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How I use my Bullet Journal

The beautiful thing about a quirky tool called the Bullet Journal is that there is no one right way to do it. Truly. You can’t screw it up. And it’s become a lifeline for me.

I’m unabashedly a writer-downer of things; in fact, the sheer act of writing helps me remember and process. As much as I love digital tools and still use several, old-fashioned paper gives me a lot of bang for my buck. I actually get more done, even online.

First… What’s a bullet journal?

Fair question. It’s best to just go to the site directly, or watch the quick video by creator Ryder Carroll that explains the gist:

(Head here to watch it on AoS if you’re reading this via email.)

Make sense? Basically, it’s a method of keeping track of stuff.

One big tip before you start

As you’ve gathered, you gotta tweak your Bullet Journal to fit your needs, or it won’t really be much use. The main thing I’ve learned six months into bullet journaling:

Don’t let perfection keep you from trying. Give yourself permission to screw up, scribble, tear out pages, and start all over.

This was hugely helpful for me, as I default to perfectionism—if I can’t do it exactly the right way immediately, I won’t even try. Ridiculous, I know.

I actually first tried the method for a few months in a simple, not-special-to-me journal to gauge what I needed and wanted. I discovered pages I didn’t need, methods I preferred, and ideas to make it better. Then I broke out the one you see in this post and still gave myself permission to not be perfect.

How I use my bullet journal, by Tsh Oxenreider of The Art of Simple

An example: When I started this second journal, I thought I’d prefer pen—I even broke out my favorite pens with full intention to fill it up with beautiful black script. This lasted exactly two pages, and I dutifully switched over to pencil. Was I tempted to start all over? Yep. I resisted.

Also, I’ve got a full plate, and if I waited until I could create a Bullet Journal with beautiful drawings and coordinated washi tape, (I mean, seriously—look at the inspiration), I’d never start. It has to be a tool for me and and not a slave. I admire those that can use their journal as an artist’s canvas, but for me, I’ll express my art in other places.

How I use my bullet journal, by Tsh Oxenreider of The Art of Simple

How I do it

1. I ditch a lot of the Bullet Journal’s main, official pages. I don’t use a Future Log or a Monthly Log, which are admittedly staples of the whole system. But I found in my trial round that it just didn’t work for me. It’s not how my brain works, and that’s okay.

2. I brain dump my days with the Daily Log. I do use this feature, and this is my lifeline. Every night before bed, I check my day’s Log, and I note what I didn’t accomplish that day (marked with a right arrow, per the official Bullet Journal method).

How I use my bullet journal, by Tsh Oxenreider of The Art of Simple

If it’s still worth it for me to accomplish, I’ll add it to tomorrow’s list. If it doesn’t need to get done tomorrow either, but it still needs doing soonish, I add it to a simple ongoing master list (more on this below). And if I don’t need to get it done at all, I cross it off.

I use a simple dot for to-do items, an open circle for appointments with set times, and a dash for general thoughts (what’s for dinner tonight, it’s so-and-so’s birthday, etc.). I don’t worry about writing them in order—I brain dump. These symbols are enough to keep it straight.

3. I keep my calendar digital. Our family’s shared calendar of events is on Google Calendar anyway, so it’s easier for me to track (and share with Kyle) my ongoing events on my laptop and on my calendar app.

4. I prefer a small notebook. I didn’t think I would at first (see: my trial-and-error notebook), but it turns out I use it a lot more if it’s more portable for me.

How I use my bullet journal, by Tsh Oxenreider of The Art of Simple

I carry a small purse, and this way I can toss it in and use it all throughout the day. I also keep a sharpened pencil in my purse. Here’s my current notebook style.

5. I use washi tape to mark non-calendar pages. I didn’t think I’d do this, but it turns out it’s easier for me to find these pages than a simple dog-eared corner, which is what I originally tried (begone, perfectionism!).

How I use my bullet journal, by Tsh Oxenreider of The Art of Simple

I still use the Table of Contents (or Index), but the colored tape helps a lot. I keep it fancy-free.

My Collections

Here are the pages I currently use—and I’ll keep adding more throughout the year as the need arises.

• Books to read: Anytime someone recommends a book to me, I see one in a store but I’m not yet ready to buy, or I read a review that intrigues me, I’ll jot it down here.

