Beginner’s Guide to a Bullet Journal


I love my planners, journals, and calendars. I love my pens, washi tape, and post-its.

Don’t we all?

A few months ago, I stumbled upon a phenomena known as the bullet journal. And it was a life-changing discovery. The bullet journal is to obsessive organizers as the fountain of youth was to Ponce de León. It’s what we’ve all been looking for all of lives, even if we didn’t realize it. The bullet journal is that elusive game-changer that quickly becomes a necessity, and I’m here to show you what it is. Because it’s awesome.


Before I dive in, I just want to say that the bullet journal is yours. Don’t let me, or anyone else, tell you there’s a right or wrong way to have one. Figure out what works for you, and embrace it. There are hundreds of different spreads on Instagram and Pinterest, so find what you enjoy. This beginner’s guide will introduce you to the bullet journal and show you how I arrange mine.


Any journal can do, so don’t feel compelled to buy a specific journal. Many people prefer the dotted layout, but there’s nothing wrong with grid or lined. I would not recommend using a plain sheet journal, at least not initially. More or less, whatever you decide you want to use can work! However, there are some favorites in the bullet journal world that I’ll mention.


This was the first bullet journal I bought, and my very first moleskin. I chose a small/medium sized softcover with dotted pages. Later on, for a different purpose, I bought a medium sized hardcover with lined pages. I prefer the hardcover because I like the slightly larger size, the elastic band for closure, and the pages seem thicker. However, the pages bleed quite a bit, which is a big con for me.


For whatever reason, this is the journal that everyone raves about. Since I have never used one, I can’t tell you whether it’s worth tracking one down and paying the price. Because as far as I know, it’s near impossible to find one in stores. They do sell on Amazon and have multiple color and page options. These journals also come with an index and numbered pages! Which brings us to our next point…



The index is arguably your most important part of the bullet journal. It is your compass and your GPS. Do not neglect the index, as I continue to do. I spend too much time flipping through pages because I’m bad about keeping this part updated.

Every entry in your bullet journal is considered a collection. Weekly tasks, grocery lists, drawings, ideas, book lists, thoughts. When you’re filling out your index, it’s helpful to record collections as such. For example, “Drawings: 5, 12-13, 22” is how that would be recorded in the index.

So yes, everything is part of a collection. This is what the creator behind the bullet journal (Ryder Carroll) intended, and it makes sense to me. As I stated before, feel free to experiment with your journal to find what process makes the most sense to you!



The key is everything you need it to be. There are some common keys that I’ve found the most helpful.

 • Note

○ Event

□ Task

X Task Cancelled

> Task Migrated

! Urgent

* Remember


Another prominent and unique feature of the bullet journal is the Future Log. This is a place, usually placed in the beginning, for future plans and happenings. This is a place to put events you intend on accomplishing, but you’re not sure when.

For example, “buy new desk chair”, “hire personal trainer”, “research Brexit”, etc. things you actively intend on doing at some unspecified time.

The Monthly Log more or less serves the same function as the monthly spread in your standard planner. There are so many ways that people decide to organize their monthly logs. For my monthly logs, I like to use them as a gratitude spread, and write something from the day I’m grateful for.


The Daily Log is also similar in concept to standard planners. Some people like having all seven days on one spread, while others include however many days that will fit.



I’ve covered the basics of the bullet journal, now the rest is up to you! There are a few things to keep in mind as you start your own bullet journal.

  • Don’t worry about making it look perfect–seriously
  • Do what works for you! If it’s not practical, you won’t keep it up
  • Make it look how you want it to

Do you use a bullet journal? Let me know in the comments!

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