Basics of bullet journaling


By Hyunjin Christina Lee, Co-T/E Life Editor

Bullet journaling, a concept designed by Ryder Carroll in the early 2010s, is supposedly a journaling method to “track the past, order the present and design the future.” Today, the bullet journaling community has become almost like a cult, with more than 8 million tagged posts on Instagram. Bullet journals can range from simple and minimalistic notebooks to elaborate masterpieces.

I too have been lured in by the aesthetically pleasing images of bullet journals found online, as well as by the idea that bullet journaling can solve all problems. While my bullet journals have experienced drastic changes in its looks and themes, today I will outline the basic steps of starting your very own bullet journal!

1. The Notebook

Choosing the perfect notebook is a crucial part of the bullet journaling process. A flimsy notebook with threadbare pages is worse than no notebook at all. I personally find Moleskine notebooks to be extremely overrated, as well as the Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, which is considered the go-to bullet journal. For the price you pay, $18 for a Moleskine and $20 for Leuchtturm1917, the quality is extremely bad. From past experience, I have found Moleskine notebooks to fall apart really easily and the pages are soo thin. There has never been an instance where ink has not bled through the pages. I have mixed feelings about the Leuchtturm1917 notebook. The convenience is that there are prenumbered pages and indexes as well as two ribbons. However, I personally never liked or needed the indexing aspect of bullet journaling, making the numbered pages and indexes unnecessary. My notebook of choice is the Minimalism Art bullet journals. For only $8.50, you get a quality notebook with a hard cover, a ribbon, inside pockets and very thick pages.

2. The Pens

It’s no secret that to have the ultimate bullet journaling experience, you need to have the right pens. While any ordinary pens or pencils can definitely be used, I like the black 0.5 mm Muji pens (I buy them on eBay in packs of 10).  For pops of color, the Staedtler Triplus Fineliners are great, as well as Zebra Mildliner highlighters.

3. Picking a theme

Many bullet journals are centered around a key “theme.” Bullet journalers tend to pick a theme for a month and create all spreads/pages that follow that theme. For example, for March, a theme could be four-leaved clovers or just green colors in general. I have found many fun themes online such as: coffee, fruits, floral, planets, constellations and hot air balloons.

4. Creating the pages

I personally only create a monthly spread (gives an overview of that month by highlighting key dates and events), future spread for the next month (I jot down major dates and events coming in the next month), grade tracker (to keep track of test and quiz grades) and weekly spreads for my school classes (list of assignments/assessments etc.) However, you can customize your bullet journal to include whatever pages you want. Common other pages include mood trackers, brain dump lists, future logs, birthdays, bucket lists, habit trackers, reading lists, food logs, exercise logs and dream logs.

5. Make it personal!

Have fun with your bullet journal and give it some personality! Whether that means choosing bold notebook colors, or make spreads with an avocado theme, bullet journals are a great place to unleash your inner creative artist. However, bullet journals do not need to look like a piece of artwork for them to be effective. As long as it helps you keep organized, happy and on top of your life, bullet journals can be a simple yet powerful way to get your life together.

Hyunjin Lee can be reached at [email protected]