The whole idea of starting a bullet journal is something I’ve always wanted to do, but the idea of it also made me anxious. I’ve had “Research Bullet Journaling” sitting on my to do list for months now. There are so many productivity methods, management systems, organizational tools, and whatever the heck else out there, I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to take time to learn how to bullet journal if this was one of those productivity fads that I would eventually stop using.
Bullet journaling has been making a strong appearance for nearly two years, which proves that it’s working for a lot of people and it’s probably here to stay.
Cool! That means I’m ready to commit to trying something new! Except, there are so many resources out there and I don’t know where to start.
Well as someone who is still fairly new to the idea of bullet journaling, I can show you the ropes from a beginner’s perspective.
The only supplies you’ll need to start a bullet journal is a nice, durable notebook, and a pen. Optional supplies include a ruler and additional pens in multiple colors.
First Things First:
The first place you have to visit is http://bulletjournal.com/. Watch the video and read the guide! It’s a great introduction to bullet journaling, but you will definitely have to watch the video and read the guide more than once. You will be confused at first–and that’s okay!
Index – Basically your table of contents. The title of each page and the page number should be listed here.
6-month Calendar – Major events listed for the next 6 months. You can choose to cover a shorter or longer time period, but the example given in the bullet journal video is 6 months.
Monthly Calendar – Major events listed for the month
Monthly Tasks – Major tasks listed for the month
Daily pages – Entries you do every day that can consist of anything you want! It could be anything from a heartfelt journal entry to a supersize to-do list. Whateva you want! The only thing is that you fill this out no more than one day ahead of time. Don’t set up a bunch of daily pages with the rest of your journal just yet. This will give you flexibility with how long your daily pages are and with adding in other logs, lists, or other notes you would like to reference.
Other than that, the pages you have are free reign! I have created a car maintenance log, a list of restaurants and bars I want to try, and a recipe for high-protein cookie dough!
Filling Out Your Journal:
Now what makes a bullet journal work is the code that categorizes each item you list. There’s a special symbol for everything. For example, a bullet point is a task, a circle is an event, a dash is a note, etc. Those are the only rules you need to follow. Almost all the symbols I use are the same as what are in the video, except I use the letter ‘e’ to denote “explore” instead of an eye.Basically when I doodle an eye, it looks like garbage. I think an ‘e’ is easier to write quickly and looks much neater.
The flexibility of the bullet journaling system is what I love the most. Your daily posts could be half a page long, or it could be four pages long. You can write in whatever size you’d like, with whatever pens you’d like, however you like. Doodle on your pages, add in some positive affirmations to keep yourself on track…it’s up to you!
My “daily” entries turn out a little different every day, and I like that.
Well, here’s everything I’ve learned so far with my cool new bullet journal system!
The Cons of a Bullet Journal:
Bullet journaling isn’t an end-all solution to your productivity shortcomings, and I don’t want to play up bullet journaling to be something it’s not. So, I’m listing a few cons of bullet journaling for all the skeptics (I was one of you!!!) before I get to the pros.
There’s finite notebook space. You will have to move to another notebook at some point, and you will have to decide what pages to transfer to your new notebook.
You have to write everything down. You have to find a moment in your day to jot in your journal, which you might argue is a little more difficult to do than clicking away on your phone.
You have to keep up. This isn’t an automated system. If you want it to work, you have to put in the effort to update the index, add page numbers, and essentially make everything functional. It’s not an app.
The Pros of a Bullet Journal:
Flexible! – It’s flexible yet structured system gives you a couple of rules to work with and creative freedom. Start/Stop whenever you want. Take up as many pages as you want. Other than using the bullet journal key and other than the very basic setup you do when you first start your journal, you can do whatever you want! You do you, boo.
Old School – There’s nothing like writing down to do lists, grocery lists, or other notes in a notebook. Yes, we all may have become used to typing these things out, but let’s be real, it’s far better to write it out by hand. Aren’t there supposed to be mental benefits to writing vs. typing anyway? Also, you can update when the internet is out, when the battery on your phone is dead, when the battery on your computer is dead, etc. etc.
Records – These are journals, so if you keep them nice and organized, you could look back at them years ahead and reminisce! Of course, reminiscing is much nicer when you write down more than just simple tasks in your journal entires, so keep that in mind if you want to look back at your journals in the future.
Ideas on What to Add to Your Journal:
Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Food Tracker / Water Log
- Sleep Tracker
- Recipes / Meal Plans
- Bucket List
- Vacation Planner
- Personal Goals
- Books You Want To Read
- Birthday/Holiday Gift Ideas
Here’s what I have in my journal so far:
- Car Maintenance Log
- Restaurants and Bars I Want to Try
- Recipe for High-Protein Cookie Dough
- Post Ideas
I’m planning to add to my own:
- High-Protein Meal Plan Ideas
- TV Shows I Need to Watch
- Online Purchase Tracker
- Currently Monthly Subscriptions
Some people take bullet journaling to the next level with some really pretty lettering and doodling. I wish I had the artistic ability to make my journal look like a dream, but I’m content with being able to read my messy cursive-print writing. Here are some blogs and videos that are awesome that you should take a look at!
There you have it! That’s your basic but comprehensive guide on starting a bullet journal!
Notebook is from Urban Outfitters, pens from Amazon, and Nutella Pop Tart from Niles Pie Company.