5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Bujo

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Bujo

Are you new to the bujo community? Did you know you can use any notebook to start your first one? Here are a few things I wish I would have known before starting my own bujo. If you don’t know what a bujo (bullet journal) is, I highly recommend going to read about it from the creator of the system, Ryder Carroll, here, and coming back to read the rest of this post.

This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com.  If you purchase products from these links, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  To read my full disclosure statement, click here.

1. You Can Use Any Notebook (But Size Matters!)

If you scroll through Instagram or Pinterest for bujos, more often than not, you’ll see layouts in gorgeous notebooks, journals, and traveler’s notebooks. However, before you go out and splurge on an expensive journal, you can test out the bujo system in any spare notebook, even one you’ve already written in! The system works as long as you use it and you can make it work in anything as long as you have a key, an index, and you keep up with your pages. If you are wondering if the bujo system works for you, this is a great way to test it out. My first bujo was in an old journal that I repurposed and covered (the original cover didn’t suit me.)

One thing to keep in mind when you’re ready to purchase your bujo’s new home is the amount of space you’ll have to work with for each page. For 2018, I switched to a traveler’s notebook and it’s much more narrow than the Moleskine journal I was used to during the summer of 2017. It does impact how I make layouts. So far, I’m loving my traveler’s notebook, but there are pros and cons to using it for my bujo. (I’ll likely make a post in the future about this.)

2. Mistakes Can and Will Happen (and It’s Okay!)

It’s easy to be intimidated by the picture-perfect layouts of other people’s bujos on Pinterest and Instagram. One thing to keep in mind when you’re looking at other people’s pictures online is that you are seeing the final, polished product. There’s no real way to know if the person who posted that beautiful spread got it right on the first try or if it was the 20th attempt at the same page. Really, though, it shouldn’t matter how many tries it took someone or if they are naturally gifted. Each person’s bujo tells a unique story about their user. You do not have to be artistically inclined to successfully keep a bujo. No matter what your skill level it, it’s fun to watch your growth as you continue to use your pages and improve over time.

I made a short video about some of the mistakes I’ve already made in my bujo this year. You can click on the link here or watch it below. (I apologize for the abrupt ending; my baby was waking up and I wanted to get to him before he was loud enough to be heard in the video.)

3. Be Mindful of Where You Keep Collections

If you watched the video, you’ll know that one of the mistakes I made early on in my traveler’s notebook was keeping my Year in Pixels page in the same insert as my weekly layouts. I’ll go through this insert long before the year is over, so I’ll either need to redraw it in another insert only for collections or simply cut out the page and put it in the other insert.

Whether you are using a traditional journal or a traveler’s notebook like mine, making use of your index and recording each page number for the collections you keep in your bujo will also spare you a lot of headaches trying to figure out where everything is.

4. The Amount of Freedom

Your bujo can be anything you need it to be and you can customize it however you want. You could go minimalist with the layout or go all out with detailed drawings, stickers, and washi tape. There are no wrong answers for the amount decorating you can do. You can also make collections for anything and everything you can think of. I have seen collections for books to read, 30 Day Challenges, Netflix series to watch, self-care routines, and all kinds of health trackers, just to name a few.

Even if you don’t feel like making a fully decorated page but you want to jot down ideas or journal, you can do that on your pages, too. Just give it a place in your index so that you can refer to it later. It’ll help you gain perspective to go back and read your pages long after you’ve written them.

5. It’s Never Too Late to Change Things

The part about having a bujo I love the most is that if something isn’t working for me, I can change it whenever I want. If you are the kind of person who struggles to stick with one planner the whole year through, a bujo may be the answer your looking for. If you suddenly decide you don’t like horizontal layouts for your weekly spreads, you can switch to a vertical layout next week. You can freely experiment with the pages and learn what works for you. If a habit tracking system isn’t working for you, you don’t have to keep using the same tracker. I talk about changing up my habit trackers here.

It’s also worth noting you can start a bujo whenever you want to. You don’t have to wait for January 1st to start. You could start in the middle of April and not have to worry about wasting pages. You’d start keeping track of the dates from the day you start, not the beginning of the year.

If you are brand new to the bujo community, what would you like to know about keeping a bujo? If you’re a veteran, what would you like to have known? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to read your questions!

If you are ready to buy a bujo, here are some of my recommendations. If you purchase anything through my links, I’ll earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. I appreciate your support!



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5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Bujo

The Sunshine Blogger Award

blogger award
Sunshine Blogger Award

I’m breaking away from my usual format to share some fun news: Edel Pace, the creator of Pacemaker, has nominated me for The Sunshine Blogger Award, which is an honor given out by bloggers to fellow bloggers who write creative, positive, and inspiring content. The purpose is to showcase our community of bloggers and lift each other up. I’m deeply touched by the nomination!


  1. Thank blogger (s) who nominated you in the blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and /or on your blog.

My Answers

1. Why did you start a blog?

I started Simply Kelsey Jo to launch a platform for me to become a free-lance writer and author. I want to use my blog to support my ability to do what I really want to do: take more writing workshops and write fiction. I would like to eventually self-publish, but when I factor in the costs of hiring an editor and cover artist, it can become expensive. The idea of asking someone to work for “exposure” is repulsive to me, so I’ve decided to use any money I make from free-lancing and the blog to go towards those costs.

I could have easily taken up any number of work from home jobs, but I decided I wanted to contribute towards other people’s well-being and inspire creativity in their lives. It’s my hope that my blog reaches people who need to know that it’s okay to embrace their imperfections and take life at a slower pace.

