Bullet Journal Layout – How I Bullet Journal Using an Arc Notebook

Mmmmm, planners. I'm a bit of a planner-nerd, or planner-junkie, or whatever you want to call it. What better way to kick off my "Level 10 Life" then by planning it all out first, right?

I, like many people I know, have searched far and wide for the perfect planner set-up.​ I've spent entirely too much money (shhh, don't tell my husband) on planning supplies and paraphernalia for this addiction, only to bail on each new idea in just a few short weeks.

I could never find the right combination. Until now... I think :)​

Bullet Journal Layout | Sarcasm & Sweet Tea

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My Planner History

In a perfect world, I would make a quick trip to the store (maybe a local Walmart), go to the planner aisle, flip through the first planner I lay my hands on and it would be perfect. I would purchase it (for less than $10) bring it home, and use it daily. My life would be organized and my handwriting would be impeccable. People would sense an air of calm and peace within me and all would be well in the world.

What actually happens in real life, however, is that I peruse the planner aisle of EVERY ​store I go to, hoping that the "perfect" planner will jump out at me (and be on sale) but it doesn't. I like the weekly layout of this planner, and the size of that planner, and page thickness of that planner and so I buy them all. Or none of them. Ugh.

I thought I almost had it figured out when I saw the Arc Notebooks at Staples. I thought "this is it!" I can add and remove pages as necessary, they have a few different layout options, so you can pick and choose, and it's so pretty. Yay! So I bought the half size. And then later, the full size. And then later, the pocket size.

And like with everything else, I used it for a few weeks and gave up. There just weren't enough options for layouts that I liked and needed.

Bullet Journal Weekly Layout | Sarcasm & Sweet Tea

Enter Bullet Journaling

In my endless search for planner inspiration, while browsing Pinterest (of course), I stumbled upon the idea of "Bullet Journaling." I was excited. I was suspicious. I was excited.

Could this be it?

For those who may not know what bullet journaling is, I'll quote the Bullet Journal website:

"The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less."

The best part? You don't need to buy anything. Nothing. All you need is a simple notebook. Or just some paper. Really, that's it.

The idea is that you use a notebook, ANY notebook that you like, and customize it as you go. The website gives the basic layout, but the idea is to make it your own.

Want to get lost in inspiration? Just search "bullet journal" on Pinterest. And then search #bulletjournal on Instagram. I'll check in with you in a few days to make sure you've eaten and slept. Seriously, there are so many ideas to pull from. There are simple, functional pages. There are complex, artistic, beautifully crafted pages. And everything in between.

So I started with a basic $0.99 graph paper composition notebook that I already had lying around to see how I liked it. And I loved the idea. But it still wasn't quite right.

In following other bloggers and planner-nerds on ​Instagram and Pinterest, I felt myself still wanting. (Jealousy and comparison are terrible, horrible things...) They had prettier planners. Their pages were thicker and the ink didn't "bleed" or "ghost" or any of that. They had amazing handwriting and perfect pages. They had dots instead of graph lines. Ugh.

Bullet Journal Layout | Sarcasm & Sweet Tea

I really didn't want to spend more money, to get another notebook full of basically blank pages. Not that there's anything wrong with that! It's just, you know, it was right before Christmas and I figured my money should probably go toward my children and family, and not my planner addiction.

So I decided to improvise. And I am soooo glad I did.​

Combining the Two

Since I already had the Arc Notebook (in three different sizes), I decided to figure out how to make it work. The result is better than I could have ever imagined. I started by researching printer paper. In doing so, I discovered the HP 32-lb Premium Choice laser printer paper. This has the right thickness to stop all bleeding and most ghosting.

I created and printed off a few sheets in dotted, graphed, and lined ​to test out (if you are interested in printable dot grid or graph paper, check out my printables shop). Since using this notebook regularly, I've discovered that I use the dotted much more than anything else, so I've gone back and printed a bunch more of the dotted.

Bullet Journal Layout | Sarcasm & Sweet Tea

In addition, I decided to leave a few totally blank pages in there, just in case I want to doodle or mind-map or something. I really wanted to have some beautiful drawings and mandalas and other creative things as well, like those of Boho Berry and others, but I am really not an artist. So I decided to print off a couple of coloring pages to add, so when creativity hits me, I have somewhere to direct it.

I still use the tabs in my notebook, because even though this is a "catch all" style of planning, I still like to have a little structure to it. That is what is so great about using the Arc system. I can add and remove pages, or move them to different sections. I also can take the page out to write on it, and then pop it back in when I'm done.​

Bullet Journal Layout | Sarcasm & Sweet Tea

My Layout

I'm sure my layout will change a million times over as I try new things out and tweak as I go. As it stands now, however, my basic layout looks like this:

I have five tabbed sections:​

  • ​Future Planning: Here I keep a list birthdays and anniversaries for the year I want to remember, and a weekly spread where I can put my appointments and other important dates.
  • Daily Planning: This is where I keep all the stuff I need to see daily, so my habit tracker and my daily spread.
  • Blog Planning: This section is for all my notes for the blog, tips I want to remember, my master blog to-do list, and any future ideas I have.
  • Level 10 Life: This is for my Miracle Morning notes, my affirmations and gratitude log, and any notes I have on the personal development books I'm reading, etc.
  • Fun: This is for my coloring pages, my fonts/hand-lettering reference sheets, and any fun spreads that I have (like my TV show tracker).
Bullet Journal Habit Tracker | Sarcasm & Sweet Tea

Alright, I'm sorry this post was so long. I tend to get a little passionate about planner-talk. Hopefully,you found some things here that inspire you to create the perfect planner for you.

Let us know in the comments: What does your perfect planner look like? 

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