Skip to content

Given my unquenchable thirst for office supplies and unbreakable belief in lists, you’d think that bullet journaling would be the ace I keep up my sleeve. Rest assured my sleeves are ace-less.

It’s not that I don’t have journals—doesn’t everyone have barely used journals kicking around?—it’s just that I use a couple of pages, then forget to use them, then rediscover them, then use a couple of pages again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Sure, my lack of commitment to the journal lifestyle has left me less organized and documented. My biggest stumbling block is that I don’t quite know what to do with the blank pages, other than for scribbling the occasional note. I don’t fit in with the O.G. BuJo people who follow the rigid ways of Ryder Carroll. His charts and lines (to say nothing of his penmanship) aren’t in harmony with the way I work. I need structure but I also need ease.

Enter Felix Ford and her virtual bullet journalling course, which MDK has a discount for until the end of January. I knew it was time to take the leap after I muttered to my husband about needed one master list to unite all of my other lists.

I might have a pen problem (on a number of different levels).

My intention was to start a new journal before the old year ended. With the hustle and bustle of December, that didn’t happen. Instead, I bought some washi tape to match my navy blue MDK Leuchtturm 1917 because retail therapy is a great way to avoid something that feels like work.

There will be washi tape … and my pica stick from my newspaper days.

Make no mistake: in my own brain, Felix’s class felt like it was going to be a challenge. I’d be forced to pull everything together during the first week, I thought. My pages will need to look tidy. My handwriting would need to make my fifth-grade teacher proud. I’d be forced to illustrate with panache my innermost thoughts, otherwise I would let myself down.

And so I kept putting it off.

Last week, I steeled my nerve and watched the first lesson. The minute Felix reminded us to approach the journal in the “spirit of anti-perfectionism,” I knew her non-prescriptive method for capturing and, yes, organizing the messy details of a life would be the key I needed to unlock the BuJo door.

New journal on an old journal. Progress, not perfection.

My first month spread is far from perfect. I discovered that my favorite writing pens — the MUJI smooth ballpoint — tend to smudge when drawing straight lines. It took all of my will to not rip my first page out and start again once I researched unsmudgeable pens. Ditto when I made one horizontal bar of my grid one centimeter bigger than the others. And ditto-ditto when the little sheep I drew looked nothing like a … well. I don’t know what it looks like but it’s very much not a sheep.

You know what, though? I’m leaning into my “scruffy and honest” pages. This tangible start is a million times more useful than the systems I’ve never attempted because they look too polished.

I don’t know that this journal will contain a list to unite all of the other lists, but I sure am enjoying the journey to find out. Plus I can visit a few more stationery stores along the way. It’s a win all the way around.

About The Author

Adrienne Martini, the author of Somebody’s Gotta Do It, would love to talk with you about the importance of running for elected office or about all of the drama of holding a seat on the Board of Representatives in Otsego County, New York. Adrienne blogs when the spirit moves her at Martini Made.


  • I love Felix’s BuJo course- I’ve been BuJoing (is that even a verb?!) for years now and have struggled with the Insta BuJos out there; being a perfectionist doesn’t help! But the BuJo is sooo flexible and forgiving. Felix’s method has helped me with my creative pursuits: all my projects are now in my BuJo and consequently I am way more productive I haven’t finished the course yet – transition to a new job new country, but I’m still furiously knitting away!
    The course is informative, forgiving, fun and oh!! So inspiring!

  • Oh, how I related to this missive. I have discovered that for me the most powerful antidote to perfectionism in my BuJo journey (which is what drives me to set it aside) is to lean into making changes to my layouts and to using the next page for whatever I like. The index is the key. Enjoy!

  • You make me want to try!

  • I think we are kindred spirits! Thanks for the reminder that “scruffy and honest pages” should be leaned into and dare I say celebrated.

  • Scruffy and Honest forever!

  • I can so relate to this, right down to the one list to unite them all and the navy Leuchtturm 1917 journal. I just purchased the Knitsonik course yesterday, hope to start it this weekend, and will embrace the spirit of anti-perfectionism.

  • First- love the washi tape!!
    Second – with all good intentions I have bought journals to record knitting project notes (with cute little lambs on the cover); garden journal that is still blank as I sold the house with the big yard and now live in a townhouse. Maybe I’m just in love with the idea of journaling? Or maybe I need to take the Knitsonic course??

    Course will have to wait; need to show up at city council meeting this evening.

  • I am thankfully anti perfectionist already in most parts of my life. Sometimes that is a real hindrance as it also morphs into a super procrastinatorship label (and a new word no one wants to think about!) I have also signed up for the Knitsonik course, but have not yet started. It’s on my list!

  • I started Felix’s course on Saturday and I’m excited. I’ve been using the BuJo for years, but wanted to take it up a notch. I am looking forward to the habit tracker. Need to make sure I am doing the things I want to do and wasting my time away.

  • I had tried bullet journals BUT Felix made it doable. I make it my own. Her course is journal changing!

  • Adrienne, you pushed me over the last hurdle! I’m a retired Township Clerk with maybe just as many lists as you. Felix’s joyful journaling has been a temptation to me for over a year, but hey! I’m the Queen of Lists, no? Your post has encouraged me to give it a try. Here’s to a Joy Filled 2024!

  • Loved Felix’s course! I was finally able to get all of my lists in one place and off of scraps of paper. I started with Felix’s advice and then made it my own. It’s become my invaluable reference book for everything

  • OMG that washi tape is so gorgeous and fun. It makes me want to journal just to use it. Do you have a favorite place to buy it, Adrienne?

