Using a Bullet Journal to Simplify My Life

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Never say never, I guess. Because I always told myself that a bullet journal just wasn’t for me. But here I am now, and I think I like it.

Using A Bullet Journal to Simplify My Life #bulletjournal #bujo #plannersetup #bulletjournalsetup

I always told myself that a bullet journal just wasn’t for me. (I also said I’d never buy MAMBI Happy Planner stickers, but, well, umm…)  That takes way too much effort, why would I want to design a new page each week?!

But life happens. Needs change. And maybe this isn’t such a bad idea after all.

I actually thought I’d found my planner for life with the Happy Planner. I wasn’t a huge decorator, but I have LOVED discbound planners since I first discovered ARC by Staples. Then with the pretty Happy Planners, and their vertical layout that I loved, I was in Planner Heaven.

One planner turned into five, almost literally overnight. I had it all planned out how I was going to use these five planners everyday, and be the most organized person ever!


Turns out I’m soooo not motivated enough to use FIVE planners. I’m not even that great at using one all the time.

So just three months later, I bought a Recollections ring bound planner, complete with pretty charms to dangle from the top.

I filled up that planner and loved how it came out. I still love the inside. But it just wasn’t fulfilling my needs like I was hoping it would.

Around the same time I was reading Ruth Soukup’s book, Living Well Spending Less. I started to realize that I was buying planners and accessories to fill a hole in my life. And buying stuff wasn’t making it better, it was just making me broke.

I put away ALL my planners. I was frustrated. I was annoyed. I have so many goals and dreams, there’s so much I want to do. Plus my brain really needs a planner. Even if I don’t use it everyday, it’s where I keep track of everything from random thoughts to recall notices for my car.

Five planners did not work. But not having one at all was worse.

Back to the Basics

One overlying theme I (try to) use for my life is Simplicity.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

-Leonardo da Vinci

I have found that when I get overwhelmed with life, the best thing I can do is simplify and go back to the basics. When I recommit to focusing on what is important, and start dropping the things that have me stressed out, then I am much better off.

This is what I needed to do for my planner. I needed something that let me get back to the basics.

Starting Over from Scratch

The first thing I did was abandon my planners. All the ones I had to that point. As much as I love how pretty they were, they had too many things I didn’t need right now. When I don’t use the tools that are in them, I start to feel like I’m failing at the many aspects of my life that were included. And that just isn’t true.

I wrote out a new set of goals. They were similar to the goals I set at the beginning of the year, but less complicated, and more specific.

Realizing I still needed a planner, and after some Pinterest researching, I decided the simplicity of a bullet journal would be worth trying out.

Bullet journals are kind of known for having thin pages, so having the right pens is essential to not have ghosting between pages.

There are so many different kinds of notebooks that can be used for a bullet journal!

Pretty much ANY notebook. I knew I wanted the dot grid, and I wanted something simple and pretty.

My first choice was the Scribbles that Matter in white. But I ultimately chose the Essentials black notebook. It was half the price of some of the other books, plus it had all the extras I was looking for (except for the pretty white cover that I loved!):

  • Pocket in the back
  • Ribbon bookmark
  • Hard cover
  • Rumored to have slightly thicker pages than some of the other brands.

The Essentials notebook doesn’t have pre-numbered pages, an index, or key page. But that worked just fine for me because I wasn’t planning on (and didn’t) add an index and my key will be on a fold out card rather than have it’s own page- if I ever decide to actually make one.

I’ve also heard good things about Leuchtturm 1917, and it comes in a few different colors.

Making it Your Own

It took me a little while to get into the groove of the the Bullet Journal. Pinterest was great for getting ideas. Bullet Journals are so personal that they are great to make it exactly what you need. It is more work to design each page, but it is so nice to only have the pages I need. I actually like the randomness of where the pages are. And my Planner ADD likes not having the same layout every week/month.

I needed a bullet journal to simplify my life, but I didn't want to give up my cute stickers and washi.

The best thing I realized was that there are no rules for a Bullet Journal. The basic idea is the same, but it can be so easily varied to fit the needs of anyone.

After I had been using it for awhile, I realized that I missed my stickers and washi tape. But then realized that it was MY bullet journal and I could use it any way I wanted. So I started adding in more of the decorations I love about the Happy Planner.

Another great thing to try are colorful pens. I saw *everyone* using the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens and Mildliner Highlighters. They are both awesome and work really well with the Bullet Journal (with the exception of the green Mildliner- it did bleed through the pages pretty badly. But I LOVE the muted colors of the other highlighters!!)

Have you tried the bullet journal? How did you personalize it to fit your needs?





My Something Beautiful Life

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