So you’ve decided that it’s time to make a Bullet Journal? Good choice! Bullet Journals are both a flexible productivity tool and a wonderful creative outlet all wrapped into one. In the following article, we are going to briefly describe what a Bullet Journal is, who may benefit from using one, and the supplies needed. Then we will go through a step-by-step tutorial on how to make a Bullet Journal. Sound good? Okay, let’s get started.
So What is a Bullet Journal?
A Bullet Journal is a combination of a to-do list, a planner, a diary, and a sketchbook that incorporates a rapid logging system.
The beauty of the Bullet Journal is its simplicity and flexibility. You can customize it to your own specific needs and make it as simple or as involved as you’d like. It’s completely up to you!
The supplies needed to create a Bullet Journal are minimal and the process is simple.
The Bullet Journal concept was created by digital product designer and author, Ryder Carroll. You can see his video tutorial here and find his website here.
Also, we found a good article that sums up how Bullet Journals can be a real game changer for your productivity.
Who is a Bullet Journal good for?
Bullet Journals can really be used by anyone but may be good for people who:
- Want to be more organized
- Have lots of lists or like to-do lists
- Need a creative an outlet
- Have limited time but want to have one place to keep tasks
- Have limited time, lots of time, or anywhere in between
- Want one place for everything – notes, trackers, thoughts, stories, doodling, or whatever their heart desires
- Have a love for stationery, pens, scrapbooking
- Need a digital detox
Bullet Journal Supplies
- notebook (see more specific requirements below)
- writing tools (pens, pencils, markers)
Yup – that’s right! That’s it. Just three items needed to make your Bullet Journal. If you want to get fancy, you could of course incorporate more crafty supplies (like washi tape, fancy markers, etc.) as well but as a busy mom, I like to keep it simple.
Bullet Journal Notebook Requirements
It is suggested but not required to use a notebook that has graph paper in it or one that has dot grids. This gives you flexibility but still gives guidance so you can keep things tidy. This is suggested but not required.
Also, it does help if the pages are numbered. You can number pages yourself if you’d like, but purchasing a notebook that is already numbered might make the setup process quicker.
It’s also suggested that you use a notebook that is not too big or too small. If it’s too big you may not carry it around and one that is too small doesn’t have enough room for content.
The truth though is really any notebook could become a Bullet Journal.
Elements of a Bullet Journal?
There is really no right or wrong way to create a Bullet Journal. Below is a list of some of the main elements of a typical Bullet Journal. As you become more familiar with the method there are endless features you can create and incorporate into your journal. You can even come up with some of your own.
- Rapid Logging System
- Yearly Calendar
- Monthly Calendar & List
- Daily Log
- Habit Trackers
- Future Log
Let’s go over the steps of how to incorporate each of these elements to create your Bullet Journal.
How to Create a Bullet Journal
Create Your Rapid Logging System
A rapid logging system is essentially a series of symbols that function as a key for logging entries quickly into your bullet journal.
Each symbol represents a certain type of entry (notes, events, to-do items, etc.) There are some standard rapid logging system symbols.
In addition to symbols for types of entries, there are also symbols to indicate the status of a particular task. You can use symbols to show;
- if a task has been completed
- still pending
- needs to be migrated to the next month.
- Symbols for emphasis or priority (like a star or exclamation point).
There are lots of different ideas for Rapid Logging Systems. Below is a picture of my rapid log key for reference. You could use a standard one, my example (above), or create your very own.
The entries are kept short and concise. Also, entries are not logged in any particular order. Just get it down on the paper.
This flexibility is huge for me because I often don’t have time or energy to plan how to create my entries. I just need to jot them down and quickly. Do you feel me on this one?
On days or events that I am feeling particularly creative, I can add more detailed entries or even doodle. When I don’t have time, I can just log my entries quickly.
Create a Bullet Journal Index
The next step is to create a Bullet Journal Index. This is an Index that lists all of the important pages of your journal so you can find the contents easily. This is the reason it’s important to have the journal pages numbered. If you don’t have a journal where the pages are already numbered make sure to do that now.
You don’t have to have the entire Index figured out in the beginning. Just start an Index on one page and leave a few extra pages to continue the index as you continue to use your journal. As you fill your Bullet Journal, then you can add the content to the Index.
Here’s the beginning of my Index for reference.
Create Your Yearly Calendar
The next step is to create your yearly calendar. I did a very simple version of this by creating columns for each day of the week marked by their first letter and put the corresponding number dates in sequence. I did this for all the remaining months. There are really infinite ways that you can do this depending on your needs.
Create your Bullet Journal Monthly Calendars and Lists
There are so many different layouts to create a monthly calendar that works for you. The one I show below is just an example of how I do my own. I do a monthly spread with one horizontal page with a grid of the month and another page just listing different items that I need to do that month.
There are lots of design variations that you can do. I like to keep mine simple. Do whatever works for you.
It is also helpful to leave a page for the Monthly “To-Do” List to put entries for various tasks that need to be accomplished for the month.
Also, some people like to make all of the Monthly Calendar Pages when they are setting up their journal. That is completely up to you. I just do one month at a time.
Enter Your Daily Logs
This is really the meat and the workhorse of the Bullet Journal! Use your rapid logging system to quickly input your entries for the day. Thankfully you can do this in any order. That helps me a ton!
I also write notes about interesting things that happened on a particular day, thoughts or ideas come to mind, interesting quotes that I like, or anything else I wish to note.
Bullet Journal Trackers
There are an infinite amount of trackers that you can incorporate into your Bullet Journal:
- Daily Trackers for Habits
- Budget Tracking for Finances
- Gratitude List
- Meal Planner
- Food Tracking
- Goal Tracking
The options are endless. I personally like to leave pages also for inspiring quotes that I come across, a list of memories that I want to remember, and a list of books that I have read.
Some people like to put the trackers in the back of the notebook. That way they can add more as they see fit. Eventually, then the logs and the trackers meet in the middle.
That’s why this system is so great because whatever it is important and necessary for you can be incorporated into the Bullet Journal.
Create Your Future Log
The one drawback that people find to using a Bullet Journal as opposed to a traditional pre-made planner is that you can not record items for specific future dates that have not yet been created.
One solution for this in the Bullet Journal setting a section called the “Future Log.” It’s where you list anything in the future that’s coming up. Once the corresponding month and day have been created you can migrate the entry there. So far it has not posed a problem for me.
The Options Are Endless
There really are endless options for your Bullet Journal. That’s what makes it so great – you completely adapt it to your needs. Also, nothing is set in stone so if something isn’t working for you – change it! You need something else – add it!
In my own personal Bullet Journal journey, I like to keep things fun but rather simple. I use different colored gel pens to add some color but keep the layouts simple and do the logging quickly. Although at heart I’m a very artsy kind of gal, at this stage in life I just don’t have the time to dedicate to making every page a work of art. When I do have time or just get a sudden rush of inspiration I do take a little more time to be creative.
So go ahead and give it a try! It might just change your life as it did mine.
If you make your own Bullet Journal tell us how you like it in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.
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