Bullet Journaling: Arc Customizable Notebook

As someone who was new to the world of bullet journaling, I started with one of the most popular notebooks, a Leuchtturm. While I loved the dot grid paper and its sturdiness, I did not like using a bound journal. I am prone to ripping out pages and rearranging things a lot, so dealing with numbered paper and how tightly the book was stitched together bugged me.

I decided to switch it up.

There are a few disc bound systems on the market; The Happy Planner uses discs, along with Office Depot’s TUL line. I went with Staples ARC because I had a coupon, ha! You can use products from each line interchangeably as long as you heed the dimensions.

I chose a clear 6 3/8″ x 8 3/4″ (aka A5, “junior” or “mini” size) poly notebook because I had planned to stick stickers all over it. The mini notebooks are easily distinguishable by their 8 discs.

Since I was not 100% sure if I would like discbound journaling, I bought pre-packaged paper to keep costs down*, but you can make your own from cardstock / A5 printer paper and a special hole puncher. (From cheapest to most expensive: one, two, three, four) If you do not want to purchase a new hole puncher, you can use a single hole punch and make a small slit in the middle of the hole. This method is quite tedious, though.

*The paper is thin and most highlighters make it pill. My typical Sharpie pens also bleed through much worse than the Leuchtturm paper did. I will be crafting my own in the future.

Stickers from Redbubble.

Using Martha Stewart tab dividers and my trusty label maker, I created subsections. The biggest issue I had with my LT was how disorganized it got over time; I would have a weekly spread, then turn the page and I would have a to-do list with notes on how yesterday’s meal made me feel in the margins. *twitch*  

Here is the breakdown:
  • Monthly has a calendar print out of each month left in 2017 with important dates circled and defined.
  • Weekly is where the weekly spreads and running logs go. It is the “meat and potatoes” of my bujo.
I’m not thrilled with the look of this spread, no more highlighters until I switch paper.
  • Under the Log tab is where I keep things like my food diary, daily gratitude, and other day-to-day things.
  • Charts houses more long term tracking, like my gastro grid, mood chart, and debt trackers.
  • Etcetera so far has various pages dedicated to spirituality and meditation, as I am trying to be a more balanced individual. This is where everything that does not fall between the first four categories goes.
Anyone else wild about the moon? No?

The biggest downside to the disc system is that I have heard that the discs are fragile and can break apart if you carry your planner around. You can alleviate this issue if you put your journal in a separate pouch before putting it in your travel bag.

Bullet Journaling: An Introduction

If you are even faintly into organization or journaling, you have more than likely heard of Ryder Carrol’s Bullet Journal system. It is kind of a big deal.

Even if you are not the kind of person who gets giddy over office supplies, stay with me! I promise that if you need an analog system to keep your shit in order, this one is pretty dang awesome.

What makes the Bullet Journal unique from other planning systems is that it was created to be forgiving. You do not have to wait until January or August to start, like most standard planners. I literally began my bujo journey in the middle of June!

While there is an “official” branded Leuchtturm1917 Bullet Journal, there is no obligation to use it. In fact, you are encouraged to use whatever kind of notebook that works for you. That could be anything from a spiral notebook you snagged during a killer back to school sale or an artisan crafted travelers notebook. Your journal can be as simple or as complex as you decide; some users keep bare boned to-do lists, while others turn their spreads into works of living art. Me? I am kind of in the middle. I am no artist but I enjoy the use of colour and I try to keep things aesthetically pleasing.

One of my “bare bones” weekly spreads before the week began.

The biggest appeal I saw to the bujo over traditional planning was the option to track my mental and physical health. Taking the time to write down how I feel each day and logging tasks that I complete helps me keep better in tune with myself. I live with major depression and adult ADHD, so I need structure. My life without structure spirals into a nightmare. Being able to turn to a page and see that the last time I showered was last week is helpful with recovery, as is the ability to look over what I could have ate that upset my stomach.

I deal with chronic nausea and various gastro issues, so I keep daily notes to how food makes me feel.

My next post about bullet journaling will be how I made Staples ARC system work for me.