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A person decorating their bullet journal with highlighters and colorful stickers.

Bullet Journal Ideas For Beginners

If you’ve been looking for a way to get more organized and you haven’t tried a bullet journal yet, this is the place for you!

Most people want to be productive and live a meaningful life… that’s why we set resolutions to better ourselves every year, right? The bullet journal method is here to help.

Reading the bullet journal backstory will give you the history of how this planner of sorts came to be, but we’ll walk through the basics for you here.

What is a bullet journal?
The bullet journal (also known as BuJo) is a method of journaling designed to help with personal organization and productivity. Ryder Carroll, a Brooklyn-based digital product designer and art director, developed the method. He launched this idea to the public in 2013, describing his approach as a way to “help you track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future.”

The method is also called a planning system, because of particular features. This sets it apart from the typical diary style. These features include a glossary of words specific to the bullet journal planner, such as index, key, log, and spread. (More on these later!)

Why should I use a bullet journal?
Ryder Carroll said bullet journaling is a “mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system.” It helps you organize what you’re doing and keeps the answer of why you’re doing something top of mind. (The why is important!)

Take a look at the number of obligations you may have on your plate day in and day out. The bullet journal process has been known to help with organization, prioritization and productivity. It has even helped some people with relationships, fertility, mindset and mental health.

What can I use a bullet journal for?
You can use the method for daily organization or stick to a specific area you want to focus on. For example, use a bullet journal to organize and track your budget, plan your daily routine, or monitor health and wellness activities like tracking your water intake

(PS – Need an easy way to add more water? Make it more flavorful! Try this Lemonade with no artificial sweeteners to easily amp up your water at home or on the go.)

Another easy and great use for this method is planning out weekly or monthly chores or tasks – laundry, doctor’s appointments, meal planning/prepping and cleaning around the house. Are you also an entrepreneur? Use a bullet journal to keep your business items moving along smoothly. 

We also love the idea of a mood tracker bullet journal. Choose a topic or theme you like and look up bullet journal ideas for great tracker ideas and tips and tricks and on how to set up your spreads.

How do I get started with a bullet journal?
While it can become very complex, the bullet journal system may also help condense other tools if you use multiple planners, calendars and sticky notes to stay organized. Try out these steps to get going.

Bullet Journal Steps For Beginners:

A green bullet journal on top of a larger pad of paper. The background is a lime green.

1. Choose a journal, notebook or other paper system. And your writing tool(s).

It’s not necessary to overwhelm yourself with a lot of tools and extras to get going. Try starting small if you’re unsure of exactly how you want to lay out your journal, or if you don’t feel comfortable doodling and experimenting with a lot of colors. Start with something you may have already lying around – an old notebook, a journal, loose leaf paper and a binder and any pen or pencil you can find. Once you get more familiar with the idea and know how, then you can spruce it up and add in things one by one. Then grab a fancier pen, draw doodles, slap on some stickers, chart out graphs or create boxes to bullet in. The options are endless and only limited by your creativity!

A man fills out a monthly-goals page in his bullet journal.

2. Create your key.

Your key spread (BuJo lingo: spread = journal entry) is where you will write your symbols and unique elements that you’ll use to track your information. Basic symbols include bullets, dashes and arrows. Each symbol will have a different meaning for a task or note. Use these in whatever way is meaningful for you.

A young woman smiles down at the journal she is writing in.

3. Fill in your index.

Your index, more unique to a bullet journal than other journaling methods, helps you easily find anything in your journal with a quick reference to its location and page – basically a table of contents. Depending on what journal you choose, it may already have an index page to use. Otherwise, you can just quickly jot down your own.

A drawing of a calendar with x's on some days.

4. Create your future or monthly log.

This is an important piece of your journal and where you will plan for the future – by weeks, months or the entire year ahead of you.

A bullet journal on a wooden table with pens, a green ruler, and a small cactus on top of the open pages.

5. Start your weekly and daily logs/spreads.

There’s that word again: spread = entry. A weekly spread can help you snapshot your upcoming week and plan for each day. Include items like habit trackers, meal planning and weekly house chores.

And your daily log is where you keep track of your checklist and tasks for each day. Designate pages or create each page daily and use as much space as you need. Some things you can include here are notes, to-do lists, shopping lists and a space for open journaling or motivational quotes.

For more detailed ideas on creating all these specific areas, check out this website. Check out these bullet journal ideas for some ways to start your layout.

Things to Keep In Mind:
- Know your why and keep that in focus. A bullet journal is supposed to be a tool for you. It’s designed to increase the quality of your life, not hinder it.
- You don’t have to be an artist to have a bullet journal. You can be simplistic or minimalist in your “design” effort. Just be sure to make it your own.
- Keep experimenting! There’s no one way to bullet journal – it is what you make it as long as you use it the way you need it to work for you.
- Start small. Be consistent and intentional. And little by little your journal will evolve into what you need it to be as you grow into incorporating it into your life and routine.