It was probably at some point last year that we noticed our pads and journals/notebooks with a dot-grid pattern were getting increasingly popular. The term 'bullet journaling' was bandied around, but to be honest, we didn't take too much notice. We were busy trying to keep up with business as it was.

When Leuchtturm introduced its own bullet journal but supply was so scarce we couldn't even get hold of them, we realised we needed to wake up and smell the coffee. What was going on?

The recent weeks and months have been quite a voyage of discovery for us. Journaling has been around for many a year but seems to have really taken off in the past few years. Just take a look at Instagram and you'll see what we mean. Bullet journaling is relatively recent and was introduced to the world by an American called Ryder Carroll. Claims around bullet journaling range from the bizarre to the incredulous: 'It changed my life', '...improved my physical and emotional health immensely', or so they say at Call us old cynics but we needed some more convincing, so we looked into it a little more.

The principles of bullet journaling are straightforward and the best way to learn about the basics is through Caroll's website It states:

"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."

Bold claims indeed. No expensive equipment needed, just a notebook (preferably dot-grid - more why later) and a writing instrument (pretty sure there are some of those around here somewhere) to start. So... I thought I'd better give it a try. It's fair to say there was a degree of cynicism from some members in the team. We like to think of ourselves as pretty tech-savvy in most areas and there were comments such as 'how can it be better than OneNote for that?'.

I've always been one for writing lists though, and I get a huge amount of satisfaction from crossing things off lists too. So, how is bullet journaling different? Bullet journaling uses symbols to define different actions, events, thoughts, priorities, and lots of other things. Once you get into it, you soon starting bandying around terms such as spreads and future logs!

I started a couple of months ago, and I have to admit, I'm hooked. Has it changed my life and improved my mental and physical health? Absolutely not, but it's early days, and as every journaler will tell you, it's something you learn to develop. What works for one person won't for another, so you develop your own style.

So I got to grips with the basics and I now use a bullet journal on a daily basis at work (and take it home with me!). I use it to control my to do list, to take notes in meetings, to prepare for meetings. As a work tool, it helps me. I've started using at home to keep track of health, travel, gardening and other hobbies too.

Upon further investigation, the bullet journal overflows into a more creative field. Again, Instagram shows a wealth of examples of what you can do. We felt the easiest way to explain this was with examples. My life is far too dull to be interesting enough for this article so we enlisted the help of Herbert J. Spaniel, Esq. to illustrate what sort of things you can put in your journal. Herbie had to admit to being a little artistically challenged so enlisted the help of Louise to illustrate his journal.

I've spent a fair amount of time trawling the internet looking at examples, and the talent of some people is incredible and inspiring. On a recent holiday, I decided to take a journal with me and see how I got on. Bear in mind, I am the most un-artistic person you are ever likely to meet, but I surprised myself in attempting to draw silly little pictures to illustrate my notebook. The best thing was that I enjoyed it and it made me giggle. It also made Simon laugh (although probably not for the same reason). I also took some coloured pens and glue and enthusiastically pasted in any cards or receipts from restaurants or attractions we visited. I then made notes of what I thought of different places. At the end of the week's holiday I had created a lovely little aide memoir of a fantastic trip which I'll be able to keep and look back on. Even better - if we go back to the area, I can look at the scribbled comments next to the cards I pasted in to see if it's worth going back. At the beginning of the holiday I created lists such as 'Hopes for the holiday' and 'Plan for the Week'; and towards the end of the holiday, I created lists such as 'Highlights of the Holiday', 'What to bring next time' and 'What I'm looking forward to about going home'. It was fun.

The following week I was talking to a supplier friend and explaining my attempts despite my lack of any artistic talents and he recommended the book How to Draw Almost Everything by Chika Miyata. What the hell, I thought I'd give it a go, so I bought it.

I'd planned a few days away with my mother so I decided to get her involved too. I took her a dot-grid notebook, we took some pens, my book and off we went. We spent a fair amount of time doing silly doodles and playing with the book, but what we did most was laugh and giggle. It was great. Louise, from Customer Service, also trialled the book and she too said she had a great laugh with it, so we decided to stock it. We think it may be popular. Becky in the Warehouse also borrowed my copy. She came in a few days later very happy with herself - "I've drawn a raccoon" she declared joyously. Of course raccoon-drawing skills aren't in great demand here in Devon, but you never know, the skill could come in useful somewhere! Maybe further study will let us transfer the same skills to drawing badgers - much more useful around here.

The most unexpected source of information came from a standard meeting I was having with Helen, our HR consultant. I was busily enthusing about bullet journaling as an aide to my To-Do list and she says she has been journaling for about a year and loves it too. Helen now has over 18K followers on Instagram and if you look at her work, you can see why. It's stunning.

Why Dot-Grid?

There are lots of reasons for this and the more you look into it, the more you discover. This isn't an exhaustive list, but here are some reasons:

  • It makes writing stand out more
  • It guides but doesn't 'cramp'
  • You can write vertically and horizontally - still having a guide
  • Less restrictive - you can write, sketch, graph or doodle
  • Good for calligraphy practice
  • Good for design and planning

So, are you enthused? Are you ready to give it a go? Well, if the answer is yes to both of these, the good news is that Cult Pens is here to supply you everything you could ever need to get into journaling, whether that be for work, for pleasure, or for both.



We have a great selection from Rhodia, Leuchtturm, Nuuna, Atoma.

We've also brought in some A6 Rhodiarama dot grids this month. Just the size to take on holiday (or anywhere else).


Plenty to choose from here. New in are the Stabilo Boss Pastel.


We have a great selection of glue sticks and glues from Tombow.


Want to decorate your journal page? MT is the journaler's tool of choice. We have a fantastic selection.


Tables, tables, tables - you'll be needing a ruler. If you want to take it everywhere with you, the Kutsuwa Folding Aluminium Ruler is amazing, and even doubles as a protractor.

Pen Loops

Leuchtturm have pen loops lots of colours.

Page Markers

Remember where those important pages are with Calepino Line Markers and OHTO Smile Clips.

4 May 2017


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