New Year – Bullet Journal

New Habit for 2018

I’m known as the organised one among my friends. I’m usually the one who organises a night out. I organise my regular writing critique group. I used to have a job as Project Manager so I guess it’s my natural instinct to be organised. But sometimes my organisation goes wrong. So this year, 2018, I am trying something new. I’m keeping a bullet journal.

Now bullet journalling isn’t new. If you do an internet search you will find all sorts of YouTube videos and Pinterest boards on how to do bullet journalling. You can add fancy patterns, Washi tape, different coloured inks to your spreads … but hang on a minute. Do you know what a bullet journal is?

Bullet Journal

A bullet journal can be all or one of these things :

  • A to do List
  • A diary/journal
  • An appointment calendar
  • A planner

And anything else you want it to be.

The idea is to have one notebook where you capture everything you want to achieve and to be organised in an attempt to make you achieve those things.

There are loads of brilliant planners on the market now. Kikki K have a very nice range

Kikki K Swedish Stationers Extrordinaire

And of course Paperchase can be relied on for gorgeous stationery. They have particularly good list pads

Paperchase Lists

But the problem with commercially produced journals and list pads is that they might not have the categories that you require. So you make your own and that’s a bullet journal.

My Bullet Journal

Now I am a complete beginner at bullet journalling and although I am organised, I am also well known for having great ideas and never following them through. But I am into the second week of the year and so far I am still with it.

I’m using a Leuchtturm A5 Bullet Journal with dot grid paper. But before you dash out to buy one, I suggest you buy any notebook with dot grid paper as it wasn’t worth the extra to get the bullet journal version. There are only a couple of extra features that you can put in yourself. I would recommend a Leuchtturm notebook though, because they have numbered pages and space for an index at the front, which are useful features for a bullet journal (as well as for general notebooks).

Jo Franklin Bullet Journal

My new bullet journal

Dot grid paper is useful because you can use the dots to create boxes if you need to and it can accommodate any sized writing.

I started off setting up a year planner

Help! my year looks very empty

Then I set up a monthly spread which includes my active projects – because I have so many, I’m worried I’m going to forget one – my daily habit tracker – I’ve already realised that I am not committed to doing a seven minute workout every day. I left a space for ‘Notes’ and ‘Buy’ but I’m not sure I will bother with these in the future. That’s the great thing about bullet journals, you create the spreads yourself so you can alter them at any time

Monthly Spread

I tried to get all fancy pants with a turquoise highlighter pen, but to be honest my bullet journal is never going to be a work of art so I probably won’t bother doing that again.

In week one, I create a weekly spread but hardly used it so I modified it for week two.

This will be useful for me. As I spend so many days on my own at home, I can forget appointments which take me out of the house. Hopefully by creating my own week at a glance, I will get better keeping the shape of the week more firmly in my head.

But the main thing for me is the daily To Do List.

I run Todoist on my pc and phone which is a brilliant app by the way, but I am really bad at marking tasks complete that I haven’t really done or just constantly moving them forwards to the next day. I am going to keep Todoist going but hopefully by writing out the tasks that haven’t yet been done, I will be more mindful of what I am supposed to be doing and more importantly, what I am putting off.

The idea is that at the end of every day, I go through my list and mark off what I have done, move forward anything left outstanding and schedule longer tasks into my diary. I also have to do this in Todoist. In this case, doubling up the effort is helping me stay on track.

There are certain marks which are used in bullet journalling but of course you can make up your own ones :

.   means To Do

x   means Completed

<  indicates that the task has been scheduled so doesn’t need to be carried forward to tomorrow

>  means carry forward the task to tomorrow

You can make up other ones. For example you might want to add thoughts or other notes to your list that you transcribe to a different notebook.


So am I going to stick with bullet journalling for the whole of 2018? I don’t know, but I like it at the moment and I can see this habit evolving. And of course it is very satisfactory to tick off a task which has been completed. Monday Blogpost – Complete.

Back to School – What do you keep in your pencil case?

by Jo Franklin, Children’s Author

It’s back to school week in this household and that means sewing on name tapes – Boo!  and stuffing new pencil cases with new stationery – Yay! But my children are not the only ones to be obsessed with stationery in this house. I am a total stationery addict.

I have my own collection of pencil cases that I use when I leave the house.

This is my favourite. The Kokuyo NeoCritz Transformer Pencil Case


It is neat and practical as it transforms into a pen holder. It’s the perfect size to fit a couple of pens, a pencil, a highlighter, a data stick and a rubber. It also has a small pocket for storing spare ink cartridges and I slip a few paperclips in for good measure, yet it is the right size to fit in a rucksack or workbag.