How I use my bullet journal, by Tsh Oxenreider of The Art of Simple

• Books read in 2016: I wish I were better at logging at GoodReads, but since I’m not, this is the next best thing. It’s just a simple list of book titles.

• New movies watched in 2016: This includes only new-to-me movies; so, just released, but also an older movie I haven’t yet seen. (There’s a whopping one on this list so far—Star Wars: The Force Awakens.)

• Gift ideas: Because I always think of ideas when it’s least convenient. This way, I quickly jot them down all in one place, whether I’m at the store or browsing online.

• Nightly examen: A condensed version of the Daily Examen, this is a simple list where I jot down one way I recognized God in my life that day. It’s the last thing I do in bed before setting down my journal on the nightstand.

• Post, podcast, and general blog ideas: A mashup list of post topics, future guest ideas, tweaks for the site, and what-not.

• Good family habits: We’re focusing on a few habits per month this year—you know, things like no burping at the table, tossing wrappers in the trash instead of leaving them on the table, and putting dirty dishes directly in the dishwasher instead of on the counter for someone else to do it.

How I use my bullet journal, by Tsh Oxenreider of The Art of Simple

I add more to this list throughout my days (there are many).

• Meeting notes: If I have a phone call or Skype chat with someone work-related, I’ll add a page for my notes here.

• Project notes: And if I’m working on an ongoing project (such as a book), I’ll add space to toss out thoughts as well.

• Master to-do list: This isn’t the daily stuff (fold laundry, write that one email), this is what I use for ongoing projects instead of a Future or Monthly Log. It’s the same idea, just simpler—I add bigger projects and tasks, then cross them off as they’re done.

• Things to research: I’m always thinking of things to look up when I’m not at the computer. Then when I’m in front of it? I can never remember. This is my list of things to research when I can.

How I use my bullet journal, by Tsh Oxenreider of The Art of Simple

Here’s something important:

I don’t sweat leaving enough blank pages to keep the thoughts all in one space in my notebook. For example, right now I have book notes on pages 22-23, but things to research on the next page, page 24. If I need to add more book notes, I simply start a new page wherever—the next one could be on page 47, sandwiched between Daily Logs, another page of meeting notes, or some new collection I haven’t even created yet.

I simply add a comma and another page number to that item on the Table of Contents. Voilá. No need for it to be perfectly organized. In fact, this is key to my bullet journaling method—I keep on adding in the journal, one page at a time. No worries that it’s not all in the same place, because I just check the front.

How I use my bullet journal, by Tsh Oxenreider of The Art of Simple

This is working beautifully for me right now, but I’m still learning. Fellow bullet journalers: What are you doing to make it work for you?

Reading Time:

5 minutes





  1. Helena

    I just write it down in my diary made by magzine Flow. Events on the left page (where the days of the week already are) and tasks on the right page (a blank page for notes). Lists etc. I write down on a blank page before a new month and in the back of the diary there are pages with questions like “books I’ve read”. I like it when it´s simple. With love from Holland.

    • Rebecca

      Hi Helena,
      I love Flow magazine too. I am really hoping they start making an English version of the weekly diary. We got a single copy included with the main magazine a few issues ago and it was really helpful for journalling, and, of course, beautiful to look at.

  2. Colleen Vanderlinden

    This is pretty similar to how I use my bullet journal as well. And it’s hard to curb those perfectionist leanings — I have already tweaked my process at least three times this year, and we’re not even two full months into the year yet! Every time I change something, there’s the urge to start over with a new notebook, but I’m resisting it. So far, I am loving the method, as well as the fact that it can be very basic and straightforward or it can turn into something much more involved and creative based on how you want to use it.

  3. terri

    I am a list person, I get happier when I see things get done. I started my bullet journal in Jan, and I love it. The section that I started to see how much we actually eat from our square ft garden, encourages me more to get out there and plant more veggies. I was surprised when I told my husband, if you want to give me a gift for my birthday, buy me some pens. I love my little journal.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Ooh, that would be cool. I’d love to track my homegrown veggies. If I had homegrown veggies.


  4. Stephanie

    Thank you for this! I’ve been following Bullet Journal Junkies on Facebook for a little while now and while I absolutely LOVE seeing all the cool things everyone else does with their BuJos, mine is a stripped down version like yours. I’m not a artist and I have absolutely no interest in learning how to make my handwriting fancy. I’m a journalism student whose time is filled with class, writing, research and interviews. I really appreciate the validation, haha! Not that I need it! Other BuJo-ers wouldn’t judge me! But still. I judge myself and it’s good to know I’m not alone.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      You’re not alone, my friend.

