Bre Writes

Last week Brazos Bookstore hosted a Bullet Journal 101 class and I had to attend because 1) I love the bookstore, obviously (see: Bridal Portraits), 2) it was free, and 3) I’m really into the *look* of bullet journals but need to practical learn what’s the what.

Bullet Journaling is a quick, analog way to track your days and tasks in a simple, rapid log manner.

Ulrika, one of the owners of the store, has been bullet journaling for a while. She had the tables laid out with practice papers, stencils, markers.  All the essentials for journaling. Kristara, a local calligrapher, showed us the basics of handlettering and let us practice brush strokes and gave examples of doodles and flourishes to add to the pages.

The basic needs to have a bullet journal are easy.

  1.  A journal/notebook.
  2. An index
  3. A key
  4. Logs
  5. Collections (optional).

Dassit.  A quick search search on Pinterest or Instagram makes it look like a time consuming and daunting task that you have to have tons of supplies and extremely perfect handwriting and doodling skills. Not the case.

The Notebook

Basically pick one that you like.  Might be one you already have but I love a new notebook. I got a Leuchhturm A5 dotted notebook.  I know I added the rose gold one to my list a few months ago, but I liked the subtelty of this blue PLUS I already have a rose gold Kate Spade lined journal for other purposes. (read: Journaling and general life notetaking. Like live tweeting, but not).

Leuchtturm 1917 notebook, Pilot HiTec C .4mm pen, Grande cinnamon dolce latte, Notebook pencil bag Jane Davenport (Michael’s), pencil bag from Paper Source
The Index

The purpose of a bullet journal is to quickly log items so you can find them and get things done.  You need to number your pages in your journal (or get one that’s already numbered) so you can easily flip to a note you took.  It’s just an organized way instead of the multiple flags and stickies I normally keep in a notebook.

The Key

This is so you can look at your Log and easily tell if you have an event, a task, a reminder.  One of the main things about bullet journaling is that you keep very short notes. Meeting at 1. Take out the trash.  Pick up the dry cleaning. There were A TON of good options on Pinterest but generally you just need to note:

  • task
  • task completed
  • task migrated
  • event
  • note
  • priority
  • inspiration
The Log

You break your log into the following:

  • Future
  • Monthly
  • Daily

The Future log is a general overview of your next few months.  You note any special days, events, or tasks you want to get completed.

The Monthly Log is a list of every day of the month and any event for a specific day. Then you also write down the tasks you want to get completed or the goals you have set for the month. At the end of the month, you review what was done and what wasn’t. Then you decide if you want to scrap the task all together or migrate to the next monthly log.

monthly log

The Daily Log is your general to do list for each day.  Some people do a sheet for a day. Some just do the days as the happen. Some people set up two pages for the week and fill them in as needed.  I’m experimenting with the weekly format right now.

weekly spread

Some people add in trackers to show how much water they’ve had or if they worked out or whatever items they log to like for each day.  Same system with the Key and tasks marking applies. You can review at the end of the week what tasks need to be migrated to the next week.


Collections are where you keep a running tab of things you want to keep a running tab of.  They go into your journal at the next open spread (2-pages). So if you’re in the middle of a weekly spread and decide “you know, I really want to keep a running list of coffee places to visit,” then you go to the next blank page, write “Coffee Shops to Visit” at the top, check the page number, and add it to the index in the front. So weeks later when you can’t remember what week you thought you’d like to make a list of coffee shops to visit, you refer to your Index. Fantastic.

tv shows to binge, keeping the title in pencil until i figure out how i’d like to title it
vinyl to buy

Obviously I’m super brand new to the practice of Bullet Journals but I’ve learned a few things so far.

  1. Don’t let Instagram overwhelm you. BUT browse social media for inspiration and give yourself a few days of Pinterest/Tumblr/Instagram browsing before you put pencil to paper.
  2. Leave a few extra pages for Collections
  3. Use pencil if you’re worried about not having even lines (that’s where I find the dotted journal is helpful)
  4. Try different layouts.  The good thing about the Bullet Journal system is that it’s customizable to you. What works now might not be enough in three months.  Or you might start off hot and heavy and decide you want to trim some items off the page.
  5. There are no rules.


There’s lots of communities out there for inspiration and tips. I find myself more intriguied by the minimalist layouts.  Ariana of 3TwentySix and I had such a great time in the class, we decided to collaborate and make a PaperFiles Instagram and Facebook page for all fellow #paperjunkies to follow along.  We’ll be sharing our bullet journal progress, possibly doing giveaway, and generally sharing our love for stationery, pens, washi tape, fails at handlettering, etc.

Also, please note that combining things into a bullet journal has not curbed my need to buy notebooks because they are pretty or because I absolutely need them. It’s like when I bought a Kindle but it hasn’t stopped me from going to the bookstore.

Are you interested in Bullet Journaling? Do you have any tips to share? Think it’s too much? Let me know.


Here’s some resources:
Kristara Calligraphy (she offeres online classes as well if you’re not in Houston)- Website / Instagram / Facebook
BulletJournal (there’s an app too)
DaintilyNoted on Instagram
Boho Berry – Bullet Journal 101
Minimalist Bullet Journals – Tumblr
#BulletJournal – Instagram

And follow me and Ari’s instagram for all things paper @paperfiles

3 Responses

  1. I loved the idea of bullet journaling when I first found it, but got overwhelmed by all the doodles/etc. Hoping to get back in it, but it would be more like the super basic original idea on the bullet journal website.

  2. My titles are in pencil, too, because I'm not sure if I want to attempt to do pretty letters or if I'll just use some clear stamps. TBH, it'll probably end up being stamps.

    Can't wait for the next workshop!

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