A Beginner’s Guide to Bullet Journaling

Have you been looking for a planning system that is customizable to what you need? Do you feel like your current planner or planning system is not keeping up with your demands? If so, a bullet journal may be the right tool for you! Whether you are in school or have a job, bullet journaling is a wonderful method to manage your tasks and events in one place in a fun way!

What is a Bullet Journal?

Simply put, a bullet journal is a planner. However, instead of getting a planner from a store, you make it by hand! Since you get to customize it to fit your needs, this planning method generally works for everyone. Specifically, this system works best for people who like to write down their goals and to-do lists. It also works well for people who feel that they need more from their planner, as this journal is customizable. However, a drawback is a time investment is needed upfront to set up your bullet journal. You do not need to be artistic to create a journal like how it is shown in social media. Remember that function is more important than the aesthetic!

1. Prepare Your Supplies

The most basic tools that you will need are a notebook and a writing utensil. It is most common to see A5 dotted grid notebooks with a black pen in the bullet journal community, but use whatever suits you best! Some optional supplies include a pencil and an eraser for sketching, colorful markers and brush pens, washi tape and stickers, and page flags to keep track of a page.

2. Set Up the Basics

The original creator of the bullet journal system is Ryder Carroll, who wrote The Bullet Journal Method. He advises to start with a few basic spreads, but you do not need to follow them if it does not suit you. First is the bullet, which is similar to a checkbox but with more options. Next is the index, which is the table of contents. You list the page number and what is on the page, so it is easy to reference in the future. Finally, there are logs, which are essentially planning pages. The traditional system utilizes a future log (to plan for a year or more), a monthly log, and a daily log. For example, the image above is a daily log. Some logs range from planning many years to hours of a day, so try different logs to see what time-frame works for you.

3. Add More Fun Spreads!

In a bullet journal, you can add fun spreads such as a mood tracker, habit tracker, and so much more! First, get inspired! Check out spreads on Instagram and YouTube and make a list of spreads that you want to include in your bullet journal. The best place to start is watching yearly ‘plan with me’ videos to get a blueprint on how to start your journal. After you make your list, try one or two spreads at a time and see what sticks. For example, the image above is a spread to keep track of birthdays. If you end up not filling out a spread, it is completely okay! Swap out pages that didn’t work with another from your list, and feel free to tweak some aspects. If you are comfortable, try to design your own layouts. Remember to try spreads out and choose what works best for you!

For some, bullet journaling is a way to keep track of your tasks and events. For others, it is a relaxing creative outlet. You do not need the fanciest pens and markers to effectively bullet journal, as long as you are content with what you make. If you try bullet journaling, remember that the system is dependent on what fits your needs. Most importantly, play around and have fun with bullet journaling!


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