How To Start a Bullet Journal
Updated: Aug 25
Whether you found it on your Pinterest board, on Youtube or another blog. Bullet Journals has undeniably taken over the journaling community quickly. Putting in your artistic talents to something to keep you productive is one of the best ideas that was ever shared on the internet.
Bullet journals have helped me keep track of my daily plans and goals, which increased my productivity higher than any other planning methods I tried before. It's my task list, planner, goal setter, and reminders all rolled into one. And the most fun thing to do is that I can design it however I want. at the beginning of each the month.
How To Start A Bullet Journal
Bullet journal or bujo, whatever you prefer to call it, is a great way to make planning your life much more enjoyable. Here is the ultimate guide for people who want to know how to start their bullet journal journey.
Step #1 Pick The Perfect Journal
Of course, the simplest decision you have to make is what size your bullet journal should be. There are different sizes, but the most popular ones are A4, B5, A5, and A6. Some of these might be too big or too small and it will depend what you are most comfortable with. journals are too big or too small for a bullet journal, but it totally depends on you on what would work better for you. A5 Works for me. A5 works because it is the right size to fit in my purse and it gives me enough page space to journal.
For the type of journal any type should do. If you get journals with the page numbers already pre-printed be warned that they will give you less room to make mistakes. Ones without numbers will allow you to either tear out the pages or glue them together if you mess up a page. Pre-printed numbered pages or not it is really up to you and your preferences.
The most fun and important decision you have is to create, though, creativity can be dependent on what type of pages you have in your journal The most popular type of inner pages include lined, dotted, gridded, or blank. We will discuss the different type of pages in Bullet Journals next.
Different Types Of Pages Of Bullet Journals
There are a lot of types of bullet journal notebooks that you can buy. Each one of them has its own pros and cons to help you plan your days better.
The most familiar type of pages for a lot of people is the lined pages bullet journal. It's simple and easy to use. You already have guidelines on writing, so you do not have to worry about writing in skewed lines.
However, one of the biggest problems of having lined pages for your bullet journal is that there are no vertical lines to guide you on dividing the page into sections. Also, the lines are sometimes too dark and noticeable that it ruins the whole aesthetic of the page.
If you are quite sure that you can create a bullet journal without the lines, then why not try blank pages? It offers a very clean start to every page, and you can definitely do anything you want! This is perfect for really artistic and talented people who do not worry about messing things up. Your final product is also much better since there are no lines to ruin the aesthetic.
On the other hand, it offers little to no help in guiding you for dividing your sections. Of course, you can always start planning with a pencil before you start. However, for people who want to create their spreads quickly, it can be a little inefficient and time consuming. Since there is nothing to guide you to write on a straight line.
Remember the math notebooks your geometry teacher used to require you to get? Well, who would have thought that they're now one of the most popular bullet journal notebooks out there? Gridded pages can help you draw lines more accurately compared to blank pages, and it also has vertical lines that are absent in the lined pages. This makes it the perfect candidate for an artsy bullet journal that consists of a lot of shapes and divisions.
However, while it offers extreme accuracy, grid-lines can be a bit bothersome as it ruins the whole page aesthetic with a lot of unnecessary squares lines. If that is something you do not care about or you found a notebook with barely noticeable gridl-ines, then this might be the right choice for you.
The most popular type of bullet journal is the dotted bullet journal. It has the minimum amount of pre-printed lines but still offers enough guide dots to help you create the perfect design for your spreads.
With the help of a ruler and a pencil, it is much easier to draw your perfect bullet journal spreads with a dotted page journal.
Pro Tips For Picking The Right Journal
Use any notebook you may already have it lying around at home.
Notebook shopping is a guilty pleasure of mine. I have a lot of notebooks piled up on my my desk. I'm not alone in this as I know a lot of other people in the journaling community do this as well. Also some friends of mine collect pretty notebooks for the way they look because like I said, it's a guilty pleasure for a lot of us.
You can make use of these notebooks that you have bought before and use them to start or practice your bullet journal.
Try A Binder
While you might not often see a binder as a bullet journal but, a lot of people are actually using binders! The biggest benefit of a binder is that you can easily switch pages you want without having to tear the sheets off and/or recreating the pages.
It's also easier to insert pages in the middle of other existing pages if you want to keep things tidy and organized. You can also increase the number of pages easily just by inserting blank pages at the end.
One of the cons of using binder as a bullet journal is that there are big springs that might not let you create a few 2-page spreads on your journal. But if you're planning to stick to one page per spread, then it should not be a problem for you.
The most popular types of journals used for Bullet Journaling is the Hardcover Notebook with dotted inner pages. These are the type of notebooks you usually see in the blogs or posts people show on Instagram or Facebook.
