Simple works!

3. Daily, Weekly, Monthly Spreads- Do What Works for You

The original method advises having an index (at the front) listing your sections and numbering your pages. I don’t do that. It doesn’t work for me. Instead, I keep my yearly calendar and weeklies up front. I flip it upside down and have my collections (we’ll get to those in a moment) starting from the back.

Most bujoers follow their index with a future log, a calendar for the year ahead. TIP: You do not have to start with January! I started my bujo in June, so my future log went from June-December.

image and spread by Lisa Johnson

image and spread by Lisa Johnson

Currently, I just keep weekly spreads. Summer is busy, but not as busy as when school starts when I will start implementing daily logs.


Here’s an example of a daily from bullet journaler Hillary Lynne at @thatgirlsparkkle.

Good morning my lovelies!! Is anyone else an early bird?? My internal clock has me getting up between 530 and 6am, even on my days off!! It's so unfair, I just want to sleep in!! However, the bright side is I've gotten nearly everything accomplished today that I wanted to and its not even 11am yet! Down side is I may definitely be in need of a nap before heading over to Megan's tonight. Oh, the anguish of being an adult. πŸ˜‰ lol. The majority of the stickers are from the @joyfulplanner shop. #handwriting #ecsimple #ecvertical #eclifeplanner #inkwellpress2016 #erincondrenlifeplanner #inkwellpressflex #planner #iwpa5inserts #erincondrenplanner #planneraddict #planning #iwpsetup #handlettering #weloveecsimple #myecsimple #filofax #weekataglance #iwpgoals #weeklyplannerpages #notebook #erincondrennotebook #bulletjournal #inkwellpressplanner #simpleplanning #inkwellpress #simpleplannerpages #bujo #bulletjournaling

A photo posted by Hillary Lynne (@thatgirlsparkkle) on

Don’t let the fancy lettering scare you! Bullet journaling can be very simple. I usually just write like I normally do but add some color or doodles when I have time. There are books and free online classes that can teach you more about creative lettering if you are so inclined. Pinterest is also a great source for creative lettering ideas!

4. Add Some Collections!

Collections are lists or pages that organize other aspects of your life that are not necessarily timely. As I mentioned, I flip the book over and start my collections from the back.

Here are some of my faves.

-Books to Read: It’s like my own analog GoodReads shelf, except I get to color in the book when I am finished! (I find lots of great book ideas and freebies from Kindle Unlimited!)


Gratitude/Happiness Lists: I have a monthly gratitude calendar. Blogger Jenniffer at Life is Messy & Brilliant created a spread to document 100 things that make her happy. Check out more of her bullet journaling spreads and posts here.


5. Make it Your Own, but Feel Free to Share with Others

Some of your friends are going to think your crazy for bullet journaling! Let them. If you enjoy it, do it! It relieves stress, keeps me organized, and bonus gives me another way to connect with Liv!

Sharing spreads and ideas with others online is also a blast. Feel free to join the Thrifty Bullet Journaling group for great ideas about saving money on your new hobby and spreads!

Are you ready to start your bullet journal? Ask your questions in the comments. Share your ideas if you’ve already started bullet journaling!

Easy Bullet Journal Shopping List from my Faves:

Bonus Items:
Washi Tape


With Kindle Unlimited (get a free 30 day trial here), enjoy these and other free bullet journal related titles!

The Art of Whimsical Lettering
The Secrets of Lettering-10 keys to hand-drawn letters
Raw Art Journaling

To help you start your bullet journal journey, I am giving away an Essentials Grid-lined notebook, the same one I use! Already bullet journaling? That’s OK! Bujo veterans are welcome!

There are so many ways to enter using the Rafflecopter below. Come back daily for additional chances to win with a tweet-a-day!

