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Excited and uncertain, I slowly unwrapped the plastic and ran my fingers across the berry bright leather cover. A tingle moved up my spine as I opened the notebook to find creamy white index pages. The dotted pages promised something special: a fresh start. Like many things in life, I still remember the first time I learned about the magic of bullet journals and the fun of bullet journal supplies.
What is a bullet journal?
A bullet journal is a flexible system that functions as a planner, journal, and anything else you might need paper for (list-making, note-taking, habit tracker, weight loss diary, and so on). Developed by Ryder Carroll as his own personal system, he introduced it to the public in 2015 a few years ago and watched it explode in popularity. According to Ryder, the bullet journal is about “the art of intentional living.”
How to bullet journal?
Ryder’s system is slightly complicated, but it involves rapidly logging your daily tasks, events, notes, collections, and anything else you might need. However, the only requirements for his system include a future log (for your future needs), a daily page, collections (notes/trackers/anything else), and an index to track what page information is on. Still, I use the word “requirements” loosely as the system can work without these items.
On the other hand, numerous folks have figured out their own hacks and tricks to make the bullet journal work for their circumstances. You can find tons of examples on YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest, but one of my absolute favorite follows is Kara of Boho Berry. In fact, I subscribe to her blog and her YouTube channel.
Who uses a bullet journal and how do they use it?
Honestly, the biggest fans of bullet journals are folks who adore planning. The bujo community is full of bloggers, productivity experts, art designers, authors, and so many others. For example, the internet is littered with conversion stories.
When I started my bullet journal in 2016, I quickly realized that there are three categories of bullet journalers:
- Artists – The artistic folks can be quite terrifying for someone new dipping their toes in the water. For instance, it’s their spreads that take over social media and can make newbies feel inadequate. They love to play with brush pens, watercolor markers, and mid-liners.
- Minimalists – The minimalists are the most likely to follow Ryder’s system to the letter because it is a simple practice at its core. They don’t see much need to devote hours to their spreads when a few black strokes on a page will do.
- Printable Enthusiasts – Printable enthusiasts (like me!) are those of us most likely to be unartistic and/or impatient. Instead, we use printables for everything in our bujo. We fall somewhere between Artists and Minimalists because we’ll use brush pens and washi tape, but we won’t spend time making a dutch door on our weekly spread or create beautifully drawn themed monthly spreads. We are all about making it easy on ourselves but spending more time than minimalists.
What do you put in your bullet journal?
Every bullet journaler makes their system work for them. Similar to the idea of balance, your bujo (hopefully) reflects the priorities that you’re working on. After all, your essentials may not be my essentials and vice versa. So you should start with the priorities that mean the most to you.
Where are the best supplies found in a store?
Michaels – Michaels has an amazing rewards program that makes it difficult to resist their daily coupons. I love the days where I have a 30% off coupon on my entire purchase and stickers are 50% off because it means $20 stickers for $8.
Where else can you purchase bullet journal supplies?
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Where is the best place to buy supplies online?
Hands down, my favorite place to buy bullet journal supplies online is Amazon (affiliate link), particularly when Michaels, Target, and Staples don’t have what I’m looking for.
What are must-have bullet journal supplies for beginners?
However, Amazon has more than 30,000 items which are overwhelming even for a veteran bujo person much less a new person. To that end, I’ve put together a list of the 20+ best supplies for beginners. Depending on your flavor (artist, minimalist, printable enthusiast), you’ll probably find that you don’t need all of these supplies.
Most importantly, a pen and notebook like the ones below are sufficient for starting a bullet journal. The other things that follow are fun things to have but certainly not necessary to be productive with your bullet journal.
Leuchtturm 1917, Bullet Journal
This is absolutely the best bullet journal for beginners, hands-down. As the official bullet journal, it contains instructions for Ryder’s system and includes the necessary parts of his version.
Pilot G2 Pens
These are excellent black pens to start with. I love how beautiful these gel pens look on a notebook page. For a long time, these were my favorite pens.
Bullet Journal – Fun Starter Pack
Perfect Planner Journal Supplies Kit (32 pcs)
Before you go out and buy all the supplies below, I recommend you start with a kit like this one. After all, it will give you a feel for basic supplies. Meanwhile, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Best Bullet Journal Supplies – How to Guide
The Bullet Journal Method
If you’re not a fan of videos and would rather read, Ryder Carroll released a book in 2018 on his method. Moreover, it also includes a ton of extra layouts in addition to his written tutorial and explanations.
Best Bujo Supplies – Notebooks
Leuchtturm 1917, Dotted
If you don’t need the official bullet journal by Leuchtturm, you can pick up a dotted, printed, lined, or blank version in a zillion colors including this New Pink shade. The Leuchtturm is generally one of the most popular notebooks because it has an index.
Scribbles that Matter
The Scribbles that Matter notebooks are an alternative that lots of bullet journal fans love, especially if they love fountain pens.
Similarly, Rhodias are also popular notebooks for bullet journals. With soft Italian leather covers, they come in a wide variety of covers and work well as long as you prefer ivory pages.
Moleskine, A5, dotted
Lots of folks love Moleskine notebooks and prefer to stick with them for their bullet journals. The pages aren’t as nice for heavier pens or markers because they leave ghosting on the pages. However, they are sturdy and reliable.
BoolQool, dotted, 2 pack
These journals are great if you like to use fancy pens. Even better, they are also less expensive than most of the other options on this list.
As a side note, these notebooks are all A5 or thereabouts. But if you feel more comfortable with other sizes, nearly all of these companies also make different sizes of notebooks as well (B6, A4, etc.) and are available on Amazon.
