What is a Bullet Journal (BuJo)?

Despite being a pretty ready adapter the digital-life whenever possible (the cloud, ebooks, digital cameras, note apps instead of Post-Its, and so on), there’s one area where I haven’t been able to take the plunge:

My planner.

There’s something about the way that my brain works that really does better with a pen/paper solution for planning/organization purposes. 

For a long time, I made do with the run-of-the-mill planners you’d find in the office store. Those ones with all the little tiny slots for each hour never really worked for me, but I got a ton of use out of the layout of Academic Planners … although once I was out of school, the Aug-July structure didn’t work quite as well. I wanted the satisfaction of a fresh new planner in January, except with the Academic Planner layout—they didn’t exist.

Then I discovered Erin Condren, and it was true love for awhile, but eventually I found there just wasn’t enough room in their weekly format to write All The Things I wanted to write on a daily basis. Plus, I had the displeasure of some of my worst customer service experiences with that company.

I moved onto the Day Designer and the KitLife planner, both of which are fabulous daily planners (if you’re debating between the two, go with KitLife if you need something portable and like more color on your pages, go with Day Designer if you want a bit more room to write and don’t need a portable planner, and if you prefer monochrome pages).

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While I love both of those planners, and can see myself revisiting them some day, I was continually getting hung up by the fact that both offer “abbreviated weekends” meaning that Saturday and Sunday have to share a page. 

As an entrepreneur and full-time author, I don’t have a 9-5, M-F job. Saturdays and Sundays are often my busiest days, and without the provided room to write, I was always having to supplement by writing extra notes on a separate sheet of paper and sticking it in the planner on the weekends, and … yeah, it was a pain. But I couldn’t find anything better.

And then … I stumbled across the term Bullet Journal.

I’d been seeing it in my peripheral vision for awhile. Mostly on Instagram, or on the various girl-boss blogs that I love to geek out on, but I always thought it was just a random notebook with dotted pages, and didn’t think much of it. I didn’t get it.

I’m not sure what made me look into it more carefully one day. I think it was probably the fact that I’ve been traveling a lot in 2017, and neither the Day Designer nor the KitLife Planner is an easy “throw in your purse” kind of planner (though KitLife is better for that, if you’re debating between the two!). 

The Bullet Journal (I’m calling it by it’s common nickname of BuJo going forward), from what I could tell, looked like it was a slim notebook, standard Moleskin size, that could also be used as a planner.

I’d eventually learn that you can actually use any size notebook, or any notebook at all for a BuJo, but I was correct in that the most popular format is a 5.8 x 8.2 inch notebook. Too big for your pocket, but definitely purse-able., and the smallest of any planner solution I’ve seen.

I started my first BuJo in April 2017 without a clue what I was doing. 

It’s now July, and though I’m still very much a novice …

I. Am. Obsessed.

There are so many things I need to tell you about the BuJo. What notebook to use, how to get started, why you should use it, how I use it, but I’ve realized that if you guys are anything like me, the most puzzling and frustrating thing about this format is …

It’s really freaking hard to understand what the hell it actually is.

If you look up the official website by the guy that started it all, it seems somehow both wonderfully minimalist and horribly complicated, with a bunch of symbols and indexes and migrations, and … yeah. 

It is that, I guess, but …

Only if you want it to be. The guy who created is brilliant, and I have much respect. But if his way doesn't resonate with you, he'd be the first to tell you (I think, we're not friends ... yet), that it's just a jumping off point. The entire point of his system is its adaptability. 

That’s what I want you to take away from this blog post (which will be the first of many):

The Bullet Journal is whatever the hell you want it to be.

That’s its magic.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a list of what I use my BuJo for:


* Monthly planner
* Weekly planner
* Daily planner
* Annual planner
* Annual goals
* Quarterly goals
* Monthly goals
* Motivational quotes
* My writing deadlines
* My complete book list
* My upcoming release schedule
* Outlines for all of my books
* Stylesheets of all my books
* My habit tracker (gym, water consumption, etc)
* Meal planning
* Vacation planning
* Grocery Lists
* Word count tracker
* Color swatches of my favorite pens/markers
* List of character names in my books
* My favorite quotes
* Books I’m reading
* My editorial calendar for my blog
* My social media calendar
* Practice of the “brush lettering” I’m trying to teach myself

And that’s just the pages that I flipped through just now for you. There are more. I fit all of that into a small-ish notebook.

What is a BuJo? It’s a planner + notebook + scrapbook + journal.

It can be all of those things, or just one or two, or you can change it up depending on your mood.

You get to decide.

Now, when I first mentioned that I was using one, I got exactly zero enthusiasm. The people that did bother to comment were like, “LOL, I don’t want to have to draw my OWN days of the week/month in the planner, I just want to open a book and have it printed and jot it down.”

That’s totally fair.

If you’ve ever described yourself as impatient, or are one of those people who are always "so busy!" and want instant gratification, and just want something immediately easy out of the box? This isn't for you!

I’m just being real. It takes a bit of patience, both to get started, and to maintain.

But if you’re anything like me and found that every other planner was “close but not quite” fitting for all your needs, you may want to look into it! 

Yes, one “downside” is that every week you have to write out the days of the week for yourself.

But the upside of that is that you can design it however you want. If you know you have a busy Monday and a “nothing” Wednesday … you can give Monday more space to write. Or if it’s a travel week and you know you need to track your flight information more than you do your grocery list, you can adapt it for that.

Does it take a few extra minutes? It absolutely does. But it also means that you’ll never again need multiple notebooks/planners. And it also means that you’ll never be trying to squeeze notes into the margin of your planner, only to open it up later and realize that you can’t figure out what’s your BIG THING DUE for the day, and what’s a random motivational quote.

You’re not convinced. I can feel you’re not convinced.

It’s okay, like I said, I’ll have lots of BuJo posts. 

Next up, I’ll be talking a bit more about how I use it (and how to create your Index, which is basically the table of content so you can actually quick-reference all of those things I mention above.

In the meantime, here’s your homework. Check out this blog. She’s my favorite BulletJournal resource, and the reason I gave it a try in the first place.

Happy BuJoing, guys! 

Maybe?