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Bullet Journal Basics

Updated on July 31, 2021

What Is A Bullet Journal?

Just about everyone makes or uses lists! Even as we think about our day, we are making a mental list of all the things we want to accomplish, I know that I am obsessive about lists. So bullet journals are the perfect answer. Why not have all your lists in one place?

Bullet journals are all about getting you and your tasks more organized. It is an organization system that helps you be more productive and mindful.

It can be a list of almost anything or a mixture of things. It is little snippets of our lives. It can be a journal, a diary, a to-do list , or a story of our accomplishments

That is what bullet journals are all about. They are journals of just about anything in a bullet list format. It can include little pieces of artwork.

What could a bullet journal cover? Think about the things that you might want to record. Garden journals, business journals, daily journals, hobby journals and more. Think about health journals, baby journals, pet journals. A bullet journal is a planner with a diary as a combined project

They are good for someone who would like to do a diary in a shortened and easy journal. It is also good for anyone who likes to use planners. The basic idea is that you are doing quick notes rather than long sentences.

Your journal is completely your own. You can do as much as you want or as little as you want. It can be super-themed and detailed. Or it can be as messy as you would like. You simply do what works for you with no rules hanging over your head.

Bullet journals use bullet lists as the core of the journal. It can also include an index, a daily planner, a monthly planner, or a future log. It's strictly up to you how you use it. It is a living part of your life. It grows and changes with you.

Pre-made journals are very pricey. They often don't have the sections that you may need. Bullet journals keep your information handy but bring out the creative side of you. They are a truly a personalized planner and diaries.

Some folks keep them a year to year. I think it would be rewarding and fun to look back at your bullet journal at the end of the year, You can see all that you have accomplished. Or you can be inspired to do better in the next year.

Why Should You Use A Bullet Journal?

There are several reasons why a bullet journal may be your next best friend:

  1. Using pen and paper will help you remember things better. Let's face it, the world and our everyday lives are very stressful. Things are coming at us a mile a minute. Work and home, it's all there constantly demanding your attention. Using a pen and paper takes you to a place where you can truly focus on what is important.
  2. You will find your focus easier. Having one place where you can find the information to make your day run better and faster takes some of the stress away from you.
  3. Through the process, you will find and develop your own creativity.
  4. Bullet journals give you time to spend with yourself You can reflect and learn about your dreams and goals. It gives you time to think and plan your future.
  5. You will achieve more than you thought might be possible. You will get to your dreams and goals faster once you figure out your priorities.
  6. You give your brain a chance to take a breather. Having that huge pile of post-it notes and scraps of papers with notes on them can be taxing to your brain. The bullet journal is stored for all your data so that you can complete tasks.

Bullet Journal Tip

Tab your bullet journal sections to make them quicker to find ! You can use folded over washi tape, embellished paper clips and purchased tabs

What Kind Of Journal Should You Use?

The kind of journal that you use depends on your need. The first thing to consider is size. If you are planning on carrying the journal with you, then you will want a size that is easily for a hand bag, briefcase, or tote bag. But, don't make it too small to work with. If it is stationary to your home or office, you might consider a larger size.

There are journals with grid pages, journals with lined pages and some with blank pages The choice is up to you and your needs.decide which will work for your needs.

Consider a sturdy cover like a moleskin journal. It will last longer.

Types Of Journals

Leuchtturm1917- this is a popular journal because of it's features. It has pre-numbered pages. The pages have a 5mm dot grid.Features include an expandable pocket, a blank table of contents, two ribbon page markers, elastic band fastener, stickers for labeling/archiving, and it opens flat. They come in a large collection of colors About $20

Composition Notebooks-These books are the most economical, especially for beginners. They come in standard as well as grid composition books. About $4-$7 each

Moleskin Journals- have soft covers and flexible spines. Some have elastic closures. .The paper can be thin in these books, You need to consider that if you plan to use markers in your journal. Average about $7.50 -$20, depending on the size and number of pages

Rhodia Journals- Much like the moleskin journals, but have heavier paper. Has ribbon marker and elastic closure Includes inner pocket, and elastic closure to keep papers secure. Depending on size a little over $12- a little over $23

Miquelrius Journals- Has about 600 pages in it;s medium journal. They are graph pages that are easy to use. About $15

Loose Leaf Binder- You can use a three ring loose leaf binder. This is a nice option because you cab use inexpensive loose leaf paper, graph or grid paper. It also enables you to add and take out pages easily.

Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

Your bullet journal is a tool for you to get your life organized. It does not have to be a piece of artwork, It is a working journal for whatever you want to keep track of

More Bullet Journal Supplies

There are really only a few things that you need to create your bullet journal beyond the journal itself:

Pens- There are so many pens that you can use to create your own personalized bullet journal. You need to start with some back pens with fine points to create your lists. Beyond that, you can use all types of pens to create your journal. Think gel pens, fine tipped ink pens, colored pencils and more. Have fun and create with your own doodles and drawings.

Watercolor Pens-These can be used in small places where you want to add a little color or shading,

Washi Tape-Adds a pop of color wherever you need it.

Ruler-Either a 6 inch ruler that you can keep in your journal or a 12 inch ruler. These will help you define and create your pages. You can create calendars, sections and add art to your own personalized project

Pencils- Help you create boxes and lines in your journal

Eraser-To help erase any unwanted lines

Highlighters-Optional but can be useful

Options- There are so many options to add your own special touches to your journal. Washi tape is easy to apply and very popular. You can also use stickers, borders, little pictures and more

Bullet Journal Tip

Use an erasable pen or pencil to number your pages. That way if you have to make changes in your journal, you can renumber them.

Planning Your Bullet Journal

Planning your journal is an important part of getting your life organized.

  • First, consider the type of journal you plan to use. Are you going to use a notebook system where you can add pages? Or are you planning to use a moleskin book?
  • What size book do you need? Are you planning to carry it with you? How much information do you need to list?
  • What type of pages or components do you want or need in your bullet journal? Knowing how many pages you will need will help you decide which book is right for you.
  • What parts of your life so you need to set goals and get organized? What is the purpose of your bullet journal? It is strictly for business, home use or both?
  • What scheduled and recurrent events do you need to organize?

Before you start your bullet journal, plan the sections that you need. Your options may be different depending on the kind of journal you are planning. Make a list of the components that you want to include on paper.

Practice setting up your pages in an inexpensive notebook or on loose leaf paper

Once you get it all planned, you are ready to move forward with your journal.

Want To Add Paint To Your Bullet Journal?

If you want to add any level of creativity with paint in your bullet journal, the weight of the paper becomes a strong consideration. You need thick high quality art paper to be able to bear the weight of any paints

Basics Components of A Bullet Journal Page

So what should your bullet journal page contain? Where do you start?

Well, every age has 4 common things on it.....

  1. The page is numbered- I like to number my page on the bottom outer corner
  2. It has a topic- what is the page about? It is a short title or description
  3. It has a bullet list- a bullet format
  4. It has short sentences - keep it short

Sketch Out Your Journal With Pencil First

Sketch out your layout with pencils first so that you can make any changes. Then go over your layout with permanent pencils when you are satisfied. You can tab your most important pages.


Step One- Your Index

Your index should be the first two pages of your journal. This is the list of topics or sections that are in your journal. Think of it as a title page. it has a list of items and the page the item is located on. It can also be considered as a list of collections and where they are located.

The first three pages should be set aside as your index. Start by numbering all the other pages in your journal either in the top or bottom corner. Once you have done that you are ready to get into the heart of your bullet journal.

Should you index every page? That could be tedious. I would tend to index your most important sections.

Advantages Of Using An Index Page

  • When you have a notebook with lots of pages and use many different collections throughout your entire journal.
  • When you use the bullet journal method only with rapid logging and no artistic graphics to differentiate pages
  • When you have family trackers: When you have other people’s tracker on your journal (such as family trackers), everyone can easily find and edit an entry – for instance, homework checklist or family chores.
  • When your bullet journal is sectioned off randomly as you go and your collections end up placed within planning pages.
  • When you want to find one-off pages from old journal books. When you are actively using a notebook you probably know pretty much where most pages are but it will take a lot of flicking through old journals to find specific pages. it is much easier to reference them as indexes help when you wish to carry over info between old and new journals.

There are times when you might not need an index. For example, if you have a thin notebook or when you color-code your pages. It is your choice to use an index.

Indexing Numerically

In this system, you index every page or group of pages as you go. The advantage of doing it this way is that you have a complete index that is super organized. It is, however, very time-consuming and you can wind up with a very large index.

Indexing By Content

In this case, you would only index collections, rather than every page.

