But if you enjoy the feel of writing down your daily tasks, you could use these digital hacks to make to keep up with your bullet journaling habits.
1. Use Printable Layouts and Calendars
One of the greatest things about the bullet journal system is the ability to create your own layouts. But it’s also one of the most time-consuming.
While many people clearly enjoy the process of hand drawing their layouts, decorating their journals, and more, you can choose to take a more utilitarian approach and just use printed layouts and calendars.
While it’s preferable that you design your own layout to ensure that you get the most out of your bullet journal, you could start out with someone else’s printables.
Either way, whether you create them yourself or use someone else’s layouts, you can print out daily, weekly, and monthly spreads, as well as any other pages you choose to include in your journal such as goals, budgets, reading lists, meal planners, and more.
Create Your Own Layouts and Dotted Paper
There are plenty of digital tools you can use to create your own layouts:
- If you’re on a computer, you can use any desktop design program like Adobe Illustrator or InDesign. You could also use Microsoft Word to draw tables.
- If you have an iPad Pro, consider an app like Procreate.
- If you don’t want to pay for an Adobe program or don’t have a tablet, opt for online alternatives to these programs—like Gravit or Canva.
Check out the video below for a simple planner page created in Illustrator. You can use the tips and tricks in the video and apply it to your own design.
If you need more video tutorials, check out the examples below:
Do you prefer PDF format? You can make them fillable and add items to your agenda or to-do list on your computer and then print it out.
And finally, if you want to stay true to the most favored style among bullet journal enthusiasts, you’ll probably want to create your own dotted grid paper which you can do with a free service like Gridzzly. The site allows you to choose the spacing and opacity of the dots.
So if you still feel like creating these layouts, there are plenty of free and paid options available. A quick search on Pinterest for journals and habit trackers will yield a ton of both.
You’ll find that most printables are available as PDFs.
Here are a few free examples to get you started:
- 2018 Calendar (You get a PDF with a spread for each month, but will have to provide your email to get the free printable.)
- Dot grid paper printable (Available in Letter and A5 size PDFs.)
- Weekly template (PDF)
How to Use Your Printables
So you have your prints. Now what? The easiest approach is to use a smaller binder or Filofax rather than having to stick the printed pages into an existing journal.
You could also go for something even simpler like a clipboard if you want to keep things as minimal as possible.
But if you’ve already picked out a journal that works for you, you’ll want to buy full sheets of sticker paper. You can print two separate pages for an A5 journal onto one sheet of letter sticker paper and cut it down the middle. If you don’t want to do any extra trimming, then you’ll want to buy A4 sticker paper rather than the letter size.
2. Make It Pretty With Digital Stickers or Stamps
Doing a quick search for bullet journals on Instagram or Pinterest will reveal a lot of really beautifully decorated planners. Again, you might not have time to dedicate to doodling in the margins of your bullet journal.
Instead of trying to draw these things yourself, you can jazz up your bullet journal with digital stickers that you can print out at home.
If you have a die cutting machine like the Silhouette Cameo or Portrait, you have the added bonus of not having to cut your stickers out by hand.
You can either create the stickers yourself in the Silhouette software or just use the machine to cut out stickers you’ve purchased or downloaded.
There are plenty of places you can purchase stickers to use in your bullet journal, but, just like the layouts, with a bit of creativity, you can make your own using an online service like PicMonkey.
But be warned, PicMonkey made a significant change to its free service—you can’t save your images unless you have a paid account.
In PicMonkey, create a blank canvas and use the Overlay and Text features and you can create all sorts of stickers. Either pick a theme that appeals to you, or check out the Scrapbooky section of the overlays with banners, labels, tape, and much more that could fit right into your bullet journal aesthetic.
If you don’t want to upgrade to a paid PicMonkey account, Canva is a great alternative. Create a new canvas using the US letter size and you can create stickers using text and elements. Search for the same items listed above or any keywords for stickers that are relevant to your tasks, chores, pages, and more.
To get started, here are a few places you can download free stickers:
- Banners, Dividers, Doodles, and Letters
- Printable Planner Stickers (PDF, JPG, PNG and Silhouette files, but you will have to provide your email to get them)
- Printable Label Stickers (PDF, JPG, and PNG files)
Once you have your stickers ready to print, you can print them on regular sticker paper, or in some cases, transparent sticker paper might look better.
3. Combine With Your Digital Life
As satisfying as it is to handwrite your to-do list, and check items off as they’re completed—there are a lot of advantages to a digitized planner or calendar. So why not have the best of both worlds?
Search, reminders, recurring tasks, and seamless sharing are just a few of the features you might want to hang on to with a semi-digital, semi-analog system. Not to mention the ability to take a digital planner with you everywhere, provided your phone battery doesn’t die.
You can take the most important parts of your journal with you by snapping photos. If you simply need to remember your to-do list, just use your phone’s camera app.
- Search: If you need something a little more robust, among the many robust features in Evernote is the ability to snap pictures of text which will be fully searchable in the app.
- Seamless Sharing: Google Calendar is a great tool for all your scheduling needs, and can be shared with colleagues and family. As you’re planning for your week, keep Google Calendar (or your preferred digital calendar) open, and you can log important events, meetings, and dates in digital format as you write them into your planner, and vice versa.
- Reminders: You can also use the same approach with reminders. Use something as simple as the Reminders app on your iOS phone or opt for something multi-platform like Google Now.
4. Use a Digitized Notebook or Pen
The final option will require a little more of an investment on your part but will make it easier to digitize your paper planner.
- Smart Pens: Use a tool like Livescribe’s smartpens to convert lists, and dates in your bullet journal to digital notes.
- Digital notebooks: A traditional journal with a modern twist, like Moleskine’s Paper Tablet (available in the dotted format) paired with the Smart Writing Set Pen can also take your notes from the page to the screen.
These methods will cost you anywhere from $30 to $180, so it might be worth trying your hand at the first three options before committing to something a little more pricey.
The Tools Don’t Matter
At the end of the day, the bullet journal system is all about keeping you organized and staying on task. It started out as a simple system created to fill a gap in the planner system.
While it’s really easy to get bogged down in the details, all that matters is the ability to keep track of your tasks. Rather than obsess over layouts and doodles, remember that the most important thing is the system of logging and migrating tasks and events, and everything is else is just gravy.
And if you are short of ideas, go to these places to find inspiration for your next bullet journal.