Our Comprehensive Collection of Bullet Journal Ideas and Inspiration
The irresistible rise of the bullet journal
Graphic designers have understood since time immemorial that there is an art to organising and presenting information.
After all, it's what they do day in and day out.
But, in recent years, the art of organising has gone viral and hit the mainstream.
And the bullet journal is the spark that lit the fuse.
But what exactly is a bullet journal and how do you go about making one? All will be revealed!
The first thing to grasp, though, is this: bullet journals only require two things. The first is a pen and the second is paper. It's that simple.
Who would have thought that, in an age where countless apps can keep track of your tasks, events and schedule digitally, a 'pen and paper'-based method of ensuring that things don't get lost in the mix would catch on like wildfire?
But it has: and it's known, for short, as a BuJo.
Let's offer you some bullet journal ideas and inspiration as we:
• Explain exactly what a BuJo is
• Outline how you can make your own
• Detail the irresistible rise of the BuJo
• Advise you on the best bullet journals and BuJo accessories
• Share some influencers and resources that will take your organisation to the next creative level.
What is a bullet journal?
Any search for #BuJo on social media will reveal the sheer number of tweets, posts, groups and boards that are now devoted to the art of bullet journals.
Bullet journals are a way to organise your personal info, key dates and to-do lists in a blank journal without the rigid structure that diaries and planners impose upon you.
It's a simple but effective way to streamline your calendar, task list and notes all in one place – but in your own, unique way.
Who invented the BuJo?
Brooklyn-based artistic director Ryder Carroll takes the credit for popularising this new way to jot down ideas and tasks using the two very old-school tools of pen and paper.
You can read the BuJo backstory here.
Ryder also developed a system for annotating your entries – but, of course, no-one has to follow these rules.
He suggests that you use the following organisation marks.
• Indicates a task
> For tasks that have migrated over from a previous list or month
< For tasks that are scheduled for a specific time
O Indicates an event
- Indicates a note
* Adds special importance to a note
A drawn eye Means 'to look into'
And he suggests that you structure your bullet journal along these lines:
Index This lists the pages where each topic's task lists, notes and dates can be found
Topics (or Collections) A common theme that pulls together different lists or notes (e.g. Project name or Birthday Planner)
Future log Main events and tasks coming up over the next year
Monthly and Daily calendars Incorporate tasks and events into a planner style that's all your own
Tracker A page that keeps a record of a specific thing or activity
Here's what he says:
'It may seem like a lot of effort to have to rewrite items over and over, but that's intentional. This process makes you pause and consider each item.' Ryder Carroll
And here are some examples of a bullet journal month spread, tracker page and week planner.
The visual art of bullet journals
The BuJo was born on August 18th 2013. It's only fair to let Ryder pick up the story:
'I was sitting across the table from a frantic colleague. She was planning a wedding, and her desk was an angry mess of post-it notes, notebooks, and repurposed envelopes.
She'd peeked into my notebook and said she could never be that organized. I told her there was a method to my madness, and I offered to walk her through it.
There was a brief silence, and then she said "You have to share this with people."
On August 18, 2013, I launched bulletjournal.com, with a tutorial video and step-by-step instructions. Soon, the first tutorial video was getting hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. Bullet Journal communities sprung up to share their customizations.' Ryder Carroll
And the rest is history.
Yet, the history of this visual way of organising information actually goes back much further than that fateful day.
Think of mind maps, for example.
Or look even further back. Recently no less an authority than the Smithsonian has pointed out that the the visual organisation of data is not something that is limited to the digital age. They trace it back as far as the 18th century.
Florence Nightingale's 19th century 'rose diagrams' show deaths from disease (blue), war wounds (red) and other causes (black) in a highly visual way.
Compare the lady with the lamp to the blogger with a BuJo: this is Boho Berry's 21st century wheel of life.
The rise of the digital age's penchant for visualisation, however, is certainly concurrent with the rise of the BuJo.
David McCandless' high-tech manipulations on information is beautiful and the ever-increasing popularity of made-for-sharing infographics on the web have more in common with pen and paper bullet journals than they would like to let on.
UK-based portrait specialist Sam Gilbey's Dr Who data
Your own personal bullet journal tool kit
So, you're ready to start your own bullet journal?
That's great. Here are all the beautiful journals and specialist stationery that you'll need. (And once we've got you all kitted up we'll share a few bullet journal ideas and inspiration with you.)
Beautiful bullet journals
If you're moving away from the straitjacket approach of this…
… to something like this…
… then you're going to want a rather special journal to store your creative planning in.
Here are the current favourites among the team at London Graphic Centre.
