So You Want to Start a Bullet Journal…


I get asked a lot about how to start a bullet journal.  People will say, ‘I want to start a bullet journal but:

  • I’m not creative
  • I can’t draw
  • I don’t have time to do all of the stuff you do in yours
  • Or (my personal favorite), If I spent the time drawing that every week, I wouldn’t have any time to do the things on my list!

My bullet journal is full of my drawings because that’s the way I want it, but that’s not what makes it a bullet journal.  Let’s talk about that…

What a bullet journal is and what it isn’t

First of all, I think it’s really important to understand what a bullet journal is and what it isn’t. As quoted from the official bullet journal site, a bullet journal “can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above.”

What caught my attention most about a bullet journal is that you create and use it organically, rather than having it all set up ahead of time.  You’re not faced with a year’s worth of pre-printed pages to fill; just a beautiful, empty notebook with clean, fresh possibilities every time you turn a page. {Other office/art supply junkies know what I’m talking about, right??}

I was a planner junkie and have used many, many different planning systems over the years, only to be frustrated by the limitations of someone else’s design that didn’t work for my needs. More often than not, days or weeks would go by with empty pages and then I would be frustrated again by not having elements that I wanted.

I’ve also tried different apps on my computer and phone, but there’s definitely something satisfying about holding a physical planner in your hands.

**Important Note**
If that’s NOT something important to you, or if your planning app/Google Calendar/iCal is working just fine for all of your needs, then I’m not going to try to convince you that this is something you need to be doing. This is about doing what works for you!

However, if you decide you want to try a bullet journal, here is my NUMBER 1 TIP:
Learn the BASICS of bullet journaling on the site.  Watch the video, read the blog.  Start there.  Don’t go to Pinterest yet, don’t get overwhelmed on Instagram.

Start at the source.

  • Learn what an index, future log, monthly and daily logs are and how to use them
  • Learn about tasks, signifiers and a key
  • Learn about migration

Download the free bullet journal reference guide from

Then, you’re ready to create your bullet journal.

What you HAVE TO HAVE to get started

Any notebook and pen will do.

You don’t have to start with a fancy notebook, any particular tools or decorative elements. Colored pens, stickers and washi tape aren’t required.

I liked the idea of a dotted grid page so my first bullet journal was a Moleskine like this:


Now, I’m using a Leuchtturm1917 with dotted grid pages and I really do love it.  It think the quality of the book and pages are worth it and I will continue to use them for my bullet journals until I see something better come along.

My New Bujo + August Set Up

But really, ANY notebook will do.  It’s not the notebook itself that makes it a bullet journal.  You can buy a graph composition book like this almost anywhere that sells notebooks:


My favorite pens are Pigma Microns.  I use the 02 nib size for most of my journaling and drawing, but also use the 01 and 005 for smaller details.


But again, ANY pen will do.  I started with a Sharpie pen fine point (NOT the permanent marker kind, they will bleed through your page!!).  Find what works for you in your notebook.

That’s it.  Those are all of the tools you need to start bullet journaling. Start with the basics, find a notebook and pen that you like, use the reference guide to set it up and just start.

But what about the washi tape, you ask? What about the colored pens and pencils and stickers and everything else to make it all pretty?  Not important.  Honestly.

It’s about the bullet journal system and figuring out how you’re going to use it first.  THEN you can add the stuff to make it pretty.

I draw in my bullet journal because it makes me happy to draw.  Because I like lots of color.  And because, a lot of the time, I can’t find existing graphics (stickers, etc) to fit how I want it to look.  So I make it up.

I’ve also experimented on what kind of planning spread works for me. I don’t do dailies because I use a different bullet journal at work.

My personal bullet journal doesn’t need dailies, so I have found that a weekly to-do list works better for me. You may not have the same needs as I do, so you will need to experiment for yourself to see what works.

If you want color in yours, by all means, use the washi tape and stickers and whatever else you want to color it up.

If you don’t care about color in yours, then don’t do it.  But don’t think you can’t start a bullet journal just because you can’t draw or can’t spend a lot of time on it! That is completely contrary to how a bullet journal is designed to work.

I’ve created a Beginner’s Bullet Journaling Checklist for you to download with the steps that I’ve discussed in this post.  Hope it’s helpful for all of you newbies out there!