The benefit of a hardcover notebook is the pages are glued and stitched together so you don't have to worry about pages flying out of your notebook. This stitching of pages makes the notebook strong and sturdy and easy to store like a regular hardcover book. The hardcover in this journal makes a solid smooth writing surface so you can open your notebook and write anywhere.
Because of the ease and well built construction of these journals makes them the #1 choice for bullet journaling.
Step #2 Buy Stationery Materials
You can create your spreads with just a simple notebook and a pen. Once you get more comfortable designing , you can then start buying and using all of the other accessories. it's much more fun if you use different highlighters and pens to create a very aesthetically-pleasing bullet journal that you can post on your Instagram feed or even Pinterest board!
If you still don't have stationery materials it’s totally OK. You can start shopping for the things you will need in your bullet journal once you are comfortable with experimenting with markers and all the other fun stationary materials.
Different Stationery Materials
While you are not required to buy everything from the list, or you might want to add a few things here, the following are a few of the most popular materials used to design a bullet journal.
Pens And Highlighters
Of course, you need to have a pen to start journaling. Choose one that doesn't smudge easily and in the perfect thickness that it will not bleed unto the back page. For that you will need alcohol free markers because alcohol based markers will bleed through any paper.
Highlighters are also a good way of adding more color to your spreads and make it much more enjoyable to look at and inspire you dailies. You can also get a brush pen if you like lettering or want to improve. The best part is that they come in different colors and thicknesses, so you can definitely create the most artistic bullet journal out there with just a few pens and highlighters!
Having a ruler is extremely important in creating a spreads bullet journal. You will create a lot of lines on your daily planner and tracker spreads and that a ruler will be extremely helpful for you to have. Of course, you can always freestyle it and create your freehand themed bullet journal. But if you want a bit more accuracy, then you definitely should have a ruler (Clear one works best)
Construction papers, glues, and other crafting materials are great tools to really bring out your artistic side while creating your bullet journal spreads.
Some people also cut construction papers and glue it over mistakes to correct misspelled words or other errors while creating the spread. This is one of the simplest tricks I personally use.
Washi Tape And Stickers
We get the craze about washi tapes and stickers because they just make every craft project look so much cuter and more fun! There's a lot of designs you can buy to truly capture your personality and style.
Photo courtesy of MindArt7
You can also create your DIY stickers if you have a printer at home. Just buy sticker papers from bookstores, and you can print out some custom stickers to put on your bullet journal.
Personally, I love the To-Do stickers I can write on or other journal-specific labels that really adds personality to my bullet journal pages.
Whether it's color pencils, watercolor, or any other type of coloring material, you can quickly bring out some life to your bullet journal with a few colors here and there.
Of course, other people in the bullet journal community use highlighters to add color to their spreads, and that's totally fine! It depends on you what you want to add and what mediums you're comfortable with.
Correction Tape pens
While not extremely necessary, correction tapes can be a handy tool for small errors such as misspelled words or extra lines in your bullet journal. They're incredibly cheap, and there are a lot of correction tapes out there that will blend right into the paper you're using.
Pro Tips For Shopping For Stationery Materials
Stick To Your Budget!
Buying a lot of materials is truly fun, but you always have to remember that one of the reasons for having a bullet journal is to save your money. Set a budget before going to the stationery store or go crazy online shopping.
Starting simple with a simple journal notebook and a pen is also okay. You can decide what stationery materials to include later on as you create future spreads.
Highlight Your Talent
Are you good with watercolor? Then perhaps, it's the material you should buy. Or maybe you like cutting construction papers and gluing them unto the paper? Then stock up with more colored papers.
The goal of bullet journaling is not only to plan your days but to also bring out your talent and make it much more enjoyable to do.
Try Mixing Mediums
You do not have to stick with one medium. You can put as many as you want! Watercolors with construction papers? Acrylic paint with brush pens? There is no limit on your creativity, and you can go all out if you want!
Step #3 Decide Your Spreads
Unlike the traditional planner, a bullet journal has a lot of spreads you can mix and match to create the perfect tool for you to reach your goals.
What do you think will help you become a better version of yourself? That is the question you should ask before you start choosing what spreads you want to include in your bullet journal.
Spread Ideas To Include In Your Bullet Journal
The spreads are the life of a bullet journal. Unlike traditional planners, you can create your own spreads specific to your needs.
Before you start, you can put your name and contact information on the first page of your bullet journal so that it can be returned to you in case you lose it. It's also ideal for writing a line or two about what this bullet journal will be, such as the year you created this specific bullet journal.
If you plan on having a really extensive bullet journal project, it's convenient to keep an index page at the beginning of the journal so that you can keep track of what pages certain pages specific spreads are.
While not necessary, it is a great idea to have signifier keys on your bullet journal to mark tasks based on their completion.
