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Self-care bullet journal spread with a list of items to take into account

Let’s admit it, the idea of starting a bullet journal can seem daunting. Pouring over dozens, possibly hundreds of creative images on Instagram, only to be left feeling more muddled than inspired.

Your heart throbs with anticipation, but your mind is tangled in confusion. Where do you even start? Fret not! Think of this article as the gentle hand guiding you through this new journey.

I am determined to eliminate any uncertainties and provide you with a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you confidently embark on your first bullet journal adventure. Relax, breathe deep; I’ve got ya covered. Let’s conquer the art of bullet journaling together!

Key Takeaways

  • Bullet Journaling is a flexible way to combine your planner, to-do lists, and diaries.

  • You just need a notebook with dot grid or blank pages, and some pens, pencils, or markers to start bullet journaling.

  • Deciding why you want to keep a bullet journal helps create the best system for you.

  • An index page, future log, monthly logs and daily logs are core parts of any bullet journal structure.

Someone writing in an open journal on a table with a cup of tea next to it.

What is a Bullet Journal?

A bullet journal is a customizable organization system, brilliantly merging your planner, to-do lists, and diaries into one powerful productivity tool. Rather than being rigid like traditional journals or planners, it offers flexibility with its free-form structure.

This concept was developed by Ryder Carroll as a means to declutter the mind and track the past while planning for the future.

How it differs from traditional journaling/planning methods

Bullet journaling introduces a revolutionary system, quite different from traditional journaling or planning methods. Traditional systems often offer minimal flexibility and require specific formats with little room for customization.

On the contrary, bullet journaling adapts to your needs, providing a flexible structure that you can customize to fit your lifestyle. Instead of being confined to pre-printed designs or fixed layouts of a planner or diary, you can create unique pages called “spreads” in your bullet journal.

A key aspect that separates bullet journaling is its mindfulness factor; it’s not just about jotting down tasks and ticking off checklists. It encourages self-awareness and reflection by enabling users to record their thoughts, feelings, habits alongside their daily tasks and appointments. It combines aspects of a conventional diary with functional trackers all in one space.

Unlike traditional methods burdened by loose sheets and sticky notes scattered haphazardly, everything fits neatly within the indexed pages of your personal bullet Journal leading an organized path towards productivity.

bullet journal supplies

Supplies Needed for Bullet Journaling

To embark on your bullet journaling journey, you’ll need to gather just a few things and basic supplies. A notebook with dot grid or blank pages is essential as it provides the canvas for your bullet journal.

Additionally, pens, pencils, and markers of various colors will come in handy for designing and personalizing your entries.

Notebook with dot grid or blank pages

Choosing a notebook with dot grid or blank pages is crucial as you prepare to begin your bullet journal journey. These dotted or blank canvases offer the flexibility needed for designing and customizing personal layouts.

Be it a weekly calendar, habit tracker, or creative spread, the versatile nature of these pages allows for endless possibilities. It’s essential that this chosen notebook is sturdy to withstand continuous use and has sufficient pages to suit your journaling needs.

Keep in mind that the quality of your notebook plays a major role because this will be where you log important dates, organize tasks lists, and express your creativity throughout your bujo journey!


Pens, pencils, and markers form the foundation of any great bullet journaling toolkit. Even though there’s no particular rule about which ones to use, I personally recommend starting with what you have on hand.

As you dive into this bujo journey, realize that your choice of writing utensils adds personality to your bullet journal pages. For crisp outlines and sharp text, a good quality pen is a must.

Pencils come in handy for initial sketches or layouts where you might want the flexibility to erase mistakes. Markers add vibrant splashes of color turning each blank page into an artwork in your very own personalized bullet journal!

Step-by-Step Guide to Starting Your Bullet Journal

Start your bullet journaling journey by gathering your supplies. A simple notebook with dot grid or blank pages and a good pen make the perfect pair. It’s okay if you only have basic school supplies. The beauty of a bullet journal is that you can start anytime, anywhere, with just what you have on hand!

Define why you want to keep a bullet journal in step number two. Is it for tracking daily tasks? Perhaps it’s for setting goals or jotting down ideas? Deciding this will help create a personalized system catering specifically to your needs.

Next comes personalizing your journal. Don’t be afraid of empty pages. View them as blank canvases calling out for creativity! I suggest starting with an index page to easily find your entries without flipping through all the pages.

Moving on to step four: set up the core structure of your bullet journal system. This includes an Index, Future Log, Monthly Logs, and Daily Logs. This structure ensures easy navigation while preserving flexibility.

Finally, let’s talk about collections or habit trackers; from weekly spreads and monthly spreads, to mood trackers! They are great additions that allow you to gain insights into habits over time.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

Starting a bullet journal calls for certain essentials. The principal supply you’ll need is a good notebook, and the type of notebook you opt for depends entirely on your personal preference.

