One of the catchiest and most accurate phrases often associated with the zero-waste movement is “haste makes wastes”. The idea that not planning ahead can lead to waste is something I have definitely found to be true over the last few years. I like to be prepared, whether it’s going grocery shopping with a list so I don’t buy more than I need, keeping utensils in my purse or keeping reusable bags in my car.
As a big planner, one of the best organizational systems I discovered over the years was bullet journaling. I LOVE my bullet journal and have been using one for about 3 years now. The best part about a bullet journal is it’s complete customizable. It can be as complicated or as easy as you want it to be. You can track and note what works for you- whether that’s just a daily to-do list or a full yearly, monthly and weekly spread, like mine, or something in between. And that’s the beauty of it- There is no wrong way to bullet journal!
You’ll see a lot of Moleskin’s promoted for journaling but I have to be honest, I didn’t love that brand when I tried it. My go-to for the past 2 years has been Dingbats*, which, thankfully, is eco-friendly.
Dingbats* is independently certified as vegan and has received the V-label by the European Vegetarian Union. This means that no animals are harmed in the making of their notebooks, including in the cover or in the glue holding it all together. I LOVE that!
As with any paper product, you have to wonder about the quality of the paper and if it’s recycled and recyclable. The Dingbats* notebooks are made with FSC-certified paper. FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council and they are an organization that maintains strict guidelines to help promote sustainable forest management, as well as reduce negative impacts to the environment throughout the entire paper-making process. This means that though the notebooks use virgin tree fibers, trees are replanted for all those that are sustainably harvested and that throughout the entire paper-making process, the environment isn’t negatively impacted, right down to the water used. I have tried a number of notebooks that have recycled paper and as much as I love the idea, none have been able to hold up under the inks of pens and markers.
Additionally, if you are in the UK, Dingbats* donates 2% of their sales to the WWF-UK.
All the materials that are used are recyclable and biodegradable. No nasty, cheap plastic are used for the covers. Honestly, I keep all of my journals as I also keep pictures in them as sort of a hybrid scrapbook/journal so disposing them hasn’t really been high on my list.
Speaking of plastics, I will say that the notebook does come shrink wrapped in #4 plastic. The website touts this as necessary in protecting the notebooks throughout it’s pre-purchased lifecycle and that the plastic is recyclable in most places. Now, as any savvy low-waster knows, less than 10% of plastic actually gets recycled and the rest ends up in landfills so I don’t consider this a plus, no matter how Dingbats* choice to spin it. As a life long hoarder of notebooks, the majority of notebooks do not come with any sort of wrapping and I would hope to see Dingbats* move away from this in the future. I have seen other companies use a paper sleeves or a box to keep the journals safe so I do know there are other options. Because of this, I am keeping my eyes open for other options but so far, I just haven’t found a notebook that is 100% plastic free and has everything I am looking for in a bullet journal. I will certainly update you if that changes, though!
Now, how does the notebook perform? I love this notebook! I have rarely had problems with pens or markers bleeding through the pages or even ghosting. I mostly use Micron pens and Midliner highlighters right now as that is what I have. I’m looking toward more eco-friendly options but the Dingbats* notebook holds up well to both of these, as well as Towbows, if you use those. I personally don’t love that brand, I think they take too long to dry, but I know that is an unpopular opinion.
I have tried using stamps in my notebook and though the ink doesn’t bleed through the pages, it did take quite a while to dry and I overall just didn’t love the effect. I keep my bullet journaling supplies as minimal as possible to make it more approachable. The more complicated I make the pages, the harder it is to stay on top of.
Here is how I set my bullet journal up. Again, the beauty of bullet journaling is how you can customize it so take from this what you find helpful and adapt as necessary.
I always start my journal with a spread of all 12 months that include birthdays, holidays, work events and personal events. I keep any events throughout the year updated on here so I don’t lose events that may be happening 6 months down the line, such as concerts or vacations.
I follow this with my tracker sheets for the year- Books I read that year, Movies I watched, Shows I binged and, slightly off topic but helpful, packages I’ve ordered. I check those off as they come in so I know what is still pending and what has arrived. This is particularly helpful around Christmas. I keep tags on these pages at the bottom since they are pages I frequently go back to and I find the tags easier than adding any sort of table of content.
Then we get into the monthly breakdown. I do a calendar spread for the current month I am in (this example shows January 2021). When I make these monthly spreads, I pull in the notes from the yearly spread at the beginning of my notebook- any events, birthdays, etc.
Next comes my monthly tracking goals- What are some things I would like and try to do each day? For me, I have things like water goals, make my bed each morning, floss. This is where I keep those habits I want to try and work into my every day routine. This can be the same each month or can be updated each month with new goals. For instances, maybe in January, you are trying to recover from Christmas spending so you have a daily “No Spend” goal but that’s not feasible in June if you have a two week vacation. Having it here on your tracker helps you keep those goals visible. It feels really good each evening to go down the list and check off what you were able to complete.
The weekly spreads are what I spend the most time working on as it’s what I sit down each weekend and complete. Realistically, you’ll keep the 12-month spread and your yearly trackers updated but you only have to set those up once. Since the weekly updates are what you spend the most time, you can make them as elaborate or as simple as you want. When I started, I was making some really beautiful, and really time consuming, pages. I’ve definitely minimized/stream lined those as time has gone on and I’ve learned what is helpful for me. Here is where I write my daily to-dos, track my weekly exercises, write my grocery list for the week and my weekly goals. You can also track food you eat, water if you are trying to drink more, how much sleep your are getting, daily affirmations, etc. You do you!
Overall, bullet journaling just helps me stay organized. I am definitely a paper and pen kind of person. As much as I’ve tried to move away from material stuff and keep lists on my phone, I much prefer jotting items down on paper. It helps me remember items better and it helps move worries out of my brain. If you need to make lists and write things down as well, I would definitely suggests a Dingbats* notebook. They do come in a variety of sizes and pages (lines, dots, grids or blank). They have a line of notebooks that is geared toward bullet journaling called The Earth Collection, which highlights endangered eco-systems around the world. I haven’t actually tried any of these because they are sold out each time I go to buy a new notebook! My ‘go-to’ is an A5+ with Dot grids and they retail for about $20.
Do you have a favorite notebook or planner you swear by? Is being more organized apart of your 2021 resolutions?
**this posts isn’t sponsored. All supplies shown were bought by me**