Welcome to my new series, Bullet Journal 2.0. In this series, I’ll be discussing a number of topics, including what a bullet journal is, future logs, monthly spreads, weeklies vs. dailies, habit tracking, collections, getting over the fear of starting, what to do before you get started (hey, you’re on this post), FAQs, and a final wrap-up with my top tips and pointers. If you were counting, that was 10 topics. One topic a week for ten weeks! I dug myself a deep hole here, but with your support, I’ll pull through.
If you haven’t read Part 1, WTF is a Bullet Journal, you can click this link now.
I really try to be as involved with the bullet journal community as possible, so I’m in Facebook groups, contribute to subreddits, and do a lot of commenting and sharing on Instagram. Frequently, I see a lot of questions and concerns with actually starting a bullet journal.
What supplies do I need?
Where do you find inspiration?
These are just a couple of the common questions and concerns I see. So, I’m going to attempt to answer all of these questions thoroughly in this post, so you have a good idea of what to do before you get started with your bullet journal.
What Supplies Should You Use?
In all actuality, there is no one specific notebook that you have to use to start a bullet journal. You can use an old lined journal you have lying around, a composition notebook from Walmart, or a binder with loose leaf paper.
But, if you do want to purchase a more specialized notebook for, keep reading this section for reviews and recommendations.
**This post contains affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure for more information.
The most common notebooks used for bullet journaling are dot grid, A5 notebooks. Leuchtturm1917s are the most popular, and they are highly sought after in the bullet journal community. You can pick one up on Amazon for around $20 in the USA, plus shipping and handling.
I currently use a Leuchtturm1917 for my main journal, and I love it. It has a beautiful and minimalist design that makes it appropriate for all occasions, including professional career settings. It also has a lot of very nice features that you won’t find on your standard notebook. They include:
- 249 dot grid pages with 8 perforated pages in the back
- Hard, durable cover
- Numbered pages
- Built in index
- Tons of color options
- Elastic closure band
- 2 ribbon bookmarks
- Paper pocket on back inside cover for receipts, notes, etc.
- Sticker labels for archiving
- Thread bound, lay-flat design
- Acid-free paper
There are only a couple noteworthy negative aspects, but they are definitely worth knowing before you purchase an LT1917. The pages are not bright white; they are a cream color, which can be off-putting for some people. While you can buy a pen loop for your LT1917, it does not come standard with one. Also, the paper is 80gsm, making it slightly thinner than other comparable journals. Some people are really bothered by ghosting, where your writing shows through on the other side of the page without actually bleeding through. I will say, almost every pen I’ve used has some ghosting in the LT1917. So, it’s something to keep in mind if you plan on purchasing an LT1917.
Scribbles that Matter
I cannot write a personal review of the Scribbles that Matter notebook as I have never used or even touched one. However, they are also gaining popularity in the bullet journal community, and there are a number of reasons why.
- 185 dot grid pages (recently announced they are increasing to 201 pages)
- 100gsm paper, which is thicker and more resistant than the LT
- Hard, durable cover
- Lots of color options
- Ivory paper
- Built in Index
- Numbered pages
- Key code page
- Included pen test page
- Pen loop
- Elastic closure
- Cover pocket for receipts, notes, etc.
- 2 ribbon bookmarks
- Lay-flat design
As far as features go, the Scribbles that Matter notebook actually has more than the Leuchtturm1917 for the same price, like the pen test pen test page, and key code page. However, the one complaint I have seen most frequently is that the the cover is too unprofessional. However, the Scribbles that Matter team has recently announced on their Facebook page that they will be releasing a blank cover notebook for those who want a more professional look.
If you would like to see a comparison of the two notebooks side by side, check out this Youtube video.
Other Notebooks to Check Out Before You Get Started
Moleskine: The Moleskine notebooks are another popular option for bullet journaling. They are slightly smaller than A5 size, but they come in Lined, Dotted, and Squared pages. They are typically a little cheaper than the the Scribbles TM and LT1917, and they can be found in certain big box stores like Target.
NUUNA: I have two of these, and I love them! They have beautiful cover designs and thick ivory pages. The dot grid spacing is smaller than the other journals mentioned, coming in at a 3.5mm in comparison to 5mm. It’s also slightly larger than A5 size by about 1/2″ on the top and sides. They are stunningly beautiful, but they lack all the additional features of the LT1917 and Scribbles TM. There are no bookmarks, closures, pockets, indexes, or page numbers. But if you want a really pretty, unique journal, this is a fun option. You can sometimes find them on Amazon, but I ordered mine from CultPens.com because they shipping was cheaper than other websites and they had a good selection of cover options.
Rhodia Webnotebook: This notebook has 192 pages of 90gsm ivory paper, an elastic closure, a ribbon bookmark, and is marketed as being fountain pen friendly. The Rhodia is slightly cheaper than the LT1917 and Scribbles TM.
Discbound Dot Grid Journal: A discbound journal is the next notebook on my wishlist. You can rearrange the pages, take pages out, or add additional pages if needed. Currently, there aren’t a lot of options for these, but if you do a search on Etsy, you will find a lot of unique cover designs that include dot grid paper and a laminated cover. I personally love this floral one and this coffee one.
For everyday use, I have a few black pens that I absolutely love. All of them are fineliners. I have a hard time making my writing look neat with ballpoint pens, so I only have one recommendation for those, and it’s not at the top of my list.
Staedtler Triplus Fineliner– I love everything about these pens. The ink is a rich black color. The nib is .3mm, which is a great size for writing in your dailies or weeklies. It’s also a nice size to doodle with, as long as you aren’t doing ultra fineline art. They are long lasting unless you push down really hard when you write, in which case the nib pushes up into the pen. But the ink lasts a long time, and they are an affordable option for anyone who’s just starting out and wants to test out pens.
Sakura Pigma Micron– This is another of my go-to pens. You can pick up a variety pack that has different nib sizes for under $20 on Amazon. This pack includes 005, 01, 03, 05, 08 and a brush pen. The variety allows you play around with different line widths and gives you a chance to decide what size you like best. I usually use a 03 in my journal, but when I’m drawing boxes or banners I’ll use an 05.
Papermate InkJoy Ballpoint– If you prefer to use a ballpoint pen for your day to day writing, the InkJoy pens by Papermate are a great opion. I feel like they are very reliable and don’t dry up too quick, the ink quality is good, and the color is actually black, instead of a dark gray. They’re smooth to write with and they are super affordable.
Staedtler Triplus Fineliners– These are by far my favorite colorful pens to use in my bullet journal. It isn’t necessary to add color or have colorful pens to get going, but if you prefer to add color, these are wonderful for the price.
Stabilo 88– The Stabilo pens are another of my favorites, and I use them regularly in my journal. They are a little less expensive than the Staedtlers, but have very similar colors. The nib on these is .4mm in comparison to the .3mm nib on the Staedtlers, so they are just a tiny bit bigger.
Tombow Dual Brush Pens– These are my weakness! They are incredible. I have the bright pack, the grayscale pack, and the pastel 18 pack currently, and I use them all on a very regular basis. At first, they can be daunting but they have incredible colors, especially in the pastel pack, and they are long lasting. A guy in a Facebook group I’m in recently shared that he had found his Tombows for over 10 years ago in his basement and they still worked. So, although they’re a little pricier, they are worth the investment.
*For a more affordable option, you can get this pack of 48 dual tip brush pens. If you do get them, come back and let me know how they are. I might have to snag a pack.
Tombow Fude Pen- For basic black brush lettering, these are my favorite brush pens. I found these much easier to use and get used to than the dual tip brush pens. They offer a little more room for error. They’re also great for just day to day writing, and make signing your name really pretty.
Other Supplies I Recommend
- A six-inch ruler
- A pencil and an eraser
Where to Find Inspiration and Community
Bullet Journaling isn’t just a super effective system; it really is it’s own community. While it’s not necessary to join groups or participate in social media before you start your bullet journal adventure, it can be very fulfilling, provide insight, motivate you, and give you inspiration.
There are a ton of Facebook groups that provide great inspiration and allow you to talk to people with similar interests and objectives. Definitely join Bullet Journal Junkies Facebook Group. It has over 110,000 members and is growing daily.
For more specific niche related groups, check these out:
- Bullet Journal Junkies UK
- Artsy Bullet Journal Junkies
- Bullet Journal Junkies – Bibliophiles
- Bullet Journal Junkies: Off Topic
- Australian Bullet Journal Junkies
- Minimalist Bullet Journal
- Bullet Journal Moms
- Bullet Journal for Professional Creatives
Another place to go for inspiration is Instagram. Search hashtags like #bulletjournal, #showmeyourplanner, #bulletjournaljunkies, and #bujoinpsire. It will populate thousands of results. Some of my favorite people to follow on Instagram are @bujo_blossoms, @maplebujo, @tinyrayofsunshine, and @fischrjournals.
You can also search for hashtags like #brushlettering and #lettering to find video tutorials, inspiration, and tips for better brush lettering.
Lastly, one of my favorite websites around, Pinterest, is great for inspiration, tips and tricks, layout ideas, and more. I have multiple boards dedicated to bullet journal spreads and ideas, and you can find some collaborative boards, like Boho Berry’s Bullet Journal Junkies Board with more than 14k pins and 350 collaborators.
Remember, you can start with any pen and notebook. There is no right or wrong. The Bullet Journal system was designed to be flexible and 100% compatible with your needs. Whether you can’t afford to buy new supplies, don’t want to make the investment, or just don’t have access to stores or online retailers, you don’t need anything specific. The purpose of the bullet journal is to be an effective organization tool that increases productivity. So, don’t get hung up on the minor details. Just have a look at the first part of this series, WTF is a Bullet Journal, and start from there.
Other Posts in the Series:
[Part 1: WTF is a Bullet Journal]
[Part 3: The Future Log]
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