Since its inception in 2013, Bullet Journaling has rapidly grown in popularity. There's a good chance you're here because you've heard a lot about them and are keen to start your own Bullet Journal but don't know where to begin.
Unlike traditional journals, a Bullet Journal makes it easy to organise many aspects of your life in one place, rather than keeping separate books for finances, fitness, well-being and more. Bullet Journals also allow you to express your creative side, using graphical elements and colours to make your journaling more expressive and enjoyable to engage with. The more connected you feel with your Bullet Journal, the greater it will impact your life positively.
In this article, you'll find some great ideas and guidelines for how to start a Bullet Journal that you'll love using from the moment you start.
Why Do You Want To Bullet Journal?
The Why is more important than the Should when it comes to journaling. Doing something to help you achieve a goal or fulfil a desire, rather than because you feel like you should be doing it, is a good start on the path to success. Begin by writing down what you want to get out of your Bullet Journal. Whether that’s in the form of a heading, a few sentences, a mission statement or a bullet point list is entirely up to you. Remember, it’s your bullet journal, your rules.
Paper Bullet Journals Vs. Phones or Tablets
There is an endless choice of fantastic apps available to help get you organised, so why on earth would you start a bullet journal when you can use your phone or iPad? The answer is focus. A phone is filled with distractions such as other apps and Social Media, whereas a paper journal creates an environment where you can focus on why you have a journal in the first place, making it more likely that you will stick with it and achieve your goals.
But What If I'm Not An Artist?
By now, you’ve probably found many examples of beautifully designed bullet journals all over social media and the internet, but don't let that put you off if you're not a budding Van Gogh. The primary purpose of a Bullet Journal is function over form, so it's more important that your bullet journal works for you rather than looks like a work of art.
Use simple graphics, icons and colours to help make your bullet journal effective and efficient.
Get some pens, stickers and other creative tools.
Just because you're not an artist doesn't mean you should shy away from being creative. Sure, you could use a standard black biro pen and start writing to-do lists, but adding colour or stickers can make it feel unique to you.
Your First Bullet Journal: Start Simple
Sometimes, starting a traditional journal is daunting enough without worrying about the different graphics and layouts you could use to make it a bullet journal. Try starting with something simple, such as this habit tracker from @my_blue_sky_design that helps track daily habits over a month using nothing but lines and colours.
Getting Started: Give Your Bullet Journal an Index
The best bullet journals serve more than one purpose; they're a collection of personalised, functional tools in one place. Use an index at the start of your Bullet Journal to make it easy to find what you need, as they won't necessarily be organised in chronological order.
Your index will grow as your Bullet Journal evolves, so start at the beginning and take it from there.
Unlock Your Potential With a Key
Your Bullet Journal will contain many visual elements, such as icons and colours, to make it effective and aesthetically pleasing. However, remembering each element's meaning can be tricky in the beginning. Adding a Key page after your index can be a great way to log the different elements you intend to use and what each one represents. These elements are known as Signifiers amongst Bujo-enthusiasts and can be anything from smiley faces to entirely personal elements, whatever works best for you.
If you're just getting started and don't yet know what your key will look like, leave a page or two empty so you can complete this later. It may also be better to use several keys throughout your Bullet Journal if you decide to get really creative with it.
Consider Adding a Future Log
A Future Log is essentially a list of events or special occasions coming up sometime in the future. Whatever the main purpose of your Bullet Journal, it may be a good idea to include a future log to help keep you organised and plan for the future more effectively. Highlighting key events can also be a great motivator; got a race coming up in a few weeks? Better step up the fitness training.
As for the detail of your future log, that's entirely up to you. You could make a simple bullet list for each month of the year, but if you have an active schedule, starting with a total yearly calendar may be more helpful.
Add Monthly Spreads
Monthly Spreads, or 'Monthlies', are a quick and simple overview of your month. How they look and how much detail you add is, of course, entirely up to you. Many people like to draw out a simple calendar and add graphics that reflect things related to the month, such as Halloween elements for October.
If you have specific goals for the month, it's a good idea to try and incorporate the goals into your monthlie, either as a list or using stickers and graphics to act as milestones.
Add Weekly or Daily Spreads
Like the little children of Monthlies, a Weekly or Daily spread breaks the month into more valuable and detailed layouts. Most people plan a weekly spread across an opened page as this gives them enough space to write their plans for each day in a single, easy-to-use week-long view. If your day is much busier, then you may need to add a daily view per page instead to fit on all of your notes and engagements or if you use your bullet journal for reflecting on your day.
Finally, add More Collections.
Whilst the calendar-based pages are a given, your collections are where you can get even more creative and focused. (By the way, if you want your BuJo only to use these collections, that's fine too. Remember, your journal, your rules)
Collections can be anything you want to track, such as a weight loss tracker, gratitude journal, daily habit tracker, sleep tracker and more.
Be Patient, and Enjoy Your Bullet Journal
If starting your Bullet Journal is a little overwhelming or you're struggling to get to grips with it, don't let that put you off. It can take time to get fully accustomed to a Journal, so be patient, give it time, and before long, you'll fall in love with your Bullet Journal.
Ready to get started? See our range of Hardback Journals, available with lined, dotted or gridded paper.