  5. Amy Rogers Hays

    Oh I love this post Tsh! I too have been bullet journaling for a little over six months, and I have thrown away a lot of the rules / extra pages as well. It was SO helpful when we were buying a house this Summer/Fall, to keep notes on potential houses, on inspectors, and contractors. I have sketches of how furniture would fit into the living room and long to do lists for mortgage paperwork. Then four weeks after we bought the house (and 24 hours after we retro-fited a dishwasher into our 1950s kitchen) our first baby was born. Since now my tasks are: eat, sleep, repeat–I haven’t used the bullet journal much. And that is one the best things about it. In a traditional planner I would have months of blank pages, and a lot of guilt over them. (I’m an ISTJ who likes the forms all filled out in a uniform and pretty way.) But with the bullet journal the next blank page is there whenever I need it–and no guilt when I have weeks on end where the only to do item is to take a shower. But I love your collect page ideas and a space for the examine!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Yes! Just use it when and how you best need it. That’s easily the best feature of the system.

    • Kassie

      That’s exactly what I love about it too! It can make it fit my needs, and NO WASTE! Yay! (Also congrats on the new babe. My youngest is almost 9 months already!)

  6. Karrie

    I’ve been bullet journaling since July. I love it! It helps so much to have a place to “brain dump” and I love marking things off my list!

  7. Heather

    I have tried the bullet journal, but I just mess it all up and then feel like I need to rip everything out and start again. I like what you said about not leaving enough space, and then just adding in a new page wherever. I think that might help me, instead of trying to keep everything together. I have an Erin Condren life planner, and end up using it for so many lists, add in all the random notebooks around my house…well maybe I should give the bullet journal another try 🙂

  8. Andrea

    You seem like you’d be a “no silly questions” type person so here goes! How do you keep a pencil in your purse? Is it mechanical? When I stick a pencil in my purse the inside becomes covered in pencil marks and I continually stab myself with the sharpened end.

    • Patty B

      Hi Andrea!! I use mechanical pencils or pens, and purposely purchase journals that have both a ribbon and a strap. With that, you can loop the pen or (mechanical) pencil through the ribbon and then keep it in place with the strap. Perfection!

      check out:

    • Deborah P

      Also check out a blog post from from September 24, 2009 called Christmas Lists. I saw this on Pinterest about attaching a pen/pencil to a small composition notebook using ribbon. If you wanted to use a regular pencil, I’d put something over the point to prevent the marks/stabbing, but also to keep the point from breaking. I was reminded the other day of a cool idea for this. I got a nice pencil as a prize for something and they’d put a small empty spool over the end to keep it protected.

      • Jason Brown

        Another option is to buy an artists putty eraser, told it into a ball and place that on the tip. You protect the pencil, no marks on your bag, and the bonus of having an eraser with you when you mess something up. I guess it could fall off sometimes but I’d expect that would be rare.
        Personally I use a retractable pen.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I love this question, Andrea! I have a little side zippered pocket in my purse, and I just store it there. 🙂

    • Raven

      I use an elastic band around my book and hook a pen or pencil onto it – it also helps keep any loose paper or receipts you have together x

  9. jordan elisheva

    I’ve been bullet journalling for some time now. It was a lifesaver the past year-and-a-half in particular while I was traveling as an intern with Justice For All. With so much going on I found my bullet journal not only a great way to plan forward and keep track of my current thoughts, but also an excellent record of the past. For that reason, I can’t do without my monthly log, for example. I summarize my day in a single sentence so that I can later go back and have a quick overview of how my month went. (example from October:

    I’ve done a lot of experimentation over time, and my mantra is still *keep it simple!* As a #bujo instgrammer and an artist, I’m tempted to decorate my bullet journal pages to make the photos more eye-catching, but that’s not me. When it comes to planning I want simple and uncluttered, so I keep my bujo that way. Hopefully seeing my simple layouts amongst the IG inspiration with help someone feel free to follow suit!

  10. Valerie

    I love using a bujo but I recently found the Sacred Ordinary Days planner and would love to find a way to marry the two. Anyone working on that as well?

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I use that, too! As a springboard for inspiration and more space for fleshed out, deeper thoughts. I keep it at home on my desk.

