How do you start a bullet journal?
Why is everyone so into bullet journalling?
Have you always wanted to start a bullet journal? Here's your step-by-step beginner's guide by @onyxandblushco #bulletjournalClick To Tweet
If you’re not a little bit crazy, then you probably aren’t doing life right. But having a crazy life is a little like glitter. It’s exciting, sparkly, and fun, but it’s also messy and hard to keep all together. And if you want to make a masterpiece with it, you’re gonna need a little glue!
Enter… the bullet journal. The glue of my messy, beautiful life.
What exactly IS the miraculous bullet journal you ask? To put it simply… it is #everything.
As a full-time working mom running a blog and trying to finish my degree, I hit rock bottom trying to figure out my life and keep my thoughts straight. I couldn’t manage my to-do lists, I was missing appointments, I didn’t have time to be creative, and no matter what I tried, there just wasn’t a system that worked for me.
I tried all the daily planners, calendars, to-do notepads, diaries, apps on my phone, and various forms of note-taking. What I found was that I had a bunch of scattered appointments and ideas all over the place, from sticky pads on the fridge to scribbled reminders in my purse, from a desk calendar covered in clutter to random notes that found their way all around my house.
How did I keep anything in my life straight?
Well… I didn’t.
So I started to do some research to find a system that was all in one, and I stumbled across a bullet journal.
What is a Bullet Journal?
The bullet journal system was unlike anything I’ve seen because unlike a standard planner or notebook, you create it from scratch and can personalize it entirely to you.
It is a modern, functional life organizer that can be as simple or detailed as you want. It can function exactly as you need it to function. And my FAVORITE part about the bullet journal? You can get SO creative with it!
Because history was my favorite subject in school (ha! If only that were true…) let’s have a quick history lesson.
The bullet journal was developed by Ryder Carroll as an analog system to keep track of yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily to-dos all in one place. He created a system to index each item by importance as an event or to-do, by date. At it’s most BASIC form, the bullet journal is very clean and organized.
But we’re not basic, are we? (Maybe I am, I still like my Starbucks frappucinos!)
How Do You Use a Bullet Journal?
The world of bullet journaling has become so much more than a basic analog of goals and to-dos.
It has become a place to keep lists of books you want to read, inspirational quotes, notes, track habits, store appointments, and so much more. It can literally be as unique as the person that creates it. You can add your goals, create collages of memories, keep track of all of your lists, and write down random thoughts- all in one place!
For me (and I know I’m not alone!), bullet journaling is about getting creative and trying to keep making the organization of my life beautiful, both on paper and in reality.
There are TONS of methods you can use to turn your bullet journal into a masterpiece. If you are running low on inspiration, just check Pinterest! Although be careful… Pinterest is a rabbit hole I personally tend to fall down for hours and then I forget all about my original search for inspiration… stay focused! Who’s with me on that?
How to Start A Bullet Journal
If you are brand new to bullet journaling, I think it can be easy to get overwhelmed by all of the options and variety of things you can do with your journal, especially if you plan to really make it artsy and creative! I know I was certainly overwhelmed when I first started!
So I started to do some research to find a system that was all in one, and I stumbled across a bullet journal. not to mention all the variations on lettering, media you use, and personalizations you can include!
I found a system for setting up my bullet journal that worked best for me, and if you’re new to bullet journaling here are 4 steps to starting a bullet journal.
#1 FIND YOUR JOURNAL
Most bullet journals have a dot-grid on the pages to make it easy to line things up straight.
You can purchase an “official” bullet journal from bulletjournal.com, or you can find a similar one just by searching “bullet journal” on Amazon. For me personally, I just found a cute notebook at the store with blank pages so that I could be as creative as I wanted! I prefer to have one that fits in my purse so I can take it with me, but you could choose whatever size you want.
#2 CHOOSE YOUR PAGES
I made a huge list of all the possible pages I wanted, and I keep it folded up in the back of my bullet journal.
There are so many bullet journalling page ideas for you to choose from, including:
- Goal or Habit Tracker
- Bucket or Wish List
- Meal Planner
- Fitness Schedule
- Inspirational Quotes
- Social Media Planner
- Books to Read and Places to Visit
- Gratitude Diary
- Daily and Weekly Schedule
- Mood Tracker and Daily Reflections
- Important Day to Remember and Birthdays
- Study or to Learn List
- Brain Dump or Mindmap
- Monthly Budgeting
- and many many more!
I created the first few spreads I wanted, then from there, I have a section for each month. Whenever I feel like adding a new page or list, I just add it, I don’t worry about the order. It works for me!
👉🏽RELATED POST: 100 Personal End of Year Refelection & Review Questions
#3 DEVELOP YOUR SYSTEM
I’m a goal-oriented person, so my bullet journal starts with my goals for my life, the things I want to accomplish, and right next to it is my bucket list page. Then I have a few personal pages with things like inspiring quotes and my list of books I want to read. Then I get into planning each month.
