Bullet Journaling: What Is It?

by - April 14, 2018

You are probably here because you have seen beautiful bullet journal layouts on Pinterest, or because you heard that bullet journaling is an amazing organization system that you can use to put your whole life in order. Does bullet journaling actually work?

Bullet Journaling: What Is It?

I have been bullet journaling for two years now, and I can say, "Yes, it does work!". Bullet journaling is not for everyone though. It could work for everyone because it can be extremely creative to completely minimalist, but it takes work. The great thing about this system is that the style is entirely up to you!

How the Bullet Journal was Started

The bullet journal system was created by Ryder Carroll. The official bullet journal website is a good place to start your bullet journaling journey because then you can see what bullet journaling is all about without all of the extras added in.

Bullet Journaling: What Is It?

What is a Bullet Journal?

A bullet journal in its simplest form is basically a homemade planner. It can be so much more than that though. People use bullet journals to organize their lives, be creative, to remember the memories they don't want to forget, practice their drawing skills, and more.

Bullet Journal Supplies

All you need to get started for your first bullet journal is a notebook and a writing instrument. I started out my first bullet journal in a composition notebook I had lying around my house. My first spreads were messy, but that is okay. You can see some of my very first bullet journal layouts here. (It makes me cringe just to think about them, but then you can see that my first spreads weren't perfect. My spreads now aren't perfect either!) If your first spreads are messy, it is totally fine because they will improve with time.

1. A Notebook

Most people in the bullet journal community use dot-page notebooks (Notebooks with small grey dots, that act as general guidelines but don't stand out.), but others use grid-page notebooks, lined notebooks, or even notebooks with blank pages.

I recommend starting out in a cheap journal you already have, but if you really want to buy a bullet journal, then you should take a look at the bullet journal I am using currently. I bought it for under $10 and I really like it! When starting a bullet journal, you don't want to buy a lot of supplies, in case you don't like it, and stop using it. That would be a waste of your money!

2. A Writing Instrument

After you find a notebook, it is time to pick out a writing utensil. When you are starting your bullet journal, just pick out one writing instrument. If you are afraid of making mistakes, then you can use a pencil. If you don't care about making mistakes, then just find a pen that you like to write with.

It is important to find a writing instrument you like because if you don't like it, then you won't be very likely to write in your journal. After you have been bullet journaling for a while, then you can start to add other pens and markers to your bullet journal collection.

Now it is time to get started!

Bullet Journaling: What Is It?

Starting Your First Bullet Journal

This is the fun part! You can look for some inspiration for your bullet journal, but it is best to keep the decorations minimal at first. For the first page, I write my name and contact information (For just in case I lose it!). You might also choose to write a quote, or the date, or a simple drawing.

The key is to start out simple. If you start out by making a lot of collections and trackers, then you might not be able to keep up with it, and then you will stop using your bullet journal altogether, which is what happened to me, the first time I tried out the bullet journal system. Luckily, after using a ring-bound planner for a while, I went back to the bullet journal system and tried again.You can read about my bullet journal journey in this post here.

Below is a list of the basic pages you can add to your notebook.

  • The Index - The index is a reference page, which you can go to, to find important layouts in your journal.
  • The Key - The key is a list of the signifiers you use in your journal. Right now, I am not using a key in my bullet journal, because I like to use different signifiers in my bullet journal for different layouts, but in the beginning, you will want to use a key until you know what each symbol means.
  • The Future Log - A list of everything you need to do in future months.
  • The Monthly Log - The two images above, show what some of my previous monthly layouts have looked like.
  • The Weekly Log - A layout that shows everything you need to do for the week.
  • The Daily Log - A layout that shows everything you need to do for the day.
  • Collections - Pages that help you keep track of things on one layout. Start out with just a few collection pages or else they will become too much to keep up with. Some collection ideas are shown below.
    • Books to Read
    • Project Ideas
    • Bullet Journal Layout Ideas
    • Running To-Do List
    • Monthly Challenges
    • Highlights of the Year
    • Bucket List
    • Things to do When Bored

There are tons of collection pages out there, and you definitely don't need all of them. Start out with around five collection layouts and add a few every month after that (If you want to add more). This post has 36 bullet journal layout ideas to get you started.

You will want to experiment with your layouts, to see what you like best. For example, I use monthly layouts and weekly layouts, but I don't use daily layouts because I don't have enough going on to fill up a whole bullet journal page every day.

Bullet Journaling: What Is It?

A Few Bullet Journal Tips

1. Keep it Simple

I know I already talked about this, but it is the key to being consistent in your bullet journal. After you have been using your bullet journal for a while, then you can start to add more decorations to it.

2. Mistakes are Okay

I make mistakes in my bullet journal on almost every page, but I have learned to live with it. When I make a mistake, I use a white gel pen to cover it up. If you are afraid of making mistakes, then you can always use a pencil first and then pen afterward. I do this sometimes.

3. Try Not to be a Perfectionist

Just like the tip above, your layouts don't need to be perfect, and if you try to make every layout perfect, then it will take a lot longer to make every layout, and it won't be as fun.

4. The Bullet Journal System is Different for Everyone

My bullet journal system is different, then every other bullet journal out there and that is totally okay. What works for me might not work for you, which is why you need to experiment to see what you like best.

Your bullet journal style will also evolve over time as you get more supplies and you try out new things.

5. It is Okay to Take Breaks

Sometimes you just need to take a break. If your bullet journal isn't working for you, then it is okay to take a day off, a week off, or even a year off. :)

When you come back to your bullet journal, if you do (The bullet journal system is not for everyone.), then you can start right back up where you left off, without any wasted pages.

Bullet Journaling Resources

I hope you liked this post, and that it helped you start your bullet journal! If you did, then below are some more resources you can use.




Start today! You don't need to wait until the start of the month or even the beginning of the year. I started my first bullet journal at the end of March.

Good luck! I would love to see what your bullet journal looks like so leave a picture in the comments below. :)
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Bullet Journaling: What Is It?

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