Discbound Bullet Journaling with Nicole Lara

Welcome to the October issue of Boho Berry Guests!

One thing I love about this “little” community of ours is how diverse we all are. We comprise all ages, genders, and walks of life. While I love sharing my Bullet Journal system with the world, I’ve come to realize that I don’t always have all of the answers for all of you out there. 

On that note, I’ve decided to start inviting guest bloggers to come on and share how they are adapting the Bullet Journal system to meet their needs. 

In this month’s installment of “Boho Berry Guests“, I am over-the-moon excited to welcome Nicole Lara of Nicole’s Journal to the blog. Nicole is a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, and I am thrilled to welcome her to the blog today!

Please join me in giving her a super warm welcome. Take it away, Nicole!


I’ve been a planner girl since I was young. I would draw weekly schedules and make lists of what topics I had to study in a notebook I carried with me every day to school. I dropped this habit when I  entered college because I thought printed planners were more ‘effective’ than handwritten ones, but I had no clear idea of what I wanted and I barely used those printed calendars I bought.

Thankfully, 8 months ago I watched Ryder Caroll’s video and finally had a clearer idea of how I could use a notebook to plan. On top of that, watching Kara’s videos on her beautiful journal drove my creativity crazy. However, I was hesitant to use the system because of one tiny detail… they were using a stitched notebook! My OCD and Type A personality demand I have a notebook that I can section out and modify as I need to.

My planning style is always changing, so my notebook must be able to change with me too. This is why I decided to give discbound notebooks a try.

This month's edition of Boho Berry Guests featured the talented Nicole Lara and her discbound Bullet Journal.

PERKS OF HAVING A DISCBOUND NOTEBOOK

Before talking about how I set up my notebook and how I plan my days, I wanted to touch on the advantages and disadvantages of having a discbound notebook as a journal so it serves as a reference for you in case you wanted to try it out as well.

PROS: 

It feels like a regular notebook but works like a ring binder. You basically get the best of both worlds. A notebook that is light and portable combined with the functionality of being able to remove pages and add inserts to serve your needs.

This month's edition of Boho Berry Guests featured the talented Nicole Lara and her discbound Bullet Journal.

The freedom to choose the paper that best serves your needs. As an artist and someone that sketches in her journal, having high-quality paper is key. With my discbound notebook, I don’t have to settle on the paper other companies’ notebooks have but instead use paper I know works for me. I also have the freedom to mix dotted paper with graph paper and blank paper in the same notebook with the distribution that I want.

(You can find my free digital paper if you scroll down my website)

This month's edition of Boho Berry Guests featured the talented Nicole Lara and her discbound Bullet Journal.
(Example of how I add blank pages to doodle)

 

Reuse spreads you’ve made or take advantage of printable resources. I personally don’t like drawing year calendars or having to rewrite spreads I will repetitively use. Instead, I buy printables or make my own and add them to my notebook.

This month's edition of Boho Berry Guests featured the talented Nicole Lara and her discbound Bullet Journal.
(This spread is an example of a page I can constantly add to my journal without having to redraw it after I run out of pages for my daily plans)

There is almost no limit to how you can make it your own. You can buy different covers, add dashboards, dividers, colored paper, coloring pages, tabs, journaling cards, and so much more!

This month's edition of Boho Berry Guests featured the talented Nicole Lara and her discbound Bullet Journal.
(A coloring page I added at the beginning of September)

CONS:

  1. Discs can sometimes make writing uncomfortable. Similar to rings, the discs can get in the way when you’re writing on the opposite side of your dominant hand. The good thing is you can fold the notebook on its own so that all the paper and inserts in the notebook serve as support and the discs don’t protrude as much as they do (something you can’t do with ring binders). This is why I always have a dashboard on hand to protect the page that’s touching the table from getting dirty.
  2. Pages will sometimes come off a little. However, this doesn’t bother me that much since it rarely happens and when it does it’s usually because I rushed while turning the pages.

HOW I SET UP MY DISCBOUND NOTEBOOK

My journal set-up is quite simple. Even though I could make a more ‘complicated’ system with a bunch of inserts to track a lot of things in my journal, I chose to use it only to plan current projects and unique non-repetitive tasks and events.

To track repetitive tasks and events (bills, doctor’s appointments, etc.) or routines (morning/night, planning, beauty, etc.) I use apps on my phone.

I use dividers to section my planner notebook into 4 parts:

Permanent collections: These are spreads that I’ve created or downloaded that I know I will use regularly and for a prolonged period of time. Examples of collections that I have here are: year calendar, calendex, productivity tracker, monthly review checklist, weekly checklist, etc.

This month's edition of Boho Berry Guests featured the talented Nicole Lara and her discbound Bullet Journal.

Monthly and weekly planning: Here I have my monthly plan and my weekly planner inserts. Recently I decided to make my weekly planning spreads in a digital form and print them, because after drawing my weeks several times I have a better understanding of what I need. This gives me more time to plan and draw in my daily spreads.

This month's edition of Boho Berry Guests featured the talented Nicole Lara and her discbound Bullet Journal.
(Weekly planner inserts)

Daily planning: This is the section for my day to day planning. This is the most used part of my notebook and is the space where I go to create my plan of action.

This month's edition of Boho Berry Guests featured the talented Nicole Lara and her discbound Bullet Journal.

Projects notes and freelancing: I use the last section of my planner to write quick notes and to sketch anything related to my current personal projects or my illustration freelancing work. I have a separate notebook where I write more detailed notes, so this section serves as a space to write when I am on the go and I can’t bring two notebooks with me.