  11. Caroline Starr Rose

    I don’t leave blank pages, either, just open to the newest page and throw stuff in there. I do make an overview of the month list, which is especially helpful when I’m on deadline (I take real pleasure in recording the hours I’ve spent each day and checking off the box).

    I’m currently using an unlined soft-back journal that I believe I got at Target for 99 cents.

  12. Lee Ann

    I kind of wish they sold a day planner with about 50 blank pages at the end. I use my day planner for most of my weekly and daily to do lists, and meal plan, but I’d love to be able to incorporate book lists or vacation ideas or what not somewhere. and not have to carry around another little book!

    • Vanessa

      Have you looked into a plum paper planner? I have one this year and I love it! Kind of like my own bullet journal. I have my weeks and months laid out and then you can add pages as you would like. They have notes pages that you can add on as well as specific printed pages to add. I got the fitness and home add ons and to do lists within the month. I use my 30 additional notes pages for my “bullet journal collections/random lists”. My daily task lists are on the calendar pages. I just love how customizable everything is. They just released little stitched notebooks that fit in the back pocket of the planner so I think that will be my new bullet journal and it fits right in my planner.

    • Ish

      Lee Ann, I’m starting out 2017 with a Hobonichi Weeks which has monthly layouts followed by weekly layouts on the left, squared blank page on the right and over 70 note pages at the end. Not the cheapest but very practical and with the wonderful Tomoe River paper. A lot of it is in Japanese but has the months, dates and days in English as well.

  13. Patty B

    I have been bullet journal-ing for a couple years, and it has been a life saver for me. I do many of the same things as you do. The key for me is to have an index at the front that I continue to add to (lists, vacation plans, monthly indexes, key projects) and to add page numbers at the bottom of each page. It’s easy enough to back track through my notes when I reference the preceding page number. I like your idea of the washi tape to mark those areas!!
    It’s funny – – I regularly get emails promoting various day planners, and i’m drawn to their beautiful clean layouts and I’m always so tempted. But I’ve come to accept that I am “to do list” motivated, and need a space to journal and brain dump. Those beautiful day planners wouldn’t work for that type of use.
    Another thing I do is circle key words in color. For example, as I review my daily notes, I circle my client names in RED, and circle products in GREEN, and circle or underline projects in Purple. It feeds my need to use my pretty pens, and it makes it easier to flip back and find the information I’m looking for at a glance.

    • Julie

      Have you checked out a Planner Pad? I’m using one for the first time this year. I’m on the fence bc I’m a SAHM. Maybe a BuJo will be better for me… I like the Planner Pad, tho

      • Julie

        I have adapted the planner pad idea in an Erin Condrin planner, which I love for all my appointments, categorized task lists, meal plans, whose laundry to do that day etc. I tried a bullet journal a few years ago, but didn’t like carrying over the non day specific tasks each day. The weekly view in EC works because I have a week to do the tasks on whichever day I like. But I really like the idea of a place to put all my lists, ideas, journaling thoughts, creative doodles, brain dump, gratitudes, and I’m liking the idea of a nightly examen. Thinking I might try this again, not as a daily planner but more of a book of collections/lists/thoughts. Thank you for the inspiration, Tsh!

  14. Susan

    I’ve been working with perfecting what works for me with my bullet journal for about a year. I love that each one of us can find what works for us. 🙂 Letting go of the perfectionism is key. I like that fact that I can have various research pages all mixed up with daily life and thoughts. As a homeschooling mama of 6 boys I find that taking those few moments first thing in the morning and at evening to dump my brain and organize it a little really helps keep me centered. I also found that a smaller notebook works better for me. I’m currently really enjoying the North dot grid notebook that I bought with one of my Christmas gift cards.

  15. Patty B

    Ooooh – – one more thing – with reference to Andrea’s question on keeping your pen/pencil – –
    I purposely purchase journals that have both a ribbon and a strap. with that, you can loop the pen or (mechanical) pencil through the ribbon and then keep it in place with the strap. Perfection!
    check out:

  16. Sumiko Keay

    I find the decorated planner phenomenon fascinating. . . but I also do a fast and dirty bullet journal. I just don’ t have calligraphy in me – although my love of pens, paper, and all things office supply makes the whole thing super tempting.

    (I am also using a classic moleskine: but mine is dotted.)

    • jane

      Hi Tsh and all to-do list lovers:

      I am extremely motivated by the thrill of crossing out a to-do list task with a thick black sharpie, but in most journals, the ink bleeds on the other side of the page. But you know what, I don’t care. I’m an ISTJ and and and Upholder (Gretchen Rubin’s typing framework), but getting stuff done and meeting expectations and all that good stuff is more important to me in my Bullet Journal than being irked by bled-through pages.

      So my solution is – don’t use the other side. Duh. That’s keeping it simple to me. It may end up that I “waste” pages in my journal, but who cares. I don’t buy expensive journals for this reason. Plus, it’s so exciting to use up a journal and then go buy a new one. It means I’m being productive and effective!

      • Jennifer

        Oh my goodness, what a revelation for me! There is no reason why I have to use both sides…laugh if you will, but this is seriously freeing 🙂

  17. Kristin

    I use it very simply as well. I enjoy looking at elaborate bullet journal systems, but I don’t need another hobby! I need a way to keep track of stuff that needs to get done. The simpler I keep it, the more likely I am to stick with it. And now I don’t have a million slips of paper to keep track of!

    I love this system, but interestingly I find it works very well for me for my personal and home stuff, but not for my professional life. It’s all about finding what works for you!

    • Kristina Brooke

      This! I keep simpleton. Lists, brain dumps, collection! That’s it! I have enough to do.

      • Kristina Brooke

        I keep I simple too! <<< that is what I meant to write.

  18. Julie

    Helphel post. Thx for sharing, Tsh.
    I’ve never been able to keep up with the books I’ve read UNTIL last year,when I dipped a toe into Instagram. I started posting the cover to each book I’d finished with a unique hashtag & brief recap of what I liked about the book or why I read it. This was super helpful when it came to reflection on 2015 & setting goals for 2016. If I’m honest, the public viewing of the books I read motivated me to read books instead of waste time when I was tired. Works for me.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Great idea!

      • Meg

        Just gotta put in a plug for LibraryThing. I love logging the books I’ve read. I don’t log very often, but it’s like a treat for me when I get to. I keep a category called Currently Reading, When I get a book out of the library, I add it to Currently Reading. Then when I have time I’ll update my books and whether I liked it or not. OK, I don’t think I’m explaining this very well! 🙂

        Anyhow, more to the point–thanks sooo much for the Bullet Journal post. I’d never heard of it and I want to give it a try. I love your blog and podcast! Thanks for all you do!

  19. Karen

    I was prompted by your previous post to investigate the bullet journal site and now I am trying it out. So far I think it is very promising and its nice not to have the dozens of little pieces of paper (all with ‘to do’ lists of various sorts) floating around the kitchen. My husband and daughter (23years) have both become inspired to try it and so we have bullet journaling discussions over dinner!! It’s early days but we ae all feeling more productive and I’d like to thank you for introducing us to this great idea!!

  20. maureen

    of course I need to know where you got your cute leather purse in the last picture…

    • Tsh Oxenreider


  21. Liza

    I first saw the idea of bullet journaling a while ago and thought that while interesting, it wasn’t for me. But reading this, I realized that a new app I’m using is basically a digital bullet journal. I’ve struggled with the app because I need a paper version of it. Maybe I should try the journaling after all!

  22. Jen

    Love that I’m not the only one who uses pencil! Keep it simple has been great for me too (going on a year now…and on Volume 4!) I’m going to note your washi idea though! That would be useful at times!

  23. Deborah P

    What I love most about bullet journaling is that I quit doing it in the fall of 2015 and I’m ready to start back and I can, easily. As someone said earlier – I don’t have all those blank pages in a planner to make me feel bad. I’ll just pick up with the next blank page and it doesn’t matter a bit. I use mine at home only, so a regular size composition notebook is fine for me – I don’t have to fit it into a purse. I might, at some point want to take it with me, and if I do, I’ll just move to a smaller size. The ability to pick up at any point I’m so inclined is the best thing about the bullet journal to me.

  24. Ivanna

    I use my bullet journal very similarly to you. I’ve been doing it for almost 3 months, and I’m still not sure whether I like the monthly logs and future logs. What I do love is my habit tracker. It’s helped me form habits that I was never able to form previously.

  25. Kendra

    Okay, this method is new to me. I’ve been keeping a small notebook in my purse for years. It’s constantly full of all these sorts of things you’ve mentioned only with absolutely zero rhyme or reason to them! My INTJness is thrilled with this format. Thank you, thank you for sharing this!
    Questions – how many pages do you need to keep from filling up one of this suckers in no time? How long does it typically last you?

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      It totally depends on the type of journal you use and what you fill it with—it could take months or years, literally. 🙂

      As for me personally, I don’t know yet—I’ve only been doing this method since September-ish, and I’ve got plenty of space still.

  26. Jess Townes

    This is my second year with a Bullet Journal and I love it. I made a major tweak this year though, and I’m using a combo planner/journal. It’s a planner with a monthly spread, and weekly spreads, but there is a huge notes section at the back. My index is in the back on the first page of notes, and I keep all of the stuff there that I don’t have in my daily lists. My daily lists go on each day of the weekly planner, and I fill in the months for a month-at-a-glance. This works for me because I don’t like using a digital calendar. So, the notes section in the back is for longer term or ongoing projects, while the weekly spreads cover the daily lists in a typical Bullet Journal. Thanks for sharing your own tweaks, the beauty of the Bullet Journal is that it’s totally open to modification, you aren’t married to anyone else’s system of organization.

  27. Ashley Brooks

    I wrote a post very similar to this after I tried Bullet Journaling for myself. My system is now nearly identical to yours! (Although I think I’m going to have to steal your washi tape idea—brilliant!) The “staple pages” of the bullet journal just didn’t work for me, and I realized I needed to keep a separate calendar if I didn’t want to lose my mind. Still, it’s good for keeping track of those collections of things that are better grouped together!

  28. Heather

    I am going to look into this! Right now I keep a Moleskine weekly calendar, plus a regular notebook for my To Do’s and notes. And I do have a hard time keeping track of notes I want to refer back to weeks or months later. Thank you for posting!

  29. Jesse

    I love the Bullet Journal. I’ve been using one for about a year and a half. I’ve loved the flexibility to change it up and make it work for me as I’ve gone along. The Index at the beginning is priceless. I love being able to scribble notes and reminders right in the journal and not lose track of random pieces of paper. I kept a 2 pg. spread right after the index for a 12 month future planning log. This is where I jot down vacation, retreats and birthdays. I reference this when I’m planning our month/week.

  30. Tresta

    I love the idea of the page for your Nightly Examen – I forget so quickly. I’ve switched my BuJo to a leather Midori with Moleskine inserts and I love the aesthetics of it (usefulness + beauty gets more important to me, the older I get).

  31. Amie

    I read this post yesterday. I’d never heard of bullet journaling. I love the idea! I’ve spent a lot of the past 24 hours researching and thinking about how I’d like to start doing this. I used to love journaling and I am a list maker…so this seems to stream line things…simplify, right? But how do you avoid the trap of making this into a huge production? I’m trying to simplify, not buy a bunch of pens and washi tape, etc. (I’d love to do that…but I’m resisting the urge…). How does this not become complicated and add more stuff to my life? Help ,e figure this out!!

  32. Helen

    Such a timely perfect post Tsh. You have helped squash my pesky perfection paralysis. I am also using the SOD planner as well but still love the bullet journal concept. I like the thought of each serving different important purposes. Thank you!

  33. Donna

    Ditto what Helen says above – “timely perfect post.” It saddens me so many of us women have perfectionist tendencies to the point we would rather do nothing if we can’t do it perfectly. I’ve been thinking and studying on bullet journals but hesitated for that exact reason! Reading your post and the comments has inspired me to just plunge ahead despite it not being January 1 — the PEEFECT day to start. Thank you so much for all you do!!

  34. Jodee Sturm

    This is FANTASTIC! I am so OCD when it comes to making errors in my day planner… but PENCIL — great idea! I see the usefulness of the bullet journal over my standard day planner clearly. I do use mine for upcoming months planning; I pen appointments into my day planner, my iPhone and on my 3 month at a glance calendar. I’ve unfortunately made mistakes using this planning system and this could be the solution. Thanks for sharing!

  35. Cherie

    I have been hearing about the Bullet Journal method for a few weeks now and am very interested. I constantly have lists everywhere, on sticky notes, small pieces of paper, full sheets of paper and also a calendar book and it just feels overwhelming sometimes. I haven’t found a method that works to help me track everything going on in my life (homeschooling, part-time marketing work, home management, things I want to learn about, things I want to pray about, planning events and activities with family and friends, keeping track of appointments, etc., etc., etc. My question is: can one bullet journal be used to keep track of all of this stuff or would it be better to use one for all things related to my part-time marketing work (my “paid” job) and one related to homeschooling, etc.? I think I sometimes feel like I can’t fit all the good things I want to do into my life, and then I wonder how/if I could use one Bullet Journal to manage it all. Thanks in advance for any ideas/suggestions you might have!

