Have you ever met someone and immediately knew this person would make a huge impact in your life? That's what we thought the first time we met our fav gal Caroline McNally! We may have first met her virtually but after getting to collaborate on a photoshoot we were hooked on her talented and inspiring spirit! She overflows with creativity and love. Not only is Caroline a blogger, brand ambassador, dog lover, and fellow California gal, but she is a bullet journalist. Whether you are like A and have no idea what this is or like S who only wishes she could be this artistic we're sure you'll be intrigued!
First things first what is bullet journaling?! It’s a way to keep all aspects of your life organized. The best part about bullet journaling is that it can be customizable to you. Think about it as a planner, diary, and to-do list that’s all in one! Now that you’ve got the general idea keep scrollin’ for some incredible tips and creative inspiration. We're sure you'll be inspired and encouraged to give bullet journaling a try!
S&A: How did you get started with bullet journaling?
C: I was seeing it on Tumblr a lot and it immediately appealed to me. I always have a sketchbook or notebook for doodles with me, multiple to-do lists at once and in school I was addicted to my planner, so meshing the two to create my own planning system sounded pretty perfect. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up with it, because I’m not very good about updating my traditional journal, so I didn’t start with anything fancy - just a pack of colorful pens from Michael’s and a grid notebook I found at my student bookstore.
S&A: How do you decide on what’s important to include in your journal?
C: I include pretty much everything! In school, I had a separate planner for schoolwork with more detail, but I would include things in my bullet journal like “study for Spanish midterm” or “outline Hamlet paper,” so I wouldn’t forget to do them. I can be weirdly forgetful about little things, so I’ll put something as minor as “do laundry” or “catch up on tv show” in my bullet journal. Depending on the week, I sometimes have both daily and weekly to-do lists. I also have pages that aren’t weekly spreads where I track the money I save, movies I want to see, playlists, books I want to read, and any other lists. My favorite thing to include, besides the fun artsy stuff, is my habit tracker. It has evolved quite a bit, but currently I track exercise, taking my meds, reading, how many hours I sleep each night and the percentage of my sleep quality (which I get from an app I use).
Almost everything goes into my bullet journal - it’s basically a record of who I am at the current moment, which will be cool to look back on in a few years. Even looking back at my first bullet journal, I feel like I documented the last 2 years of college well and I’ll be able to remember them in 10, 20 years.
This might sound weird, but I’m a note-taker in every aspect of life. I see journaling, bullet, traditional, or otherwise, as a way to take notes on myself - my moods, my habits, my current favorites. Sometimes, if I’m going through a rough patch, I like to look back at old journals and sketchbooks and - for lack of a better term - study myself to see how I can better cope with what I’m going through. I find this kind of self-reflection super valuable!
S&A: What are your top tips for someone who wants to try bullet journaling for the first time?
C: To get started, check out the original bullet journal website. Then, do some Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram searches!
Once you have started, don’t compare your journal to the others! It’s great to get inspiration online, but never forget that everyone has their own style and it evolves as times goes on. My first ever weekly spread looks so different from my current ones, you’d think they were by two different people.
Also, start simple. Don’t try out a spread you saw on the Instagram of someone who’s been doing it for a few years. The trackers and systems people use are pretty personal, and I’ve tried to replicate a page I like a lot only to find that I don’t even really know what system they were using.
My best tip is to stay consistent! It’s tough, but its the best way to maintain a helpful bullet journal. I personally spend 15-30 minutes a night updating my weekly spread.
S&A: What are your favorite products or essential items to use while you journal?
C: There are so many! One thing you definitely need is a good, reliable thin tip black pen, and I’ve tried quite a few. I have landed on my personal holy grail, the Pilot juice gel pen. It doesn’t bleed or smudge and it’s so smooth to write with. I buy these in bulk and use them for everything in my life, no joke.
Washi tape is a popular staple of the bullet journal community. I have way too many rolls of it. The great thing about washi tape is that it’s pretty cheap and there are infinite patterns and colors. You can buy it on Amazon, Etsy, at stationery and craft stores, and other places.
Zebra mildliner highlighters are another popular item in the community, for a good reason. They’re like highlighters, but the colors are a bit more muted, so they don’t bleed as much and the colors aren’t as obnoxious.
I’m also a tiny bit of a hoarder, so I save all kinds of tickets and stamps and cards in a box and then use them in my journal! It’s those little personal touches that make your journal feel unique.
S&A: We love that you include quotes as well as stickers and photos throughout your journal. Where are some of your favorite places to gather this inspiration?
C: I find a good amount of stuff on Pinterest and Tumblr, and I also like to use song lyrics and quotes from books. I keep a running list of quotes from tv shows, movies, music, books, celebrities, etc. on my phone so when I’m stumped on what to include in my journal, I can consult the note on my phone. I also like to write little phrases like “oh, darling” or “i love you,” which I think I originally saw in someone else’s bullet journal.
S&A: What are your top three tips or encouragements for a creative who is too hard on themselves?
C: This is tough because I can be very hard on myself! To quote my favorite podcast host Georgia Hardstark, “It doesn’t have to be perfect, just f**king do things.” I think she sums it up pretty well - if you’re waiting for something to be perfect, you’ll never start it. Evolution is a major part of creativity - the more you practice and try new things, the more your style develops.
Here are my three encouragements/tips for creatives:
People rarely nail it on the first try! And, you know, the whole “if at first you don’t succeed, try try again” thing.
Don’t hold yourself to an impossibly high standard. You can be your own harshest critic, so make sure you’re gentle with yourself and give yourself time to bloom.
I believe in you! You’re amazing and if you’re reading this, I want you to start that creative project you’ve been putting off. #yolo or whatever.
I also want to mention that bullet journaling doesn’t have to be fancy or super artsy. The beauty of it is that you can personalize it to create your perfect system. If that means a super minimal layout with just a black pen, that’s fine! Everyone figures out what works best for them as they continue to bullet journal.
We hope y'all loved getting all the deets on bullet journaling but most importantly getting to soak up a little glimpse of the lovely Caroline! If you're feeling inspired and decide to give bullet journaling a try, tag us on Insta @OHBIofficial and @moirajournals we would love to see how it goes!
To learn more about the sweet Caroline you can find her on all the social medias listed below! We highly recommend giving her all the follows!
Facebook: Caroline McNally