The winner will be contacted via email. The winner has 48 hours to reply and claim their prize. U.S. residents only. Giveaway closes on August 19.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

114 comments for “5 Bullet Journaling Tips AND GIVEAWAY

  1. JillianB
    July 19, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    Great post! I’m new to bullet journaling so thanks for the journal & pen recommendations. I’m anxious to get started! I’d love to win the journal- I’m using a regular notebook for now.

    • July 19, 2016 at 10:48 pm

      You bet! I love it. I think I am going to stick with this journal, even if I try a dot grid in that brand!

  2. July 19, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    Awesome post! I really enjoyed reading and seen all the different bullet journal layouts. <3

  3. Whitney
    July 19, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    Awesome post! Definitely gives me some ideas!

    • July 19, 2016 at 11:04 pm

      Good luck! Make sure to enter multiple ways to better your chances! πŸ™‚

  4. Yolanda Downs
    July 19, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    This is an awesome okay. I love the pictures and the variety. I have been using lined journal because that what I have.

  5. July 19, 2016 at 11:10 pm

    I feel like too many people push the high-end notebooks and it scares people off because of the price. The common lined notebook is definitely overlooked, as are less expensive blank books. I certainly have a lot of those, so I started with what I had on-hand.
    Jen Nipps recently posted…What kind of videos do you watch on YouTube?My Profile

    • July 20, 2016 at 10:01 am

      I completely agree! I like the notebook I have because the cover isn’t flimsy and it’s grid, but ANYTHING works! I just couldn’t spend $20+ on a notebook and more on supplies!
      Jen Schneider recently posted…5 Bullet Journaling Tips AND GIVEAWAYMy Profile

  6. Breanne
    July 19, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    Love that you wrote this! Makes it look a lot easier than I thought. Turns out I already do something like this when school is in session!

  7. July 19, 2016 at 11:18 pm

    I absolutely love bullet journalling! It has been the best way to track my daily lists.
    Nerdmom recently posted…10 Math Card GamesMy Profile

  8. Erin Spurgeon
    July 19, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    I love that my bujo is exactly the lists and reminders I need, not what someone else put together!
    Great post!

    • July 20, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      Definitely! I hate having to follow a pre-determined layout. I like to switch it up!

  9. Claudia
    July 20, 2016 at 1:48 am

    Fabulous post. Simple and to the point. I know a lot of people get discouraged seeing other beautiful journals so it’s good that you brought it down to basics..pen and paper! What I love best about bujo is:
    A. No rules..personalize to your hearts desire
    B. Everything in one place. Calander, journal, notes, to do, ideas. Past present and future all together.
    I do so wish I’d been journaling longer as I get older. I find myself often thinking…when did that happen? Or worse yet..DID that happen?! LOL

  10. Sue
    July 20, 2016 at 1:52 am

    Great tips! I just started this month and it’s great! I’ve struggled I the past with planners but this just works.

  11. July 20, 2016 at 6:27 am

    Would love to win!

  12. Susan
    July 20, 2016 at 6:35 am

    Wonderful and informative post! The tips are very helpful and I enjoyed the visual examples πŸ™‚

  13. Megan
    July 20, 2016 at 8:24 am

    I love bullet journaling but I have a very minimalist style. I rarely use colors (although I do have Staedtler’s fine lines; I couldn’t resist). Generally my bullet journaling is focused on tracking projects for both home and work so I find that the index, future log, monthly, weekly, and daily task lists are all very important for keeping a variety of projects moving forward.

  14. Meghan Carr
    July 20, 2016 at 9:15 am

    I love my staedtler. I need to find the right notebook though! I’m just not happy with choices I’ve made in the past and can’t deal with bleeds!

    • July 20, 2016 at 9:16 am

      I love the notebook I mentioned in the post. I haven’t used the Staedtlers yet though!

  15. Jessica Chavez
    July 20, 2016 at 9:31 am

    I love that you go over different supplies because bullet journaling or any journaling never has to be expensive if you dont allow yourself to fall into the trap! Lol….which I fell into in the beginning. Always wanted to try the Essentials Notebook so thanks for having this giveaway!