My lovely friend and Papers Pens Poets co-conspirator, Anita Loughrey, bought me a very posh pen case as a gift to celebrate the launch of Help I’m am Alien. She knows me so well! I now keep the Lamy fountain pen and pencil I bought with my first advance for Help I’m an Alien in it. I stroke it and my special pens regularly when I need to be reminded about how lucky I am to be a published author or how I better get on and write if I am ever to have another book published.

Jo Franklin's posh pen holder

Jo Franklin’s posh pen holder

Jo Franklin's posh pen case 2

Jo Franklin’s posh pen case with posh pens in it

These days I spend a lot of time writing at home and my desk is kitted out with even more stationery. There’s my pen pots which also give away my preference for jasmine tea and Hotel Chocolate Amaretto Soaked Sultanas (something else that Anita introduced me too).

Jo Franklin's pen pots

Recycled Pen Pots

I have one pot for fountain pens, one for highlighters and calligraphy nibbed felt tips and one for my regular Uniball Vision Elite rollerballs.

Then there’s my set of acrylic drawers which my pc monitor sits on.

Jo Franklin's post it note drawer

Post-it note drawer

Jo Franklin's tabs

Tabs in a drawer

Jo Franklin's Misc Stationery

Miscellaneous Stationery in a drawer

And this is the overall effect

Jo Franklin's stationery drawers

Stationery Drawers in Action

As an author who is also a mum, back to school also means back to work for me. My pencil cases and desk are ready. And so am I.

Stationery Addicts of the World Unite

Are all authors stationery addicts? I certainly am. One of the rules of this house is ‘Don’t take anything from the stationery cupboard’. My daughter sometimes begs to open the door and peek inside, but I only let her under close supervision.

I did let Anita Loughrey look inside once. She sat on the floor, opened the doors and marveled at the contents. I knew she was my true friend when she didn’t ask me to give her a single thing from my collection.

Anita is my kind of stationery addict.

She was also the perfect choice to accompany me to the London Stationery Show. We were hoping to worship at the altar of stationery and maybe pick up a few freebies along the way. But because it was a trade show, I felt a bit of a fraud which is why I suggested we set up Papers Pens Poets,

‘The place for writers and other stationery addicts to share their passion for papers and pens.’

Anita has written her own blog about the experience which you can read here.

It was a mad few days. Here is a rough timeline of what we did when. It’s amazing what you can do when you have passion and a tight deadline.


  • 16.37 Jo ‘Let’s create a blog and call it Papers Pens Poets’
  • 16.38 Anita ‘Yes let’s do that.’
  • 17.00 Register domain name.
  • 17.30 Create email address
  • 17.31 Jo start fiddling around with business card designs
  • 17.35 Anita gathers inspirational author/stationery quotes to use on cards

Family time

  • 21.00 Jo has crisps for tea.
  • 22.00 Jo sends first roughs of business card to Anita.
  • 22.30 Jo convinces herself the card design is boring so makes a new one

We both go to bed after midnight


  • 7.30 Anita says she prefers the first card design.
  • 9.30 Jo places express order for 50 cards with

Jo goes to her writing critique group. Anita gets on with real work.

  • 18.00 Jo discovers that Weebly have redesigned their interface. Help!
  • 21.00 Jo registers with every free website hosting site in the universe and eventually decides to design the site in WordPress.

Saturday (NB Jo’s daughter’s 14th birthday sleepover weekend)
The whole day is spent with frantic phone calls between Anita and Jo. Jo designs the site while Anita works on the content.
12.00 Anita creates @paperspenspoets on twitter
Ideas are flowing thick and fast and clogging up both email boxes. This thing is going to work!
15.00 Jo bakes a birthday cake
Jo walks her dog by taking him to Liverpool Street Station to collect the Moo business cards. They look great

Anita schedules the first blog post for Monday morning.
Last few glitches ironed out. We’ve done it!
We launch the site and have 435 views on the first day. It’s a success!
We have a brilliant day at the London Stationery Fair and give out 50 business cards.Papers Pens Poets is a tremendous success. We’ve written reviews and articles. We’ve interviewed some authors and have a queue of others begging to be featured on our site. Do get in touch if you want to be interviewed about your love of stationery.Next job : Learn how to keep Papers Pens Poets in it’s place. Meanwhile we are having a blast.