How to Start a Bullet Journal

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Are you tired of struggling to stay on top of things that you want to accomplish? 

Do you feel like time is just flying by, yet nothing gets done?

…as a result, you end up feeling like your life is a bit of a mess.

Learning how to start a bullet journal may be the solution that you have been looking for all this time. 

It will be the replacement of thousands of notes that are scattered all over your digital devices, 10 different notebooks, and sticky notes. 

Leaving you with a fresh and clean state of mind. 

Let’s learn what a bullet journal is, how to start a bullet journal, and some final tips to keep you motivated.

Let’s start with a few basics!

What is a Bullet Journal?

bullet journal

Bullet journal (a.k.a. BuJo) is a planner, to-do list, journal, and note-taking system.

It is designed to make you:

  • More productive
  • Lead a more intentional life
  • Organise your mind
  • Plan for the future
  • Reflect on your past 

With Bullet Journal you will be able to learn a lot of things about yourself.

I set mine up with the Brainbook. It is an ebook all about how to set up Bullet Journal. 

Step 1: Gather supplies

All that you really need is pen and notebook.

Supplies below are my personal favourites and think they make Bullet Journaling a lot more fun and creative, that will make you stick to this practice.

- Pick a Notebook:

To start, you do not need to splurge on the best and proper dotted notebook.

  • You can start with any old journal or notebook. 

  • it is better to be like that because the pressure will be off you to try and experiment with a few different spreads. 

That is how I started, in a lined old journal.

If you want to start the proper way then these are the best notebooks when your are learning how to start a bullet journal:

This is the one that I use personally. I think it is great as it is super convinient to use and lasts a very long time. 

I love their colors and it is a cheaper alternative. Great for beginners!

The Lemome Notebook is awesome because it has a pen holder and the design is very chic. I think it is perfect for taking to work. 

- Choose a Pen:

Everyone has a unique preference for pens that they like to use. 

Preferences in weight, ink, color and the rest is up to each individual, but I will share a few of my favorite bullet journal pens here

Just the same as with notebooks, remember KISS ( a.k.a. Keep it simple, stupid!). 

Start with finding one good pen.

Below is a lis of my favorite pens:

0.7mm fine point black, easy-glide ink for top of the line writing performance that will help you create cool bullet journal fonts

Perfect for minimalist bullet journal style for small handwriting size. 

This is a great Pilot Precise ink pen that you will love when you are writing and using your Bullet Journal. 

- Nice to have Bullet Journal Supplies:

1. Fineliners:

This is totally optional but if you are like me and like to be creative when it comes to your bullet journal, and decorate it with different doodles then I will suggest a few brands.

Doodles are great as they are so simple to do and design. Also if you wish to try some bullet journal fonts, they are perfect for that as well! 

The Brite Crown a perfect set for both doodling and calligraphy. t is perfect quality and will last you a very long time.

These fine-liners are on much more affordable side. I like them as well as the grip is smaller so much more comfortable to doodle with. 

Many bullet journalers love this set. I will put it here, but above 2 are my personal favorite that I use daily. 

Wether or not your style is artistic or minimal, I think that a pair of pastel highlighters is a must. 

Without much effort you can add color and design to your spreads without much effort. 

If doodling is not for you, then this can help you with styling your bujo and falling in love with it! 

I am in love with those. I use them everyday just to add a bit of color to my journal. They look great! 

I think that this is a basic bujo supply, like a staple black t-shirt. Everyone loves them ( including me). 

Those crispy white line and the secret behind those epic looking minimal spreads. I have ordered mine off Amazon, and have used it daily ever since. 

If you are not into markers or don’t want to spend a lot of time on your journal decor, then those washi-tapes is a perfect solution for anyone to do. 

How to START A BULLET JOURNAL?

Step 2: Set up Bullet Journal Basics

Are your supplies ready? Let’s start your very first Bullet Journal!

First you will set up pages that you just do once. 

1. Create a Title Page:

First, you will need to title the journal with what year it is. 

Even if you do start in the middle of the year, it is still a very nice place to have and look back as you keep on creating your spreads. 

It can be as fancy or as minimal as you wish. 

bujo key

2. Set up Key:

First thing first, and that is determining what your symbols will be for your bullet journal. 

There are a few official symbols that you can use, but you can use as few or as many as you wish. 

You can even create your own. 

Just try to be consistent, so that you do not confuse yourself. 

How to Start a Bullet Journal 52

3. Set Up Index:

Second, you will need to create your index. Some bullet journals already come with it, in which case this step may be skipped.

To create a bullet journal index, you need to draw 2 columns and write your page number and description of the page that you left number.

 Every time you start a new spread, you write a page with a page number. This way you won’t have to flip through the whole journal to find what you are looking for.

year at glance

4. Set Up Year at Glance

Since your Bullet Journal is not set up for all months yet, usually at the start of every bujo year at glance is created.

This is where you write out the next 12 months with all your birthdays, appointments, and important events that you must not forget. 

It is very useful as let’s say, it is January, but you have a math exam in June, this is where you will mark that in June you have an exam at 10 am. 

That way you will have it all organized.

How to Start a Bullet Journal 55

5. Create Collection Spreads:

The next step for starting a bullet journal is setting up a few pages for collections/spreads. 

Those are the places for things that are fun to just keep in mind. Examples are books to read, bucket list, movies to watch, social media tracker, goals for the year, wish list, etc.

I have 190+ spread ideas here. 

Just a quick tip, do not do them all at once. You will end up feeling overwhelmed, which will lead you to abandon the whole idea. 

