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When social distancing measures took hold across the country last year, many Americans started feeling less motivated. In a 2020 study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 42 percent of adults under the age of 50 surveyed said it's been somewhat or very difficult for them to feel motivated since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. If you share similar sentiments and are looking for new ways to make your life more organized and productive, you may want to try bullet journaling — or as aficionados endearingly call it, “BuJo.”
Rising in popularity over the last few years, bullet journaling is a "mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system," according to the official Bullet Journal website. A bullet journal can be considered your planner, diary and written meditation guide all wrapped into one that helps you coordinate your life and reach your personal and professional goals. Some include daily to-dos, notes, long-term goals and weekly or monthly calendars in their bullet journals, while others use it as an emotion and well-being log.
By identifying daily stressors, bullet journaling can even benefit your mental and physical health, according to recent studies. Psychotherapist F. Diane Barth, LCSW, recently told NBC News that bullet journaling can be a useful aid to our well-being since it can help us track our habits and moods, and thus better process emotions and release intrusive thoughts. Additionally, the simple act of putting pen to paper engages a different part of your brain and forces you to slow down and be more mindful, according to Lara Jakobsons, PhD, owner of Center for Mind Health in Chicago.
How to bullet journal
The best way to ease your way into the world of bullet journaling is with motive and intention, Jakobsons shared. She advised beginners to focus on getting more words on paper and to commit to journaling for a few minutes every day. If you want to streamline your workflow, you might want to consider organizing your bullet journal into daily to-do, weekly calendar and event sections. If you’re looking to unpack your everyday emotions, you can organize your bullet journal into daily affirmations, meditation trackers and feelings log sections using bullet journal supplies like stickers, rulers and colorful pens. Still, it’s okay if you aren’t sure how to proceed. Here are some examples from the creator of Bullet Journal.
Best bullet journals of 2021
There’s a reason this notebook from Moleskine has an average 4.8-star rating from over 14,000 Amazon reviewers. A cult favorite in the bullet journaling community, this journal has the classic leather-like Moleskine cover. Specifically designed for bullet journaling, this dotted iteration comes with 240 pages and in a myriad of fun colors including Scarlett Red, Hydrangea Blue and Reef Blue.
LEUCHTTURM1917 carries a bullet journal that is similar to Moleskine’s but slightly cheaper. Complete with 251 numbered pages, this notebook has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon from over 2,400 reviews. It comes in over a dozen fun colors including Azur, Fresh Green and Lemon.
If you’re newer to the world of bullet journaling, check out this journal that has a 4.5-star average rating from almost 600 reviewers. Along with a dot grid journal, the set also comes with a how-to guide that will lead you through the process of setting up your journal. Enclosed in the flexible cover are 208 dot-grid pages.
Similar to the Dot Journaling set above, this kit gives you everything you’ll need to start bullet journaling from scratch. This set comes with essential bullet journal supplies like a reusable stencils, 15 fineliner pens, six sticker sheets and six rolls of washi tape. It has a 4.7-star average rating from nearly 1,200 Amazon customers.
Unlike the other journals on this list, this 192-page bullet journal from Keegood includes a pencil holder, colored tabs and a built-in ruler. These functional add-ons can be especially useful if you are bullet journaling on the go. Additionally, the brand claims the paper is eco-friendly, meaning it wasn’t made with any chemical additives. This bullet journal has a 4.8-star average rating from more than 1,400 Amazon reviews.
If you’re not a fan of the weight or the rigidness of bound notebooks, consider this 40-page notebook from Amazon, which garnered a 4.7-star average rating from over 1,100 shoppers. The sewn bound notebook comes in a 3-pack and has inserts for A5 size paper.
This journal is made with 160 pages of acid-free paper, which ensures there will be zero bleeding and feathering. With a 4.7-star average from almost 3,000 Amazon consumers, this bullet journal comes in eight different colors including Bottled Green, Charcoal, Grey and Lavender and is bound in a faux leather cover.
The Filofax organizer features a six-ring binder that allows you to add, remove and rearrange the pages in your bullet journal. With a 4.8-star rating from over 200 shoppers on Amazon, the leather cover notebook comes with a notepad pocket, four card pockets and a place to put your pen. While it is the most expensive option on this list, it can be used as long as you replace the pages.