While some prefer notebooks with dotted grids for structure, others may choose blank pages to have total creative freedom.

Next, consider choosing pens or markers that allow you to express yourself in various shades and styles. Some bullet journalists love having an array of colors at their disposal, while others stick to basic black ink for simplicity’s sake.

Another tool that often comes in handy is a ruler; it helps maintain straight lines and tidy layouts.

Before diving into purchasing your bullet journal supplies though, it’s crucial to reflect on why you want to start a bullet journal in the first place. This reflection will guide both the selection of items you use and how you use them when starting your journey into the world of bullet journaling.

Step 2: Determine the Purpose of Your Bullet Journal

Deciding on the key purpose of your bullet journal is a crucial step in the process. This might seem overwhelming at first given how many pages and its versatility, but it doesn’t have to be. Essentially, your bullet journal’s purpose will reflect what you want to achieve with it, whether that’s organizing tasks, jotting down daily thoughts, tracking habits, or planning future events.

It could also serve as a place for creative expression.

Be honest about your personal needs and take time to consider what areas of life you’d like to organize or improve. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers here; every bullet journal serves a unique and personalized function for its user.

Once determined, this chief aim will shape how you set up all the pages in your own bullet journal and direct the contents going forward; thus turning an otherwise blank page into an effective planning system tailor-made for you.

Step 3: Personalize Your Bullet Journal

Diving into the world of bullet journaling is an exciting adventure. Personalizing your bullet journal is a fantastic way to make it truly yours, reflecting your personality and speaking directly to your individual needs.

Start by choosing a notebook that appeals to you and inspires you to use it regularly. You could consider factors such as color, size, or paper quality when selecting the perfect journal for yourself.

Make your bullet journal visually appealing with custom design elements. A cover page might be a good place to start. Think about designing a creative illustration or title that embodies what you want from this to start a bullet journal journey.

Add flair throughout with different colors, pens, markers, and stickers. Anything that helps keep those creative juices flowing!

As part of personalizing your bullet journal setup, don’t forget about the index pages! It’s crucial these collection pages are tailored around your preferences since they will guide you on how many pages are assigned for each section in the future log, monthly log, logs or daily logs section.

Now comes one of my favorite parts, experimenting with various layouts and spreads until I find just what works ideally for my lifestyle. There’s no rule book here. Every spread is simply another blank canvas waiting for me to fill up!

When all this customization culminates together in one perfectly organized package, we have ourselves our very first personalized entry into the wonderful world of bullet journals!

Step 4: Set Up the Core Structure

In setting up the core structure of your bullet journal, start with an index page. This is a critical part of organizing your bullet journal entries effectively. You’ll jot down topics and their corresponding page numbers here so you can quickly find specific notes when needed.

Next, layout a future log for long-term planning. It’s an overview of the year ahead where you can register events, birthdays, or deadlines coming up in the next six to twelve months.

The idea is to have them all in one place for easy reference as time goes on.

After that comes establishing your monthly calendar logs. These are a synopsis of your month containing tasks, events, and notes sections which helps provide a solid picture of what you’ve planned for that particular month at a glance.

Then set up daily logs; intended for day-to-day use where tasks, events, and notes meant specifically for each day go into these pages readily turning them into compilations of ‘to do’ lists! Allowing oneself flexibly to plan accordingly helps immensely in working towards fulfilling goals timely while keeping stress levels under control.

Pointers might seem numerous but once started off well, gradually it becomes increasingly easier to maintain this organized format due course!

Create an Index

Creating an index stands as one of the first pages of the initial steps in your bullet journal setup. Picture it like a table of contents; it’s your map leading you to essential parts of your personal bullet journal.

It keeps track of all the pages, collections, and logs you’ve amassed over time in your very first bullet journal. Corresponding page numbers alongside each list item makes finding specific sections swift and hassle-free, saving you from flipping through numerous pages aimlessly.

Just think: with an organized index page, zeroing in on that mood tracker or weekly spread you started months ago is no longer a daunting task!

Set Up a Future Log

Setting up a future log in your bullet journal is like paving a neat, clear path into your upcoming weeks and months. Typically placed just after the index section, this tool keeps you organized by providing a structured layout for possible events, tasks, and deadlines.

From birthdays to business meetings or personal goals, nothing should catch you off guard when it’s neatly jotted down in your future log. It’s not rocket science either. Simply dedicate several pages at the start of your new journal, and mark each page with a month of the year.

Now you’re equipped with an overview of key appointments running throughout each month!

Set Up Monthly Log

Creating your monthly log in a bullet journal starts with a blank spread, dedicating a two-page spread to the month ahead. On one side of weekly spread, write down each day of the month alongside its corresponding weekday.

This area helps in planning out future events and tasks for that particular month. The other page acts as a monthly task list where you jot down key goals or actions to complete throughout the month.

