After half a year of bullet journaling, I’ve really started to hit my stride with what works for me and what doesn’t. I’m still experimenting and perfecting my entries each day, but that is something that will continue on forever. That’s the beauty of bullet journaling: you are not confined and it is up to you to adapt your journal to your needs.
Now, ever since I started my second instagram account, @plananotherday, which is dedicated to sharing my journal progress, I’ve gotten many questions about what supplies I use. In the photo above, you can see everything I used to create my August 2016 calendar page. Sometimes I use lots of elements to spruce up a page, but more often than not I stick with the less is more philosophy.
All you really need to bullet journal is something to write with and something to write on. Everything else is just extra to help make your journal yours.
My favorite journal to write in is the Leuchtturm1917 A5 Dotted Hardcover notebook. It is what I use for my everyday journaling. The reason this journal is easily the most popular journal in the bullet journaling community is three-fold.
- the paper is high quality and doesn’t allow a lot of bleed through from most pens
- the dot grid is easy to work with and allows for lots of creative flexibility
- the pages are pre-numbered and a table of contents is included
An added bonus of having the same journal as many others in the community is the easy adaptability of ideas from one person to the next. The contents and styles of my bullet journal are constantly adapting to not only my needs but also because of the inspiration from all the other talented journalers out there.
But! That does not mean you must have a Leuchtturm1917 in order to successfully bullet journal! I’ll re-emphasize what I said before: All you really need to bullet journal is something to write with and something to write on. Any notebook, journal, sheet of paper, pre-printed planner is enough to start bullet journaling. Any of these notebooks would be fabulous to start journaling. I’m even working on a project to show how this is true!
My go-to pen is the Uni-ball Signo M-151 gel pen in black in sizes 0.5mm and 0.38mm. These are what I use to write most of my day to day journal entries. I love them because they have a clean, black line and never skip or scratch on my paper. They do have a downside, though. Because they are gel pens, they will smear when you try to go over them with a marker or highlighter and there is a chance for transfer from one page to another with too much applied pressure.
The Staedtler Pigment Liners and the Marvy Le Pen Technical Drawing Pens are awesome options for clean black lines that don’t smear or transfer. I actually used the Staedtler Pigment Liners through most of college for note taking, so I’m very familiar with their quality, which hands-down makes them worth the price. But, even though the Le Pen Technical Drawing Pens have only been in my hands a short while, they are giving the Staedtlers a run for their money (at half the price!). Both of these pens write perfectly smooth, and I can’t hold one over the other. A word of caution, though, as they don’t hold up to pressure well. The fine felt tips will wear down or break if you apply lots of pressure. That said, they do produce a perfect black line without needing to press down hard.
A more popular choice, but a step down in my opinion, is the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner and the Stabilo Point 88 Fineliner. I think most bullet journalers use one or the other. I understand why they are popular, as they come in great color sets, don’t bleed too bad (the Staedtler Triplus actually far outperforms Stabilo 88s on this one), and leave behind a solid line. But, both of these pens are slightly scratchy on the paper, making them more likely to bleed or make you mess up.
When it comes to color, there are really only two options I love. The Zebra Mildliners are awesome. I use them to help color code my calendars and have never had one bleed through a page. They are another popular favorite in the bullet journal community, and with good reason! But, if you want to buy them, you definitely want to get them through Amazon, where they are much cheaper for all the colors than if you buy the pens or packs individually.
Tombow ABT Dual Brush Pens are my other color choice. The brush side is perfect for handlettering headings and titles. I haven’t had any issues with them bleeding, but the darker colors do show through the page more than other pens. If you want to buy them, JetPens is the best place to get individual colors, but Amazon has sets for a lower price. My favorite colors are 761 – Carnation and N75 – Cool Gray 3.
My favorite bullet journaling tool is a simple ruler. While the 12″ is my first choice for most days, I recently added the 6″ since it fits in the back pocket of my Leuchtturm1917. I applaud all the journalers who can draw lines without needing assistance, but a ruler is probably third on my list (after something to write with and something to write on) of bullet journaling essentials.
My Staedtler Circle Template has come in really handy with journaling too. I like to use if for weather drawings and have been playing with more circular calendar templates as well. And my protractor is great for evenly breaking those circles into even pieces. This is one of those exciting times where what we learned in Geometry has real world applications!
For the icing on top: Stickers, Washi Tape, and More! I actually have most of my stickers sorted into a three ring binder. They are stored in sleeves I put together out of cardstock, sheet protectors, scissors, and glue. Not fancy, but way better than getting lost in a pile of individual sticker sheets.
Now, decorations are the fun part of journaling. I’ve gotten my supplies from all over, including craft stores like Michaels, online through Amazon or Etsy, and sometimes even at Target. My favorite place for stickers and washi tape right now is a Hong Kong based Etsy shop called Happy Memory. Any search of Korean Planner Stickers (Amazon, for example) can yield some awesome finds. But you never know when you’ll find something cute in an unexpected place. Always keep your eyes open!
One other device that is awesome is my Polaroid Zip. It’s a mini printer that prints photos from your phone onto 2″x3″ sticker backed photo paper. They are perfect for sticking into your journal! I have even cut them up without any issues, and they add the perfect personal touch to a journal page filled with memories.
While this is a little look at the things that help me put together my bullet journal, it’s important to remember there is no wrong way to do it. It isn’t the tools that makes a great bullet journal, it’s the content, afterall!
Please let me know if you have any questions! And make sure to check out @plananotherday on instagram to see all these awesome tools in use!