on bullet journaling, great pens and altoid tins

For the two or three of you who have been reading my blog since I started it 100 years ago, you might remember that the whole impetus to start blogging was my obsession with finding the perfect planner. I spent several years searching stores for a planner that would be designed in such a way to meet my OCD desire to track all of my to-do lists, goals, and plans on a daily basis. Out of frustration, I ended up creating my own “everydayMOM planner,” and that is actually the reason I started this blog many moons ago.
After several years of updating and selling my planner, I decided to move on to a digital form of tracking my life. And finally, I’ve reached a system that combines tracking all of our family events on an electronic shareable calendar, while using paper and pen to keep track of my day-to-day lists.
This week, my mind was blown when I learned there is an entire universe of people out there who are even more obsessed than I with finding the perfect planner. In fact, they have created a cult following over a completely old school form of planner. It’s called bullet journaling, and learning about it has become my new favorite past time. It is both so complicated and yet so simple that you will find little pieces of your brain splattered on the walls when you first try to understand what it’s all about. Do a quick search of #bulletjournal on Instagram, and you’ll see what I mean.
To make a super long explanation short, the bullet journal is a diy journal that you create from scratch every day in a special notebook. On the one hand, it seems ridiculous to use pen and paper to draw out your own calendar spreads for the day, month and year. On the other hand, it’s so fun and satisfying to think of creating custom pages that perfectly meet your needs.
The concept of bullet journaling seems to appeal to people who love:

  • writing on paper
  • hand lettering
  • writing with colored pens
  • doodling
  • making to-do lists
  • journaling

I would say that pretty much describes ME!
While I don’t really see the need to hand draw my own planner in a notebook, I DO love the idea of keeping a custom journal in which I can add pages for whatever comes to mind. I started my own version that includes pages like:

  • books I want to read or have read
  • craft projects I want to try
  • a habit tracker
  • notes about what healthy foods I should eat
  • and “bullet journaling,” which is simply jotting down little notes to remember what happened that day.

Each day, I seem to think of more and more things I want to add to my bullet journal, and I look forward to having a few minutes in the afternoon to add new pages. This has been a fun new obsession!
In the process of learning about starting a bullet journal, I convinced myself it would be essential to buy some new pens if I even wanted to consider giving it a try. Many of you know that my pen collection is… um… substantial. However, it is 98 percent Sharpies, and I really felt I should branch out into the world of the gel pen if I wanted to be properly equipped to take on the bullet journal.
That’s when I discovered the Pilot G-Tec-C Gel Rolling Ball pens. At the risk of being overly dramatic, can I just say #lifechanging! The thing I love about these pens is the .4 mm ultra fine tip. I’m pretty sure this is the finest, fine tip that you can buy in an over-the-counter pen. (Perhaps you can get a prescription for something finer.)Β  I love these pens, and they make me want to write stuff in my #bulletjournal.
Finally, can we just talk about the cuteness of Altoid tins? I have literally never had an Altoid mint or an Altoid tin in my life. But recently, I was spying on the most adorable little earbud case made by the mom of my daughter’s friend. She had taken an Altoid tin and covered it in something cute, maybe Washi tape or fabric… I can’t even remember.
I was at Costco the other day and saw that they sell Altoid “smalls.” These are just smaller, cuter versions of the regular Altoid tins. Of course, I had to buy some for future craft projects, and since it was Costco, they came in a pack of 12. If you want to entertain yourself for a few hours, just do a search on Pinterest for Altoid tin projects. I can barely wait until I’ve eaten all of my tiny mints so I can get started!
Until then, I’ve added “Altoid tin earbud holder” to my #bulletjournal, and I wrote it with my .4mm ultra fine tip pens. That alone was quite satisfying.
How about you? Have you learned about anything new this week? Did you know about bullet journaling? Do you have a favorite pen? Do you love Altoids or their tins? I would love to know!


  1. This idea is fascinating to me! I switched to an online calendar a few years ago, and I love it for many reasons. But I really miss WRITING things down, and I especially can’t figure out how to incorporate my to-do lists with my online calendar, like I can with a paper one. I love the idea of keeping a separate calendar for my to-do lists, projects, and other favorite things! Did you print your calendar pages yourself, or did you buy them? Drawing them out is too much for me. πŸ˜‰
    Thanks for the post!

    1. Michele, I use Cozi, an online calendar, for all of our family plans. We have SO MANY things on our calendar (and many recurring events), that this is the most efficient way I’ve found to input everything and share it with the family. I like using Cozi because when you print out the calendar, it’s cuter than other calendars (like iCal or Google).
      For my daily tasks, I purchased the iheartorganizing calendar. It’s a pdf that you print out and put in a binder. Her format is very similar to the calendar I used to create, so it works well for me.
      I have been using my bullet journal to keep track of things that are more long-term and ongoing… goals for the month, passwords, books I want to read, meal plans or just memories that I want to jot down. I like the bullet journal because it’s all in one place, rather than scattered in different notebooks.
      I actually throw away the pages of my planner once they are in the past, but the bullet journal is something I plan to keep.

    1. Dad,
      I thought you must MIGHT have an opinion on this pen issue. Now that I’ve branched out into this type of pen, I will have to try yours. If I remember correctly, it’s not as fine as the .4 mm ultra fine tip. I find that my handwriting is neater with the super fine tip.
      Thanks for reading! <3

  2. Way back when I worked I found myself designing and printing my own blank daily task lists because I could never find a planner that would accommodate my needs… guess what I used to write everything? Colorfull Pilot gel pens! It’s funny I never though to use something like this for my “mom tasks”, might help keep my head above the water!

    1. Nora, I have lists on my computer that I print out for all types of things we do around here… daily chores, emptying the dishwasher, Saturday chores… I can never figure out how to keep them in one place though. This idea of the bullet journal has my mind racing all over again. πŸ™‚ I think you need to put some of those Pilot gel pens on your Christmas list! πŸ˜‰

  3. I finally gave up creating my version of your planner this fall and am trying a new one (that isn’t quite the same, but maybe will work). I may have to look at iheartorganizing.
    My favorite pens are Ink Joy. I have them in a ton of colors – even brown! – and with my new organizer decided it was time to make use of them in my daily planning (and not just randomly, like I had been). So I wonder how your gel pens compare to Ink Joy.
    Need more regular size Altoid tins? I have a ton, since DH likes the mints. I can pass a few along to you to go with your small ones. πŸ™‚

    1. Lara, I saw some Ink Joy pens tonight, and I was SO tempted to buy them just to compare. Thankfully, I made it out of the office supply store without spending any more money!
      I would love a few of your regular sized Altoid tins! I’m thinking about some additions we could make to our fairy garden with those.

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