Happy Bullet Journaling!

PS–Here’s the first post I wrote when I first launched this blog with other starting tips.


5 Tips for Starting a Bullet Journal


My Morning Routine Spread Was Featured on! And I Rant…

I was featured in! |

On Tuesday, in a bullet journaling Facebook group, someone posted a link to this article on the website.  I immediately recognized the thumbnail photo as my morning routine spread, so I excitedly clicked on the link.

Reading through the article, she links to many sources, including and includes photos from other bullet journal Instagrammers, but I never find a link or credit for my IG photo.  So I left a note in the comments and a few hours later, she added a small link under the picture, so, yay, credit.

And then, this morning, to get the link, I went back and read the comments.  I know, I know, NEVER READ THE COMMENTS.  But I always do and I ALWAYS regret it (granted, there were only 9 comments so it didn’t take very long).

I feel like I have to keep defending the system AND my own bullet journal.

People.  (All seven of you that read this blog.)  Please listen.

What attracted me to bullet journaling was the simplicity.  All you need is a notebook and a pen. That’s it.  Everything else is extra.

Along with the simplicity was the flexibility.  If you don’t use it one day, you start up the next time you need it.  No wasted space.

If you’ve seen the (very shaky) video of the walk through of my first bullet journal, you’ll see the evolution of how I use it.  And it’s not pretty, believe me. It’s messy and it’s not always cute.  I made a lot of mistakes and turned a lot of pages and started over.

I started with the basics and, over time, figured out what worked for me.  And what works for me includes lots of color.

Like I mention in my post about my work bullet journal, I keep it very simple and plain at work.  I don’t have the time there for much else.

How I Keep a Bullet Journal at Work |

I LOVE the minimalism of just the pen and paper.  Honestly, I start there every single time with my personal bullet journal too. But then I want to add a spot of color here and there and before too long, it’s like a My Little Pony vomited all over my pages. I can’t help it.  It’s me.  And I’m done apologizing for it.

I LOVE drawing in my personal bullet journal.  It makes me so happy and it’s time well spent for me.

But all of the drawings and the coloring isn’t what makes it a bullet journal.  It isn’t what a bullet journal HAS to be or SHOULD be.  You don’t have to be a proficient artist or a crafty scrapbooker and you don’t have to take a lot of time with it.

I think it’s the collision of the minimalist and the ultra crafter using the same system that causes this potential for conflict.  But really, there’s no need.  Neither person needs to feel intimidated by the other.  And neither person needs to criticize the other. It just shows how flexible of a system it really is.

Start with the basics and do with it what you will.  It’s that simple. The End.


My New Bujo + August Set Up

I’m still alive!  This blogging thing is a lot of work, especially when I have a full-time job too!  I’m going to re-evaluate what I can commit to consistently posting so I don’t get overwhelmed and end up posting nothing at all.

I AM excited though, because it’s August 1st and I get to start using my new Leuchtturm 1917 notebook.  I’ve been pretty happy with it so far!

The pages are a lot smoother so I do have to be a little more patient with waiting to erase my pencil marks.  The ink takes a little longer to dry so I have had a few issues with smudging.

Also, because the pages are smoother, my colored pencils go on a lot smoother.  It’s like drawing on silk! (Pretend that’s a thing).

I thought I’d go through how I’ve set up my bullet journal in this new notebook, using some of the lessons I learned with my last one.

I love the turquoise color, it coordinates nicely with a lot of my washi tape.  That I rarely use…until now.  😉

My New Bujo + August Set Up

Here’s my contact information in the opening spread.  I didn’t feel the need to do anything particularly fancy here.

My New Bujo + August Set Up |

My index. I don’t have everything from this post listed in there since I took the pictures over the space of two weekends.  Also, because I like the randomness of a bullet journal, the index is really important to me.  After the initial set up, I’ll throw in my newest collection on the very next page, so they end up spread throughout the whole book.  The index is vital in finding a particular collection again.

My New Bujo + August Set Up |

My personal mission statement.  I wanted to come up with something that meant more to me than a quote and something that encompassed my core values. So I came up with this.  (I love it!)

