Why use a Bullet Journal?
Have you wondered how to start a Bullet Journal? I’ve been using a Bullet Journal for almost two years now and I would definitely say it is my favourite way of organising and recording my life. I love that you can plan and keep track of anything and everything you want, all in one place. And that you can customise your journal to exactly how best suits your needs.
Read my post 8 benefits of bullet journaling for more reasons to convince you to give it a try.
Whether you just want to use it to keep track of important dates and appointments, plan your month/week/day, use it to record notes and journaling, or create projects. Anything goes with a Bullet Journal. And you can make it lovely and pretty if you like, or keep it dead simple and efficient. I’m personally a fan of both ways.
This year, I bought The Bullet Journal Method book by Ryder Carroll. Ryder created the system and his book has totally inspired me to get back to the basics and learn how to Bullet Journal his way.
If you want to know how to start a Bullet Journal here is my guide.
What do you need to start Bullet Journaling?
Well, you actually need nothing more than a simple notebook and a pen. There is plenty of fun to be had acquiring pretty journals and fancy pens but if we’re going back to basics then any pen and pad will work perfectly. And that’s it. I’m currently using a Leuchtturm1917 book and a black Staedtler triplus fineliner with Zebra Mildliners to highlight.
How to Start a Bullet Journal
Ryder’s Bullet Journal method uses a rapid logging key to help you organise all your thoughts and ideas into quickly identifiable notes, events and tasks.
Task entries are preceded by a bullet point which can easily be transformed according to the state of the task.
Events are represented by and open bullet where you can record things after they have happened, along with any thoughts and ideas they may have provoked.
Notes are represented by a dash sign. Notes include facts, ideas, thoughts and observations that you want to remember but not action right away.
You can also use signifiers and custom bullets. Signifiers are placed in front of bullets to make them stand out. You could use an asterisk “*” to mark a priority and an exclamation mark “!” to highlight inspiration and ideas you want to come back to. Custom bullets are useful for whatever is unique to you and your life.
Because you can use your Bullet Journal to record such a wide range of things, the index is probably one of the most important pages to include. That way, you can be in the middle of planning your day and then decide you want to include a project or menu plan. As long as you index it you will never lose anything amongst all your notes and thoughts.
Put your index at the front of your book and make sure to number your pages. Either all at once or as you go. If you have multiple, separate pages you have used for the same project, just add the new page numbers to the original indexing. That way you can immediately locate what you need.
2. Future Log
Next in your book comes your future log. This is where you record tasks and events that fall outside the current month. My future log is 4 pages long and there is plenty of space to add details as the year progresses.
3. Monthly Log
The next pages in my journal are my monthly log. I use a double spread. On one side I set up a calendar page. This is a list of the dates of the month followed by the first letter of the corresponding day of the week. I’ve split my page in two. One half is for scheduled events and the other is to log memorable things as and when they happen. That way I have a clear picture of what I’ve been doing each month.
The other page is the tasks page . Spend some time at the beginning of the month thinking about plans, goals and tasks you want to complete that month. Get it all out of your head onto the page. Then check back to your last month’s log and see what hasn’t been completed. Transfer anything you still want to continue with over to the new month and cross off anything that is no longer relevant. Check if there is anything to add from your future log.
4. Weekly Log
Ryder doesn’t use a weekly log in his method but I find it useful to include one in my journal. I list my tasks and goals for the week and then draw out a brief schedule of what to do on which day. You could also list habits, a menu, or a workout plan. Refer back to your monthly log for reminders too.
5. Daily Log
This is where the majority of your bullet journaling might go. You could start, either the night before or first thing, by adding tasks from your monthly or weekly log. Simply add the day’s date and then rapid log tasks, events and notes as they occur throughout the day. The aim is to get anything that is running round in your head safely recorded in your book.
Some daily logs might take up many pages with others taking up less than half a page. That’s one of the great things about the Bullet Journal. You never need to feel that you are running out of room or wasting paper. Just make a new date heading each day and carry on where you left off.
Previously I was using my dailies pretty much just like a series of to do lists. Ryder’s method is so much more than that. You might have an “Arrange insurance” task followed by a note about a super idea you’ve just had to organise your stationery. Then you receive an invite to dinner. Everything gets listed in your dailies. At the end of each day you can then decide what to do with each log. Whether it gets moved to your future log, you start a “collection” page for a new project idea, or mark it off as completed. Nothing gets missed or forgotten.
6. Collections and Lists
You can make collection and list pages about absolutely anything. Birthdays, budget tracking, shopping lists, habits, fitness plans, books you’ve read, TV series you want to keep track of, holidays you’re planning. Just create a heading, index it and get your thoughts down. I think collections are the perfect type of pages to “pretty up” if that’s your thing. You don’t have to keep taking time to recreate them and you may find yourself often referring to them. I find a page that is more visually appealing can inspire me in my projects or goals.
I recently made a collection spread to plan a trip I was going on. It was good to know I had all the important information on one place, along with a packing list and schedule.
There is a whole heap of inspiration on bullet journals out there to be found but these are the basic essentials to help get you started.
If you enjoyed my How to Start a Bullet Journal guide check out these posts