When I bring up bullet journaling or using a planner, people are always intrigued but convinced that they couldn’t do it themselves. Most people seem convinced that you have to be an artist to create a beautiful journal or planner. This week I set out to prove them wrong. It’s possible to create a beautiful planner or journal spread with zero artistic talent. With these top 5 tools for bullet journaling, anyone can create a page to be proud of.
I started a bullet journal earlier this year and I love the freedom this journal gives me. If you are still new to the Bullet Journaling world you can read my tips on how to pick one here – Pick your Journal and make it work for you. Keeping a bullet journal has allowed me to be both creative and more accountable for my yearly goals. Once I started a bullet journal for my everyday life I knew I wanted something more structured to help me out with my blog. I use a Passion Planner to organize and plan out my blog and couldn’t be happier! The tools for bullet journaling listed below work equally well for both bullet journals and planners!
P.S – I am leaving a pencil and an eraser off my tools for bullet journaling list. They seem a bit too obvious to include. But, you should probably have them too!
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Top 5 Tools for Bullet Journaling and Planners
Tool 1 – A Ruler
So basic but so important. A ruler might even be a tool you already have laying around (go and raid your kid old school supplies). Rulers can be used to draw a grid for a calendar spread, measure and mark out the spacing for a weekly spread or draw a flowchart. To be honest, if you are using a dotted journal all you really need is something that can draw a straight line. The dots themselves can be used to measure spacing. Even the edge of your phone can be used in a pinch (I’ve done it) – but a ruler is pretty cheap and useful enough to be worth picking up.
You can also use rulers to make geometric designs and artwork. You don’t have to be a great artist to makes pictures with straight lines! But they can look really stunning on a page. Especially if you emphasize them with markers and highlighters.
Tool 2 – Markers
I know! Another basic tool! I am not talking about your regular everyday markers though. Go crazy with these! Don’t underestimate the power of a great marker. I like to use fine-tipped markers (they work better for stencils) but feel free to collect a real variety. Buy metallic markers, pastel markers, bright markers. Markers are bright and bold. Pencil crayons are nice but I don’t always have time to fool with coloring and shading. Markers can make your doodles and writing stand out on the page with minimal effort.
Just make sure you follow my tips for picking the right journal to ensure your markers don’t bleed through the pages and make a mess. If your journal or planner has a thin paper you might have to stick with pencil crayons. Play around with your markers on scrap paper before using them in your journal. Practice making thick lines, thin lines and learn how they mix with one another. If you are nervous about using such a permanent mark in your journal feel free to trace out your design in pencil first.
Tool 3 – Highlighters
Highlighters are great for more than just highlighting. They come in a variety of colors and are typically light enough that bleed through is not a problem. Highlighters can be great for coloring in parts of your design, blocking out a time or writing headlines that you want to stand out.
Gather a good collection of highlighters. Look for different shades. Consider both thin and thick tips, thick tips are great for shading and coloring in designs while thin tips are better for writing. If you have specific events or items that repeat regularly in your journal or planner you might even want to use a highlighter to color code it. I use highlighters to color code the different social media’s in my blog planner. Having them color coded makes them stand out and after I learned which color stood for which social account I only had to glance at my planner to see what I need to be working on.
Tool 4 – Stencils
I am sure that we all used stencils in school. Especially when trying to make lettering for all those poster board projects. I am happy to say that stencils have come a long way since then, which is why they are being included in this tools for bullet journaling list.
Stencils are a lifesaver when you don’t know how to draw. Or even if you just want to make something pretty without spending time sketching. The title page for my bullet journal is almost completely done with stencils. With the use of Cricutters and shops like Etsy and Amazon creative people the world over have created a wide variety of stencils for you to use. If you are feeling creative you can even attempt to make some of your own!
You can find stencils for almost any subject you can think of. Flowers, animals, symbols, cute swirly lines – if you want it there is probably a stencil out there made for it. While looking for stencils there are a few things you should keep in mind. Small stencils with very fine lines will require pens or markers with very small tips. Keep the size of your markers in mind when you order stencils (or buy more, that’s always an option).
Some stencils are more flexible than others. I like the flexible stencils. They don’t get in the way as much if you happen to be working in a small area – but you do have to watch and make sure they don’t get bent too far.
Tool 5 – Stickers and Sticker Packs
The last item on my tools for bullet journaling list is probably my favorite. Stickers.
Stickers mean that I can add beautiful art to my page without actually having to do any of the art. They are the ultimate bullet journal and planner cheat sheet. Even better some wonderful people out there design entire packs of stickers specifically for planners and journals. Etsy shops such as Planning by Shannon sell both weekly and monthly kits that you can use to kickstart your pages without much effort at all. Sticker packs are normally designed to be used as a single theme but there’s no rule saying you can’t mix and match.
Plus, who doesn’t love the childlike nostalgia of playing with stickers? Stickers are easy to find and relatively cheap, between Etsy, the dollar store and Amazon you can build up a collection that will probably last you the majority of the year for a very low price. If you have ever tried scrapbooking you might even have some laying around already.
Do these really work?
Yes! I promised you a list of tools for bullet journaling that you can use to make great planner and journal layouts without being an artist. To prove it I purchased some sticker packs and created a monthly and weekly layout in my passion planner using nothing but stickers.
The sticker packs I purchased came from Planning by Shannon, a store on Etsy. They are great quality and easy to write on with a matte finish. She has both monthly and weekly kits available as well as a good selection of accessory stickers. If you are interested in trying a sticker layout I highly recommend looking at her store.
I also created a page in my bullet journal using a combination of stickers and stencils as an example for this post. It was very quick and simple to do and while I like drawing my own pages I will likely do this again when I am strapped for time. Or just when I find some really great stickers.
The Bottom Line
The main thing to remember about bullet journals and planners is that they are for YOU. They can be as messy or as organized as you want them to be. If you want to make them pretty there are tools out there to help you but you shouldn’t feel like you have to do so. Don’t compare your journal to other people’s, use it to express your life and who you are. That is what makes a great journal page in the end.