My New Bujo + August Set Up |

Future log for the next 12 months.  In my last bullet journal, I had a separate page for my year at a glance calendar, separate spreads for my future log and then another collection/spread for birthdays.  I didn’t have a ton of events in my future log anyway, so it just seemed to make more sense to put them all on the same page.  I’m really happy with how this turned out!  Note the washi down the side.  😉

My New Bujo + August Set Up | thebulletjournaladdict.comFullSizeRender 82

My monthly calendar for August.  I don’t work more than a month out at a time, anything beyond that will just go into my future log, like the traditional bullet journal system.  The time specific column is for appointments or other…time specific…events, and the all day column is for birthdays or holidays, that kind of thing.

My New Bujo + August Set Up |

Next is my blank August memories spread.

My New Bujo + August Set Up |

The next few pages are my monthly challenge spreads.

My New Bujo + August Set Up |

My New Bujo + August Set Up |

The artwork on my zentangle page is completely and shamelessly inspired/copied from this amazing artist here.

My New Bujo + August Set Up |

After the challenge spreads, I put in my first week of August.  I’m trying something different this week.  Because of the nature of a couple of the challenges (#rockyourhandwriting mostly), instead of doing a full weekly spread, perfectly spaced out ahead of time, I’m going to try dailies, putting them in with my challenges in as I go.  We’ll see how it works out…

My New Bujo + August Set Up |

As I mentioned above, I keep my collections random, so here is my first collection, a record of our hens & chicks (or pullets, now).  Yes, we have two hens without names.  Any Star Wars-themed women’s names suggestions? We did have a Maz Kanata, but “she” ended up being a “he” and we had to re-home him.

My New Bujo + August Set Up |

Next, I have my meal master list, inspired by both Kim of Tiny Ray of Sunshine and Christina.  I’ll post more about this spread after I fill it in more, but I’m super excited to try this out.  I’m ALWAYS trying to come up with meal ideas, so having a simple list should work out well for me to work off of.

My New Bujo + August Set Up |

That’s it so far.  I am still migrating a few things over and finishing up a couple of other collections that I will share in future posts but I’m really excited to start using this new notebook!

Do you have your August all set up?  🙂

Technique Tuesday–Colored Pencil Doodling Tutorial

The Bullet Journal Addict Technique Tuesday |

Happy Tuesday everyone!  Today I’ve posted a YouTube video of how I color in the artwork in my bullet journal here on my channel.  If you haven’t seen the short, time-lapse video I posted on Instagram, you can watch it here.

Creating these videos is definitely a learning process so bear with me as I learn the ins and outs of making them!  I realized after I finished all the filming that there were a few things I left out so I wanted to cover some of those things here.

Ann Kullberg’s site can be found here. My favorite of her books, Colored Pencil Portraits Step by Step, pictured below, can be found here.


To pencil in my drawings, I always use a mechanical pencil, since that guarantees a sharp pencil tip.  Mine is just an ordinary .07 mm tip pencil that I got at the grocery store, nothing fancy there.

The kneaded eraser is just like the one below and and you can buy them here or at most hobby and art stores.

Technique Tuesday |

The pencils I’m currently using are just cheap Crayola colored pencils.  I use Prismacolors in my more serious artwork but I’ve been very happy with toting these around for use in my bullet journal.


The electric pencil sharpener I’m currently using is similar to the one below:


If there is anything else that I’ve left out, please let me know and if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments!

Happy coloring!

The Great Debate

Leuchtturm vs Moleskine--The Big Debate |

Leuchtturm vs. Moleskine.

Yes, I’m aware that, in the grand scheme of things, with all of the sadness and violence in the world today, this is pretty small problem in comparison, so please know that I am giving it its proper context. While this isn’t something that’s keeping me up at night, I would definitely value your feedback.

And this is all assuming that I can even get my hands on the color that I want (which is still up for debate itself!).  Enough disclaimers?  Ok, let’s move on…

I’ve done my own research, read the articles, watched the videos, so I already know most of the pros and cons.  As of today, I have 26 pages left in my Moleskine, so it’s not too big of a rush but I want to try to make the best decision I can.

I LOVE the softcover of my Moleskine.  It makes me happy.  The hard cover of the Leuchtturm would be something I’d need to get used to.

The elastic band that keeps my notebook closed looks really sad about now when it’s not wrapped around my book.  And it’s definitely losing elasticity when it is on, but just slightly.  How does the Leuchtturm elastic hold up?