2. What is your favorite book (s)?

I’m a bibliophile, so this question is difficult for me to answer. My tastes in books are all over the place. I love Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, Alice and her Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, among many others (just ask any of the poor souls who have ever helped me move.)

3. What is your favorite post you’ve written?

My favorite post that I’ve written so far is Why You Should Do Morning Pages (Even if You’re Busy) because morning pages are so important to my routine. I owe so many insights into my personal life from showing up to write my morning pages. It’s a habit I think everyone should take up, even if they don’t consider themselves to be writers.

4. What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

I’m not the most adventurous type, to be honest. Skydiving, rock climbing, and the like are not my cup of tea. For me, starting up my blog and free-lance writing business is a huge adventure in itself!

5. Your favorite food is ____________.

It’s a tie between California Rolls, Cashew Chicken, and homemade potato soup. It really depends on the season and the mood I’m in.

6. What piece of advice would you give to a younger self?

Everything you are experiencing now is temporary. The experiences you are going through now will help shape your personality, but they do not have to define you. You are not bound to your past, so go forward and create your own future.

7. What is your favorite inspirational quote(s)?

“Comparison is the thief of joy” -Theodore Roosevelt

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” -Maya Angelou

  1. “You are allowed to be both a Masterpiece and a Work in Progress, simultaneously.” -Elizabeth Gilbert

For more of my favorite quotes, check out this post here.

8. A country/place you would like to visit.

I’ve wanted to go to Japan since I was a teenager. I’d love to arrange a visit to Studio Ghibli and their museum! Also on my list: Ireland, Scottland, Denmark, and the Netherlands. I’d love to go back to London and Cardiff someday, too. I haven’t traveled outside the U.S. much, but I’d like to visit more places!

9. What is your favorite season? Why?

Fall is my favorite season. If I could live in a state of perpetual autumn with the weather cool but not cold, comfortably wear boots every day, and enjoy warm comfort food, I’d be in heaven. Maybe I should add Portland, Oregon, to my list of places to visit? I’ve heard the weather there is similar to what I described. I love the clothes, the colors, and the food of fall. It also signals a time of change for me, even more so than the new year. It reminds me of that back to school feeling of new beginnings.

10. The one thing you’re most proud of.

I’m most proud of two things:

  1. Raising my two young children to the best of my abilities. My oldest is growing into a sweet, empathetic boy with a mischievous sense of humor and a contagious smile. My youngest is the happiest baby I’ve ever had the privilege to spend time with and I can’t wait to see what kind of person he becomes. I feel very blessed to be their mother.
  2. Pursuing my dreams of making a career out of my writing. It doesn’t even matter to me at this point if I succeed or fail because many people go their whole lives without even trying to make their dreams happen. It would be a huge disservice to both me and my family if I didn’t at least try to make my dreams happen.

11. Hard copies of books or an e-reader?

I will always prefer physical copies of books over an e-reader, even though when I do start publishing my longer fiction it will likely be in the form of e-books (simply for the sake of cost.) I love both the new and old book smells, the weight of the book in my hands, and being able to admire the cover art/spines on my bookshelves. I also find I retain information better when I read a physical copy versus something on a screen. I do see the appeal of e-books for their space-saving capabilities but I will always need my stacks of books. I hope that someday I place my own books on my shelves, too.

My Nominees

Though some of these bloggers write outside of the niches that I blog about, everyone on this list posts inspiring, positive, and creative content that leave me feeling better after reading it. In no particular order, here are my nominees for The Sunshine Blogger Award:

  1. Jen of The Paper Revival
  2. Alexandra of The Happy Life Formula
  3. Emma of Teaspoon of Nose
  4. Kalyn of Mascara and Grace
  5. Natalie of Towards Greater Things
  6. Ris of Finger Puppet Press
  7. Katie of She Embarks
  8. Fabiana of Nourish + Prosper
  9. Laura of The Mindful Momblographer
  10. Angela of The Pinky Project
  11. Sarah of Simple Happy Life

Questions for my Nominees

  1. Why do you blog?
  2. Are you an extrovert or introvert?
  3. What is your favorite way to spend a day off?
  4. How do you turn a bad day around?
  5. What songs are in your current playlist?
  6. What are you reading right now?
  7. What are your goals for 2018?
  8. Outside of blogging, what are your hobbies?
  9. Coffee, tea, both, or neither?
  10. Do you use a planner? What kind do you use and why?
  11. What is your favorite way to practice self-care?

Thank you again to Edel for the nomination.  If you are unfamiliar with her blog, she writes about using positivity to overcome obstacles, book reviews, and ordinary people making extraordinary changes. Nominees, please tag me on social media when you have your answers ready. I’d love to read your responses! Readers, please check out Edel’s blog and those of my nominees for more inspiration.


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How to Use Your Bullet Journal for Self-Care: Physical Care

Physical Care
4 Ways to Use Your Bujo For Self-Care: Physical Care

Welcome to Week 2: Physical Care of the Bullet Journal Challenge series! In case you missed it, the #BulletJournalChallenge announced on www.bulletjournal.com is the perfect way to find inspiration for all the ways you can use a bujo for self-care. The details of the challenge are here. My post about Week 1, personal care, can be found here.

This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com and kawaiilands.com.  If you purchase products from these links, I may a small commission at no extra cost to you.  To read my full disclosure statement, click here.