  16. July 20, 2016 at 9:38 am


    Thanks for having this giveaway and thanks for breaking it down about bujo

    People make it a tad bit complicated unknowingly and it turns people off but this post shows everyone that they can do it and it doesn’t have to be super pricey and complicated

  17. Peggy
    July 20, 2016 at 10:01 am

    I love using my fountain pens in my Bullet Journal. I use a Rhodia A5 size with Clairefontaine paper and just love the whole process. Keeping track of my life and stuff and to-do list is a must now!

    • July 20, 2016 at 3:37 pm

      Awesome! I have heard great things about Rhodia!

  18. Hillary
    July 20, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Great article! I love how you referenced so many different people! It’s always nice to see different types and styles of bujos! Overall fantastic job! And thanks for featuring me! πŸ™‚ It’s an honor.

  19. July 20, 2016 at 11:27 am

    I’m excited to start Bullet Journaling with a group of blogging friends because I’m hoping it will help me be more efficient!
    Jaime @ The Unprepared Mommy recently posted…A Nursery Rhyme App Your Toddler Will LoveMy Profile

    • July 20, 2016 at 3:35 pm

      Wonderful! I love the sharing aspect of bullet journaling!

  20. Lynn
    July 20, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    Perfectly explains the simplicity of bullet journaling!

  21. Charlotte
    July 20, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    This is a nice list for a newbie like me. I haven’t started yet but I know once school starts again I will be excited to!

  22. Nichole
    July 20, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    I love the idea of bullet journaling! I have been wanting to start and you have just given me so many great resources to look for inspiration!

    • July 20, 2016 at 3:34 pm

      Awesome! I hope you will find some great, affordable supplies and cool spreads to try!

  23. Heather
    July 20, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    Thank youfor all the great tips! I just started my bujo late June. I LOVE the tip about flipping your bujo around for collections. I wish I knew that before I started.

    • July 20, 2016 at 8:58 pm

      I learned that from a group, and it’s been a lifesaver!

  24. Rach
    July 20, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    I love that I can modify my bullet journal to fit my needs.

  25. Miss Mary
    July 20, 2016 at 11:11 pm

    I am looking for a work/life balance, and think Bullet Journals may help.

  26. Gina
    July 20, 2016 at 11:37 pm

    What a fun giveaway!

  27. July 21, 2016 at 9:03 am

    This is a great guide for someone starting out in bullet journaling!

  28. July 21, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Whoa, this does look complicated, but AWESOME. I think I could get into it and already have the notebook and pen. πŸ™‚

  29. July 21, 2016 at 9:09 am

    Some great spread ideas here…I need to start one for gratitude.
    Marya recently posted…A Beginner’s Guide to Simple Bullet JournalsMy Profile

  30. July 21, 2016 at 11:26 am

    I’m excited to see your post and see how bullet journaling can be a creative outlet that is also productive to help me get more organized.

  31. aleene brooks
    July 21, 2016 at 11:55 am

    thiws is cool

  32. July 21, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    i love having a bujo! what makes me excited about it is i’ve gotten more organized, brought some peace of mind since things are written down instead of creating a monumental pile in my head, i can be as simple or as creative as i feel like being, and it’s customizable!

  33. Kim
    July 21, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    I’ve been so tempted to start one of these. LOVE the collections ideas. I’m going to give it a go!
    Kim recently posted…Real Life Lesson #10 / Developing Healthy Young Adult RelationshipsMy Profile

  34. Hayley Leon
    July 21, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    I feel like a bullet journal would help organize my life so much!

  35. Brandy Forden
    July 22, 2016 at 8:27 am

    I am so excited about starting my bullet journal. I’m looking forward to being more organized but in a way that works for me. I really that it serves as a creative outlet as well. It will be wonderful to have everything in one place.