I don’t mind the one bookmark, I don’t really use it a ton to keep my place, it’s pretty obvious where I am in my book.

I’m about 80% happy with the page quality of my Moleskine. I don’t mind the color, the pages are a little rough, but not bad, and the ghosting doesn’t bother me TOO much but it would be nice to cut down on that.

I like the idea of a built-in index and page numbering, since I forget to number my pages every once in a while and have to go back and fill them in, but, again, not a big deal to me.

Moleskines are slightly easier to get a hold of, my local art store carries them, as does Barnes & Noble, so if I can’t find the Leuchtturm I want in stock, I may have to just fall back on using another one.

My main concern is smudging.  It happens to me very rarely with my Moleskine and I’ve heard that with the smoother pages of the Leuchtturm, it’s more of an issue.  I use Pigma Micron pens mostly and am happy with those.  Has anyone had any consistent issues with smudging in their Leuchtturm?

Is there anything that I’ve missed that I need to consider??

I know that the art store I go to carries the Rhodia brand also.  I’m not a fan of orange but I might use a black-covered one if I loved it enough.  Is smudging an issue with that one too?

Again, I get that this is a pretty first world problem, but maybe planner peace is the beginning to world peace?

Yeah, that was a stretch. 😉

How I Keep a Bullet Journal At Work

How I Keep a Bullet Journal at Work |

A conversation yesterday on Instagram had me thinking about the extreme differences between my personal and work bullet journals, so I thought I’d do a quick run through of the journal I use at work.

I work full-time away from home as a graphic designer and keep a separate journal specific to my job. While I may not be constrained as some are by privacy protocols to keep my planners separate, they are used for very different and distinct purposes, so it just makes sense. It’s definitely not as “pretty” as my personal bullet journal but I don’t have a lot of time to spend on that kind of thing at work.

We use Trello for workflow purposes, so between that and my Outlook calendar, it’s not really necessary to keep a ton of information in my notebook.  But I do like taking physical notes in meetings, and having a place to write a to-do list of things that may not be captured in the regular process. Also, just having an index to go back to is extremely helpful for finding those notes later.

I use a Fabriano spiral-bound, grid-lined EcoQua notebook that I found at our local Blick art store. The pages are thicker (85 g/m2) and have a much smoother feel than my Moleskine.  The grid lines are soft and not distracting at all.

***Note:  Do not use the Fabriano dotted gluebound notebooks, as the pages will literally fall out as you turn the page!

I usually end up using a Sharpie Pen at work instead of my nicer Pigma Micron pens.

How I Keep a Bullet Journal at Work |

I mentioned that I like the index feature to keep track of important thing that I may need to refer back to later.  I don’t use it a ton, but am glad to have it for the few things I need it for.

How I Keep a Bullet Journal at Work |

I included a future log but haven’t ended up using it that much over my Outlook calendar.  I do use a simple monthly page to outline the upcoming month.

How I Keep a Bullet Journal at Work |

I have experimented with several different daily/weekly formats and have found, for me, that this combination of a weekly column and a to-do list works best for me.

How I Keep a Bullet Journal at Work |

I put time or date sensitive items on the far left side.  Then I’ll keep a running to-do list in that right column.  On the right page, I’ll either keep notes from meetings or other information.

Sometimes, I’ll keep a running daily section on one side, one day at a time, using as much room as needed for each day.  I colored this one with highlighters because, obviously, office supplies=work, right?  😉

How I Keep a Bullet Journal at Work |

How I Keep a Bullet Journal at Work |

I wanted to show you a couple of my more random, real and messy pages because I really do believe that a bullet journal is more about being effective than it is about being pretty.  🙂

So tell me, how do you bujo at work?

PS–I’ve converted two of my co-workers to using a bullet journal so you never know who is going to appreciate this system!


Technique Tuesday–Basic Colored Pencil Tutorial

The Bullet Journal Addict Technique Tuesday

Technique Tuesday…catchy, huh?

I’ve had a few people ask me how I do certain things in my bullet journal, so I thought it would be fun to pick a technique each week and go over it.

For the next couple of weeks, I’m going to show some of the colored pencil techniques that I use.  I’ll lay it out step by step and try to share the tips I think are useful.

Today, I’m going to cover some very basic steps that I use. Next week, I’ll go into detail about how I layer colors for even more depth.