This week’s topic is physical care. This includes:

  • Health
  • Fitness
  • Beauty
  • Nutrition

This an area of self-care that I struggle with, especially when I’m feeling stressed, sick, or tired. Physical care is always the first thing to go when I’m feeling overwhelmed, but the prompt this week is making me pause to consider why I do this. With that said, here are some ways that you can use your bujo for physical care, plus a few ways I’ve used mine.

Habit Tracking

The most obvious way you can use your bujo for physical care is to create habit trackers specifically for exercise, nutrition, beauty, and health. If keeping track of habits are new to you, or you’re trying to start a new habit, I highly recommend starting small. If you want to start exercising, but you haven’t been physically active for a long time, start with a smaller goal of exercising for 20 minutes or even simply walking around the block a few times a week. The last thing you want to do when building a new habit is to burn out before you even get started.

Other habits you could track are your water intake, keeping track of medications or vitamins, days you use a skincare routine, or if fixing your hair or makeup is something you’d like to do, but don’t always do because of time or energy, you could keep track of that as well. It’s important that you don’t overdo it trying to track too much all at once if habit tracking is new to you. I talk extensively about why keeping simple habit trackers is a good idea here, but the main take away is you don’t want to sabotage your attempts at building good habits by making habit tracking a chore.

Physical Care
I keep my weekly habit tracker simple, functional, and small. If you want your own Totoro pencil case, watercolor washi tape, or cat pencils, go to www.kawaiilands.com and use my code simply10 for 10% off your order.

Morning and Evening Routines

As part of a challenge I participated in over the summer of 2017, I created a self-care planner in a Moleskin journal and I loved it. I  still use it to this day, though it’s starting to get full and I’m in the process of migrating important pages from the self-care planner to my traveler’s notebook. One of the things I made a page for a morning and evening routine. As you can see in the picture below, I haven’t quite decided on an evening routine yet (I’m still figuring out what works for me now that I have two children) but I wrote down an ideal morning routine.

Physical Care
When I finally figure out an evening routine that works for me, I’ll update my page or I’ll migrate it to my current traveler’s notebook.

If you’re at a loss for morning and evening routines, here are a few of my favorite ideas:

For mornings:

  • Morning pages
  • Eat breakfast
  • Prayer/devotion/mantra/setting intentions for the day
  • Exercise (walking, yoga, dancing, YouTube workout, etc.)
  • Spend five minutes reviewing your bujo and plans for the day
  • Listen to an inspiring TED talk (either as you get ready or on your commute)

For evenings:

  • No screen time two hours before bed
  • Journaling
  • Coloring
  • Reading
  • Exercise (walking, yoga, dancing, YouTube workout, etc.)
  • Morning pages”  (if your mornings are truly too crazy, you can write your pages at night)
  • Prepare for the next day (lay out clothes, prep meals, pack bag, etc.)
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour

Make Resource Pages

A resource page would be like having a physical version of a Pinterest board in your bujo. You could list favorite exercise YouTube videos, your favorite health and fitness blogs, favorite healthy recipes, or books and magazines you want to read (or have read) about wellness. You could also make a list of challenges you want to partake in or accounts to follow that will help you with your health goals.


Aside from using a habit tracker to hold yourself accountable to an exercise routine, you could print off or draw exercise routines and store them in a pocket on a page. I did this with some yoga routines that I found on Pinterest and I like how convenient it is to simply remove whatever routine I want to use. I don’t have to use my phone or computer to look up the routine, which for me, is a huge bonus because then I don’t get distracted before I start exercising.

Physical Care
I love using Pinterest to look for simple but effective yoga routines. Feel free to follow my boards here!

If you want to keep printed out routines in your bujo, too, here are some of my recommendations. If you purchase anything through my links, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I appreciate your support!

The Challenge

For me, the hardest part of this week’s challenge is actually following through with the pages I’ve made for physical care.  I don’t know how many times I’ve tried tracking exercise in my bujo, only to have it slide because of feeling too tired. I don’t personally keep track of the amount of sleep I get each night at this stage in my life because, at the time of this writing, I have a six-month-old that still likes to night feed. I talk more about how I decide which things I track here.

However, the Bullet Journal Challenge series has me rethinking how I feel about physical care. While exercise may not be a top priority for me, I do enjoy yoga and going on walks, so I’m going to make an effort to find ways to include my two young children in my physical care. Realistically, that is the only way I’m really going to make any sort of exercise routine work for me because if I have a moment to myself, I’d rather be writing, crafting, reading, or gaming (really, anything but exercise.) One thing that has started working for me is using playlists on YouTube to have dance parties with my three-year-old and finding mother and baby yoga videos to do with my 6-month-old.

The #BulletJournalChallenge Series

If you’re interested in participating in the challenge, I’ve listed each week’s topic here:

  • Week 1: Personal Care
  • Week 2: Physical Care
  • Week 3: Psychological Care
  • Week 4: Emotional Care
  • Week 5: Environmental Care
  • Week 6: Social Care
  • Week 7: Professional Care
  • Week 8: Reflection

If you’re on Instagram, make sure you follow the hashtag #BulletJournalChallenge for inspiration! Also, if you’re reading this long after the challenge is over, I encourage you to do the challenge anyway.  Self-care is so important to your overall well-being, and it’s never too late to start taking better care of yourself.

More Tools to Use Your Bujo for Self-Care

If you’re looking for more inspiration for using your bujo for self-care, sign up for my email list to receive free journaling prompts and printable quotes for your bujo. I’ll be adding more freebies, so check your inbox for updates!


