Interested in how to start a bullet journal this year? You came to the right place. Chances are you have seen amazing bullet journals floating all over on the internet and you just want to organize your life. With so many people getting positive results with bullet journals, they have slowly become popular and it’s a thing now. Especially now with the New Year, they have become so handy as people set new goals. Bullet journals are the key to having an organized life. We can all agree no one desires to lead a chaotic life.
What is a bullet journal?
A bullet journal is an analog, customizable organization system created by Ryder Carrol which allows you to keep track of things conveniently. It’s based on rapid logging with symbol keys to help you organize important events, notes, and tasks. The reason why bullet journals have proven to be so effective is that you can easily and fully customize everything inside your planning system unlike with other planners.
They are super flexible and gives you a chance to design a bullet journal that works for you and your needs. Think of it as a better version of the improved analog planner that creatively allows you to combine all aspects of your life that keeps you organized.
A bullet journal is tailored to suit your needs as it’s super easy to personalize it. You can decide to be more minimalist or super artistic with it, you are only limited by your imagination. The original system was very minimalist in its designs but over time people have come up with more elaborate and creative designs and layouts.
Since we are all human, it is in our nature to forget especially when our tasks are so many. Sometimes it can be mentally exhausting trying to remember everything that is where a bullet journal comes in. To make our lives less stressful by ensuring that we are on top of things. Bullet journals are super flexible, you can make them your own by customizing them to your needs.
If you a beginner, you might find setting up a bullet journal a bit hard. It can be daunting. Worry not, you are in good hands. A simplified guide on how to start a bullet journal for beginners, perfect for anyone who is changing journals to a new year or simply migrating to a new notebook. A guide that will equip you with the best tips and tricks making it easy to set up a bullet journal and you will become more effective and productive. It will walk you through all the important steps you need to make.
A bullet journal can be used in many different ways such as to-do lists, diary, notebook, scrapbook, sketchbook or a combination of those elements. It will teach you to do more with less.
It consists of three different parts.
- The first part is the index and the key which occupies the first two pages and helps you to stay on top of things with what is where and how the journal works.
- The second part is the logs. This could be daily, weekly or even monthly. See the details below.
- The last part is the list. List of other things you want to keep track of. For example a list of movies you want to watch.
Some of the benefits of starting a bullet journal are: helps boost your productivity, you become more mindful of your tasks, develop your creativity, and reach your goals by organizing your life. According to Ryder Carol,” It helps you track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future.”
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Supplies to get started
For you to start a bullet journal you need a few supplies. There are a lot of fancy items you can get if you want to be extra but the main thing you need is a notebook like these Leuchtturm 1917 and a pen or a pencil. Supplies shouldn’t be the reason stopping you from starting a bullet journal.
The Leuchtturm 1917 is the most recommend bullet journal notebook ever. You need a trusty, dotted notebook for your ideas. It’s perfect if you want to be a bit artsy and they come with a printed index notebook page, numbered pages and a envelop pocket at the back and I love the fact that there is such a huge variety of colors for you to choose from. It’s super affordable and durable.
A second favorite notebook is Scribbles That Matter. It’s amazing and so beautiful. Just as the Leuchtturm it has the notebook index page, key page, back envelop pocket and numbered pages. What I love most is that it has great binding which makes it so strong and long lasting.
These two notebooks make journaling so fun and super easy to do. They are durable which means they don’t fall apart from writing and they can easily fit in a backpack or a handbag.
As a beginner, you don’t need to worry about the kind of journal you start with, once you get a handle of bullet journaling and as you get more ideas on how to make it work for you, you can upgrade to your desired notebook. It’s super affordable as well and beautiful. Most of us are motivated by beautiful things, right?
It’s the small things that transforms a bullet journal. There are so many pens you can use when journaling which all depends on the use and how extra you want to be. An easy way to remain organized and to easily look for information is by using colored pens especially when writing different collections.
- Paper Mate Inkjoy Gel Pens
Paper mate inkjoy gel pens are great for writing, drawing and coloring. The best part is that the come in different colors which means you choose the ones you prefer best. This gel pen will give you very vivid lines and they are super smooth to write with as they dry 3x faster which means reduced smearing. They have colorful gel ink which brightens your writing and the smooth ink keeps the ideas flowing across the page. This is for sure one of the best colored pens for bullet journaling.
- Pilot Frixion Retractable Pens
Retractable (erasable) pens makes my life easier because if I make a mistake I can just erase it instead of using white-out or wasting a page. It’s the easiest way to keep your bujo clean. These pilot frixion retractable pens are perfect for underlining and highlighting places, for small coloring, doodling and decoration around different pages.
- Steadtler Triplus fineliner
The steadtler triplus fineliner pens are great for bullet journal art such as doodling, coloring, drawing maps and charts. Some of the pros are non-toxic acid-free water-based ink, dry safe feature and fatigue free writing which means it’s designed to sit very comfortable in hands for hours.
You will need a ruler for drawing lines for all the spreads you will create. Rulers will help you make your pages look more neat and clean. I highly recommend this one as it is the ideal size for drawing lines across your notebook. It’s simple and basic.
Later on you might want to add Helix circle ruler which will help you create those amazing circle monthly logs and habit trackers or westcott ruler which will help you with all the other shames you might use as your symbols or as decoration. If you are artistic the westcott ruler will take you a mile further.
- Tombow dual brush pens
I know they are pen but they are great as markers and ideal for things like fine art, brush lettering, faux calligraphy, illustrations, water color illustrations and journaling. These Tombow dual brush pens have a fine tip that creates consistent lines.