    • July 22, 2016 at 9:12 am

      Awesome! I hope you will share some of your posts in our group!

  36. jessica souder
    July 22, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    You have great handwriting!

    • July 22, 2016 at 9:50 pm

      Oh my gosh! Thanks. Remember, the gorgeous instagram posts aren’t mine! πŸ™‚

  37. Shelli
    July 23, 2016 at 7:35 am

    Collections are my very favorite part of bullet journals!

  38. July 23, 2016 at 8:52 am

    Great post, looking forward to trying this!

  39. July 23, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    I like how flexible it is.

    • Gena
      July 23, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      The Pinterest link in the Rafflecopter isn’t working.

  40. Angela
    July 23, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    I just hear about bullet journaling yesterday! I’m excited to try it. My Google calendars keep me where I’m supposed to be, but as a busy mom and grad student, my calendar looks insane. I’m hopeful this might be away to bring a little sanity to my schedule. πŸ™‚

    • July 24, 2016 at 4:23 pm

      I am right there with you! I hope you’ll join the group and share some of your grad/mom spreads!

  41. July 24, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    Nice Article!. I’ve started just about a week ago in an usual notebook. Would love to win the giveaway. <3 There is so much new and fantastic!. What I like about that system is, that it heps me make things imperferkt. It's not easy, but worth trying!

  42. LaTanya
    July 28, 2016 at 10:12 am

    I like that it is simple and easy to use, you can make the journal your own.

    • July 29, 2016 at 10:32 am

      My favorite part of bullet journaling, for sure!

  43. Rebecca
    July 29, 2016 at 9:59 am

    Excellent post to help beginners! You rock at what you do! β™‘

  44. Allison
    July 30, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Great post! For me the flexibility and the opportunity for creative outlet are the two biggest pluses for Bujos; I can be as minimal or artistic as I want depending on how I’m feeling.

  45. Cassie Dow
    August 1, 2016 at 11:55 am

    I’m just looking to get started and am excited about the idea of potentially organizing my adhd thoughts and life. Much needed

  46. Julie Waldron
    August 2, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Bullet Journaling is organized looking.

  47. August 3, 2016 at 10:20 am

    I like how it allows one idea to continue to another. I’m a visual artist/teacher, but I have to write ideas down first. This way of journaling will allow someone like myself to go from something written to pictorial really easily.

    August 10, 2016 at 11:57 pm

    I am new to bullet journaling. I love seeing all the online resources for new ideas and inspiration but am very thankful I don’t have to have a lot of tools/materials to journal effectively. With two kids I don’t get much free money to spend but am doing great with pens and a composition book. Someday I would love to try a dot or a grid journal but I’m finding my style with what I have. Thank you for doing this giveaway Jen and thank you for the excellent resource of this blog as well as facebook posts! πŸ™‚

    • August 11, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      You are welcome! If you haven’t already, join our Thrifty Bullet Journaling Facebook group. There are so many things you can do for next to nothing. . .even free!

  49. Cori Cambanes
    August 11, 2016 at 12:20 am

    I’m new to journaling and OMG there is so much to learn!!

    • August 11, 2016 at 6:30 pm

      The best part is, there is a lot to learn. . .but you can take as little or as much as you want and make it your own!

  50. Sandra B
    August 11, 2016 at 2:25 am

    I think the part about the bujo that makes me happy is how it can just be whatever. Doesn’t have to be a planner. It can be a book of lists, places to visit, etc. I do a planner on a dry erase board for daily things. Anything really important, I put in my phone. A bujo would expand it even more.

  51. August 11, 2016 at 10:23 am

    I am constantly making lists. I think bullet journaling would be a great way to preserve some of these little snippets of our life.
    Jen V. recently posted…Raspberry Peach Real Fruit Homemade Snow Cone Syrup RecipeMy Profile

    • August 11, 2016 at 6:29 pm

      It has been a turning point in my organization!