This month's edition of Boho Berry Guests featured the talented Nicole Lara and her discbound Bullet Journal.
(A quick doodle tutorial I drew on the back of my notebook)

Besides this basic set-up, I include decorative elements such as dashboards, tabs, and coloring pages to give it a personal touch.

This month's edition of Boho Berry Guests featured the talented Nicole Lara and her discbound Bullet Journal.
(A dashboard I designed and added to my journal to personalize it)

MY PLANNING STYLE

Every morning, after I am done with my morning routine, I sit down at my desk to make the plan of action for the day. The first thing I do is to review my permanent collections, monthly plan, weekly plan and review where I am in my current projects. This gives me a better idea of where I stand and what I should work on.

This month's edition of Boho Berry Guests featured the talented Nicole Lara and her discbound Bullet Journal.
(Project planning at its best!)

The way I organize my daily tasks is ever evolving since I started bullet journaling. The main thing I focus on is to write down my top 3 tasks for the day and any event/appointment.

After I am done planning, I take some time in the morning to relax through doodling/coloring in my journal. I find this, along with meditating regularly, has helped me quite a lot in staying calmer and to release stress.

This is one of the main reasons why I love bullet journaling. There are no lines or limits in my daily pages, so I can be as creative as I want any day and create a beautiful journal along with a more organized life.

This month's edition of Boho Berry Guests featured the talented Nicole Lara and her discbound Bullet Journal.
(I doodle and color in my journal to relax and because it is fun)

I certainly don’t follow the ‘original rules’ of bullet journaling, but the magic of a bullet journal is that it’s meant to be unique. The creator himself said that your Bullet Journal can be anything you need it to be. This freedom to choose what I want my days to ‘look like,’ is what most attracts me of this system.

Nicole Lara
Nicole is a Dominican freelance illustrator that has a passion for art and organization. To share my talent with the world, she created the Instagram account @nicoles.journal to document how she uses her journal in her unique artistic way.

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  • OMG i love Nicole’s style sooooooo much !!!

    Such a great model for bulletjournaling, as you are Kara !

  • AnnaInternational

    This is great – had decided a ring binder style Bujo would be best for me, but this could be even better! Silly question though – how does it actually work?! Where do you buy the discs? Can you buy a punch to clip the pages so they fit?

    • Kimberly Stone

      Levenger makes a system called Circa. Office Depot’s discbound system is called Tul. Staples’ system is called Arc. I think Martha Stewart has put her name on a system but I don’t know where it’s sold. I have recently found the BlueLine MiracleBind notebooks and I’m craving one. Price is good.

    • Rebecca Amesbury Batisto

      Create 365 has a ton of different planners that are disc bound. You can use the ARC stuff from Staples (I think Office Depot has one now too) and mix it with the 365 (which is in Michaels and Hobby Lobby) to get whatever you need. They sell thick beautiful paper for inserts too.

  • Karen Vargas

    OMG!!! Her doodles and style are SO amazing!!! Will definitely follow her moving forward, keep posting such great stuff Nicole!

  • Lindsey

    This is great! Your drawings are amazing. I love the idea of being able to move pages around.

  • Wrenaissance Art

    Nicole,
    Your planning system has so many good ideas! I’m returning to my old Filofax, and will definitely incorporate some of these organization tips.
    Like you, I found stitchbound, or static wire-bound notebooks drove me crazy because of the way they mishmashed different topics (calendar, then phone convo, then calendar, then book list, etc), lol. Ringbound or discbound is more flexible, IMO.
    BTW, your illustration style is adorable. :-)

  • Monée

    Thanks for this article. I was also struggling with using the bullet journal system in a bound book for the same reasons. I didn’t know anyone else using the bujo system in a ring bound book. I bought a small binder a few months ago and never looked back. Nicole, your artwork is inspiring for those of us who use the system in a ring binder! And Kara, thanks again for introducing your readers to new ideas and artists! I just love the way people in the Tribe share information and ideas!!

  • Crystle Monahan

    I love the way the discbound system feels, but I am too rough with it I guess, as my pages are always falling out. What type of paper do you use, and how can you bring it around without it loosening the pages in a bag? Your artwork is amazing by the way!

  • Becky Allder

    This resonates with me so much! I have just invested in an arc journal because I can’t bear the thought of not being able to remove pages and move things around. I’m only just starting out, but loving it already :)

  • Pingback: Phase 5 : Bullet journal ou planner : pourquoi choisir ?()

  • MJ Wilkerson

    What is the best paper to use to make pages for your arc system. I often find printables, but when I use them, my ink bleeds through. I use fountain pens and would love to know what brand and weight of paper is the best to use for this! Thanks to anyone that can help out!

  • Lovehow pretty your spreads and illustrations are Laura, so Thanks for sharing. I have used a ring binder with my own design of pages for many years and like you, love that you can move the pages around and make sections!

  • Sharon Alicea

    OMG! I’ve been “bujoing” for 2 years in a row on simple graph notebooks from OfficeMax. I look at all those pretty planners and then found the disc bound system online. I was playing with the idea of trying the disc system but i Puerto Rico are almost impossible to find and I’m not about to spend on a MAMBI planner, as beautiful as they are. So, along comes Nicole and shows her BEAUTIFUL disc BuJo. Ok. I’m giving it a go!

  • Phanda Bear

    I LOOOVE this blog. I really wanna start a bullet journal and i got a small ringed binder; sadly its 6 small rings and the paper is small…. Where can i buy a journal like yours (i tried office depot and they wanted like 40$ for a disc journal and tried making me buy more on top and my budget is like 20$ or less xD)