Leave a few pages in the front, as more ideas come up, you will fill them up.

Step 3: Set up for next month

There are a few things that you will just repeat doing every month. 

You will need to set up.

How to Start a Bullet Journal 57

Monthly Title page:

This is where you name each month. It does not need to be fancy, but if you are creative, you can let your creative juices flow here. 

It can be 2 or 1 spread, which is up to the creator of the bullet journal. 

How to Start a Bullet Journal 59

Monthly Overview Spread:

The monthly bullet journal spread consists of a big calendar for the whole month ahead of you. 

That way, you can plan for the month ahead seeing what is upcoming for you. 

Some people include goals for the month ahead or anything else that you wish to keep on top of mind.

How to Start a Bullet Journal 61

Trackers for month:

Most of the bullet journalists include habit tracking spreads. They are by no means mandatory.

Sometimes it is just nice to become aware of what is going on in your life and what sort of things you are doing.

It can be useful when you are trying to achieve goals such as weight loss or start a business.

Sleep and mood trackers are usually very popular, as it makes you accountable for how much you sleep.

Some people also create gratitude journals and trackers.

weekly spread ideas

Weekly Spread:

You can set up a page where you have 7 days for the week.

This way you will note down the important tasks for the days. 

You can use this spread only and also create dailies. I tend to use dailies as I like to write things down daily, but that is my personal preference. Do you!



Rinse and repeat for next month!

This is it, not that scary! 

HOW TO MAKE the Most out of Bullet Journal?

bullet journal
@dorindraws
  • Use it every day, no exceptions!
  • Change the layouts when they are not making you as productive as you thought they would.
  • Go minimal with your style if you are getting overwhelmed
  • Be ok with starting very basic. 
  • Be ok with ugly pages
  • With time you will improve!
  • You will not use some pages that you have set up, and that is normal, because they are not as useful as you thought they would be. 
bullet journal ideas
@grace.journals

how to Decide Your Style?

There are 2 main style routes that your journal can take:

Minimal Bullet Journal
source

Minimal:

They are usually just black ink on paper with 1 or 2 colours added when necessary.

If you are not artistic, or still testing the waters with the whole bullet journal then this is the most time efficient style. 

How to Start a Bullet Journal 67
@nicole.josephinee

Artistic:

This is the kind of bullet journal where you play around with different colors, as well as draw fun pictures and designs. 

In my opinion, it takes too much time. I prefer to draw in my sketchbook and keep bullet journal for business 🙂

The Digital Bullet Journal:

If you read through this guide and feel like you are not ready to take on creating a bullet journal, or don’t like the idea of dealing with a physical productivity planner, there’s hope for you after all! 

You can have a digital bullet journal.

This is easy today, thanks to the magic of Photoshop or Canva, in which you can create a template that you would export to GoodNotes. 

This is pretty much the best digital bullet journal app you can get today:
– highly-customisable
– incredibly flexible
– it’s digital, which makes is convenient to use

digital bullet journal
@paperworkpassion

 Anything you can do in a physical bullet journal you can do in a digital one.

You can even create awesome covers and paper templates.

Digital Bullet Journal is not for me, as I prefer to think on paper but everyone is different. 

FAQ's about Bullet Journal:

November bullet journal
@grace.journals

Q: 
What Is a Bullet Journal?

A: It is an organizational system and method of journaling and note-taking that uses bullet points for tasks that need to be done and habits that you want to form.

Q: Who Invented the Bullet Journal?

A: Ryder Carroll, being diagnosed with learning disabilities when he was young, went out to design a working method for him to become focused and productive.

bullet journal
@grace.journals

Q: 
What Do I Need to Start Bullet Journaling?

A: You will be able to keep yourself in check and follow through with the good habits you want to have, as well as be more productive with your time and energy.

Q: What Are the Best Notebooks for Bullet Journaling?

A: The LEUCHTTURM1917 is a great notebook for bullet journaling. 

It has nearly 250 numbered pages that contain dotted lines, along with a blank table of contents. It also opens up flat, for ease of use.

Bullet Journal Inspiration
@kvscribbles

Q: 
What Are the Best Pens for Bullet Journaling?

A: You will definitely want to get yourself some Pilot G2 pens. 

They last a long time, are refillable and retractable, and have an extra fine point.

Q: 
Can I Bullet Journal Digitally?

A:  Absolutely! GoodNotes is probably the best app to use as a bullet journal. 

You will never have to deal with forgetting to take your BuJo with you somewhere.

bujo cover ideas
@journalsbyclara

Q: 
How Do You Bullet Journal for College?

A: You can make spreads for when you have tests, such as midterms and finals, to-do lists, as well as scheduling in a calendar you have in your BuJo, so you can keep track of due dates of papers, meetings with professors, and other important tasks. 

You can even map out ideas for papers you need to write in your bullet journal. 

bullet journal ideas
@jade_journals

Q: 
Can You Start a Bullet Journal in the Middle of the Year?

A: Of course! 

You can start a bullet journal at any time of the year.

 The most important thing is to start it and go from there. 

Once you keep yourself in check and follow through with tasks to set out for yourself, you will begin to start reaping the many benefits possible thanks to having a BuJo.

Did you manage to start your Bullet Journal? If not, then look no further.

There’s a LOT of information on the internet about bullet journaling, but Brainbook breaks down the core elements of what you need to know in a way that’s easy to understand and relevant to your life…all in one convenient place.

With this comprehensive bullet journaling roadmap by your side, you’ll know exactly how to set up your journal for success from start to finish!

how to set up a bullet journal checklist

FREE CHEAT SHEET!

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