This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.
Bullet Journaling is an amazing way to get organized, productive and creative. unlike most other planners it allows you to fully customize EVERYTHING inside your planning system as you see fit. For this reason, many people are gravitating towards the bullet journal and loving it.
However, if you’re newer to bullet journals, you may not quite understand exactly what it is and how you can make it work for you.
If you’re one of these people, chances are you’re here to find out and this is what this post will help you do.
You will get an in-depth explanation of what the Bullet Journal is, who it’s for, how it works, and everything else you need to know to start using this versatile organizational system this year.
What is a bullet journal?
The Bullet Journal is an analog system created by Ryder Carrol. According to Ryder, ‘A Bullet Journal is meant to help you track your past, organize the present and plan for the future’
By this definition, a bullet journal can be used to help you stay on track with your entire life all in one place. You can use it as a scrapbook, a daily journal, a place to collect all your ideas, to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and dairy.
It is a customizable organizational system that allows you to keep track of whatever you want to keep track of in a convenient place.
Important Bullet Journal Terms
If you’re new to bullet journaling some of the bullet journal terminologies may seem confusing to you. Here a few commonly used bullet journal terms with explanations of what they mean.
Bujo: Pronounced boo-joe, this is the shortened version of BUllet JOurnal.
Key: A key is an overview of everything that is in your bullet journal, usually kept at the front of the bullet journal, to help you keep things organized and clutter-free.
The original Bullet Journal Key created by Ryder Caroll consists of the following elements:
( • ) Task incomplete
(✕) Task complete
(>) Migrated to next collection
(<) Scheduled to Future Log
Signifier: These are found within the key and are the symbols that are used for your entries. Signifiers allow you to quickly glance at any page in your bullet journal and find anything you’re looking for in no time.
Trackers: These are charts that help you to track the frequency of behavior with the aim of helping you build a good habit.
Future Log: The Future Log helps you to keep track of tasks and events that are scheduled to happen within a few months.
Spread/Layout: Spreads simply mean the pages of your bullet journal.
Monthly Spread/Layout: The monthly spread/layout of a bullet journal is a monthly calendar, where you list all the things you want to get done in that month next to the dates that you want them done. You typically create these at the beginning of each month.
Daily Spread/ Layout: A daily spread is a place where you plan and record your tasks, appointments, events, ideas, and notes as they occur throughout the course of the day.
Weekly Spread/ Layout: The weekly spread/layout of a bullet journal is a spread built for each week of the month that that allows you to plan, schedule and visualize what you have going on for the week ahead. Weekly spreads can vary widely depending on what you want to do. However, here are a few things that are commonly incorporated in weekly spreads: a weekly overview calendar, weather, meal planning, inspirational quotes, tracker, logs, events/deadlines and next weeks notes to name a few.
Brain dump: This is a page in your Bullet Journal where you ‘dump’ everything that you’re thinking in order to clear up your mind and get rid of anxiety, worry, and stress when you’re so full of ideas that may make you restless and may break your focus.
Collections: This is where you will store all your useful lists and ideas for future reference. Basically, you take the ideas you jot down in the daily log and group them accordingly. For example, you may have a page for places you want to visit.
Migration: This is taking any incomplete tasks from the week or month before and making sure they are deleted, scheduled or added to the tasks for the next week/month.
Bullet Journal Supplies
These bullet journal supplies will make the foundation of your whole bullet journal system, therefore, it is highly recommended that you get supplies that are both high quality and affordable.
Popular Bullet Journal Notebooks:
Moleskine Classic Hard Cover Notebook
- Hardcover with 180 Degree lie-flat opening.
- Comes with a bookmark and an elastic closure.
- 240 dotted pages
Leuchtturm1917 Medium Size Hardcover A5 Notebook
- Numbered pages and blank table of contents for easy organization and notes.
- Thread-bound opens flat
- Acid-free and ink proof paper, expandable pocket inside back cover, page marker and elastic closure
- Stickers for labeling and archiving
- 249 numbered pages, 8 perforated pages, 5.75 x 8.25 inches
Lemome Dotted Bullet Journal Notebook
- Premium Quality & Beautifully Crafted – Smooth & Elegant black leather cover great for all kinds of occasions.
- High Quality And Thick Paper – 192 pages, which is 30% thicker than normal. The sheets are beautifully soft to write and draw on.
- Perfect Size – A5 Size 8.5″ x 5.7″, easy for handwriting and carrying in your bag. Constructed with an elastic closure, convenient pen loop, inner pocket, and bookmark.
Popular Bullet Journal Pens/Pencils
Ticonderoga Wood-Cased Graphite Pencils
- Exclusive #2 graphite formula provides extra smooth performance
- Top quality, latex-free eraser provides easy, clean corrections
Pigma Micron, Graphic & Brush Pen Set (Black)
- The archival quality ink is waterproof, chemical resistant, fade resistant, bleed free, quick drying, and ph neutral
- There are six pens each with a different tip size or style (0.2-mm, 0.25-mm, 0.3-mm, 0.35-mm, 0.45-mm, 0.5-mm, brush, and graphics)
Pigma Micron, Graphic & Brush Pen Set (Assorted Colors)
- Pigma Micron 03 6Pc set includes: 2 ea black; 1 ea blue, red, green, sepia
- Assorted Pigma ink colors in 03 point Size (0.35mm)
- Waterproof, chemical & fade resistant on paper, once dry
- Quick drying & PH neutral
Pilot Frixion Retractable Pens (Assorted Color Inks)
- Writes like a gel pen, erases like a pencil: FriXion lets you write smoothly but leaves room for error. Unique Thermo-Sensitive gel ink formula disappears with erasing friction.