    • This was my first washi tape purchase ever. Found it in an Etsy shop called Printed Heron. It’s great – but I know there are other great sources out there.

  • I started keeping a BuJo in January 2019. Initially I got caught up in “doing it right, i.e., perfect”, with pretty colors and graphics and elaborate systems; but that wasn’t me. My pages are also ‘scruffy and honest’. OK, somewhat honest as there is more than a bit of erasing, but there is no tearing out of pages. Because I am fussy about straight lines I use the graph, not dotted, version of the Leuchtturm 1917. I also use a Kuru Togu mechanical pencil with graphite leads. There’s no washi tape or colored pencils/pens. I do have a separate journal for knitting, with each project having its own page with info. about designer, yarn, pattern name, etc. I track my knitting progress in the Daily Log, transferring important dates and issues to Knit BuJo. I use the Future Log and a Monthly calendar with a task/intention list on the facing page (no more missed birthdays or other important dates). I also developed a monthly Finance/Expense spread that results in no late payments and knowing exactly what I have at all times. The daily log has evolved into a journaling space combined with a to-do list. I don’t do any migration stuff, but I do take a look back at the end of the year and note what did or didn’t work. I have Ryan’s book but only occasionally visit the site; he’s a bit earnest for me. Each one of my journals contains about 20 months, or 8 pages per month. When I started, I did annual ones because all those empty pages looked so pretty. However, an annual one was wasteful and somewhat expensive. Over time I have used a Filofax, a Day-timer, scraps of paper, post-it notes. I have used this ‘system’ for over 5 years.

  • I loved this article – thanks for sharing your thoughts and general love of journaling supplies!

    It’s quite timely as I am also a collector of partially used notebooks and have vowed to pull my bujo act together!

    I’m off to check out the course…

    Best bujo wishes from Binghamton to Otsego!

    • Hello to the BING!

  • Such a delight to recognize your pica ruler! I have one, too. 🙂

  • I have kept a bujo since learning about it here on MDK years ago. It’s not “perfect,” but it always meets me where I am at the moment. I incorporated Felicity’s techniques that work especially well. I am visual and need things at hand; I have little patience for that perfectly kept index. Felicity really has her calm and creative fingers on exactly what I needed!!! Would recommend giving it a try for folks who crave organization but fail “perfection.” This is my perfect solution!

  • I have also started any number of journals and I always felt they had to have some deep meaning. I am enjoying the course also. In the midst of her lessons I joined MDK for her Zoom and have a Flyer for the Year. I also needed a place to compare several recipes it is in between some of the lessons. I will now use the “rooms” that are coming to put special washi tape on them as this is something I do very often. I am truly enjoying the idea of all my thoughts in one place.

  • Another fan/alum of the Felix Ford’s chill BuJo class here. Her theories on embracing the messiness of life, and her practical tips for getting the most out of journaling are priceless. I’d like to add something I got from one of the lovely comments on this blog: consider a Tah-Dah list (what you’ve accomplished) rather than a ToDo list (which leave me feeling overwhelmed and inadequate). Happy messy journaling!

  • I’m coming from a different perspective; I’ve read Ryder’s book and found it immensely helpful for me. I’ve modified his system a bit but the basic structure works very well for me. He even recommends in his book that you modify it as needed to make it work for you. I tried making an artsy bujo but found it too time consuming and distracting. I was spending more time on the art than the planning itself. (I have ADHD, so a streamlined system is more effective for me.) I usually use a half size binder and lots of dividers and pockets. I have one for work and one for home. I tend to plan a weekly, not daily, schedule. It gives me flexibility when the unexpected happens, especially at work. When you work in customer service, the unexpected has a way of happening pretty frequently, lol. Some of my coworkers have commented that they like my system.

    I do occasionally put art pages at the beginning of a month if I feel like it. And they’re definitely “scruffy but honest”. I love my erasable Frixion pens and highlighters, but multiple erasures begin to look scruffy too. The main thing is that you find what works for you.

    • Great that you found what works! I’m using a structured insert for a cool notebook called a rotenfaden. Calendars all taken care of. I’m experimenting with bullets a la bujo on the right side of the page

  • Just curious where you found that cool washi tape…

    And yes, I’ve done the same thing. Starting a few days and stopping. It’s not easy. It certainly takes perseverance to stick with. If I can write 21 days straight, I might have an established routine…I hope.

  • I love the erasable pens and there are lots of colors!

  • To heck with documenting it all with “words” that are made up and more obligatory purchases…just spend that time actually DOING SOMETHING. Then, it gets done, where you can see it.

  • Loved this take. I finally watched the Zoom of Felix, and even though I took her online class it was really inspiring!

  • I love people with pen problems, or a love for many different pens, markers etc. and who doesn’t find retail therapy a good way to start any new project. I can so relate. I haven’t taken the Felix Ford plunge yet but I do have new pens.

  • I adore and recommend Pilot Frixion erasable pens. is my fave for pens and refills. Yes, you can erase your writing! Just don’t use them on checks. Lots of tip sizes and colors.

  • I’ve never attempted bullet journaling and do love good stationery supplies, however, I discovered Any.Do for my phone, etc and haven’t looked back. It’s a list maker and the free version suits just fine. You can create sublists (so have item Grocery Store and then sub list all the things you need there), make items recurring, cross things off as you do them – and I always have it with me without needing to make space for a journal and pen set in my bag.

    More power to those of you who bullet journal and use all those cute supplies!

Come Shop With Us

My Cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping