Do you ever find yourself scanning Pinterest out of boredom, then you’re suddenly lost in a spiral of cute photos, cool recipes, and crafty things? And when you finally look up from your phone like three hours have passed?
I know I do (a lot), but luckily that was exactly how I accidentally discovered the bullet journal.
I’ve never been a big fan of planners, mostly because it’s so dang hard to customize them when they’re already laid out for you. There’s no pizzazz, no flair. And definitely not a lot of room for creativity.
So when I stumbled upon the bullet journal system (at 3am, I’ll admit) I immediately fell in love.
It’s just such a unique and flexible system that has everything my creative heart desires. There are tons of page ideas out there (I’ve got a whole list of ’em here) and you can make your journal as complex or minimal as you want, while still somehow getting your crap together. So if you’re ready to jump on the bullet journal bandwagon, congrats! Here’s everything you need to know to get started.
WHAT IS A BULLET JOURNAL?
Before we get into how to start your own bullet journal, we gotta go over what the heck it is.
The creator, Ryder Carroll, describes the bullet journal system as a way to ‘help you track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future.’ Here’s a fun little video with an example of what a bullet journal can do for ya.
Basically, it’s a journal that you use to organize different aspects of your life. From keeping up with appointments to tracking the growth of your business, the bullet journal pretty much does it all.
Most bullet journals use dotted/grid pages, which gives you a little more freedom to set up your pages however you want. It’s a much more creative and fun way to organize your thoughts and life than a regular ole’ planner.
Okay, as far as supplies go, technically you really only need a pen and a notebook. For my first bullet journal, I used a regular ole’ composition notebook and a pen from Walmart, and it did the job fine.
BUT, if you want to make your bullet journal a little more personalized and really stand out, these are some of my favorite supplies to do that!
Leuchtturm1917– This is what I’m currently using and I ADORE it. It comes prepared with a built-in index and numbered pages which, if you’re as unorganized as me, is really helpful for keeping up with where everything is in your journal.
Moleskine– These are pretty good quality journals and about the same in price as the Leuchtturm1917, but I really like the softcover journals that Moleskine offers.
Rhodia- Okay, I’ll be honest, I’ve never actually used any Rhodia notebooks for my bullet journal. BUT there are plenty of people online who have used them and seem to like them, so I thought I’d mention them just in case you’re looking for a little bit of a cheaper option that’s still a nice quality.
Micron- Such great pens, and I’ve never had an issue with bleed-through or anything like that the way I sometimes get with Sharpies, so I’d definitely recommend considering this brand! I currently use the .50mm pen.
Farber-Castell- My husband got me a case of these in varying sizes and holy cow, they come in handy! Couldn’t find these babies on Amazon, but I think he got them from our local art store. Definitely recommend if you’re unsure what size pen you should get or if you’d just like a little bit of variety.
Tombow Dual Brush Pens- Oh my gosh, I LOVE these pens!! These are by far my favorite supplies listed here. They really add color and life to my journal, and I love the versatility. I’ve got the pastel colors and they’re so dang pretty!!
Ruler- Okay, less exciting, I know. BUT this’ll come in handy when you’re creating calendars or lists, especially if you’re as OCD as me 😉
Washi tape- There are SO. MANY. THINGS. you can do with washi tape, but that’s a story for another blog post. Just know that’s it’s a great tool to have in your bullet journal toolbelt.
Printables- Once you get a little more comfortable with your journal, you can try printables! You just find/create a design, print it out on sticker paper, and bam! You’ve got cute stickers to put into your bullet journal. It’s an easy way to add character to your journal and fill empty space, and it’s super easy!
If you want to try out some printables in your bullet journal, I’ve created some that you can download below!
There are a ton of supplies out there for your bullet journal to spice it up, but again, you don’t have to have these things to get started. And there are also plenty of cheap bullet journal supplies out there, which means you don’t have to spend a crap ton of money, either!
Obviously, everyone’s bullet journal is going to be tailored to their specific needs- that’s why it’s so awesome! Whether you’re using a bullet journal to organize your blog/biz, your social life, or your schoolwork, there are a few pages (AKA ‘collections’ or topics in a bullet journal) though that are seen pretty consistently in the bullet journal community.
You can think of these pages as the ‘backbone’ of your journal, but you still get to design each page (and add other pages) however you want! (Click to Tweet!)
The key is just a page of all the symbols you want to use in your journal so you can remember what they mean and keep you organized. So when you add a task in your bullet journal, and you either complete the task or migrate (move) it to another location, you can refer to your key to know what symbol to use.
Personally, I don’t really like to include a key in my bullet journal, just because I feel like I don’t use symbols all that often. But hey, your journal is for you so if you wanna include it, go for it!
Pro tip: Remember how I said there are a million things you can do with washi tape? If you do include a key in your journal, one way you can use washi tape is to make a cute fold-out key for easy access!
The index is essentially a table of contents that you can update as you add more pages in your journal. Some journals, like the Leuchtturm1917 journal, come with a built-in index, which is shown above. I’ll be honest, I’m usually pretty lazy when it comes to filling in my index, so I don’t use this page a whole lot either.
Now we’re getting to the good stuff.
Here’s where you put all of your important dates for the year/next several months. This is where you’ll keep them until you can move them into your monthly log.
So let’s break down how this whole thing works. Let’s say I’ve got an appointment coming up in November (because I do) but it’s only August (because it is.)
Since my bullet journal is currently only laid out for the month of August at the latest, I’d put the date/time of my appointment in my future log. Once November rolls around, I can move that appointment into my monthly log so I don’t forget about it.
It’s important to occasionally check back with your future log so you don’t forget to migrate any of your appointments into your monthly log when it gets closer.
Monthly layouts are some of my all-time FAVORITE pages in my bullet journal. I just love getting out my lil’ ruler and making a calendar and adding flowers and colors and all that jazz (I know I sound crazy now but trust me, once you start it’s so fun and oddly theraputic).
You don’t have to design your monthly spread the same way I’ve got mine, and if you’re stuck, Pinterest will be your best friend girl, cause there’s tons of inspiration over there!
(Feel free to follow me on Pinterest, I’ve got a bunch of bullet journal boards to inspire you!)
Anywho, going back to the example I gave earlier, let’s say this monthly was for November instead of January, now I can move all of my notes about my appointment over to this page, so I don’t forget.
This one’s a little interesting, as there are two ways to approach this spread.
What I like to call a ‘weekly spread’ is when you create your daily layouts for the week ahead of time, rather than spend time each day creating some intricate layout. The plus side to doing it this way is that you save time throughout the week, but the catch is that if you don’t have enough space one day to write everything you need, then you’re kind of screwed.
That’s why I tend to prefer creating a new daily layout each day, so I know I’ll always have space. The only sucky thing about this is that you can’t write things ahead of time for upcoming days. So, if I’ve got something to do Thursday but it’s Tuesday, I can’t put it in yet and I’ve gotta add it to my monthly log instead.
For your first bullet journal, I can’t stress enough how important it is to start slow. If you try to do too much with your journal, you may get overwhelmed and give up on it altogether. So, figure out how to make your journal work best for you, then go to work!
Once you get a little more comfortable and start looking for some page ideas, I’ve got ya covered!
And while you’re getting acquainted with your new kick-ass journal, don’t forget to save this post to Pinterest!
Have you started you bullet journal yet? Let me know how your bullet journal journey is going down below!
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