  36. Kirstjen

    It’s really helpful to see this and to hear that it doesn’t need to be perfect! I’m still working on how to use a bullet journal the best for me.

    And if you’re ever interested in a book club in Austin we just started one and are reading Love and Other Ways of Dying as our first pick. ? Two self proclaimed non-readers quit after they saw the title!!

  37. Jane

    Have you heard of the brand “leuchtturm1917” I prefer it so much more over moleskin E. It’s cheaper, the pages come numbered, and content pages with columns, there is a set of stickers for the spine if you want to archive them when you’re done. And you can buy an elastic bit to stick I. The back where you can slide your pencil into! And the cover is slightly softer and smoother than the moleskine. 🙂

    • Jane

      Ugh sorry for all the errors!
      Should read “moleskine” and also “stick in the back”

  38. Cucicucicoo: Eco Sewing and Crafting

    This is really interesting! I’d never heard of the bullet journal, but it sounds like it might be a good solution for my confusion of notes and whatnot. And I totally agree that with any sort of organization method, a person needs to figure out what works best for him or her and personalize the system. Thanks for the interesting post! 🙂 Lisa

  39. Jessica

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Tsh!! This is one of the most honest and down to earth bullet journal posts I have seen. I too am a perfectionist so although I love planning and journalling have a fear of ‘ruining’ my notebooks. It’s wonderful to hear someone say it’s okay for this to not be a hugely creative space, after all the bujo is a planning system really. Do you have another book for journalling thoughts, prayers, life etc? I know some combine this with their bujo but as a logic min “everything in it’s place” type person I find it hard to mix it all into one book!! I know, I am CRAZY!!

  40. Lisa

    I’ve been “unofficially” doing this for 20 years, with all of the pages you mention plus good wine I’ve had or want to try. Important page! I keep all my little notebooks, it’s fun to look back at what I was thinking years ago. Sometimes what we think is so critical at one time we can laugh about in hindsight. (I’m an Upstreamer-work on that is on my daily list.)

  41. Cori

    I’m glad you labeled your list “Table of Contents” and not Index. I know it shouldn’t be a big deal, but it is something that irks me about the system. TOC = front, Index = back.

  42. Jamie

    I have been mulling and hashing over this ‘bullet journal’ idea for about two weeks now. However much I appreciate technology, there’s something about pen and paper that calls to me. I think I may take the leap…

  43. Marilyn

    I finally got around to reading this (thank you for the Pocket recommendation!) and I just had to thank you for it! I guess I needed permission to tweak a bit. The brain dump is also much needed for me and I think I can handle my dilemma about personal vs. work with a brain dump method (using 2 different symbols) thanks again!

  44. Lora Bryant

    I just found your website by reading a mention of this post over at Modern Mrs. Darcy. I’m getting ready to give the Bullet Journal a try and was glad to see that you still use a digital calendar. I have used a digital calendar for years now and can’t imagine going back to paper, but I haven’t been able to find a task/note-taking app that works for me. I am hoping that using two different systems for my calendar and tasks won’t produce conflict since they’re interrelated, so I’m glad to see that it’s working for you so far. I’m a little OCD, so I completely understand you giving yourself permission to not do it perfectly right off the bat. I’m getting started today (however messy it may look)! Looking forward to taking a look at the rest of your site. Thanks for the great tips!

  45. Kim

    Thank you so much for this post. I’ve been wanting to try bullet journaling but whenever I read about it or watch youtube — it looks too complicated for me! Your post has given me the encouragement to at least try it!

  46. Caitlyn

    This inspired me to try bullet journaling – especially the simple, non-art focused method that you use – and I LOVE IT.

    I originally had two planners (one for home, one for work), one digital calendar, and it was just so much to keep up with. I LOVE having it all in one place. And giving myself space to mess up? Perfect. I too adopted only the pages that seem to work for me, but I’m still trial and erroring it.

    Thanks, Tsh!

  47. Linda Green

    This is the most sensible use of bullet journal I’ve seen, Tsh–and one I think I could actually stick to! Loved reading this. Thanks for the inspiration!