You would list things like recipes, birthdays, and other collections. Then you list all the pages they are located on. You can also list things by month too.

For example, Habit Trackers...Pages14,28,43

The choice is yours which way to go on your index or not to have one at all. Do what works best for your needs.

The key page shows the symbols you use in your bullet journal
The key page shows the symbols you use in your bullet journal | Source

Step Two- Your Key Page

The index is where you set up your signifiers. These are symbols that you use to signify an action

Every journal should have symbols that are used in different sections. Your key page lists and illustrates the symbols or keys that you decide to use.

Your symbols should be easy to read and understand. It should be one of your first steps so that you understand and remember your symbols.

Here are some symbols that you could use :

  • x..........completed
  • >..........migrated ( when you move an item to another page)
  • event
  • --...........note
  • !.............priority

You can use any set of symbols that work for you! Keep it simple. There is no reason to get overly complicated.

You goals page can be in any format you chose
You goals page can be in any format you chose

Step Three- Yearly Goal Page

Every year you may decide to create a yearly goal page. This page can include business goals, financial goals, hobbies, reading, movies, and just about anything you may want to list

Think of it as a resolution page. It is where you can list your hopes and your dreams. You set a time frame to get it done,It will help you clarify your goals and set a time frame to get them done.

It makes you accountable to yourself. It keeps that goal in front of you. It makes you more focused.

Writing it down helps you to measure your progress. You can see where you need to make changes so that you can achieve your goals and dreams.

Your Future Page/Log

The future log is a section where you list all of your important yearly/monthly events in one plac

Flip to the next page in your journal. This spread should be your future page or log. This section can be set up for 6 months or a year. If you are going to do 6 months, use the next two-page spread. Double that if you are planning to do a year.

Take each page and divide it into thirds. Write the Month on each section.. Three months per page makes a lot of sense.

Add a little calendar at the top of each column. Then leave room to add special dates and reminders for the month.

Future logs give you a quick glance at everything that is happening. It should be revised as you add it to your monthly log.

What To Include On Your Future Log Pages

  • Note special days is colors like birthdays and anniversaries
  • School vacations
  • Federal holidays
  • Work meetings
  • Other appointments
  • Add any doctors appointments
  • Planned Travel
  • Annual bills
  • Birthdays

Bullet Journal Tip

Add a full-year calendar to the title page just inside your bullet journal. Highlight any day that has a notation in your future log or monthly page. That is a quick reference to events in the days ahead.

Habit Tracker/ Goal Page

What Is A Bullet Journal Habit Tracker? A Bullet Journal habit tracker is simply a dedicated space in your journal where you can mark down when you do something you want to become more aware of. A habits tracker is more than just putting pen to paper to keep count of when you do something though.

If you work out, take medication, watch your water consumption ect, make a page for every month. You can also use this page for goals.

List your habits vertically and the days horizontally. Create a grid for every day.

If you are focusing on a specific habit or goal, create a yearly spread. List the month vertically and the days horizontally. Place an x on each day that you complete the task.

You can create a financial goal page in the same way.

There are so many free habit trackers online that you can print on your printer. Just type in what you want to track in your favorite browser. Then click images. Download whatever you need and print it up.

Monthly Pages

The next section should be your monthly log. Start with the current month. Make a line for each day of the month. Depending on the size of the journal, you may need two sides to complete the month.

This is where you can give an overview of your entire month. You can allocate two pages for each month depending on your needs. This can also be a monthly calendar where you can set your goals and tasks for the month. It generally consists of a calendar and task list but it can extend way beyond that to include appointments, events, budget and spending log, diet goals, birthday reminders etc.

The left side should be a list of the days of the month or a calendar.. You could have them listed by the date and the day of the week that day falls on. Number the days of the month in a line on the left side.

The right side could be any notations, ideas, and additions to that month.

Another Way To Set Up Monthly Journal Pages

Set up your monthly pages on two pages. Set up calendar boxes.

Make sure to list the things that need to be done that month and then add to it as the month progresses.

Remember To add your sections to the index as you create them

30 PCS Journal Stencils, Planner Stencils for Junk Journal Notebook Diary Scrapbook DIY Drawing Template Journal Stencil 4x7 Inch
30 PCS Journal Stencils, Planner Stencils for Junk Journal Notebook Diary Scrapbook DIY Drawing Template Journal Stencil 4x7 Inch
Planner stencils make your bullet journal fun and organized. I purchased this set and was very pleased with the quality and price.This is a very comprehensive set that anyone from beginner to advanced can use. It is the perfect size for most standard journals.