1. First of all, I sketch out my design in pencil, refining things until I get it right.  There is usually a LOT of erasing that goes on at this point.


2.  Then, I use my Pigma Micron to ink the outlines. The nib sizes I use the most are 03 (0.35 mm), 02 (0.30 mm), and 01 (0.25 mm).  I do have an 005 (0.20 mm) for very fine detail, but it often is too thin for most things.  My favorite size for most things in my bullet journal is the 02.

I ink the outlines at this point so I can erase the pencil lines after.  If I color everything in before I ink the design, I end up erasing a lot of of the color and the regular pencil will still show up under the colored pencil.


3.  Then, I’ll erase the pencil lines and try to clean up the inked-in lines where I can.


4.  I always start coloring with my lightest color, since it’s always easy to make something darker, but a lot harder to make something lighter.

For this one, I’m going to start with a light yellow-orange.  Make sure your pencil has a very sharp, fine edge.  I use a very light touch, always going in the same direction.


**Pro tip:  Rotate your pencil slightly every time you pick it up, to help the sharpness last longer.

For this bullet journal, I’m using simple Crayola colored pencils.  I have almost a full set of Prismacolor pencils, but I haven’t drug them all out yet, and probably won’t until I start a new bujo.

Since I’m going to blend it with another color, I’m only going about 2/3rds of the way down, making that middle section softer and fading away. This is only one soft layer of the yellow-orange to begin with.


5. Then I add a soft layer of the magenta, using the same technique and going up about 2/3rds of the way.


6. I’ll add another layer of the yellow-orange at the very top (about 1/4th of the way down) and another layer of magenta at the bottom (about 1/4th of the way up).  I’m still using a very light touch, it’s simply just another layer.


7. Next, I added regular orange to the very top and regular red to the very bottom. I’m still using the same light touch, the darker colors just help to add depth (the lighting in my photo is kind of wonky, but it’s not as blotchy on the right side in real life).



At this point, you could use a blending pencil to get it to the blend you’re happy with.

This is the kind that I have:


You can usually find it with the Prismacolor pencil display at your local art store or online here.

8. Next, I decided to add a little color to the banner itself so I used an aqua green for that.


9. Then I added a darker green-blue for deeper shading.


10. Then, finally, I used a deeper pine green only in the darkest areas to give even more depth. Again, you could take a blending pencil to it all to give it a smoother look if you want.


So that’s it!  It probably took longer to type this all out (and probably to read it too!) than it probably did to actually do it, so if it’s something that you’d like to add to your bullet journal, don’t think it’s not worth your time to try!

Now it’s your turn to suggest what kinds of things you’d like to see here on Technique Tuesday.  Share your ideas and questions in the comments!  🙂





Probably Obvious Tip #3

The Bullet Journal Addict Probably Obvious Tip #3

Yes, this is probably the most obvious tip yet, but I’m always amazed at how much cleaner lines are drawn with a ruler.  Ok, not surprised, but much happier with the result.

There’s definitely a time for freehand-drawn lines, and if that’s your thing, go for it.  I do both but, most of the time, even when I think I can manage a nice line between two dots, it’s like I’m suddenly drawing with my left hand (I’m right handed) and it goes all wonky.  It’s pathetic.

The set that I bought is very similar to this one:


I bought it at Office Max for under $5.  Of course, literally the second day of ownership, I lost the straight ruler and it still hasn’t turned up. However, the straight edges of the triangles are still perfect for drawing lines.  I have used the protractor for banners and things, but I end up using the straight edge for lines more than anything else.

Also, I recommend a clear set over an opaque one.  Maybe it’s completely psychological, but I think it’s very helpful to see the area you’re working with as you go.

Do you currently use a ruler?  Or do you think rulers are for wimps?  🙂


Do you have a morning routine?

I think I’ve come to terms with the idea that I am a morning person.  Not the bright, cheery kind of morning person that you want to strangle, but the kind of person that really likes being awake early. The problem is that I have a hard time doing the things I know I should do in the morning, like work out.

I have tried the Miracle Morning, but I stopped after about a month.  I just didn’t feel like it was for me. I felt like I just wanted to go back to sleep after I did it, instead of getting moving and on with my day.