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Do you use your bujo to help with physical self-care? Do you have any tips on following through with your routines? I’d love to hear your advice in the comment section!

Physical Care
4 Ways to Use Your Bujo for Self-Care: Physical Care

How to Use Your Bullet Journal for Self-Care: Personal Care

Personal Care
How to Use Your Bujo for Self-Care

Are you making the most out of your bullet journal? One of the best parts of keeping a bujo is that you can easily use it as a tool for self-care. The #BulletJournalChallenge announced on www.bulletjournal.com is the perfect way to find inspiration for all the ways you can use a bujo for self-care. The details of the challenge are here.

Since I’m participating in the challenge, I was inspired to write a series about it. For the next eight weeks, I’ll go in-depth about the different aspects of self-care you can make pages for in your bujo. This week’s topic is personal care, which includes:

  • Journaling as self-care
  • What you enjoy doing for your “me time”
  • Ways to treat yourself
  • Creating lists for ways to turn around a bad day, morning/evening routines, and other self-care related lists.

Ways You Can Use Your Bujo for Personal Care


My favorite way to use my bujo for self-care is the journaling section of my traveler’s notebook.  Sometimes, I’ll decorate the pages, but this space is supposed to be for my benefit, so if I only want to write, I’ll use the pages either for a brain-dump or a regular journal entry.  If I’m feeling stuck or looking for inspiration, I use a journaling prompt.

Personal Care pages
Here’s my insert for journal entries in my traveler’s notebook.


Another way you can use your bujo for personal care is to keep lists. Some people like to make lists of things to do when they’re having a bad day, morning routines, evening routines, or even things that make them happy. I find that having a list of things I’d like to do on an ideal day off not only gives me something fun to daydream about but when I do have a rare day to myself, I already have an idea of what I’d like to do. I don’t waste any time figuring how I want to spend the day, only to have it end before I could make the most of it.

Personal Care
I started a separate journal in July 2017 for self-care. This is one of my favorite list pages.

Habit Trackers

Finally, another way to use your bujo for personal care is to use your habit tracker to keep up with your self-care habits.  I talk about habit trackers more in this post here. Currently, all of my habits I’m tracking relate to self-care. One of the things I’m tracking this week is making sure that I journal. If I don’t plan on time to journal or keep track when I do it, it becomes easy to let it slide. If I’m not keeping up with my morning pages, I also include a  spot in my habit tracker for doing those as well.

Personal Care
My weekly habit tracker isn’t elaborate, but it’s effective. I like having my weekly tracker on the same page as the layout so that I can see everything at a glance.

The #BulletJournalChallenge Series

If you’re interested in participating in the challenge, I’ve listed each week’s topic here:

  • Week 1: Personal Care
  • Week 2: Physical Care
  • Week 3: Psychological Care
  • Week 4: Emotional Care
  • Week 5: Environmental Care
  • Week 6: Social Care
  • Week 7: Professional Care
  • Week 8: Reflection

If you’re on Instagram, make sure you follow the hashtag #BulletJournalChallenge for inspiration! Also, if you’re reading this long after the challenge is over, I encourage you to do the challenge anyway.  Self-care is so important to your overall well-being, and it’s never too late to start taking better care of yourself.

More Tools to Use Your Bujo for Personal Care

If you’re looking for more inspiration for using your bujo for self-care, sign up for my email list to receive free journaling prompts and printable quotes for your bujo. I’ll be adding more freebies, so check your inbox for updates!


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How do you use your bujo for personal care? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear about it!

Personal Care
How to Use Your Bujo for Self-Care: Personal Care

Ten Kawaii Products to Brighten Your Bujo + Exclusive Discount Code {ad}

10 Kawaii Products to Brighten Your Bujo
10 Kawaii Products to Brighten Your Bujo

I absolutely love cute animes, especially Sailor Moon, Little Witch Academia, and Studio Ghibli movies. When Kawaii Lands reached out to me about being an affiliate for their adorable products, I jumped at the chance. It makes me so happy that they combine my love of all things kawaii with planner and bujo supplies!  Here’s a Top 10 list of my favorite products that I’m currently coveting:

This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase products from these links, I may earn a small commission or earn free/discounted products at no extra cost to you.  To read my full disclosure statement, click here.

1.) Kawaii Totoro Plush Pencil Case

Totoro Pencil Case
My oldest would also love this pencil case- he loves My Neighbor Totoro! Photo credit: Kawaii Lands

My Neighbor Totoro has a special place in my heart. When my oldest was only 4 months old, I had that movie on while I was holding him and for the first time, he reacted to something I was watching. He beamed the most beautiful baby smile when Totoro appeared on the screen and when he was teething, he loved it when I’d sing him the theme song. Now that he’s older, he loves to play pretend hunting for soot sprites and looking for Totoro up in trees. I love the peaceful, magical nature of the movie, and I’m so excited about accessorizing my planner materials with this case!

2.) Kaonashi No Face Gel Ink Pen 8-Pack

No Face Kawaii Lands pens
The different No Faces are so cute! Photo credit: Kawaii Lands

If you’re a fan of Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away, you’ll love these No Face gel pens! I think the character of No Face was so well done in the movie and his design is great. He’s a happy medium between creepy and cute. I especially love the left-most pen where he’s holding up the heart.