About a week before each new month starts I take some alone time to relax and plan out my month. I start with my “month” page where I write down the month in some kind of fancy font and I always try to come up with a fun theme to decorate my pages.Are you overwhelmed by bullet journaling? Click here for your step-by-step guide by @onyxandblushco! #bulletjournalClick To Tweet
For example, in May of this year, I went with a succulent and cactus theme, so I incorporated drawings and art that kind of fit that theme throughout my month’s plan.
After I finish my initial month page, I draw out a calendar that has my month at a glance. I mark down all of the birthdays and important dates, and any goals I want to accomplish throughout the month. The next several spreads, I break my month down into weeks and record any appointments or to-dos for those weeks.
And what is the point of writing down any goals if you can’t track them? So next I have a page solely dedicated to tracking my goals. I write down my starting point and keep track of my progression throughout the month. I also like to use a habit tracker to keep track of the things I want to be doing daily, so I usually include a page for that as well.
👉🏽RELATED POST: Why Habit Trackers Inspire Us to Be Better People
My final two spreads are my absolute favorites. I do a spread for memories, and I do a Brain Dump page.
I’ve never really been the person to sit and write about my day in a journal every night, but I do love to hold onto fun memories so I love having a memories spread where I can glue in movie tickets or write about something funny that I don’t want to forget. Then my brain dump page is for anything and everything that I feel like writing down.
Sometimes it’s just random notes to myself, sometimes it’s my pin for a website that I know I’ll need in a week, and sometimes I just like to practice lettering. There is no order to it, but it’s all in one place, which I LOVE.
#4 GET CREATIVE!
If you are even considering doing a bullet journal, then probably means you’ve got a spark of creativity somewhere! Time to ignite that spark and unleash a show of spectacular fireworks! Here are some of my favorite bullet journal tips/methods to keep it creative!
- Get interesting with your lettering, and play mix and match with it! I LOVE how mix and match fonts and lettering look.
- Two words. WASHI TAPE. It can dress up your pages so nicely, and I love to use it to mark the start of each new month by taping along the edge of the new month’s first page so that I can find each month easily. Plus there are SO many cute options!
- Choosing a theme or even just a color scheme for your spread makes it look cohesive and more artistic. I love to choose a theme for a whole month and stick with it for all the pages I create in that month.
- Add color to everything, all the time. Unless you’re not into that, which I also get because grey is one of my favorite colors of all, but for the most part I like my bullet journal to be really bright and vibrant. I love to use watercolor, colored pencils, and fine tip colored marker pens to bring life to my pages.
- There is a whole world of art out there, so why just stick to pen and paper? Utilize stickers, photos, ribbon, glitter (ALL THE GLITTER), and any other crafty things you can get your hands on to make your journal one of a kind.
- Doodles, doodles, DOODLES! Doodles are my absolute favorite thing with bullet journaling! I love to do doodles on my pages that incorporate the theme for the month and to make my headers and dividers on my pages stand out.
- Embrace your mistakes. Life is FULL of mistakes and problems, and sometimes you just have to yell, “plot twist” and move on, and it is the same with bullet journaling. Get creative and learn to use your mistakes or creatively cover them up. I particularly like to cover them with pretty paper or Washi tape and use it as though the mistake never happened, or sometimes I will just use a blackout marker and draw a big black banner over the mistake, then write over it with a white marker. If you can’t find a way to fix it, just cross it out and write a fun quote in about mistakes or something to turn it inspirational.
- Speaking of inspiration, incorporate inspirational things into your journal, everywhere. Never underestimate the power of language, words that are important and have a beautiful message can impact you in even the most subtle ways. I like to write messages that are motivating on every spread I make for the week, and I frequently will make a whole page just to write a quote in pretty lettering or draw something I find inspirational in.
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- Start with a pencil. As much as I honestly believe there are no “mistakes” in bullet journaling, the OCD part of my brain still obsesses over the line that isn’t perfectly straight when I meant it to be, or the doodle that looked way cuter in my head than on paper. If you happen to be a perfectionist, start with a pencil on your pages so you can get it the way you want it.
Just Start Your Bullet Journal
The wonderful thing about it is that you really can’t go wrong, no matter what you do.
I love the creative freedom that the bullet journal gives me and how I can keep everything going on in my head and my schedule all in one place. It allows me to be creative and works exactly like I need it to because I only fill it with the things I want and need!
I can keep everything all together, from my goals to memories of when my baby smiled for the first time, to songs I hear on the radio that I want to look up later. It is the glue that keeps my glittery life together.
Add Printable Habit Tracker Templates
Looking for cut and paste habit tracker templates for your new bullet journal? Awesome! Get your printable habit tracker templates, with spreads for 30 and 31 days.
I’m excited that I get to share my low-key (or major) obsession with bullet journaling and hope this step-by-step guide to starting a bullet journal has given you a few ideas to get out there and start creating!
Go beyond simple goal setting and planning this year, with ten-steps to slaying your goals.