Adventures in Bullet Journaling

I posted this picture of my bullet journal on instagram yesterday, and everybody kept commenting that they wanted to buy it, which tells me that those people don’t understand the basic concept of a bullet journal. That’s ok, neither did I once.

The beautiful thing about a bullet journal is that it doesn’t have a fixed format. It evolves weekly and even daily, depending on what you need from it. It solves the classic journal problem – a problem that I am intimately familiar with – which is the problem of deciding you’ve found THE perfect journal format that will work for you forever, printing or buying it in bulk, and then realizing you want to change it days, weeks, or months later. And then you repeat those two steps over, and over, and over, and over… forever. After doing that for almost two years I finally learned about bullet journals. Finally, my journal reformatting struggle ended.

Bullet journaling has a reputation of being really cute and fancy and creative and that leads many people to think that bullet journaling is only for people who are creative and have beautiful handwriting. THAT IS A BIG LIE.

Anyone can be a successful bullet journaler. To do, love, and be good at bullet journaling, you need three things: 

  • A journal (with dot pages or grid pages) 
  • A pen 
  • 5 minutes somewhere in your day to devote to your journaling routine 

This is a bullet journal.


If you do a google search for bullet journaling, you will quickly be under the false impression that you also need the following:

  • Pretty colorful pens of all different shapes and thicknesses
  • A special case to put all your supplies in
  • A fancy calligraphy pen
  • Stickers and decorative tape
  • A pocket sized ruler
  • Glitter pens and scrapbooking materials
  • To be a crafty, creative person
  • Knowledge of all the bullet-journal specific terminology like “dailies” and “weeklies” and “future log” and “migrating” and whatever else bullet journaling enthusiasts have made up to intimidate you
  • Beautiful handwriting and an interest in hand lettering and calligraphy
  • 5 hours every day for writing in and decorating your bullet journal 

I’m just gonna go ahead and cross out everything on that list. You don’t need any of that. Unless you really WANT any of that, then be my guest.

Some people get really into the creative aspect of bullet journaling and are serious bullet journal nerds. Because those people make pretty things, the pretty things are a majority of what you find on the internet. I admit, I am a little bit of a bullet journal nerd, and sometimes my journal is pretty. Often times it’s not. (But that’s not what I post online, which is exactly the point I’m trying to make about selection bias). That said, none of that fancy stuff is necessary. It’s just fun and frills for crafty people who enjoy that kind of thing. If that’s not your thing, don’t do it.

Anyway, I’ve figured out a thing or two about how to incorporate my bullet journaling practice into my Bright Line Eating program.

So, rather than selling anyone a fish, I thought I’d write a post teaching them how to fish.

Components of my Bullet Journal

If you have any experience with eating programs or personal development, you’ll know that there are a million different ways in which you are supposed to interact with a journal. You’ll notice that this method combines a lot of them. And also that it’s flexible. That’s the beauty of it.

At first, I used to have all my work and life stuff in there too, like to-do lists, work tasks, grocery lists, etc.

I didn’t like that, it got too overwhelming. I decided to make this journal my special little journal, my personal, intimate, sacred little world that stays separate from rest of the more mundane stuff in my life.

So, here are the consistent components of my Bullet Journal:

  • Nightly checklist (writing down and tracking daily commitments) 
  • Habit tracking (tracking things I’m curious about but not committed to one way or the other)
  • Daily notes, reflections, & gratitudes
  • Weekly goals
  • Food journal

My daily journaling routine takes about 5 minutes.

Every night I do the following:

  • Complete my nightly checklist and record the day’s data
  • Write down a couple of quick notes, reflections, and gratitudes
  • Make the heading for tomorrow’s entry (day of the week and date)
  • Write down tomorrow’s meals

Every Sunday, I cozy up with my journal and spend about 10-15 minutes reflecting on the next week’s commitments and goals, and I create the next week’s nightly checklist.

Content & Format

Here is how I think about each component of my journal, along with a few formatting ideas. Some aspects of my formatting change from week to week (if something needs an adjustment to work better for me) but many things stay the same week to week because they are working well.

Daily Notes

  • I record two things at the end of each day:
    • Notes from the day
    • Gratitude(s)
  • Notes: A note can be anything I want to note – how hungry I was that day, whether or not I had any cravings, emotions from the day, something I did that day, thoughts or ideas that I might want to remember, it can be anything. I use a little dot point for notes. Sometimes I just write one thing, and sometimes there are lots of things.
  • Gratitude: One or more things I am grateful for from the day. I use a little heart symbol to denote a gratitude. A pretty simple and lovely practice.

Food Journal

  • If you’re the planning sort, write down your meals the night before. If you’re the tracking sort, write down what you ate after you eat it.