Washi tape will help you to color coordinate each section in your journal and it makes all your bullet journal ideas easy to find and nice. Highlights different tasks and reminders is now easy.
I love sticky notes. They can be used as dividers or colorful add-ins to your bujo pages. They are also great for creating unique designs.
As you begin, you don’t have to get all these supplies you can easily add them as you progress. All that matters is to start and make it a habit.
Are you excited to start a bullet journal? Let’s dive in. You don’t have to stick to a strict bullet journal design but knowing the basics will help you get started and your journal will remain organized.
Start a bullet journal for beginners.
What are the layouts?
This is a term you will see quite often now since you want to start a bullet journal and I don’t want you to be confused. A layout is a theme or the topic you want to journal about. It helps you to effectively organize your ideas and do-to lists. For example, this can be a fitness tracker, saving tracker and a recipe planner. It can be divided into weekly, monthly and daily.
Bullet journal cover pages
This is optional. Some people opt to go straight to the bullet journal keys while others start with a quote or with a theme. Whatever your heart desires. There is no rule on the first page. Creating the first page is always super fun and it jump starts your creativity. It often consists of a quote, a word, the date, or a doodle that is important to the creator.
Source cover page from @sketches.sunny
Start a bullet journal: keys
This is the core of a bullet journal as they allow you to classify your tasks without spending too much time writing. It’s a page that tracks all the key symbols and icons you will be using and their meanings throughout your bujo. It’s a perfect way to interpret and understand the symbols. It makes things easy for you to write, track and scan your tasks and events in a simple way.
In most cases in the bullet journal system, you will notice that every task is signed with a bullet point, every note with a dash and every event with a circle. Those are the original symbols that don’t mean you just have to stick to them, but you are free to make your own that will make more sense to you. Make it your own. Keep it as simple as possible.
The three easiest to start with are a task key, completed key and a migration key. Which means that you will have a symbol for each of the three. A symbol to denote a task, another to note when the task has been completed, and another to note when you haven’t completed the task and are migrating it forward to another day or week. You can have more than these three symbols, you simply customize it to fit your life. When you are starting, you might not have all your symbols ready just reserve a page and fill it later as you go on.
Bullet journal index
This is your bullet journal table of content. You simply list your tasks and their respective pages. As your notebook gets full and past information isn’t that fresh, finding a particular page without an index becomes time-consuming. Having your index filled in is super important because it allows you to quickly skim the page to see where you need to turn to find that information. That’s why you need to have an index in your journal.
This can be in chronological order or by clustering related pages. For example, if you have fitness tracker pages every month, you can reference them all at once and it would look something like this Fitness tracker 8, 17, 39.
Having an index makes it time effective. If your bullet journal isn’t pre-numbered you might need to number your pages. Sound like it’s a lot of work but it’s worth your time. If you don’t have all the information figured out, I suggest you leave at least three pages for that.
Bullet journal future logs
Bullet journal future logs are one of the first collection pages to set up. This is where you put all the things that is coming through for the next weeks and months that you need to remember and keep track of. It helps you to track and properly manage your tasks for the next few months and gives you an overview of your future months at a glance.
This can include things like graduation parties, baby showers, school breaks, community events and holidays. Always remember that your bullet journal doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t need to set up an entire year in advance to get started with your journal, all you need is a few weeks and months and you can add or revise later on.
For your future logs, you can divide the pages into different sections to highlight the different months. This all depends on the number of months your bullet journal is accommodating. So if it’s for a whole year have 12 equal spaces.
Bullet journal monthly spreads
Your bullet journal monthly spreads is an overview of a current month at a glance. You simply record all the things you want to do in that month. You list the task of the appointment next to the dates they should be completed. This functions just like a traditional calendar and it perfect for keeping you organized throughout the month.
You can also include a monthly cover page which helps to separate your monthly spreads from everything else and you also get you into the theme you’re using.
Bullet journal weekly spreads
This is where you keep all the weekly events and tasks. You can be as creative or as minimalist as you wish with this spreads as long as it keeps you more organized. You can add your weekly entries where you can mark as complete or add notes as you go.
With weekly spreads, there is so much room to add a lot of details which means no more missing out on important tasks of the week and give you the opportunity to keep better track of projects.
Image Source: Living-that-library-lifestyle.tumblr.com
Daily logs are where you add all your daily tasks and appointments. This is meant for day to day use. You can track things like habits, gratitude and even add mantras and quotes. For your daily spreads you should keep it as simple as possible, just label the top of each page with the date then listing your tasks for the day.
Custom bullet journal collections
The beauty of bullet journals is that you can be as creative as possible. Apart from the normal pages such as your daily and weekly spreads, there are so many collections you can have. These collections are pages where you organize related information. For example, you can have mood trackers, fitness trackers, books you have read, movies you want to watch and financial trackers. Everything can go in your bullet journal collections.
You will notice that some people like to leave a few pages at the beginning for their collections but you can also spread them throughout your journal. With your index set up, it will be easy to locate the page.
There you go. A simplified detailed guide on how to start a bullet journal for beginners. There are more ways you can customize your bullet journal but I have tackled the main aspects. There is no official way to go about journaling you are allowed to be creative as your imagination allows you.
If you are in a stage in life where you are craving order in your life, starting a bullet journal will do it for you. It the best way to keep track of everything life throws at you, whether you college students or even a stay at home mom. A bujo will keep you organized.