Setting up your new monthly log in this way makes it an effective tool for capturing both scheduled activities and unscheduled tasks in one place. Don’t hesitate to modify this structure to suit your needs; after all, personalizing your journal is part of what makes bullet journaling so enjoyable!

Set Up Daily Log

Setting up your daily log is your next step. This part of the bullet journal acts as a catch-all for tasks, events, and notes that pop up throughout the day. Start by putting the date at the top of a new page in your bullet journal and record anything you need to remember or get done on that specific day.

There’s no right or wrong way to design your daily log. It’s entirely based on personal preference. Some individuals prefer minimalist designs focusing solely on function while others like to add decorative elements such as doodles, stickers, washi tape borders or even watercolor accents.

The key is discovering what works best for you!

A bullet journal open with Index written on top of it and index items listed below

Tips and Additional Resources for Bullet Journaling

Utilize signifiers and keys for organization. Experiment with weekly logs to manage tasks better. Consider adding collections or habit trackers to monitor personal growth. Research supplies that cater to your journaling needs.

Engage in online bullet journaling communities for inspiration and support.

Signifiers and Keys

In your bujo journey, you will surely encounter signifiers and keys. Signifiers are symbols that give your entries an additional layer of information. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes such as squares, dots, or other icons which hold specific meanings unique to the user.

A dot might represent a task while an asterisk could denote an important reminder. On the other hand, a key is like a legend or guide that explains what each signifier symbolizes in your journal.

It’s custom-made for every person’s needs and preferences. No two keys are alike! Your personal key serves as a quick-reference tool which makes it easier for you to understand what each entry in your bullet journal signifies at just one glance.

Weekly Log

Creating your weekly log is an exciting part of bullet journaling. It serves as a space to organize tasks, events, and notes for your to-do list for every day of the week. I love this section because it gives me an overview of my entire week at a glance.

Now, don’t think there’s only one way to set up your weekly log. The beauty of bullet journaling is that you can personalize it according to what works best for you. I mean, how neat is that! Some prefer a horizontal layout while others might go with a vertical spreadsheet style or even blocks for each day, like in the daily pages of a traditional planner.

Just ensure it’s comprehensive enough to account for all seven days on one or two adjacent pages. Experiment with different layouts until you find something compatible with your routine and lifestyle. After all, bullet journaling should be fun and relieving not stressful or confusing!

Collections or Habit Trackers

Bullet journaling isn’t just about organizing your tasks and schedules. It’s also a creative outlet where you can add collections or habit trackers to personalize your bullet journal world according to your needs and interests.

These sections function as logs for different aspects of life that you want to keep track of, from the books you read, the movies you watch, to the places you’ve visited.

Speaking specifically about habit trackers, their purpose is simple yet powerful. They enable us to note down and monitor our daily habits in an organized manner. Are we drinking enough water every day? How often are we exercising each week? Habit trackers give answers at a glance.

Bullet journals embrace these features because they’re versatile. They adapt based on what matters most to us individually!

Recommended Supplies

Starting your bullet journal journey involves choosing the right supplies. A simple pen and notebook will do, but options for personalizing and enhancing the quality of your entries are limitless.

You might want to explore using high-quality items such as watercolors for adding that artistic touch on some pages. Moreover, a Leuchtturm1917 hardcover journal is highly recommended by seasoned bullet journalists because it offers pre-numbered pages with an index, perfect for organizing your thoughts.

On another note, sticky notes make great additions so you can highlight or remember important dates without leaving a permanent mark in the journal itself. Most importantly, pick supplies that spark joy for you; try various brands until you find what suits your style best.

Also think about the place you will be journaling in the most. I am a big fan of taking my journal with me when I go on hikes, but also created a very calming place in my apartment where all my supplies are. I have a great desk and chair with my type of aesthetic displayed throughout the room.

Regardless of which tools you choose, having these essentials on hand primes you towards creating effective spreads in line with your goals and preferences.

Online communities for bullet journaling support and inspiration

Navigating the world of bullet journaling can seem daunting at first, but don’t worry, loads of online communities are available to provide support and inspiration. These sanctuaries are filled with individuals who share your interests in staying organized and expressing creativity through bullet journaling.

Diverse bullet journal ideas also circulate on platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit forums, and dedicated websites like this one, Bujo Center. They showcase a plethora of beautiful spreads so you’ll never run out of ideas for your own bullet journal setup.


Begin your bullet journal journey today and unlock a world of endless possibilities. With this guide, you now have the knowledge to start filling an empty journal with ideas, events, and memories.

Keep in mind that your bullet journal is a unique reflection of you, so personalize it according to your needs and dreams. You can check out some of the spread I have made on the Instagram account I created. If video is more your thing, feel free to check out the YouTube channel I created just for people like you.

I hope this article helped you understand more about the helpful world of bullet journaling. If you have any questions or want to share with the community different aspects of bujoing that have really helped you in your life, please comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

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