Chances are if you’ve clicked on this article, you already know what a bullet journal is. But just in case: A bullet journal is a 100% customizable planner, to-do list, habit tracker, daily log, calendar, and brainstorm space. You build it, from scratch, in a journal of your choice.
You may be asking “why would I want to spend all that time making my own planner?”
Well, maybe you wouldn’t. Although it doesn’t really take that much time and if you’re in a pinch it can take nearly no time at all.
You may also be overwhelmed by all the beautiful spreads that are plastered all over Instagram and Pinterest. Do not get intimidated!
The best thing about bullet journaling is that it is 100% yours – make it the way you want.
So, all of that aside, how do you start?
Really you just need four spreads to start: The index, the future log, the current month, and either a weekly or a daily page (more on that in a moment).
This is where you’ll list each page or spread and the page number. It helps keep everything succinct and in order. (And you don’t have to scramble to find things in your journal – just flip right to the page number)
Do not skimp on using your index! It is the cornerstone of the bullet journal.
The Future Log:
Part of the beauty of bullet journaling is you never know how much space you’ll need, so the create-as-you-go makes sure you don’t pigeon-hole yourself into a small space.
Since you set the journal up as you go, you won’t have more than one monthly spread created at a time.
But what if you have an event in two months and you don’t want to forget about it?
Just log it in the future log. I like to put all the details associated with the event (date, time, location) so that when it’s time to migrate it to my monthly log, I have all the info I need.
The Monthly Log:
This is a staple of the bullet journal. It’s also where you can get crazy elaborate (if you so desire). I like to list the dates down the page vertically with the first letter of the corresponding day of the week.
Also on this spread you can list any trackers (mood or habits) that you want to try. I don’t personally use any trackers. I find it too cumbersome and I frequently don’t fill them out for days at a time and then forget which tasks I actually accomplished on which days.
but bby, you do you.
The Daily Log:
I personally use a daily log after my monthly. I usually use a fresh page for each day (although if my to-do list is short, I’ll double up).
However, a great number of bullet journals have weekly spreads instead (or in addition to) a daily log. A weekly spread is what you’ll find in a traditional planner and lets you see the entire week at a glance. It’s also a great tool for creating a theme, if you want to get fancy.
But, weeklies don’t really work for me. It limits my space per day too much and I generally wind up not using it. I did try for a while to have a weekly spread with just events of the week, but that didn’t really work either. I just ended up referencing my monthly log to know what was happening that week.
- Just get started. It doesn’t have to be fancy and the longer you stare at a blank page the worse it’ll be.
- When in doubt, go minimal. (I get hung up on pretty spreads and elaborate designs, but usually a minimalist spread makes me way more productive through the month anyway!)
- Try lots of things. The first few weeks or months of your BuJo experience should be all about experimenting and finding what works for you. This may mean deciding whether to use a week or daily or figuring out which habits you actually want to track or what designs/themes you like/want to incorporate.
- Remember: there is no ” right way” to bullet journal. My way and the things I use are no more valid than the way you choose to journal.
- Don’t spend a lot of money on it (at first)! Trust me it’s easy to drop a bunch of money on stencils and journals and pens. But until you decide that this is a system that works for you, just use a normal pen and whatever empty journal you have lying around (I know you have one). My first bullet journal (pictured above) was a Black and Red lined spiral bound notebook. I hated the lines, but it helped me be 100% sure that this was something I wanted to invest in. When it’s time to drop some money on this habit, you’ll feel better about doing it.