How to Start a Bullet Journal [the award-winning sequel]

After my far too enthusiastic post a couple of weeks ago about my great love for my Bullet Journal, there was a huge outcry amongst my readers (so it was like 3 of you, but that’s basically huge) for a tutorial on how to start a Bullet Journal. Since I love you, my dear readers, so much, I am here to regale you with another Bullet Journal post. Hold onto your hats, kids, because this time I’ll be teaching you The Way of the Bullet Journal. You might want to take notes.

p.s. – Because I am so deep in The Way of the Bullet Journal, I’m not even sure if what I’m going to share makes sense to any brain but my own (not even kidding, kids). Seriously, though, it makes so much sense in my head, but it’s one topic that I struggle to articulate to others. SO, I’m including links to other articles/posts throughout this post in case I’m not making enough sense.

how to start a bullet journal.jpg

~ Part One: What is a Bullet Journal? ~

Technically, it’s “an analog system for the digital age.” Now, I grabbed that definition of the official Bullet Journal site, and full disclosure, I had to look up the definition for analog. It was completely unhelpful. So, those of you who magically understand what an analog system is, yay for you. For the rest of us who are confused, I’ll try to explain it semi-concisely.

The creator of the Bullet Journal, Ryder Carrol, puts it this way: “It’s an analog system designed to track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future.”

A Bullet Journal is a completely customizable medley of organization, planning, lists, and sometimes art.

You can make a list of goals for the year in your Bullet Journal. You can also plan your day out in your Bullet Journal. You can track your spending in your Bullet Journal. You can keep a diary in your Bullet Journal. You can put doodles and sketches in your Bullet Journal. You can track your habits in your Bullet Journal. Basically, a Bullet Journal is all things to all people; it can be whatever you need it to be. Planner. Diary. Sketchbook.

The heart of Bullet Journaling is recording information and planning all sorts of things with speed and readability. This where the use of bullet points comes in. In a Bullet Journal, as much information as possible is conveyed through bullet points.

Boho Berry has a far more excellent explanation of a Bullet Journal in this post.

~ Part Two: Supplies ~

Yes, you need some supplies for your Bullet Journal.

  • Notebook (this one’s a major shocker)
  • One black-ink pen
  • Ruler (optional)
  • A pack of multicolor pens/colored pencils/fine-tipped markers (optional)

When it comes to picking out the right notebook for your Bullet Journal, there a couple things to keep in mind. There are “actual” Bullet Journals that you can buy off of the official Bullet Journal site, but you don’t need an “actual” Bullet Journal. If you want to hop over and buy one off of there, that’s fine, but if you’re looking for something that has a bit more of your personal flare, you’ll want to check out your local office supplies store (aka: the closest thing to heaven on earth).

Consider if you want lines, dots, grids, or blank pages. A lot of people seem to favor dotted grids for their Bullet Journals since it’s more distraction free than the lines or full grids but has a bit more structure to build off of than a completely blank page. But, dots, grids, and full blank pages are hard to come by in notebooks these days. So, you can just be like me and grab a notebook full of traditional lines and work with them or ignore them.

I mention the ruler just because you will likely need to draw lines of some kind at some point in your Bullet Journaling career, and a ruler makes sure that things don’t get wavy.

Also, the multicolor pens, etc.. are mentioned because a lot people like to add a lot of color and life and doodles to their Bullet Journals, but you don’t need them to keep a Bullet Journal.

Also, when it comes to size, you want something small enough to shove in your purse/backpack/briefcase fairly easily, and so keep it on the petite-medium side of things.

~ Part Three: The Elements of the Bullet Journal ~

NOTE: Before we move into this next part, one thing needs to be clear. Originally, the Bullet Journal was designed for planning and orginization, but a whole sub-culture has developed that fuses art with their planning. So, some Bullet Journals are minimalistic while others are dressed to the nines. You decide how you want your Bullet Journal to look. I just wanted to give you fair warning before you search “Bullet Journal” and are demolished by the pages and pages and pages of wildly intricate and decorated Bullet Journals. As you’ll see from some of the pics I’m including in this post, people do all sorts of crazy things in their Bullet Journals.

There are some key elements that make a Bullet Journal a Bullet Journal, that lend themselves so intrinsically to all that a Bullet Journal is that without them it wouldn’t function nearly so well. We’re about to dive into Deep Bullet Journal Lingo.

  • an index
  • the future log
  • collections

The Index.

You’ll want to set aside the first 2-3 pages of your Bullet Journal for your index. Your index is your table of contents. Anything important that goes into the Bullet Journal gets logged in the index with it’s page number so that you can find it more efficiently in the future.

photo credit: thelazygeniuscollective.com

The Future Log.

The future log is usually put in the couple of pages that follow the index. Now, people have all sorts of varying ideas about what a future log is/should look like. Some say that it’s used for a year-at-a-glance, others say that if something is coming up, you just put it in the future log and that’s that (e.g. – “Hey, Mable. Lucy’s throwing her husband a birthday party on the 12th. Wanna come and bring a salad?” You would put something like this in your future log: June 12 – Lucy’s hubby bday party; bring salad).