Weekly Pages

Weekly spreads plan your whole week

It is a two-page spread where you list your appointments, tasks, goals and two dos for the week. You can also list tasks that haven't been assigned to a specific day in your weekly pages

You can list things like water trackers, habit trackers, notes, weekly reviews, to-do lists, house chores. appointments, holidays and more


Daily Pages

This is the core of your journal. This is the daily list of what you hope to accomplish that day.

Here is where you can write how much you want to accomplish and your thoughts for the day.

You can allocate each day it's own page. Many people like to put two days onto one page to save space. You decide how much space that you need.

Use small bullet points to write down things you need to do that day, tasks you completed, and anything else of interest that occurred that day

Use washi tape to separate your sections

Try breaking your day up into sections like morning, afternoon and evening, That will help you feel that the tasks can be done

For each day, you write down your appointments and tasks. As each task or appointment is completed, you either cross it out or place an x next to it

You then at the end of your day. carry over the task to the next day, if not completed.

What you can list on your daily page:

  • Notes
  • Plans for the next day
  • Daily menu
  • Grocery lists
  • Journaling
  • Daily chores
  • Weather
  • Health goals
  • Challenges

Remember, you set up your journal the way it works best for you. You could look at 100 bullet journals and there would be a common thread of elements. But how those elements are used would be totally differnt.

Bullet Journal Tip

Remember that you may have to move items to the next day or the next month

Dream Vision Board

You can also add a Dream Vision Board on two pages. What are your dreams for your future. Create a vision of what they would look like

Business Milestones And Project Pages

No matter what job you are in or if you have a business, you can plan, execute and celebrate your achievements.

Project Pages

These are pages where you can have a two page layout of a specific project you are working on. You have details, tasks and notes. As you complete each task you can x it off to see your progress

Business Milestones

When you have completed your project be sure to list them in your monthly Business Milestone Page. When you review your month, you will be surprized at what you have achieved.

Bullet Journal Tip

Add Signifiers to the left of your bullets. These are things like priorities and ideas. Create the signifiers that have meaning for you

Family Finances

It should all start with Financial Goals for you and your family. You should consider ultimate long term goals. These could include things like paying off credit card debt, house payments, buying a house, ect.

Next, you can break it down into goals for that specific year. Finally, it is time to make a plan for every month of that year. Check off each achievement as they happen.

Remember, things can happen and you may have to carry items into another month. But give yourself credit for all the things you have achieved

List And Collections

Could be anything that you want to track. Could be a birthday list, a weight chart, or anything you want to keep track of. These should be stored in the back of the journal.

Collections are a very broad list of things that you want to accomplish over the year. It could be books that you want to read. Movies that you want to see, ect. Here are a few ideas to add to your journal:

  • Daily Routines
  • Cleaning Schedule
  • House Projects
  • Travel Ideas
  • Password Lists
  • Trip Planner
  • Packing Lists
  • Spending Logs
  • Bill Tracker
  • Exercise Log
  • Wish List
  • Self Care Ideas
  • Savings Goals
  • Meal Planners
  • Water Tracking Page
  • Doctor Appointment Page
  • Useful Telephone Numbers
  • Medication Tracker
  • Bucket Lists
  • Things That You Are Thankful For
  • Holiday Planning
  • Children's Sports Or Activity Planning

Journal Ideas

Getting Creative With Your Bullet Journal

Getting creative with your bullet journal gives you a whole lot of personality and fun in your planning routine. Get Creative ! Doodle, draw, stencil ! Create unique pages that are totally you !

Get out your colored pencils, pans and have a good time drawing and coloring on your pages.

Bullet Journal Divider Tips And Ideas

There are a few things that you can do to make your bullet journal easier to use.

  1. Washi Tape Color Coding-Use washi tape to color-code your pages. Then use those colors to color-code your index page.
  2. Create Monthly Tabs- Use washi tape in one color to create monthly tabs. Makes it easier to work with your journal
  3. Make Dividers For Specific Collections-Make tabs for the collections that you mostly use.

Bullet Journal Tip

Use sticky tabs to make the pages or sections that you use most often. You can use sticky tabs or tabs made with folded over washi tape

© 2019 Linda F Correa


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