Part planner, part journal, and part tracker, the bullet journal is a productivity method developed by Ryder Carroll, a Brooklyn-based designer who developed the system to help him stay organized. The beauty of bullet journaling is that it can be customized to your needs.
You don’t need a special notebook to bullet journal. Although I love the bound notebooks that are usually used (Leuchtturm, Moleskine, and Ryder’s own Bullet Journal), after trying one, I quickly realized that I wanted the flexibility of having a journal with removable, refillable pages.
Although there are many planners with refillable pages, it’s hard to find one with dot grid pages. If you’re new to bullet journaling, the dot grid makes it easier to draw just about everything (calendars, daily, weekly, and yearly spreads, and trackers) without having to measure your lines. The dots are subtle and don’t interfere with your layouts like lined or grid or graph paper can.
After many hours spent trying to find one, I decided to make my own and am so glad I did. It really is the best of both worlds. Here are a few of the things I love about my DIY bullet journal:
1. Removable/ refillable dot grid pages. This DIY bullet journal is made for this dot grid paper, which is the highest quality dot grid paper that I could find. There’s no ghosting (when you can see the shadow of the ink on the other side, but it hasn’t bled all the way through the page) with this paper.
Initially, I hoped that the paper would work with a standard A5 cover but once you remove the pages from the notepad, they’re smaller than A5 (hence the custom cover).
The pages are removable/refillable. When using a bullet journal for business, it can be freeing to have pages to brainstorm, map out creative ideas, and scribble notes and be able to keep them or remove them if you want.
The removable pages can also help if you make mistakes while drawing a layout (miss a month while drawing your yearly calendar?). While it can be therapeutic to let perfectionism go and just roll with random mistakes, you may find yourself using white out, washi tape, or pasting pages together. With this journal, you can just remove the page.
2. All the cover options. After spending hours looking at my local art supply store and other stores, both online and off, I wasn’t sure I’d find the right cover but was so excited to discover these cute file folders.
File folders are thick enough to hold up but are still lightweight. For added protection, you can use a transparent cover.
3. It lays flat. Part of the appeal of a paper journal is that it can lay on your desk so you can glance at it to stay on track or add notes to it during the day. Unlike bound notebooks, which sometimes have to be weighted down to stay open, this notebook stays open on its own.
4. Discs. You can find simple discs, but I love the quality of these gorgeous discs and they’re lightweight. Using the discs makes it easy to add or remove pages. The pages stay in well and don’t come out of the rings, even when the cover is folded over.
How to Make This DIY Bullet Journal
- Paper cutter
- Protective cover – use 0.010 or 0.015 clear pvc (this is the one used here, but 0.015 is thicker and more protective).
1. Decide which way you want the folder to face and position it accordingly. Although the stripes run top to bottom, I wanted them to run across.
2. Measure 6.25 across and 7.5 inches down. If you’re using a paper cutter, the guide can help you (as you can see in the photo below, the guide goes up to 6.25 but there is an extension that swings out so you don’t need a ruler). If you’re using scissors, draw in the straight lines with a ruler and a pencil.
3. Trim the folder in one direction.
4. Trim it in the second direction.
Open up the trimmed folder and cut it along the spine of the folder.
4. Take the cover and place it in the hole punch. Since you’re using thick card stock, make sure the edge of the cover is completely in the hole punch.
Press down hard three times, once on each segment. Press hard enough so that you can feel and hear all the holes being punched.
5. Punch some dot grid paper. The punch can handle a few sheets at a time. Punch about 20 to 30 sheets if you’re starting a new notebook.
6. Align the covers and the paper so that the holes line up. Carefully place the discs through the holes.