bullet journal

Bullet Journal Beginner’s Guide

I started my first bullet journal on January 1, 2017. Well, to be honest, I sort of started a few months before that. I heard about it and googled it and planned to start doing it for a few months. I told my BFF about it so she’d start it with me, and shopped for supplies. Basically, I did a lot of “bullet journaling” before ever actually doing any. Now that I’m in year two, I recommend skipping that part and just diving in. In this post, I’ll include all the basics to get you started plus some tips I’ve picked up along the way. Then, it’s up to you to start and figure out what works best for your journaling style!

A bullet journal is made up of a few main areas and is a combination of note-taking space, tracker, and journal. The recommended areas to include are:

  • Index
  • Future Log
  • Monthly Log
  • Weekly/Daily Entries
  • Collections

The Index in a Bullet Journal

Create an index on the first few pages of your journal. (Some journals may have a dedicated space there for this, or you can simply make your own.) This space is for tracking where everything is, since it’s easy to lose track of things once you’ve got several months worth of content in your journal. In your index, add page numbers and short descriptions of what’s on each page.

A Future Log for your Bullet Journal

The Future Log is a broad look at your year and it’s especially great for tracking things months in advance (before you’ve made any pages for the month where the item belongs). I tend to track big picture things here, like work trips and vacations (which are often planned several months in advance), holidays, and any other little notes I want to remember but don’t have a place for yet.

Your Bullet Journal’s Monthly Spreads

The Monthly Log helps organize your months. It most often includes a calendar and task list. The calendar gives you an overview of your month, while the task list is a great place to list out things you want to accomplish for the month before you’re able to assign them to a more specific timeframe, like a specific day. Many people reserve two pages, called a spread, for this. I change mine up each month, but often end up with the dates listed on the left page and some form of a task list and inspiration or focus for the month on the right page.

Including Weekly/Daily Spreads in your BuJo

Your weekly and daily pages can be as simple or complicated as you like. Some people simply write the date, then fill up however many lines they need for that day, then the following day they skip one line and start again. I like to dress mine up a little bit more (but not much) so I tend to draw out one week at a time divided between two pages.

This is also a good time to establish a key if you’ll use any sort of signifiers. I use a square for to do list items I want to check off, and a circle for events or appointments. I also use a simple bullet point or a little heart to add additional notes (often just things I want to remember, but don’t need checking off). Like every other part of the bullet journal, this key can be as complicated or simple as you want. If you search “bullet journal key” on Pinterest, you’ll see lots of examples to inspire you, including color coded options, which seem like they’d be great if you need to divide up your tasks and plans further, like between things specific to work or school.

Bullet Journal Collections

This is where you add any other bits of info you want in your bullet journal. These pages are great for tracking things, making lists, and otherwise organizing your life outside of the calendar pages. Here are some collection page ideas to get you started thinking about what you might like to include in your journal: a list of books read or tv shows to watch, a habit tracker, an exercise log, meal planning or a food log, a spending or savings log, and your current wishlist.

A few of my favorite collections pages to create:

  • Travel Details: I like to create a new page for every trip I go on. I add the details as I get them, including the flight details, hotel, restaurant ideas, and activities I want to do. After the trip, I update the page with a short description of how it went.
  • Home Projects: Last year, I acted as the contractor for my kitchen renovation. Over the course of the project I use several pages in my bullet journal to track the progress. I made the initial to do list, mapped out the budget, and added notes about the progress (and my excitement) as it came together.
  • Blogging and Podcasting: I create pages for my blog and podcast projects. It’s nice to have a spot to jot down ideas and make plans for personal projects that feel good to keep up with but generally won’t automatically get the same attention as your work.

Start Your Bullet Journal Now

That’s it! Grab a blank notebook, your favorite pen, and get started.

If you get into bullet journaling, I’d love to see yours! Join me over on Instagram where I share bits of my journal and send me a note so I can check yours BuJo out too!

about sarah, technology & web

Homescreen, November 1

My iPhone 6s homescreen, as of this morning:

My homescreen on November 1

Clearly, I really like a lot of Google apps, but I also like Apple’s hardware & iOS, so I use them together. 😀

Details on a few the stand out apps (that you may not already be using):

SIMPLENOTE

My favorite for simple notes, natch. It syncs perfectly between my iPhone, Google Nexus tablet, and MacBook, so I’ve got all of my notes no matter which one I’m on. (Note: I’m using the beta app since it’s an Automattic product, so the one you download will have more white than blue on the icon.)

NEWSGIF

News delivered via gif is possibly a bit strange, but my gif loving heart appreciates it anyway.

YNAB

If you haven’t given YNAB a try for budgeting, I highly recommend it! It’s not automated, so it takes some configuring and you have to maintain it, but that’s one of the brilliant things about it — It forces you to be a whole lot more aware of where all of your money is going. The idea is to give every dollar a job (whether that’s paying a bill, going into savings, or covering a surprise car repair) and it aims to help you pay for this month’s expenses with last month’s paychecks.

SIMPLE

A fantastic app for the debit card I use for all of my fun spending. (It buys a lot of books & takes me to movies, basically.) It’s simple, easy to use, and the goal setting feature is my fav. Highly recommend!

PAPRIKA

I recently started adding recipes in here and it works really well. At first I as put off by having to buy the app for every device separately (instead of one price = use where ever), but after using it, I have to admit it’s worth it. I’ve tried several other apps (both free & paid) and this one’s definitely the best.

CLUE

Ladies: Track your cycle! This is inching into TMI territory for what kind of personal info I normally like to share about myself online, so I’ll just say: It’s great & you learn things about your body once you’ve got some data to back up your hunches. (Hi, I get headaches when I ovulate.)

WORDPRESS

Since I’m a Happiness Engineer for WordPress.com, I use this one every day. And with all of that use, I love it! It makes blogging from my phone easy (and will work for you, whether you’re using WordPress.com or hosting your own WP site), and I love it for checking alerts and browsing through my reader to check out what other people are posting. It’s a great app & is getting better all the time.

ALSO RECOMMEND

A password management app (like LastPass or 1Password), and using 2-step verification whenever possible (which is what the Google Authenticator app helps me with).


If you’ve got recommendations for other apps I should try out, LMK! I’ll share some of the apps on my other screens sometime soon too. 🙂