The personal favourite of Ryder Carroll, these journals are available in a wide range of sizes and colours. Leuchtturm is well-known for its meticulous attention to detail and exceptional high-quality finish.
Japanese brand Midori has given their journal a wonderfully tactile leather cover. The resulting rustic feel makes this the kind of journal you want to take to bed and cuddle!
Inspired by the traditional notepads used by Oscar Wilde and Vincent Van Gogh, Italian brand Moleskine has created a fantastic range of journals and planners. Choose your size and decide if you need the pages dotted, squared or blank… and then go and get creative!
The distinctive design-led, durable covers of Portico Designs are the latest addition to our journal range. We love the fact that this one sports a very modern look compared to the old-fashioned values sported by others.
German brand Nuuna prides itself on its eco-credentials and on its iconic looks. Along with Portico Designs here are the perfect journals for those wishing to look contemporary as they get organised in the old-fashioned way. Nuuna notebooks are available with either plain, coloured or dot grid paper.
Essential BuJo accessories
Now you've chosen your journal it's time to put pen to paper. Here are our favourite stationery items for creating stunning spreads and pages.
Alongside Penco's excellent retro-styled pens, pencils, rulers and clipboards you will find these very handy clips. Use them to keep your bullet journal flat as you create pages or as you photo them to share on Instagram with your friends.
Of course, beautiful writing requires a beautiful pen – and they don't come much finer than this gorgeous Kaweco Aluminium Fountain Pen. Just hold it between your fingers to see just what a difference some precision engineering can make.
Washi tape is perfect for bullet journals. It allows you to colour coordinate each section or to create tabs so you can find all your ideas and topics in an instant.
Use your versatile tape to create nice little boxes on the page or to demarcate headings – you're only really limited by your imagination. It's available in thin or thicker versions and in a wide variety of colours and patterns – so you can make sure your journal is personalised in exactly the way that you want it to be.
Tombow pens were made for bullet journals with a sense of class. They allow you to create all kinds of artistic effects when writing.
This Lettering Set gives you plenty of colour options and contains a handy guide in case you have never before put your hand to mastering the art of calligraphy. Have a quick read and then make some beautiful marks.
We love this rainbow of Post-It notes – and they are ideal to use as dividers or create colourful sections on your bullet journal page spread.
Here's a top tip you can use straight away: if you are creating a mini calendar for the week ahead you can do so really quickly by sticking one of these in for each day.
Bullet journal inspiration and ideas
To help you get creative when organising your life here are more tips and ideas for creating your own look and feel. At the end of this section we've included some links to useful resources and influencers who will keep you pumped with more inspiration than your poor body can hold.
So, there's only one thing for it: start using these ideas in your own bullet journal before you explode!
Ideas for bullet journal pages and spreads
It's 100% up to you what you choose to record and organise, but here are 15 of the most popular topics that people create spreads for.
1. Daily tasks page
2. Bullet journal key
3. Books to read/movies to watch
4. Inspirational quotes
5. Weekly meal planner
6. Savings/spending tracker
7. Spending tracker
8. Workout log
9. Weight loss chart
10. Habit tracker
11. Week at a glance
12. Client project plan
13. Mood tracker
14. Quitting smoking tracker
15. Revenue target tracker
Look at how Post-Its have been used to stunning effect in this bullet journal spread.
Source: Thatjournal [SF]
There is a tendency to assume that only blank paper will do in your quest to be freed from the strictures and structures of classic organisers.
Yet, look at how this spread uses these handy printed dots on its bullet journal paper to line up all those creative marks.
Source: Christina [SF]
It's not all pencils and pens in the bullet journal world: watercolours can also be used to artistic effect too.
Source: MLJournal [SF]
Check out our range of watercolours if you're inspired!
Even without any of its illustrations the gorgeous writing on this page is enough to make you keep to the week's task list!
This is what a set of lettering pens could unleash in you!
Source: Pinterest [SF]
You don't have to be an artist to get organised in a creative way. Here Washi tape is used with a couple of doodles to create a wonderfully coordinated look.
Source: StudyQ [SF]
It never hurts to get some inspiration from others when you are about to dp your own thing. To help you find some great ideas and a lifetime of inspiration here are our bullet journal heroes.
Follow the tweets of the man who gave the world the BuJo.
Ryder's own take on the analogue system for the digital age.
She's here to show you how to live a more organized and inspired life... one beautiful day at a time.
Fantastic collection of Instagram posts showing journal pages from a Spanish artist.
Inspiring BuJo resources from designer Christina.
Thought provoking blog and actionable bullet journal tips.
Finally, here is the ultimate list of bullet journal resources.
And that really does provide the last word on all things BuJo.