- Pilot FriXion erasable gel pens combine the convenience of a retractable pen with the incredible FriXion erasable gel ink. Erase and rewrite repeatedly without damaging documents – Eraser is at the top of the pen tip, retractable by pressing clip down.
Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens
- Assorted colors
- Perfect for charts, maps, and graphs
- Water-based ink
- 0.3 mm Fine Point – Fineliner with superfine, metal-clad tip and an ergonomic triangular shape for relaxed and easy writing.
- Dry safe – can be left uncapped for days without drying up.
- Line width approx. 0.3 mm. Water-based ink. Washes out of many textiles.
- Minimal Bleed Through/ Acid-free Ink.
Other Useful Bullet Journal Supplies
Candy Color Skinny Washi Tape Set
- You get 10 rolls of rainbow washi tape (0.3-inch wide x 16 ft long ), 10 rolls of rainbow washi tape (0.3-inch wide x 10 ft long ) and 24 rolls slim washi tape(0.1 inches wide X 16 ft long)
- No Residue: The tape will NOT damage your surfaces.
- This pencil pouch is 7.88”*3.54”*4.33″ with lots of storage to fit up to 50 pens and pencils and other small items and gadgets, convenient to use and easy to carry.
- High-quality canvas and durable zipper
Avery Ultra Tabs
- Ultra-writable: two-sided, paper-covered plastic tabs work with pens, pencils, markers, and highlighters and are smudge free.
- Ultra-repositionable: sticks securely and removes easily.
- Ultra-versatile: Margin-size body fits within margins of books, notebooks and printed documents without interfering with text.
- Writable body is clear so you can see through to text underneath.
Helix 360° Angle and Circle Maker
How To Set Up You Bullet Journal
First things first
This is something you do before the first step – Find yourself some scrap paper or a really old notebook and make a rough plan of what you want to include in your bullet journal. We do not want to get caught up in perfectionist tendencies, however, we’re also trying to avoid making a mess of things on the first go. Plus, this step will go a long way in helping you to feel more prepared for taking the leap and writing in your bullet journal for the very first time! After you’ve done this follow the steps below to set up your bullet journal.
Note: This bullet journal set up guide is meant to guide you on how to start a bullet journal. However, before you follow the steps below, spend some brainstorming the various layouts and spreads YOU want to include in your bullet journal. Make a list of them and then proceed.
Step 1. Get yourself a good notebook and your supplies.
You can use any notebook you like, but ensure that you consider things like size, paper quality, and paperweight. These are the most popular bullet journal notebooks Moleskine Classic Hard Cover Notebook , Leuchtturm1917 Medium Size Hardcover A5 Notebook , Lemome Dotted Bullet Journal Notebook.
If your bullet journal notebook isn’t numbered, number all your pages.
Step 2. Create an Index
On your first two pages, create an index. This is basically a log that helps you quickly and easily find any entry in your bullet journal later.
Therefore, each time you ass a new piece of content to your journal, you will write down the title of that page and the page number on the index page.
Here is an example of an index for your reference:
Image credit: MochiBujo
Step 3: Leave space for your key
After you’re done creating your index, you may want to reserve a page for a key that you will fill out later with some of the symbols you will be using in your bullet journal.
Here is an example of a key for reference:
Image credit: dotted.plans
Step 3: Create your future log on the next four pages
Your Future Log helps you to keep track of tasks and events that are scheduled to happen within a few months.
Here is a simple format you can follow to create a simple future log:
- Divide your page into three equal sections with horizontal lines
- Write down each month in the top left-hand corner. Also, draw a small calendar (as shown in the image below)
- Write down events, tasks and appoints you have scheduled for each corresponding month.
Here is a future log for your reference:
Image credit: brainstormwithteri
Step 5: Create your monthly spread
Monthly spread with a task list
Monthly spread with everything on one page
Step 6: Create your daily spread
A daily spread is a place where you plan and record your tasks, appointments, events, ideas, and notes as they occur throughout the course of the day.
Here is an example:
Image credit: journal_junkies
Step 7: Find other ideas you want to incorporate into your bullet journal.
Of course, anything you add to your bullet journal system is your choice and based on what you think is important and useful to you. To make it easier to know what other spreads you can add to your bullet journal, here are 13 other ideas you can consider:
- Grocery list
- Gratitude Log
- Recipe bank
- Cleaning calendar
- Goals and rewards
- Habit Tracker
- Seasonal to-do list
- Favorite quotes and passages
- Budget tracker
- Food Tracker
- Workout Tracker
- Spending Log
Step 8: Enjoy your bullet journal!
This is something that you can be creative with while becoming more productive and organized, so enjoy every moment of this new journey, and remember, you’re just starting this out so if you make what you consider to be ‘mistakes’ do not worry, you’re just learning your own style.