So, when this article was posted in the Bullet Journal Junkies FB group, I liked the similar, simple approach and decided I would try it this coming week.  I also had to make a spread in my bullet journal, of course, to keep it front and center for me.

I’ve known for a while that the morning detox tea was good to have first thing, I just haven’t ever done it on a regular basis, so I replaced the article’s suggestion with that.


I’m also switching up my weekly spread this week too:


I use the far left side for time specific events and appointments and I decided to incorporate my tracker into each day.  The squares with the letters down the middle of the left page are for my new morning routine I outlined above:  (H)ydrate, (R)eflect, (B)reathe, (M)ove, and (D)irt dive.

I keep a running “to-do” list, so with that and the fact that I have a separate bullet journal for work, I really don’t have a need for dailies. I moved the to-do list to the second page, along with the month at a glance, notes section, and a newly added blog section.  I’m still figuring out how I’m going to divide that up.

Do you have an established morning routine that works for you?  What things do you do to help you start out your day?




My first controversial post

I’ve been blogging for less than a week and I’m already going to make a post that may be controversial but is most definitely very opinionated. I don’t want to seem critical or make anyone feel bad, so I say this with all the love I can feel in my heart for a bunch of random strangers/friends/potential friends on the internet…

A bullet journal is not about the stuff.

It’s not about getting more stuff.  😉

It’s not about the notebook, it’s not about the pens, it’s not about the washi, it’s not about cute stickers, it’s not about having a cute binder or case to put all of the above in, and, lest you think I’m pointing a finger at everyone else but myself, it’s not about the doodles or making your bullet journal “cute.”

(Deep exhale)

I belong to a few bullet journaling Facebook groups and in one, lately, the majority of the posts have been of all the stuff people have bought or wish they could buy, as if it’s not a real bullet journal unless you have 500 rolls of washi tape, 50 different pens, and a beautiful case to carry it all around in. I think there’s one layout spread post for every 10-15  purchase posts.

And then, when someone mentions Ryder Carroll, they say, “Who?”

Honestly, I know this may come off the wrong way, and it’s really not my intent to sound like a snob, at all. I promise. And let me say here that I do not know Ryder Carroll. I do not make any money mentioning his name or his product. I do not presume to speak for him in any way. I have to check and make sure I’m spelling his name correctly every time I use it. I just feel very strongly about giving credit where credit is due.

And I’m not being critical of the mods of the group at all. I’m a FB group mod and I know it’s a tough and unappreciated job. It’s just such a huge group, there’s no way to be able to worry about that kind of thing.

Bullet journaling seems to be everywhere lately, from Pinterest to Buzzfeed, so a lot of people have jumped on the bandwagon, and I say welcome aboard, the more the merrier! I personally have become a bullet journaling evangelist, I love sharing my passion with everyone. So just think of this as what I would say to you if we were sitting at my house, and I was sharing my bullet journal with you.

Whenever something becomes popular, there are always companies out there that take advantage of the craze. And it’s their job to make you feel like your project is not complete without their product on it. Even worse, they try to make us feel like our life isn’t complete until we have their product. As if buying more of their things will make us happier (there’s a reason why the minimalist movement is becoming so popular!).

I said this in my very first post, and I mean it even more today (all three days later, HA! 😂). The beauty of a bullet journal is in the system, not the stuff. And, even better, it’s about how YOU use that system for YOUR life.

If that means that you put five different kinds of washi tape on your daily page, so be it, and more power to you, 👊🏻 but don’t think you HAVE to have five different kinds of washi tape to make a daily page. Don’t think it has to be a piece of art for it to be Instagram worthy or useful. That last one was specifically for me, btw.

So, if anyone is still reading this, let me offer this suggestion. Put away everything except your pen and your notebook. If you haven’t already, go to the Bullet Journal site, watch the video and browse the site.

Then, open your notebook to the last two pages and start writing why a bullet journal appeals to you. What part of that original system do you want to use? What need will it fulfill for you? Are you going to use it as a planner? An art journal? A dream book? A brain dump? A combination of all of the above and more?

After you’ve done that, then, open it back to the front and go to town. Do what makes you happy with your bullet journal. Just remember, the most important part is the words you write, not the stuff you buy. ❤️

Now, random strangers/friends/potential friends on the internet, please excuse me while I finish my Instagram-worthy doodles. 😉