Scan 1


Nightly Checklist

  • I create my nightly checklist for the week on Sunday night, and use it to record my data and recall my commitments every night.
  • These are your DAILY commitments.
  • Consider: What are you really actually truly committed to doing every day this week? Be REALISTIC. These aren’t your fantasy world hopes and dreams. These are things you are actually devoting effort and energy to right now, this week. This is the section where you want the highest integrity.
  • Write each commitment down along with some way of checking a box each day. It’s just a yes or no situation. Don’t get too fancy about it.
  • Don’t put it in the nightly checklist list if you aren’t actually intending to do it. These are the promises you are making to yourself. If you put “maybe” kinds of things in there, the nightly checklist loses its power and you will watch yourself breaking your promises to yourself, which is the opposite of what you want to do. Save that stuff for habit tracking (below).
  • Allow these things to change from week to week, and take the time at the end of each week to reflect and re-evaluate your commitments.

Scan 5

Habit Tracking

  • These are the things I’m curious about but not committed to one way or the other. What separates these items from my nightly checklist items is whether or not I feel a loss of personal integrity (or disappointment in myself) if I don’t check the box. For me, these are things like caffeine, alcohol, and eating out at a restaurant.
  • Tracking this kind of data helps me notice patterns in my behavior and decide if I’m ok with them or not. For example, I might not notice I’m eating out four times per week unless I see four checked boxes, and then I can have some awareness and get real with myself.
  • If something I’m tracking in this category starts to escalate and become an issue, I will temporarily move it to the nightly checklist if I choose to reign it in or abstain from it for a little while. Otherwise, it’s just something that stays here to keep an eye on. For example, sometimes I feel fine about my coffee habit, and sometimes I don’t. So it often bounces between my habit tracking list and my nightly checklist.

Scan 3

Weekly Goals

  • These are any goals that are flexible in terms of when they happen during the week. I usually have a weekly goal to attend one yoga class and one cycling class each week. Sometimes I put projects in there, or any self-care or hobby activities that I want to make sure I attend to.

Scan 4

A Note on Style and Formatting

There are so many ways you could format and organize entries in a bullet journal. If you are excited and inspired, google bullet journals. If you are intimidated, whatever you do, don’t google bullet journals. Create something simple, easy, and pleasing to YOU. The only goal is that it is FUNCTIONAL and serves you. Once it’s been serving you for a while, make it as decorative as you want. Or don’t. It’s your journal. Nobody is going to steal it and post it on instagram or a bullet journaling blog.

There are NO rules. If you do go down the google search rabbit hole, just beware of this phenomenon.


So that is what I do, and I love it. And no, I won’t sell you any of my journal pages. If you like them, give it a try yourself! You can do it!

Is there a component of your journaling practice that I didn’t mention? Don’t do it or you’ll be doing bullet journaling wrong. JUST KIDDING. Add things! Remove things! Try stuff! Experiment! Explore! Have fun! Be playful! Cross things out! If it doesn’t work for you, don’t do it! Don’t try to be perfect, don’t overthink it, don’t get attached to any particular way of journaling, and don’t take it too seriously. That’s what it’s all about.

If you have any fun journaling ideas or practices, leave a comment, I’d love to hear about them!

Ok fine, I’ll post a few pictures of my actual bullet journal.

Realness warning: The following pictures reflect my real life and the fact that I’m not perfect at things. 🙂

Scan 9Scan 6Scan 8scan-7.jpeg


  1. Dana Oliver

    This is a great post Katie! Thank you for the Bullet journaling tutorial!

  2. Jessica

    Love this post, Katie. Thanks for both the bujo content and keeping it real, food wise. I’ve been bullet journalling for a few months and initially got some great ideas for BLE tracking from your printables. As an introvert BLE’er, I find that journalling is a major support for me.

  3. My goodness, Katie…how very generous of you to write all this out. It’s clear, concise and organized. Thank you so much!❤❤

  4. Jennifer

    So great! My bullet journal evolves with me as I go! I just reread your posts about mainteneance and am so happy that you write about that!
    It really helps to hear about how people navigate maintenance!

  5. Chrystina

    Fantastic and just what I needed as I am trying to re-board the BLE train!

  6. Jayne

    Thank you this Katie, very helpful for a “wanna be” bullet journal creator! I am going to give it a try YEAH!!! JAyne

  7. Antoinette

    You are just so awesome! I journalled digitally for a short while when I first started BLE nearly 9 months ago but stopped because it just wasn’t fun and I didn’t have time. I use Evernote for all my meal plans, to do lists, shopping lists etc but have really been feeling the need to WRITE lately. Your post on Insta inspired me and this blog article is just super! Thank you!!!

  8. Karen Johnson

    Loved this email/post! Thanks bunches for sharing your creativity with us peeps on the short side of the learning BLE curve.

