Three's A'loud

Bullet journalling: Getting started

A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to my new favourite way to procrastinate… I mean plan my life.

Bullet journaling is a trend particularly in the US and Europe and it is taking South Africa by storm one journal at a time. A small example is simply finding the perfect journal. When I got into this almost 6 months ago there was pretty much one supplier of my favourite brand of journal in South Africa. Now these guys are constantly out of stock and a whole line-up of new suppliers has entered the market. I predict that by next year this time you will find everything you need in your favourite stationary supplier without having to do (often costly imported) online shopping.

The first question many people ask is me is WHERE DO I START? Like so many other things in life you have to find your own way (parenting…starting a business…mixing your favourite cocktail…) but I can certainly tell you where I started.

  1. The journal

    The first step of starting your own journal is getting an actual journal. Like my 9-year-old would say: “Obvs.”

    I think one of the reasons bullet journaling is becoming so popular is that we are all suffering from digital-exhaustion. Sure, an app is useful but there is just something about pen and paper under your fingers. The 3 most popular journal sizes are…

    • A5
    • the wider A5 (My personal favourite)
    • or A4.

    Personally I would not use an A4 for your main journal because the whole point is to take it with you everywhere you go. If this is not a great excuse for a new (bigger) handbag, then I don’t know what is.

    Furthermore you can choose from the 4 most popular layouts inside your journal:

    • Lined pages
    • Grid (Blocks)
    • Blank pages
    • Dot grid

    Lined is the most common option and ideal if you mainly use your journal for writing. Remember, that every person will have different needs from their journal. Contrary to the avalanche of bullet journaling blogs and websites there are NO RULES. Do what works for you.

    Many people like blocks because you can easily draw straight lines horizontally or vertically for your lay-outs. Also, they are much easier to find than dotted journals.

    A blank journal is ideal if you like drawing and have a good eye for straight lines without a grid to guide you. Some of the most beautiful journals I have seen have blank pages. Think “blank canvas.” And “turn a new page.”

    Dotted journals in my humble opinion is by far the best option for whatever your needs are. You can write in a straight line and draw vertical and horizontal all over the place and colour and watercolour all over everything if that is your heart’s desire. BUT dotted journals are still quite difficult to come by in South Africa. Generally the South African suppliers at the moment only make ones with plain covers. If you fall in love with a lined glittery unicorn journal that might be your destiny until further notice.

    Some of my favourite places to find journals in South Africa:

    • Exclusive Books
    • Typo
    • PNA

  2. Pens

    I’ve had many hobbies over the years and journaling is really not expensive when I look back at some of my past endeavours (scrapbooking, anyone??) BUT that being said, I would really advise you to buy good quality (read: expensive) pens.

    Maybe I am getting old and my life is sad but I cannot tell you how much joy my pretty pens have brought me. What can I say, I am easy to please. Right in the beginning I bought a set of 24 Stabilo 68 premium felt-tip pens (not the fine one because I like the slightly broader tip) and in 6 months I have only lost one and the rest are still working perfectly. There is very little ghosting and no bleeding (but that has to do as much with your journal as with your pens.) Great investment. I also have 4 pastel highlighters which I lurve and a gold pen. Start with a few good quality basics and work your way up from there.

  3. Other tools of the trade

    I don’t think I’ve bought any stationary for myself since high school. In fact, over the past 10 years I was really lucky if I could find a pen anywhere in my house. My little tin of stationary has really been one of the biggest pros of my journaling journey. Here are a few items I cannot do without:

    • Scissor: I just use a small one for cutting random pictures and most of all, cutting washi tape!
    • Ruler: Indispensable for a bullet journal. I found a 20cm ruler that fits in my little stationary tin perfectly and is long enough for an uninterrupted horizontal line across a page. And who doesn’t love purple?
    • Pencil: I like using pencil for entering appointments in my annual planners and daily spreads so I don’t have to cross out or Tipex too much.
    • A pen you love: Life is too short to write with crappy pens. This is my favourite liquid gel ink pen. 0.5mm but you can go much finer if that’s your thing.
    • Glue stick: I use it a lot to paste small pictures, add cashier-slips or drawings from my kids and if all else fails and you really hate a page…just stick the two opposite pages together and be done with it.
    • Tipex: I use Tipex in my journal but you might not want to. My OCD just really kicks in if things are crossed out randomly.
    • Washi tape!!!!!! Maybe I should do a separate post only on washi tape. To be honest I don’t even use it that much. But I cannot stop buying it. It’s a problem.

  4. Keeping it all together

    Well, obviously there are some awesome pencil cases and bags out there, we do live in the 21st century after-all, but I somehow ended up with this little tin (it came with firelighters when we had a family braai one weekend) and it follows me wherever I go. And I even stuck an old water-paint palette in the lid. Ta-daaaa. My precious. Even with 3 children in the house I have almost never lost anything that has gone in here.

Thank you for sharing your first steps into the bullet journaling journey with me and let me know what your questions are.


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