3.) Japanese Totoro Gel Ink Pen

My Neighbor Totoro Pens from Kawaii Lands
I couldn’t resist these Totoro Pens. Photo credit: Kawaii Lands

Well, I had to buy the Totoro holding the umbrella pen to go with my new pencil case. I mean, look how happy it is! All of them are so cheerful. I think the Totoro holding up the No Face mask is also a cute touch.

4.) Superheroes Kids Gel Ink Pen 3-Pack

Super hero pens from Kawaii Lands
The grumpy Batman makes me laugh.Photo credit: Kawaii Lands

If superheroes are more your style than anime, these pens are a perfect fit! My family is big into superheroes (in fact, my husband co-owns a comic book store) and we make a point of watching all of the superhero movies when they come out to theaters.

5.) Kawaii Black Cat Gel Ink Pen

Cat Pens from Kawaii Lands
The one with the surprised eyes is my favorite. Photo credit: Kawaii Lands

There was a time when I was not a cat person, but then I met my husband and his two cats.  Spam and Princess immediately converted me into a cat person, and I haven’t looked back since!

6.) JIANWU Kawaii kitten Tail Mechanical Pencil 6-Pack

Cat pencils from Kawaii Lands
I couldn’t resist their expressions. Photo credit: Kawaii Lands

I know, more cats. But look at them! Their little tails and faces make me smile. This six-pack of mechanical pencils is perfect for any cat lover.

7.) Zebra Midliner Double-Sided Highlighter 5-Pack

Zebra Midliner Double Sided Highlighter 5-Pack
Look at all the color possibilities! Photo credit: Kawaii Lands

I couldn’t add these highlighters to my cart fast enough! I’m very excited to make some cute layouts with these colors.

8.) Northern Light Washi Tape

Northern Lights Washi Tape from Kawaii Lands
These colors remind me of Sailor Moon’s palette. Photo credit: Kawaii Lands

Washi tape is my favorite accessory for my bujo pages. This one caught my eye because of its beautiful colors and serene design. It went in my shopping cart, too.

9.) Flamingo Love Washi Tape

Flamingo washi tape from Kawaii Lands
I have used this washi tape so many times in my listers journal. I love it! Photo credit: Kawaii Lands

I have an affinity for flamingos. I saw a Pin on Pinterest a few years ago that said, “Majestically Awkward” with a picture of a flamingo attached and it resonated with me. My husband surprised me last Mother’s Day with a beautiful metal sculpture of a flamingo for our yard because he knows how happy they make me.

10.) Lovely Japanese Sketchbook 6-Colors

Studio Ghibli Sketchbooks from Kawaii Lands
These covers are gorgeous! Photo credit: Kawaii Lands

These Studio Ghibli-themed sketchbooks are beautiful. It makes me happy to see one of my favorite films, Howl’s Moving Castle, on one of the covers. Of course, I love the My Neighbor Totoro one, too!

Special Discount Code for You!

Kawaii Lands generously gave me an exclusive promo code, simply10, for my readers to use for 10% off their purchases. Just type it in at check out, or you can use my link, here. Bonus: they offere free international shipping! The products I showcased in this post are a small sample of all the cute items available at Kawaii Lands, so make sure to visit their site!

Kawaii Stationery
Make sure to use my discount code simply10 at checkout!

This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase products from these links, I may earn a small commission or earn free/discounted products at no extra cost to you.  To read my full disclosure statement, click here.

Work With Me!

Do you have a product that you’d like for me to review? Send me an email at kelsey@simplykelseyjo.com and we can discuss our options.

20 Inspirational Quotes for Your Bujo + Free Printables

Inspirational Quotes for Your Planner
20 Inspirational Quotes for Your Bujo

Looking for inspirational quotes for your pages in your bujo or planner? I’ve rounded up 20 of my favorite quotes here.  I’ve also included four free printable journaling cards that you can use to decorate your pages with. I recommend printing on cardstock, or if you want to turn them into stickers, you could print on sticker paper.

This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com.  If you purchase products from these links, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  To read my full disclosure statement, click here.

Inspirational Quotes

  1. “What lies behind us and what lies in front of us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
  2. “A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.” -Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
  3. “You are allowed to be both a Masterpiece and a Work in Progress, simultaneously.” -Elizabeth Gilbert
  4. “Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace, and power to it.” -Goethe
  5. “A painting is never finished – it simply stops in interesting places.” -Paul Gardner

    Inspirational Quote
    “A painting is never finished – it simply stops in interesting places.” -Paul Gardner
  6. “One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” -André Gide
  7. “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” -Anaïs Nin
  8. “Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before.” -Joseph Campbell
  9. “Play is the highest form of research.” -Albert Einstein
  10. “With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?” -Oscar Wilde

    Inspirational Quote
    “With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?” -Oscar Wilde
  11. “The walls we build around ourselves to keep the sadness out also keeps out the joy.” -Jim Rohn
  12. “There are only three colors, ten digits, and seven notes. It’s what we do with them that’s important.” -John Rohn
  13. “An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.” -Friedrich Engels
  14. “Our stories are different, but our hearts are the same.” -Christina Feldman
  15. “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” -Maya Angelou

    Inspirational Quotes
    “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” -Maya Angelou
  16. “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” -Robert Frost
  17. “No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anyone but oneself.” -Virginia Woolfe
  18. “Adventures don’t begin until you get into the forest. That’s the first step in an act of faith.” -Mickey Hart
  19. “My childhood may be over, but that doesn’t mean playtime is.” -Ron Olson
  20. “There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.” -Willa Cather
Inspirational Quote
“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.” -Willa Cather

Bonus: Free Journaling Card Printables!