The following are the most common legend for keys:
• Open circle for pending tasks
• Half-shaded circle for tasks you've already started
• Fully-shaded circle for completed tasks
• Strike through for canceled tasks
• Arrow inside a circle for tasks migrated to a later date
Of course, you can create your own, such as using boxed instead of circles. You can also add keys for specific events such as a cake for birthday or exclamation point for essential tasks.
Grid Cheat Sheet
To make it easier for you, you can create a grid cheat sheet at one of the first few pages where you have already calculated how many dots or grids is needed for a particular column and row divisions. With a simple glance, you will be able to tell how many dots you need for a four-column page!
Of course, to add a bit more personality to your bullet journal, you must have a title page that really reflects your personality and creativity. People usually write in the year the bullet journal is for or simply letter the words "bullet journal" and their name on the title page. It is totally up to you on what kind of title page you want!
Year In A Glance
One of the most life saving pages in the bullet journal is the year in a glance spread. This is where you get a copy of a calendar for the whole year so that you do not have to keep on checking your phone's calendar if you want to know what day of the week a specific date falls into.
Forgetting your friend's birthday can be disastrous, so make sure to fill up the year in a glance with all the important future dates! This is where you put important dates for months you haven't created a spread for yet.
Personally, I mix my year in a glance with my future log and create a two-page spread to help me manage my schedule better. Remember that you do not have to put every date on here, just the most important ones such as birthdays and vacation plans.
Ever remember creating a New Year's resolution only to forget it halfway through January? Well, one of the most important functions of a bullet journal is that it can help you become a better version of yourself. In a goal spread, you can list down all the goals you want to achieve within the year.
If you want to be more challenged, you can even set goals every month! This is a seriously fun way to be a better person while bringing out your artistic side.
Now, for the fun stuff, you can create monthly overviews to officially start a certain month. Most people in the bullet journal creates a new monthly spread each month with a different theme to spice things up. For example, February is usually red-themed because it is Valentine's month, and December is usually Christmas-themed for the holidays.
Some people also recommend adding a future log in their monthly overviews to help you budget your time better. This also enables you to remember important things such as a deadline coming up or appointments you have to attend to.
Aside from planning, the bullet journal is still a journal. You can add a brain dump page, for when you have a brilliant idea that you need to jot down immediately. You can also use this page to practice your doodle skills or write some thoughts about what the next month's theme should be.
Tied to your goals, you also should have certain trackers to keep you updated on how far you're doing well with your life.
Some of the most popular trackers are the following:
• Budget tracker
• Mood tracker
• Weight loss or gain tracker
• Habit tracker
• Sleep tracker
• Food diary
• Workout routine
• Period tracker
• Gratitude log
You can also put other trackers such as books you've read or movies you've watched. It's all up to you what aspects of your life you would like to track.
Things To Check Out
Ever heard from a friend about a really great movie that you instantly forgot? Well, do not worry anymore because you can dedicate one whole page just for the books, shows, movies, and other things you want to check out in your free time.
Daily Or Weekly Planner
The majority of the bullet journal actually consists of a daily or weekly planner. It depends on how busy your schedule is. For example, if you have a lot of meetings or submissions within a day, it's best to have a daily planner detailing every hour of your life.
However, most people are okay with a weekly planner where they can write important events that day, such as studying for an exam or cleaning their room. Remember to use your key legend correctly to avoid confusion on which tasks are done!
Pro Tip For Creating Spreads
Make Spreads For Special Days
Aside from the spreads stated above, you can also create specific spreads for certain events. For example, you want to keep track of what gifts you want to give your family and friends during the holidays, you can totally create gifts spread that can also help you budget your money!
Experiment On What You Need
Speaking of creating specific spreads, you can customize anything based on what you are most comfortable with. If you want to integrate your mood tracker with your weekly spread so that it's easier to access, you are totally free to do so!
It might take a bit of experimenting before you find the best method for you, so feel free to create all the spreads and find the best spreads you will need.
Try Other Methods
Aside from a daily or weekly planner, you can also try other methods if you think it will work for you better. For example, there is the Kanban method (Japanese, which means card you can see) that distinguishes tasks based on their completion. Usually, it is divided into To-Do, Doing, and Done. This is extremely helpful, especially for project-based tasks.
Another popular method is the weekly rolling method, where you divide the page into two columns, one with sub-columns of the day of the week and another for the list of tasks. You can mark the corresponding tasks on days of the weeks.
Step #4 Start Planning!
Now that you have chosen the spreads, themes, and materials, you are now fully equipped to start your bullet journal and become a better version of yourself. Do not forget to have fun while doing your bullet journal!
Thanks to bullet journals, a lot of people have now created a creative twist to a simple planner that is specifically made for you. You can share the spreads you made with your friends or an online bullet journal community to help you perfect the craft better.
Good luck and have fun!