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You’ve heard of the term bullet journal and you are interested in learning more.
In this article, I walk you through how to start a bullet journal.
By the end of reading this, you will have a complete understanding of how this organizing method works and you will be able to get started.
How To Start A Bullet Journal | The Best Tips For Beginners
What Is A Bullet Journal?
A bullet journal method, also called a bujo, is a customized to-do list, diary, habit tracker, and meditation journal that is intended to help organize the daily, monthly, and yearly activities of your life in an effective yet personal way.
Ryder Carroll, the creator of the bullet journal system and author of the book ‘The Bullet Journal Method’ say that with a bullet journal, you learn how to get rid of distractions and add the things you care about.
Here is a summary Ted Talk he gave about his system.
The part that draws most people to a bullet journal is the customization.
It is not like buying a planner at the store.
You buy a notebook and on each blank page, build your journal.
You decide how and what you want to track and how often you do it.
Why Start A Bullet Journal?
For many people, they find a traditional planner has not proven very effective in dealing with their schedule.
Take for example budgeting your money.
There are hundreds of different budgets out there.
Some work for some people but not others.
Journaling and organizing is very similar.
You have to find the one that best fits your lifestyle.
One of the best things about bullet journals is that many people found them to fit them well since you can customize it to work for you.
When you know why you have decided to start the process then you can build a system that focuses on your needs.
What You Need To Start A Bullet Journal
The good news is there aren’t many bullet journal supplies that you need to get started.
In fact, all you really need to get started is a notebook, a simple pen, and some creativity.
Let’s look at these in more detail.
You don’t have to use a specific kind of notebook for your new bullet journal.
You can select one with pages that lined, dotted, or even a plain one.
The most critical thing is that your notebook be personalized.
Make it reflect who you are.
You can do this by picking out a notebook whose cover is your favorite color or image, is the size that works for you, and makes you feel good.
From there, you can use fun stickers or pictures to decorate your journal.
If you are having a hard time coming up with bullet journal ideas when it comes to designing yours, searching online will give you countless ideas.
There are thousands of choices when it comes to pens, from the complex like a fountain pen, to a simple pen with a ball point.
Just walk into any office supply store for proof.
For beginners, it is best to keep it simple and start off with your favorite pen.
From there, you can branch out into pens with different colors, pens with different weights, and different tips.
As with the notebook, just keep it basic to start and as you grow with your journaling, you can grow with your pens.
Bullet Journal Basics
There are a handful of terms when it comes to bullet journaling.
Here are the ones you need to know to get started with your own bullet journal setup.
Bullet Journal Key
These are symbols and identifiers you will use to represent certain events or categories frequented in your journal.
You can keep updating them as you add new categories into your entries.
There are no criteria used while choosing a symbol key.
You should choose signifies that you are comfortable with.
When you select unique signifiers, your journal develops a more personalized feel.
The signifiers are used as bullet points.
Every category should have a unique bullet point.
The bullet points help to track and organize different activities in your journal.
These are some bullet points that Ryder Carroll recommends for use while journaling:
It is recommended that you keep few categories to avoid mixing up your bullet points and causing confusion in your journal.
Daily spreads are a detailed account of the activities of one day.
You may hear them referred to as dailies or daily log.
To use daily spreads, write the date at the top of the page.
Next, highlight in small simple sentences the daily tasks you hope to achieve by the end of that day, activities already completed, and anything else you wish to enter into the journal that happened that day.
When the day is over, move on to the line below for the next day’s entry.
You can also make use of the entire page for a single day.
It is important to regularly update your journal entries.
You can add an entry into your daily log and cross out completed tasks during the day.
This can help in tracking completed activities and avoid re-doing already completed tasks.
You can also add things in your log that are personal and important to you.
Understand this is just one way to set up your daily spread.
There are literally millions of ways to it.
You have to find the solution that works best for you.
A weekly spread, or weekly log or weeklies, is like a daily spread only on a weekly view.
Some people prefer to plan out their week at once so they can better organize.
Others like knowing what the week has in store for them so they more easily adjust when plans get thrown out the window or unexpected things arise.
To make a weekly spread, find a blank page and create equal sized sections for each day of the week.
Then you fill in the days with each day’s activities.
Again, it is very similar to the daily spread, but you have every day on one page versus having to look at multiple pages.
Monthly spreads, also called a monthly log or monthlies, highlights what you need to do during that month.
Most people prefer to use 2 pages for their monthly spread to give them more room to work with.
Write the name of the month at the top of the page then write the dates of that month on the left page.