So there’s this kind of future log:

photo credit: thelazygeniuscollective.com

And then there’s a more decorative of future log:

Image result for bullet journal future log

photo found somewhere in the depths of Pinterest

And there’s also this kind of future log:

Image result for bullet journal future log

photo credit: unknown

Since there are lots of ways to approach a future log, do a Google search for images and scroll through all the pictures until you come across a version that strikes your fancy.

Collections.

Collections make my heart happy. Collections are your lists of things. Books to read = a collection. Gratitude log = a collection. Weight tracker = a collection. Collections are one-two page lists of related things. (I keep all my collections in the back of my Bullet Journal so that they are easiest to get to.)

I have a collection of flash fiction ideas. I have a collection of all the birthdays of people I love. I have a collection of people who I want to endorse my novel when (if) it gets published.

When it comes to collections, the possibilities are quite nearly endless.

Here’s a collection of place this person/business has traveled to:

Image result for bullet journal collections

photo credit: unknown

Here’s collection of things a person is waiting to happen/receive:

Image result for bullet journal collections

pc: boho berry

This person got very elaborate with her collection for books to read:

Image result for bullet journal collections

pc: unkown

The next three Bullet Journal terms are directly related to the planning aspect. We’ve got:

  • monthly spreads (aka: monthly logs)
  • weekly spreads
  • daily spreads (aka: daily logs)

Monthly spreads are usually at the beginning of each month in your Bullet Journal and usually include: monthly goals, monthly tasks, and a calendar of the month. Monthly spreads are perfect overviews for each month, basically mini-future logs.

Weekly spreads are at the beginning of each week. Here’s where you have your weekly tasks list and week-at-a-glance. You write up your to-dos and events for the week in the list and then plug them into specific days in the week-at-a-glance (this makes so much sense in my head, and so I hope it makes sense to you guys too).

Daily spreads are where you plan your day and record anything eventful. You can simply go with a to-do and event list, or you can plug all the stuff for your day into a schedule. The Bullet Journal is completely customizable, so just go with whatever works best for you.

Here’s an example of a very involved daily spread:

Image result for bullet journal daily spread

photo credit: unknown

Here’s a less specific but very decorated daily spread:

Image result for bullet journal daily spread

photo found in the depths of Pinterest

~ Part Four: Further Reading ~

Okay, here is where I give you alllllllll the helpful articles and videos that have helped me as I navigated The Way of the Bullet Journal. I’ve only scratched the surface, really, but instead of regaling you with a whole series of my own posts that don’t exactly make much sense, I’ve decided just to send you out to the best places to get more information.

Places to search #bulletjournal for visual inspiration:

  • Youtube
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram

Specific links:

Check out Boho Berry’s series she did on Bullet Journaling. Her posts are full of very visually appealing photos that are well-suited for those who want to add art and doodles to their Bullet Journals.

Here’s a video from Ryder Carrol (the creator of Bullet Journaling) that captures the keys of Bullet Journaling.

This is an excellent post on Bullet Journaling that goes into signifiers, migration, and threading.

Another good one for the artsy people out there is this post from Bullet Journal Inspiration.

~ Conclusion ~

If this post did nothing else, I hope that it provided some good places for you to go to get more info on Bullet Journaling. It can be very overwhelming, and so I hope this post broke it down into a few more manageable bites.

Will you be starting a Bullet Journal? Tell me honestly: was this post helpful or just confusing? Will you put art into your Bullet Journal? Should I give you a tour of my Bullet Journal at some point in the near future?

With love,

Rosalie <3

P.S. – a shout-out to my parents who have been married 30 years today!!!!

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7 thoughts on “How to Start a Bullet Journal [the award-winning sequel]

  1. I ❤️ bullet journals! I think you did a great job explaining the overview of how to make a bullet journal. As you know, my bullet journal is much less artsy and much more practical…but it does include goals (yearly, monthly and weekly), collections (books to read, movies to watch, names for animals), and it does have a weekly spread. I have gotten away from the future log, cause I use my phone calendar still for that kind of stuff to make it easier to communicate with Tim. Second to last…yes you should give a tour of your bullet journal and lastly happy anniversary to your parents!!!! ❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds so fun! I would love an online version. I researched and there are some ‘companion’ apps, but honestly my entire schedule and such is online so it’s hard to put it down on paper b/c i never check paper journals. Having a digital one would be awesome. I think it’s fascinating and I’ve never even heard of one so cool thanks for the info! It’s like a daily planner without the rigorous structure. Shoot, Lord knows i have all these random docs full of ‘collections’ lol. Time to consolidate somewhere…not really keen on paper thou ha

    Like

  3. This is so helpful you have no idea!!!! I keep hearing people go on and on about how wonderful bullet journals are, but I’ve gotten quite frustrated because I couldn’t find anything that would tell me HOW to bullet journal. I didn’t even know what it meant. But this…if this is bullet journaling, I’m hooked! Seriously, thank you SO MUCH. I would give you a huge hug right now if I could.

    Ivy
    // Lakeside Publications

    Like

  4. This is cool! I think it’s the most detailed post I’ve seen in the blogosphere about bullet journals. I finally feel like I have a full understanding of them. Thank you!

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

    Like

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