Inspirational Quotes
Testing out the journal cards in my bujo.

Click the link for your free journaling card printables: Journal Cards Printable

Here are my recommendations for cardstock and sticker paper to print your journal cards on.  If you’d like to round the corners of the cards like I did, I also included a link to the punch I used. If you purchase anything through my links, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you so much for supporting my work!



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Use Stress-Free Habit Trackers for Practical Self-Care


Journal and Pen
Make Habit Trackers Work for You Stress-Free

This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com.  If you purchase products from these links, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  To read my full disclosure statement, click here.

What Are Habit Trackers?

Habit tracking is one of the reasons many people keep a bullet journal or bujo instead of a traditional planner.  If you search on Pinterest or Instagram for the hashtag #bujo or #habittracker, you’ll find hundreds of different habits people want to keep track of, from health habits such as water intake or logging hours of sleep to no spend days or time on social media.  They are valuable tools for trying to create good routines or break a bad habit.

If you’re unfamiliar with the bullet journal system, I encourage you to go read about it from the creator of the bujo, Ryder Carroll, here. I love the system because it’s so customisable and I plan on writing a future post about how I have mine set up since, like many bujo enthusiasts, my bullet journal doesn’t look exactly like the original concept.

Keeping Track of Your Habits Doesn’t Have to be Complicated

If you spend any amount of time searching for habit trackers or bujo layouts on Pinterest or Instagram, you’re bound to come across several gorgeous, intricate designs.  I have a board dedicated to these inspirational pages here.  Sometimes, though, I’ll come across a Pin that leaves me feeling intimidated, featuring habit trackers with over 30 items listed and fully illustrated. I don’t know about you, but the idea of having to check off so many things every single day sounds overwhelming. As a writer and work-at-home mother of two young children (3-years-old and 5-month-old at the time of this writing), my time is limited. Someday, I would love to try one of the many extensive trackers I’ve looked at, but right now, it’s not how I want to spend my time.

This is hard to admit, but I’m not sure if detailed tracker would work for me even if I wasn’t so busy.  When I try to change too many things at once, I tend to fail. I become discouraged by the lack of progress and nothing changes. When building new habits and routines, I have to start small and gradually work towards my end goal.  That’s why I’m currently tracking six habits in my weekly spread and have one year-long tracker for my mood.

Bullet Journal with Simple Habit Tracker
Weekly Layout from My Bujo.  This week featured my one little word for the year.

How I Use Weekly Habit Trackers

I’ve simplified how I use habit trackers since switching to a traveler’s notebook. The narrower pages for my weekly layouts made it an easy decision.  Each week, I think about what habits I want to maintain, which ones I’d like to start doing, and what I’d like to stop doing. I make an effort to keep the list short so that I don’t put too much pressure on myself.

My current list of six habits for the week are yoga, dance, read, write, journal, and craft. I’m trying to start an easy exercise routine, so I’m attempting to get back into yoga. I also want to teach my kids healthy habits, so I make an effort to have 20-minute dance parties with them. It makes exercising much more fun for me.  The last four habits are a mix of things I hope will help me professionally and keep me focused on self-care.

One final note about my weekly habit tracker: I’m not afraid to change what goes on the list. I used to track my morning pages and bedtime. However, I was consistently doing my morning pages, so I didn’t feel the need to continue tracking that habit. If I start slipping in that area, I’ll add it back to the list. I stopped keeping track of my bedtime because it was demoralizing. My baby still keeps me up at night and logging these long nights aren’t helping me. I’ll try tracking this habit again in a few months.

How I Use a Year Long Habit Tracker

Mood Tracker
My Year in Pixels page, heavily inspired by the many other mood trackers on Pinterest and Instagram.

I saw several variations of the My Year in Pixels mood tracker on Pinterest and fell in love with the idea. I’m a gamer and a nerd at heart, so I immediately knew that was going to go into my bujo this year.  I’m happy to report that so far, I’m off to a good start this year (even if I woke up grumpy on New Year’s Day.)

Close up of Habit Tracker
Closer view of My Year in Pixels mood tracker.

More Tips for Simplifying Your Habit Trackers

Here are a few more ideas to help you get started or simplify habit tracking:

  • Don’t be afraid to start small. If the idea of keeping track of seven things every day sounds overwhelming, don’t do it! Try keeping track of only one thing, such as water intake, doing morning pages, or no spend days.
  • If you’re consistently doing a habit every day, you may consider removing it from your habit tracker to free up space. Unless, of course, you want to keep it on the list because you love checking it off every day. There’s nothing wrong with that!
  • If you keep listing a habit in your tracker and never do it, consider why you feel the need to continue giving it a place in your habit tracker. Is it really a habit you actually want to have, or do you only think you should have it? You may be trying to be something you’re not. Don’t be afraid of removing a habit from your tracker- I did it!
  • If you genuinely want to start doing a habit but haven’t successfully done it yet, you need to take an honest look at your routine to see how you can make it happen. Maybe breaking the habit into smaller pieces (like attempting it once a week instead of every day) would help you get started.

As you start using habit trackers, you may decide a more detailed habit tracker. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to keep track of several things. It isn’t for me right now and that’s okay. Maybe someday it will be, and I’ll write a post called “Why Super-Detailed Habit Trackers are Awesome!” In the meantime, I’ll stick to admiring other people’s layouts online.

