Stop comparing your Bullet journal!

3 Leuchtturm notebooks

In the many Bullet journal Facebook groups I am a part of, I hear people complain about comparing their bujo to the highly creative and ornemented ones you see on Instagram. They say that they can’t draw, that their handwriting is awful, but they still want to take part in the hobby. I hear you. Today, I’d like to give you permission to do what works for you. You don’t have to keep up with the Joneses!

Keep it simple

I wrote about my recent journaling slump lately. Since I’ve fallen into a rut, to keep up with the habit, I’ve decided to simplify my spreads. What I see around are intricate, highly decorated spreads, lots of drawings, washi, stamps, and more! If you have fun creating these intricate spreads, do not hold off! But if you feel like this is too complicated, too much work, or just not your style, you can do very simple spreads, in black and white or with a simple splash of color, and leave the decorating aside.

Lately, my designs have been really straightforward. Simple lines across the page constitute my weekly spread, and a nice but plain header ornates my dailies. No fluff, just practical and functional. After all, the method we’ve been taught by Ryder Caroll did not include any embellishment! It was meant to be a productivity tool and it can be just that if that’s what works for you!

bare daily spread
One of my daily spreads stripped bare

Using very simple layouts is much less time consuming and allows me more time to reflect on my goals and projects. I spend less on planner accessories and stationery, but my journal remains pretty and highly efficient.

Simplify your supplies

I definitely went the buy-all-the-things route when I first started Bullet journaling. I have numerous sets of stamps, rolls of washi, different pen brands and funky devices such as the Helix Protractor. If you’ve been meaning to simplify your bujo, or if money is tight, stick to basic supplies that will get most, if not all of the work done. Here are my favorite basics :

A black pen

I personally use a Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen inked with Noodler’s Heart of Darkness, although I do not believe that you need anything as fancy for Bullet journaling. A basic black gel pen such as the Paper Mate InkJoy, or a felt tip pen like the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner or the Faber Castel Pitt Artists Pens can work wonders. Any black pen that can make a crisp black line can do you good.

A mechanical pencil

I like to draw my spreads in pencil before I ink them up. This is what I currently use..

A good eraser

Mandatory to erase the marks you’ve made with the previous item.

A ruler

I like my spreads to be nice and tidy, so I carry with me a Folding Ruler that fits inside my pencil case. It costs next to nothing and makes everything straight! Or you can go the Kara route from Boho Berry and freehand your lines, if you like it a bit more messy. There is no right or wrong!

A dotted journal

I like dotted because it is structured enough to draw tables, but lacks the visually cluttered aspect of grid journals. Once you’ll try dotted, you’ll never want to go back to lined. My favorite journal is the Leuchtturm1917 in A5 size and it seems to be one of the most popular ones around. The Scribbles That Matter journal has become a strong contender for second place in the bujo groups.

Optional : Colored pens

I like to write my headers with a pop of color. At the moment, I use a blue Staedtler Triplus Fineliner to draw my dailies. They come in a variety of colors and can be used to write, color or draw, if you feel like it. I’ve seen folks really appreciating the Paper Mate Flair for the same purposes.

Are not necessary :

  • Washi tape. I know, heresy! But seriously, you don’t need it.
  • Stickers
  • Stamps
  • Any embellishment for that matter.

Think functional, efficient. If you prefer to make your journal pretty, though, feel free to use any of the above! Especially if you feel like you can’t draw, adding a bit of whimsy to your journal is easy with a few crafting supplies. But you don’t NEED them is what I mean.

Minimalist Bullet journals

If you want to get inspired by Bullet journalists with basic spreads and simple layouts, there is a whole community that you can find either on Facebook, or by searching these hashtags on Instagram : #minimalistbujo #minimalistbulletjournal.

How do you feel about embellishments and fluff in your bujo? Is your Bullet journal the expression of your creativity or a productivity tool? Will you try going back to the basics? Let me know in the comments below!

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