The bullet journal combines a traditional day planner with a diary, to-do list and sketchbook — all in one notebook. You only need a few supplies for bullet journaling, but be sure to get just the right ones. There have been quite a few innovations in the past few years, so you’ll find some great choices in 2019. The initial set up takes a bit of time (or a lot of time, if you want to get artsy) but you’ll recoup it later in greater personal productivity.
To create a BuJo, these are some of the basic supplies I recommend, though you can pick up more elaborate items along the way, if you like. Papers and pens are one of my weaknesses, maybe yours too? Also, I’ve seen that for some people, bullet journaling opens the way to related forms of artistic expression, like calligraphy and watercolor painting.
Basic Supplies for Bullet Journaling
The best thing about starting a bullet journal is that you really only need a basic notebook and pen, and neither has to be fancy or costly. You can choose a basic spiral-bound notebook or composition book, or you can invest a little more money in a leather-bound journal. It’s totally up to you.
Some people prefer a notebook with lines or grids or dots, especially if they want to avoid having to use a ruler during the creation of their one-of-a-kind planner. Others like the simplicity and minimalism of a notebook with blank pages.
The only other item you’ll need to get started is a pen or pencil. You can get creative later by using colored pencils, fine-tipped markers and even calligraphy pens.
The trick to creating a bullet journal is to start slow as you learn the process and interpret it in your own way. If you make things complicated by buying too many supplies right away, you may burn yourself out and never even put your creation into play. And if you spend a lot on an expensive notebook or set of pens, you may be too intimidated to even make your first marks. A blank page can be a very scary thing!
I’d advise any BuJo beginner to take a spin with a cheap notebook, first, to try out journal size and weight, paper color and thickness, and so on, before committing to a certain style or brand. Be sure to experiment with a variety of page spreads, collections, and trackers. It’ll quickly become obvious whether you’re more of a minimalist, or a maximalist, and that will also determine what extra supplies you want, if any.
Beyond the Basics
Once you have a basic understanding of how to log in a bullet journal (basically, that’s the to-do list portion of a BuJo) and want to get more creative, a ruler and some correction tape are the next essentials you’ll want.
A flexible and transparent ruler makes it easy to create boxes and lines — in case you want to create a weekly spread or a monthly habit tracker, for instance. Be sure to pick up one that is long enough to span the complete length of your bullet journal when it’s fully opened.
Correction tape is essential for any newbie to the world of bullet journaling. (No worries, even old pros and artists make mistakes.) You may go through several different adaptations and stages as you plan the perfect bullet journal for your lifestyle, and correction tape will quickly become your new best friend.
Customize It: Make It Your Own
Once you have the basic layout, you can let your creative spirit free by customizing your journal any way you want. A lot of people use page tabs in their journals for quick reference.
Some people prefer to mark their pages with Washi tape — it comes in a huge variety of colors and patterns and so it’s easy and fun to use. Washi tape is a paper or tissue-based crafter’s tape with an adhesive back that is very pliable making it perfect for bullet journaling. It can be used to create page markers and fill in empty spaces in your journal.
Another alternative page marker is the basic binder clip — it adds an architectural look to a bullet journal. You may have also seen fancy bullet journal “jewelry” with charms that dangle from the page, acting as a page marker or just a decoration. It’s fun to make your own marker, too, by incorporating elements with a personal meaning.
The Finishing Touches
Fun little touches like metallic star stickers, stencils and stamps give your journal personality. These colorful extras inspire a feeling of happiness as I flip through my pages. You can notate and mark special circumstances and upcoming events with coded stickers to serve as personal reminders.
Highlighters are another great tool for marking important events. You will quickly locate and identify an important upcoming event when you use a color-coded highlighting system in your journal. For instance, I highlight in yellow all face-to-face meetings, to set them off from Skype meetings. For an off-site meeting, I need to be sure to add padding before and after that time to allow for a commute to the meeting spot, etc.
Whether you choose to start a bullet journal for simplification, productivity, or as a creative outlet, your finished BuJo will keep you inspired and motivated. You’ll enjoy reflecting on the special moments captured between the covers. You can marvel at your triumphs once more as you re-read through your journal. You’ll also be able to pinpoint areas that may need a little more of your attention.
This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click on a link and purchase a product I may get a small fee at no extra cost to you. I will only write about products that I’m knowledgeable about and that I can stand behind fully.
Most of these products are widely available, so you might be able to find them in a local stationary or bookstore. If not, Amazon is a good resource — I’ve searched for the best-priced, most highly rated items, and often they’re Prime eligible. Two-day shipping — double win! If you aren’t already a member, take a look at the Amazon Prime program and decide if it makes sense for you.
Popular Bullet Journal Notebooks You’ll Love:
Leuchtturm1917 (the Official Bullet Journal Notebook, includes 8-pg guide plus printed index, key, etc., to save time on set-up.)
Moleskine Classic Hardcover Notebook (No printed pages for total flexiblity, but paper is lighter weight.)
Essentials Dot Matrix Notebook (High quality, same look and feel, but less expensive.)
Lemome Dotted Bullet Notebook/Journal (Ditto.)
When you take the time to create a journal that reflects your individual style, writing and doodling will become the high point of your day!