Tools I Use for My Habit Trackers

Here are a few supplies I love to use in my habit trackers. If you purchase anything through my links, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.


What kinds of habits do you keep track of in your bujo? Do you prefer to track several habits at once or only a few at a time? I’d love it if you share what works for you in the comment section.

Bullet Journal
Make Habit Trackers Work for You Stress Free

Why You Should Do Morning Pages (Even if You’re Busy)

Morning Pages
Why You Should Do Morning Pages (Even If You’re Busy)

This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com.  If you purchase products from these links, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  To read my full disclosure statement, click here.

What Are Morning Pages?

I first read about morning pages in Julia Cameron’s famous book, The Artist’s Way. The concept is brilliant in its simplicity: before your day begins, free-write three pages in a journal, notebook, or if neither of those options is available, you could even use three scrap pieces of paper. The catch is, you can’t think too hard about what you’re writing. This is critical for morning pages to work properly, but it’s especially hard as a writer to not worry about punctuation or subject matter.

It took me a few attempts when I first started doing morning pages, but after making it a habit, it became easier to ignore my inner critic who worried too much about the quality of my simple journaling. If I didn’t know what to write on a particular morning, sometimes I would simply write, “I have nothing to say,” until the words finally came pouring out. This has been especially useful on days when I have writer’s block (more on this later.)

The second component to making morning pages work is to not immediately read what you have written that morning. Let it rest. In her book, Julia Cameron suggests not reading your journal for several weeks. I’m glad I followed that advice. After weeks had passed since I wrote my first entries, it made it easier for me to have a clearer perspective about how I was feeling at the time of the writing. For example, it’s much easier to read about a difficult time you went through after weeks have passed rather than too soon when the pain is still raw. It’s true that some things will still hurt, but at least for me, I found it to be therapeutic to revisit old entries.

The final, vital part of making morning pages work is to make it a habit. They work so much better if you make it a part of your morning routine. You have more material to work with later when you do actually read the pages and it becomes easier to write without worry the more you do morning pages. It’s also important to eventually read the pages to see if there are any recurring thoughts or themes that you need to address. You may find in your pages that you have a project you want to start or changes in your life that you want to make. Reviewing your morning pages can be a very helpful tool for goal setting.

How Morning Pages Have Helped Me

When I made my first attempts at morning pages, I was skeptical. I have always loved journaling, but at the time, I didn’t think that I would have much to say right after waking up. I felt silly writing, “I have nothing to say,” or complaining about whatever what bothering me for three solid pages if I woke up in a bad mood. But then a curious thing happened after a while: my morning pages were starting to flow more easily. Suddenly, it was as if someone had opened the gates to my subconsciousness and I wrote about things, both good and bad, that I didn’t even realize were weighing on me. It was an eye-opening experience to review those entries, and it helped me make necessary changes in my life to feel happier and more fulfilled.

While I’m still very much a work in progress, it gives me peace of mind to use my morning pages as a safe place for me to check in with how I’m feeling. Not every entry is filled with profound meaning, but they still serve a secondary purpose that has also helped me tremendously. Making it a habit to free-write every day before any other writing takes place has reduced my writer’s block. It feels good being able to write without any sort of pressure of it being good or meaningful. It almost feels like clearing the cobwebs from my mind, and I’m much more relaxed when I sit down to write later on in the day.

Journal with pen and coffee
Highly idealized morning pages set up. Maybe someday this will be the reality, but not today!

Expectation vs Reality

When I picture doing my morning pages, I envision waking up early to a sleeping, peaceful household, making myself an iced coffee, and sitting down to leisurely do my morning pages. The reality is, that isn’t going to happen during the particular season of life that I’m in. I have two young children, a 3-year-old and a breastfeeding baby that still occasionally wakes up for nighttime feedings. On top of that, I have never been a morning person. The idea of waking up early when I’m already tired horrifies me. Here is my typical routine:

  • Wake up to the alarm clock (or more likely, my youngest wakes me up, wanting to eat.)
  • Make my iced coffee.  This step is essential.  If I don’t have my coffee, I won’t be able to get anything done.
  • If my husband has to go to work, I make breakfast. Otherwise, on his days off, my husband usually makes breakfast for everyone while I feed the baby.
  • After breakfast, I set a timer on my phone for 10 minutes. My oldest knows that when I have my timer set to keep himself entertained while I write unless he needs help. I’m very lucky that he’s so sweet about it. When I’m writing, he says, “Momma’s coloring.”
  • When I’m all done, it’s back to reality as a stay-at-home mother to my little ones until their nap time, which I use as my primary writing time.

More often than not, I’m writing my morning pages with my baby across my lap while my oldest is playing nearby, sometimes loudly, but always enthusiastically. It may not be the ideal, tranquil way that Julia Cameron intended, but doing my pages does give me clarity about my needs and what I want to accomplish for the day. Maybe someday, when my children are older, I will do my morning pages the proper way. For now, this works for me, and I’ll enjoy my little bit of extra sleep in the morning.