  52. Laura Schrillo
    August 11, 2016 at 11:51 am

    getting organized

  53. jeremy mclaughlin
    August 11, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    NIce to use for reminders.

  54. August 11, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Like the way it is organized

    • August 11, 2016 at 6:28 pm

      Me too! The system (revised to make my own) has worked for me!

  55. Angela Winesburg
    August 11, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    I am looking for a work/life balance

    • August 11, 2016 at 6:28 pm

      It helps me putting everything in one bullet journal. I hope you will find your own method that works for you!

  56. August 11, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    i LOVE the idea of the simplicity of a bullet journal.
    stephanie recently posted…Currently // August 2016My Profile

  57. Lauren Becker
    August 11, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    I’m one of those people who has to write things down to remember, and I like making lists, so this seems perfect for me. I’ve been wanting to try bullet journaling for awhile now!

  58. Renee Walters
    August 12, 2016 at 3:21 am

    I love bullet journaling! It is so much easier!

  59. Faye Gates
    August 12, 2016 at 4:41 am

    My husband would love this. He is always writing things down.

  60. Cynthia Mercado
    August 12, 2016 at 9:52 am

    I like that it is a new way of writing and will probably get my son more interested during the school year.

  61. August 12, 2016 at 11:51 am

    my wife loves lists she would love this for sure

  62. Lonnie Hutchinson
    August 12, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    this is an amazing journal! I love to journal and tis would be awesome

  63. Amy Segeberg
    August 12, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    I’d never heard of this before today but now I’m sort of geek ingredients out on it. Thanks for sharing! Now, I must go learn more…

  64. Kristin McCall
    August 12, 2016 at 10:40 pm

    The layout is the most exciting thing to me about this journal.

  65. elizabeth p
    August 13, 2016 at 12:52 am

    I find its the best way to track my daily lists.

  66. Kimberly Hilbert
    August 13, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    I’ve never had a bullet journal. Yours looks very interesting. I journal in several books; 1 for health/weight loss, a 5 year journal, a daily planner and just what’s happening in my life journal. I have been thinking of the bullet journals, but haven’t tried one out yet.

  67. Amanda P
    August 13, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    I love how it is quick to do each day! I feel like other journaling requires a big commitment!

  68. Natosha Zachary
    August 14, 2016 at 2:24 am

    I’m most excited about getting organized in an artistic manner.

  69. Alma
    August 15, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    What makes me most excited is that I have total control of my planner! I have a busy semester ahead of me and it’s gonna take a lot personalization to get my planner all organized.

  70. Lindsay
    August 15, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    I’m excited to have a notebook I can stash in my bag that’s stylish and versatile. It helps me keep organized!

  71. JenniferB
    August 16, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Love how it’s organized haven’t ever done bullet journaling- would love to try

  72. August 16, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    Wow – so no more paging through preprinteds for the “perfect” journal – make it yourself! Love it! I also love that with this formatting at the end you have a keepsake that you can use in conjunction with any form of memory keeping. #genius!
    Brenda recently posted…Social Commerce InfographicMy Profile

  73. MelodyJ
    August 17, 2016 at 12:49 am

    I think it will make me more organized.

  74. Julie Moore
    August 17, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    It looks so free form and I like that.

  75. Sara Sullivan
    August 18, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    I love this idea! I’ve always had trouble journaling because I get bogged down on writing full descriptions – this style would make it some much easier and enjoyable!

  76. susan smoaks
    August 18, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    This is the first I have heard of bullet journaling. I am excited about the possibilities. It looks like something i would enjoy.

  77. Ed
    August 18, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    The visuals.

  78. Erica B.
    August 18, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    I am excited to get more organized.

  79. Philip Lawrence
    August 18, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    I’m excited because with that maybe I can finally get organized!

  80. Laurie Emerson
    August 18, 2016 at 10:40 pm

    I like that you can just jot down your thoughts, feelings, schedule or whatever you want without any format to follow.

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