When you have written the dates then you can write the abbreviation for the days of the week next to the date.
On the right page, indicate next to each date using bullet points what you intend to carry out during that day.
The activities may include birthday parties, assignments, or even days off.
To be even more organized, you could separate your monthly goals into categories such as assignments or fitness, or work instead of having a bunch of random activities jotted down in your journal.
In these categories, you should indicate your goals and deadlines or due dates.
This can also be useful when you are planning events or activities.
This will also serve to personalize your journal.
Remember to update these activities in your index.
Collection pages are lists that are not in the logs that you would like to achieve yearly or over an extended period.
They may include books you would like to read or complete movies or TV shows you would like to watch or places you would like to visit.
You can continue to add to your collections at your own will and refer to them as a means of inspiration.
They are written at the back of your bullet journal.
Keeping track of long term goals, like a goal 6 months from now or longer is hard for many people.
This is where using a future log comes into play.
You can choose to create the log for tasks to be completed within the next six months or the next year.
When creating the future log, you need to divide each page into three equal parts for each month.
Draw straight lines with a ruler where you set these divisions.
Add the names of the months in each section where you will give a detailed account of what you intend to achieve within that month.
Remember to go back to your index and note the future log in its intended page.
You can add long-term goals to this log.
They are likely to pop up several times as you look through your monthly and daily logs.
You can also keep updating your future log.
Bullet Journal Index
The index page is usually located on the first page of your bujo.
In the index, or table of contents, you will note the titles of every page in your journal and their corresponding page numbers.
You will therefore need to number your pages if they are not already numbered.
It will also contain the symbol key that may be updated along the way.
All you need to do to set up your index is write ‘index’ at the top of both pages with a pen or a pencil of a color of your choosing.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are a lot of questions out there when it comes to bullet journals.
Here are the most common questions I get asked.
What supplies do I need to get started?
To get started with a new journal, all you need is a notebook and a pen.
While you are encouraged to use various pens and stickers to make your journal your own, to get started you don’t need this.
Therefore, don’t waste too much time deciding on everything you need.
Just get a simple notebook and pen and start.
You can add more later.
What is the right way to set up my journal?
The best part of a bullet journal is there is no right way or wrong way to set it up.
It is your own journal, so you set it up in a way that makes the most sense for you.
The only thing you need to remember is to create an index so you can organize all of your pages.
From there, you can decide how you want to log entries.
What is rapid logging?
Rapid logging is bullet journal language for how quickly write down information.
Instead of using long sentences, you simplify things with bullet points.
By making it simple and fast to write things down, you are more likely to stick with it long term.
What is washi tape?
Washi tape is a great tool for people when it comes to designing and decorating their journal.
It can take lots of time to draw the lines for your spreads and to make your journal unique.
You can also use it to flag pages to help you more quickly find things too.
With washi tape, you speed up this process so you can focus your attention on entering information into your journal.
What is a bullet journal spread?
Bullet journal spreads are ways to organize your life.
You can create them on a daily view, weekly view, or monthly view.
Doing this allows you to schedule and visualize your upcoming days and weeks.
Can I start a bullet journal in the middle of the year?
You can start using the bullet journal method anytime that makes sense for you.
If you are interested in starting now, then strike when you are motivated.
If you wait until the new year, you might have lost the interest and will go longer without getting your life organized.
Can I migrate tasks?
Sometimes you may not be able to complete every task of the day or month.
In these instances, you need to adapt.
All you need to do is move the task to the next available time for you and any other party that may be affected.
This may be to the next day or month or some days later.
However, if there is a task that has timed out or that you no longer have the desire to complete, you could just cross it out of the list to avoid repetition of projects that may never be completed.
How can I track my goals?
You can make a project log to track any long-term goals or projects.
The log can also help in tracking short-term goals for a long-term project.
It ensures that you approach the project in an organized and efficient manner.
You can also make notes of personal achievements and milestones that you consider important.
The project log is recorded at the back of your journal.
Constant reference to the project log can provide inspiration and motivation to keep going on the projects.
At the end of the day, learning how to bullet journal is not complicated.
You can choose to begin your bullet journaling journey at any point in a year.
Bullet journals are completely customizable and as a result, they offer a personal experience in organizing day-to-day activities.
Whether you would like to start your first bullet journal for personal or professional reasons or even as a way to help you relax and free up some of your time, the bujo can be very effective.
It is also very useful in tracking your progress in reaching your goals.
When starting your bullet journal, make sure that it is true to your personality and your ultimate goals.
This will ensure your success with it.