Make Morning Pages Work For You

Keeping in mind that I don’t do my morning pages exactly the proper way, here are a few practical tips for finding time to write your own pages:

  • Instead of checking your email or social media first thing in the morning, write your pages. It’s amazing how easy it is to fall down the rabbit hole of mindlessly scrolling. You may even find you have more time in the morning if you don’t check email or social media during breakfast.
  • Before you go to bed at night, set your notebook or journal out where you plan on using it in the morning. Make it a convenient location- you don’t want to hunt down your materials every day.
  • If you are running short on time in the mornings, consider setting your alarm clock ten to fifteen minutes early. You shouldn’t need more than a few minutes to free-write. (I know this is advice I will never take myself, but maybe it will help out one of you, my readers.)
  • If mornings are truly too chaotic for you to even think about writing, consider making your morning pages your nightly pages and write them at bedtime as a way to unwind. You could also spend part of your lunch break writing your pages as a midday check-in, but take care to guard your privacy if you choose this route. You don’t want to worry about co-workers peeking over your shoulders while you’re writing. I would suggest only doing this in your car or if you have your own office where you can write undisturbed and as a last resort if you have no other free time.

More About the Artist’s Way

I could easily go on about how much The Artist’s Way helped me get through a terrible creative slump. In fact, it will probably be the focus of a future blog post. If you are interested in reading more about finding or rediscovering your creativity, I highly recommend this book!  If you purchase a copy through my link, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  I’ve also included links to journals that I have loved using if you want to keep your morning pages in a beautiful home.


Why You Should Do Morning Pages (Even If You're Busy) Journal with iced coffee and pen
Why You Should Do Morning Pages (Even If You’re Busy)


How to Choose Your One Little Word

traveler's notebook
One Little Word

Do you have a word of the year? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please go read the original post behind “One Little Word,” created by Ali Edwards here. The idea is to choose a word that represents a theme, a state of mind, or an ideal that you want to strive for during the year. I had a word of the year in 2016 but did not in 2017. I wish that I would have chosen one last year, especially as it was a challenging time for me. This year, I’m going to surround myself with my one little word, because it will help keep me focused as I work towards my goals.

Why One Little Word

I personally love the idea of having one little word for the year because sometimes goal-setting can be intimidating. I’m very good at dreaming up big ideas, but sometimes, the process for getting started on chasing my dreams feels too overwhelming. Having one little word as a guiding post for setting the tone for my year gives me a starting point to build on.

My One Little Word

The first time I journaled about deciding on a word of the year, I chose “Content,” the word I used in 2016. I had picked it because it had worked well for me for at least the first half of 2016, and it seemed like a wonderful ideal to strive for again. At first, I was happy with my choice, especially since it fits in with the idea of seeking peace with one’s present situation. However, after sleeping on it, the less I felt the pull of the word.

The trouble is, I’m not content. I think it’s a great sentiment, but my goals and mood are not aligned with the word. It’s no secret that I’m no longer content with the status quo- both personally and on a global scale, but I do need a more positive spin for my personal life than “Change.” No, I need to overcome obstacles, both real and imagined, that are holding me back, which is why my word of the year is “Rise.” If 2017 has taught me anything, it’s that I will have plenty of setbacks. I want to rise above those setbacks and pursue my goals anyway.

One Little Word page in my traveler’s notebook

How I’m Going to “Rise:”

  • I’m going to break my big, scary goals into smaller, actionable pieces.
  • I’m going to push my boundaries while being mindful of when I need to take time to recharge and practice self-care. No one can go full-throttle all the time without rest.
  • I’m will keep a record of my victories, big and small.

How to Choose Your Own Word

If you’re having trouble deciding on one little word for the year my process for how I choose mine is simple. In a journal, notebook, or even a scrap piece of paper, write down the best and worst parts of last year for you. Next, free-write about the kind of year you want to have, the kind of person you’d like to become, or any traits that you’d like to adopt. After looking over your list, start writing down words that fit in with any recurring themes you noticed.

If nothing stands out to you right away, don’t stress out about finding the perfect word now. Sleep on it. Let your subconscious think about it as you go about your daily routine. You could try journaling or morning pages to see if any themes come up in your writing.

How to Use Your Own Little Word

Now that you have your own word for the year, there are several ways that you can use it to stay inspired. Many people include a page about their word in their planner or journal. You could easily make a dashboard page for your planner to keep you inspired whenever you look at the page.

Other ideas:

  • Write your one little word on several Post-It notes or journal cards. Place it around your home where you’ll have reminders of it (bathroom mirror, dresser, fridge, etc.)
  • Be on the lookout for journals, notebooks, shirts, or even jewelry that has your one little word on it. Find ways to keep the one little word physically with you.
  • If you’re feeling creative, you can make a scrapbook page or art journal about your word.
  • Feeling shy about your artistic skills? You could make a Pinterest board or a collage about your one little word. Fill it with quotes that evoke the feeling of your chosen word.

Staying Inspired

I know how hard it is to stick with resolutions. How many people make big goals in January, only to abandon them by mid-February? If you don’t want your one little word to fall by the wayside, here are a few ideas for staying inspired throughout the year:

  • Keep a gratitude log. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It could be a spare notebook, or if you keep a planner, write down one thing you’re grateful for, no matter how small. If it’s an especially bad day, your one small thing could be as simple as your morning coffee. Over time, you can look back to see how all those little things add up.
  • Set reminders in your phone’s calendar or write down in your planner once a month to revisit your one little word. Ask yourself if your life is reflecting your word. If not, what do you need to do to get back on track? If the word no longer fits, you could always choose a different one!

One Final Note

If it’s no longer the beginning of the year when you’re reading this, it’s still not too late to choose your own one little word. It’s never too late to make a new start.

Do you have one little word for the year? How do you use it? I’d love to hear about it! Please share in the comments.

traveler's notebook
One Little Word