Bullet Journaling How To— Using a planner and keeping a journal are two of the most practical, popular habits one can adopt. Keeping an art journal is also a powerful way to stay present, meditate on what matters, and practice mindfulness on a daily basis. Oh, and how about we throw in post-its too…they’re sure useful!
What if we told you there was a way to do all of the above at once? It’s called a bullet journal and it’s one of the most flexible, beautiful systems ever for both organizing your life and keeping track of your thoughts. It only works, though, if you set it up right.
If you missed our article on what a bullet journal is and how it works, you might want to head over and check that out first. We cover the basics there, so if you need that foundational knowledge, we’ll wait.
Got it? Good. If you’re still wondering how to start a bullet journal, here’s your step-by-step guide to setting up a bullet journal and reaching maximum organization and success today.
How to Start a Bullet Journal in Five Easy Steps
1. Find a Journal You Like
Obviously, you’re going to need a journal. For your first time, it’s totally fine if you just pick up one you have on hand. The beauty of a bullet journal is you don’t need to go out and buy something new; all it takes is a blank notebook and pure willingness. This is a good time to use up those journals you get as gifts or that you’ve got laying around half-finished.
If you do want to go pro, however, here’s a list of some of the most popular bullet journals. Some people prize soft covers, while others really like a grid as opposed to lines for their bullet journals. Still, others want the full effect and opt for a traditional bullet journal. It’s up to you.
2. Get a Reliable Pen or Two
Time for pens! Once again, there is no need to rush out and buy a professional stylus with which to write out all your Very Important Thoughts and Appointments. What you’re looking for is a good pen that writes smoothly and won’t bleed through to the other side. If you already have a go-to fave, more power to you.
However, should you desire some recommendations, here are a few of the best. These pens are beautiful, affordable, and high quality. You’ll likely want to get a range of colors, with black being the central shade.
3. Design Your Key
Here’s where it starts to get fun. Your key is a list of symbols that have different meanings. In the traditional bullet journal instructions(which are completely adjustable), bullets are the foundation of the entire bullet journaling system. A bullet represents a task. You can use an X to represent that it is finished, a < to show it has been scheduled, and a > to show it’s been migrated to another day. Events are represented by Os, while notes follow dashes. Stars represent priority, exclamation points mean inspiration, and eyeballs are ideas to explore.
That said, you can use any symbol you want to whatever you want. It’s your journal! Once you have your symbols picked out, create a key at the front of your notebook so you know what each one means.
4. Create Your Index
Your index is where you keep track of what lives where in your journal. For every page in your journal, you will track that location in your index in the front. The index might look like this:
20-21: Books to read
22-23: May monthly spread
24: Spring school schedule
… etc. Each time you add something to your journal, you write the page number at the top of that page and go reflect it in the index. Set aside at least six pages in your bullet journal so you don’t run out of room.
5. Add Content
While you’ll want to frontload your content with monthly and weekly spreads, the organizational workhorses of your bullet journal, you should also leave lots of room for all the other delightful aspects of a bullet journal. Think journaling pages, idea pages, notes, poetry, and fun bullet journal entries like these.
That’s it! Your basic bullet journaling system will evolve over time as you learn what works for you and become more adept at adding new spreads to your journal. While the index and key might take some getting used to, stick with it. Soon enough, you’ll discover the magic of this simple system and you’ll never want to let it go again.
Until next time, write on…
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Bullet Journal Basics
One item that’s caught on in recent years is a bullet journal. It’s a creative pursuit that’s a little bit record-keeping and a little bit of planning but offers lots of inspiration for a wide range of people.
For example, there’s a basic structure to a bullet journal that includes an index and future log, as well as a daily log. Headings and numbers help make this a useful tool but are also not to prescribed so people can still make it what they want.
What else goes into a bullet journal? This graphic helps you figure it out.