    On Thu, Sep 6, 2018 at 10:51 PM, Katie’s Bright Kitchen wrote:

    > Katie Gates posted: ” I posted this picture of my bullet journal on > instagram yesterday, and everybody kept commenting that they wanted to buy > it, which tells me that those people don’t understand the basic concept of > a bullet journal. That’s ok, neither did I once. The bea” >

  9. Cristina

    This is the best e-mail you have ever sent me! I just love it!!! And I have been converted…bullet journal here we come 🙂

  10. Terry Nunez

    As usual, you bring great topics of discussion to our somewhat modified BLE journey 💖

  11. Janie Smith

    Fantastic! Thank you so much for taking the time to share. You have provided some much needed inspiration!

  12. Sandra French

    Thank you for sending this Katie!!! Your recipes and suggestions have helped me continue this journey of BLE. 💗💗💗 I am so grateful!!!!

    Sent from my iPhone


  13. Barbara Mack

    Thank you for taking the time to help the rest of us with your wisdom and creativity!
    Sending a hug your way!

  14. Annie Iskenderian

    Hi Katie,

    Thank you so much for all your hard work and your kindness in helping others. It seems I’m not able to find your email sent with your journaling/tracking options that can be printed out. Would you be able to forward it to me PLEASE!

    Thanks again, Annie

    On Thu, Sep 6, 2018 at 7:54 PM Katie’s Bright Kitchen wrote:

    > Katie Gates posted: ” I posted this picture of my bullet journal on > instagram yesterday, and everybody kept commenting that they wanted to buy > it, which tells me that those people don’t understand the basic concept of > a bullet journal. That’s ok, neither did I once. The bea” >

    • Hi Annie, I’m not sure what you mean. Can you clarify? You can always just print this post too.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks Katie…Found it under “…doing that for almost two years.”

  15. Belinda R. Schanel

    This is a great post! Yay!!!!

  16. So helpful! Thanks! I like how weight is not on there. I think the
    number on the scale can actually be triggering for me. I’m still
    trying to figure this one out.

  17. Thanks Katie for your awesome inspiration and for all these brilliant ideas you are always willing to share. NOW I feel like a load of weight has just been lifted off my shoulders!!
    You get some people that have OCD, I am the opposite, I have total chaos on my desk, but know where everything is, so for me to get some sort of order into my BLE life is such a relief. Thanks so much for sharing all your ideas, they really do help me.
    Thank you and may you be blessed as much as you bless others!!!!!!

  18. Katie, a huge Thank you for sharing! I love the reflection on how you have made this program your own as I was feeling shameful about not following the program to the letter. My maintenance has been the same for over 60 days despite my doing almost BLE. The journal instructions have inspired me to give it a try. I think it will work out well.

  19. mary

    Thank you! Just when I am day 85 BLE and feeling the need to change from my xeroxed original “nightly checklist” to something more meaningful and maybe incorporate my food journal. I have minimal time to do more than I do for writing things down, so was looking for something creative but focused for me (at age 60+). I will try this <3.

  20. Melissa Pinilla

    Do you follow anyone else who does a bullet journal for BLE? I would love more ideas! 🙂

  21. Ellie

    Thanks for sharing this! Opens up a whole slew of new ideas & possibilities! !!

  22. Renas Fadlalla

    Just Curious, what bullet journal are you using? Thanks for all your wonderful recipes!

    • I’m not sure, just a generic one I got at my local bookstore. I’d say pick one out that makes you happy! 🙂

  23. Rebecca

    What a great idea! While searching for a point form way to get started I came across your post. I’m listening to the BLE audiobook for the second time in hopes of absorbing everything I need to know before I begin. I wondered how I was going keep track of the meal plan, gratitude, commitment, weekly goals, and habit tracking when I can barely keep track of the last place I saw my keys 😉 Thanks so much for sharing!

  24. Thank you so much for posting this! I have been wanting to try bullet journaling because administration is my gift and being this organized sounded so great! However, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. I even have an e-book that describes and has lots of pretty pictures on how it MUST be done. It sounded so complicated, my perfectionist self didn’t want to try it. You made it so easy and simple. I got my journal this week and am love, love, loving it!!

  25. Molly T.

    Hi Katie, thank you, this is awesome! I bought a fancy journal in January (!!!) with the best of intentions of creating a highly effective and inspired plan for myself. I’ve been carrying this EMPTY journal around in my purse and/or backpack every single day since then – almost 3 months – because I didn’t know how to use it or couldn’t decide on the right way to use it. After reading your post, I realize that my inner perfectionist felt too intimidated and worried about doing it wrong and having it look bad. I just got it out and have started writing some ideas into it. So excited to finally have it be useful instead of dead weight!

  26. Pingback: BLE and Bullet Journaling — Katie’s Bright Kitchen – LoriCamper.Com

  27. Anonymous

    Thanks for showing your journal.

  28. Alexandra

    I’ve been bullet journaling for a long time, so happy to see it BLE’d! I’ve been wondering how to make it work with bullet journal because it seems like such a great fit. Thanks so much for showing your ideas!

  29. Tammy

    Thank you for sharing this awesome way to journal. I think it’s a great way to keep tracking interesting. I picked up my dot ruled notebooks up at Walmart- $3.24

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.