  48. Amber

    I’ve heard of the bullet journal off and on for a while now, and I am trying to get my life a little more organized. Hearing what you do (and knowing that you don’t actually play artist like most of the other examples) is helping me get a little more comfortable in getting started. Your ideas are absolutely fantastic!!

  49. Esther

    This is such a great post! I’ve been leaning towards using the same size moleskine as you do but thought it might be too small. But your post is encouraging – why not try to to see what works? So freeing. I started using one today because of this post. Thanks for the inspiration!

  50. Kellye Bullock

    For years I’ve tried to have a freestyle book of lists/journal. I couldn’t figure out a way to keep it organized or to remember what page I put what on. And how to indicate what was done or in progress or abandoned altogether.
    I’m not sure where I first read about bujo, but i realized this is the key. For the first time in my perfectionist, procrastination-istic 55 years, two and a half weeks ago, I jumped in and just started! I even ‘messed up’ by starting my June log and tasks pages before I realized I still had a week left in May!! Guess what? May went on the next page!! I’m looking at whether i need this or not. I may just try July with out one. One of my pages is “ideas for my next bujo”!
    Thank you for your ideas! Question: do you make a tab with the washi tape or just put a piece on the edge of the page like a border?

  51. Arieswriting

    I decided to set up one yesterday, and the show through on the back side of the pages was enough to give me an anxiety attack. I ended up having to remove the pages and start over. I think all of the artistic bujos out there really made it intimidating for me. I want it to be perfect, but I also need it to work. So I’m at the point where this first Leuchtturm is going to be trial and error and I have a feeling I’ll end up doing what you did – smaller notebook, only doing the basics for planning. I am just not a decorator type of person. Trying to force that makes me crazy.

  52. Jennifer Bertotti

    Could you do an update on this? Curious if you’re still using the Bullet journal and if anything has changed in the way you use it?

  53. Tessa

    Just want to nention my favorite journalling and day planner tool: frixion pens. They actually erase. Really, th3y do. Otherwise I’d be using pencil too. They don’t last as long as a ballpoint pen but they are so worth the investment to have scribble free pages.

    • Tessa

      Sorry for the typos. Trying next to a wiggly toddler 🙂

  54. Jen

    I have the index/contents list at the back of the book. A friend on Ravelry mentioned that she does it this way, and then when the contents and index meet you are done with the book. I just love that not wasting of pages.

    I have a little notebook that I keep in my purse, and use that for things when out and about. Then, I also use a notes app on the phone. When I get to my desk, I transfer things to the main notebook that lives at my desk.

  55. Marlene Lee

    I use the Bullet Journal the same as you. Simple. For me it’s become more of a log book or a journal as the name implies – keeping track of what has happened on a day – “what did my mother do? Did I lent that book to so-and-so? Did I finished that painting on that day? Did I get into that art show?” A great reminder journal.

    I keep the monthly and yearly events on my Google Calendar. The Bullet Journal it’s more for day-to-day. I make a list with circles and then once done, fill in the circle. At a glance I can tell what I haven’t done. No other marks used.

  56. Maja

    My oh my, am I happy that I stumbled into your website! I just discovered Bullet journaling this Tuesday, and I knew that it was just for me. I tried to do it the way most do on instagram, you know, with beautiful drawings and all – but I just can’t draw! And I got so so so mad at myself because I wanted it to be perfect.
    But know after reading your words and descriptions, I found hope again 😀
    So many thanks!!!

    – a girl from Denmark

  57. Janice

    This is the first bullet site explanation I think I can handle. Others just seem like a whole lot of work, and I know I will get overwhelmed and quit. I’m 65, and just looking for a way to keep track of books, random useless thoughts, inspirational stuff, gratitude, and a place for all I would will be researching for a recent diagnoses of Ehkers-Danlos Syndrome. I just couldn’t figure out how to wrap my brain around a way to set it up. Thank you!

  58. Caroline

    I’m opting out of my smart phone soon, so I’ll definitely need to do this. Instead of doing different symbols, I’m going to use boxes for my brain dump: one box for Errands, one for At Computer, and one for At home. That way, whenever I’m in a certain location, I’ll just glance at the box and voila! That’s the system I currently use in Keep app on my phone, but again, dumbing down my phone so I’ll have to do it analog. Looking very much forward to hand writing again. 🙂

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