Best Bullet Journal Writing Tools – Pens and Markers
BIC Xtra-Life Mechanical Pencil
Truthfully, any pencils will do – these are just my favorite because I love the simplicity of mechanical pencils and not having to carry around a pencil sharpener.
Sharpie Fine Pens
Who knew Sharpie made fine and brush pens in addition to fabulous permanent markers? When Michaels started carrying these in January 2018, I tried them out and fell in love. They are indeed fine and worked perfectly with my printables. Plus, the colors are gorgeous.
Pilot Frixion Clickers
At the moment, these are my new favorite pens that I never go anywhere without. They actually erase very well and the colors are lovely. Consequently, I worry a lot less about making a mistake in my bujo these days.
Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pens for Calligraphy and Art Drawings
These brush pens are perfect for calligraphy and don’t leave ghosting on the page of your bullet journal. For one thing, the brushes are stiffer than the Dual Tip pens and therefore work better for changing the pressure of the pen on the page.
Stabilo Point 88 Fineliner Pens 0.4m 30 color wallet set
Like the Staedtler pens, these fineliners are excellent for a fine pen alternative. While they last forever, they aren’t resistant to water so you’ll have to be careful.
Firstly, I love the versatility of watercolor pencils because you can use them as regular color pencils. Secondly, you can add water to your drawing or coloring and transform the picture into something else entirely.
Best Markers for Bujos
Crayola Super Tips
I felt like I couldn’t make this list without including good old Crayola. But these fine tip markers do work really well for coloring in your bullet journal. It’s a pretty great set to start with.
Staedtler Triplus Fineliner 42-Color Assorted Super Fine Water-Based Markers
Before I discovered Sharpie fine pens and Frixion clickers, the Staedtler fineliners were the main tool I used for writing in my bullet journal. Because of their thin tips (0.3) and lots of colors, they are perfect for using on printables in my A5 journal. Certainly, I recommend them for your first set of markers.
Tombow Dual Brush Pens
If you’re artistic at all, the Tombow Dual Brush Pens are must-haves because they have two tips and work great for anyone who loves coloring in the drawings on their spreads.
Zebra Pen Mildliner, Double Ended Highlighter, Broad and Fine Tips
These mildliner pens are excellent for highlighting and color coding important things in your bullet journal. Like the Tombow pens, they have dual tips so that you can use them in more than one way.
Best Miscellaneous Bujo Supplies
Westcott Stainless Steel Office Ruler with Non Slip Cork Base
This Westcott ruler is a great size for drawing trackers in your bullet journal. It’s also super easy to carry because of how small it is.
Large Capacity Pen Organizer
I have at least six large-capacity pen organizers for all my pens because I’ve collected so many pens over the last three years. I would absolutely recommend that you buy a small one to carry with you and at least one large one for your favorite pens and pencils.
BULLETstencils Starter Set – Featuring 12 Journal Stencils: Includes Word Stencils, Circle Stencils, Drawing Stencils, Icons, Charts, Shapes
Metal stencils are essential for starting a bujo because they make it easy for non-artistic folks to be a little more artistic. Therefore, sets like this one give a lot of the most common shapes for daily, monthly, and weekly spreads.
How much washi tape is too much washi tape? It’s so fun and pretty plus comes in a million styles. it’s great as a decorative and artistic tool in your bujo. When I first started with printables, it was a staple for taping them into my bullet journal because washi tape is so pretty.
Fiskars Non-Stick Titanium Scissors
Likewise, a pair of really excellent non-stick scissors is a requirement, both for cutting paper and for cutting washi tape.
Happy Planner Stickers, Planner Basics
Like washi tape, stickers like these happy planner ones are terrific for adding more decoration to your bullet journal. I love these stickers for sprucing up my monthly and weekly spreads because I have zero artistic talent.
Other Miscellaneous Supplies
You might raise your eyebrow at the inclusion of Post-Its, but they are another versatile tool. I use them to plan out my weekly and monthly bujo pages or to mark important pages. However, other bujo folks have used them for meal planning spreads or making personal Kanban spreads.
Avery tabs are great for marking important pages. For example, I usually put them on my monthly pages so I can get back to them without having to page through my bujo too much. In addition, the repositionable ones are also terrific for marking weekly pages so they can be moved with each week.
Best Bullet Journal Supplies for Printables
Tombow 62147 MONO Adhesive Dots Applicator
I love these because when it comes to keeping my printables in my bullet journal, I needed a clean adhesive solution that was easy. These applicators and refills perfectly fit that purpose. Ultimately, washi tape was too temporary with printables, double-sided Scotch tape is too complicated, and glue sticks leave gross residue behind.
Any HP Instant Ink Printer
Meanwhile, switching to HP was an easy choice with my first introduction to the HP Instant Ink program and the increase in pages that I print every month.
HP Instant Ink
Above all, this is the best ink replacement program out there. For instance, $10 a month means I can print 300 pages in color which works out great for my bujo printables. For under $20, I can print 700 pages in color each month. The ink cartridges are shipped to my home long before I run out. Frankly, two HP XL cartridges in color and black generally run more than $80 and don’t last more 500 pages or so.
Fiskars Paper Trimmer
Once I made the switch to printables, a good paper cutter was essential. I really love the cutters from Fiskars because a lot of them are portable.
What Supplies You Really Need for Your First Bullet Journal
In conclusion, the question of what bullet journal supplies that a beginner should bis incredibly overwhelming when you first discover the concept. Most importantly, while I have highlighted several possible supplies you could buy, bullet journaling only requires a notebook and a writing utensil. If you go the minimalist route, that is definitely all you need, but if you decide that you want to try being artistic or even finding printables you love, then you will need other supplies.
Let me know in the comments below what supplies you consider to be essential and please feel free to share this post on social media.
Written for May’s Startamomblog.com‘s Monthly Challenge