How to start a bullet journal and change your life

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How to start a bullet journal and change your life

If you’ve been wondering how to start a bullet journal, then you are probably among the people who have heard about the practice’s life-changing effects. In fact, once you learn how to bullet journal, you may begin to wonder how you ever got along without it.

This bullet journal tutorial is designed specifically for the beginner who has heard about the technique and is excited to try it. You’ll discover how to use a bullet journal and how the entire process can be customized to suit your needs.

Pick and Choose the Right Bullet Journal Process for You

One of the most wonderful things about bullet journaling is that it is a modular system. That means that you can pick what works for you, leave out what doesn’t and modify anything so that you are set up for success. Setting up a bullet journal is as easy as getting a pen and a notebook.

Any notebook will do for your first experience with starting a bullet journal. The pages may be lined, a grid layout or blank. You may even try a notebook that has all sorts of pages like the Clever Fox Planner. It offers the perfect layouts for bullet journaling, and there is plenty of flexibility for you to make the system your own.Clever Fox planner

Using a planner like this one is a great idea for people who are just starting with bullet journaling because you don’t have to make all of your layouts from scratch. Many of the pages in this journal are designed perfectly for bullet journaling, and there are several dot-grid pages that are ideal for this practice.

When it comes to making a bullet journal for beginners, it’s essential to begin with an index and a key. The index makes it easy for you to find specific pages in your journal. The key to your journal is much like the key to a map. It tells you what the various symbols and colors that you choose mean.

The Index

If you’ve been wondering how to make a bullet journal, then this is a great place to start. The index can be the first page in your notebook. On it, you’ll maintain an ongoing list of the contents of the journal. When you add a new collection or project or other entry, you’ll number the pages, and then transfer the page numbers to the index. This way, you won’t have to spend any time shuffling through the entire notebook to find just one page.

Here is a totally simple and straightforward example of an index in a bullet journal for beginners:

 

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You also can get super detailed:

 

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This one uses color coding to indicate different categories of reminders and events:

 

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The Key

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Bullet journal creator Ryder Carroll suggests several symbols that you might use to denote certain tasks, events and notes. A dot “•” is used for tasks while a circle “O” is used for events. A simple dash “–” is used to indicate notes.

The text written next to each of these symbols typically is short and simple. Tasks are your “to-do” list while events are related to specific dates. Notes could be things that you observe, ideas you have or thoughts that you want to consider in greater depth at a later time.

Ryder Carroll doesn’t advocate keeping tasks, events and notes separated from each other. In fact, the idea of using a different symbol for each means that you can write them in an ongoing list without getting confused.

Other symbols that Carroll suggests using include the asterisk for priorities. Use this symbol on rare occasions because overuse blunts its impact. When you use an asterisk, make certain that it really means something. Carroll also recommends using exclamation points to mark those entries that represent critical insights, great ideas or affirmations.

Personalize Your Key

One of the best things about how to set up a bullet journal is that you can make it your own. If you don’t like the symbol ideas that Carroll recommends, you’re free to make up your own. Also, many people decide to use colors or stickers to denote certain tasks, events or projects.

For instance, you might use a different color ink for career entries than you do for personal entries. Some people use highlighters to indicate all of the many things that they track with their bullet journal. You could use a different color for your workouts, meal plans, house cleaning, social activities, work schedule and more. How to start bullet journal entries and keep track of them is entirely your choice.

Don’t worry about having all of the answers or about getting it “right.” Remember that when it comes to how to create a bullet journal, it’s really up to you. Your approach is all-but guaranteed to evolve as you get more comfortable with the process. You’ll let go of what doesn’t work for you and add things that help to keep you on track and productive.

Here is a fun and colorful key:

Here is an example in which someone created several personalized icons and grouped their key by the layouts in which each icon is used:

 

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In this key, the bullet journalist even tracks mood and the number of steps taken each day:

 

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The Future Log

Here is where you get to do some long-range planning. You can include anything you like, and the format is flexible. This means you can experiment until you find what works for you when you’re starting a bullet journal.

When it comes to how to create a bullet journal future log, you can let your imagination run wild. Feel free to include absolutely anything: your professional aspirations, your fitness goals, all of the good habits you plan to acquire and the travel adventures you’d like to enjoy.

It’s also possible to keep your future log really simple. It could be just pages that are headed with the month and year followed by a list of important dates.

Here is an example that includes a small monthly calendar, below which you can record events to remember:

 

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This is another one that keeps it simple. When you start bullet journal entries, just remember that you don’t have to be the artistic type.

 

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This example is proof that your bullet journal format can be absolutely anything that works for you:

 

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If you’re wondering how to do a bullet journal future log, you can keep things pretty basic:

Remember, basic doesn’t have to be boring. Sometimes it’s just functional.

The Monthly Layout

The monthly layout is a two-page spread where you can see everything that’s coming up in your life over the next few weeks. Usually, this includes a pre-printed blank calendar page, but you could opt to make a calendar in list form if that makes sense for you.

This is the place where you’ll keep track of planned events and tasks that you need to accomplish. Additionally, the monthly layout can be used to log events after they happen so that you remember when they occurred. Keep in mind that the monthly log is mainly for reference, so keep all of your entries short.

One of the best parts of the monthly layout is being able to record all of your tasks, goals and priorities for the month. A separate list on the monthly page is the best place for this. After all, you’re interested in how to start a bullet journal so that you can start leading a more organized and intentional life. This means that you’re bound to have goals you want to achieve and habits that you want to acquire.

This bullet journal format allows you to refer back to your monthly list on a regular basis. It’s a helpful reminder of what your goals are and what you want to get done during the month. At the end of each month, you’ll start working on the next monthly layout. This is the time when you’ll migrate certain goals and tasks to the next month as you continue working on them.

Here’s a great example where someone used an Egyptian motif to further personalize their monthly layout:

 

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Notice how this monthly layout employs plenty of artwork. This shows just how creative you can be with bullet journaling.

 

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This example is mostly plain-Jane and straightforward, but look how cute the addition of washi tape makes the layout:

 

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Here is an example of someone using a less-traditional monthly layout:

 

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The Weekly Layout

Some people prefer the weekly planning layout to the daily layout that is described below. You may find that you like to use both or that one layout is strongly preferred over the other. The weekly planning layout can contain just about anything that you’re tracking or need to remember.

For instance, this is a great place to list all of your appointments, meetings and events for the week. You may include the workouts that you do each day, keep a food diary or track your progress on the habits you’re working to acquire. It’s also possible to list a few quick notations about what’s coming up the following week and your goals for this week.

This is an example of a really detailed weekly layout:

 

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The fanciful artwork on this layout is really fun:

 

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This one is straightforward and easy to read. It’s also proof that you don’t have to be super creative when it comes to how to set up a bullet journal.

 

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With this example, it’s possible to see just how creative and individual your weekly layout can be:

 

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The Daily Layout

The daily entries are where you’ll make your detailed to-do lists and keep a more intricate record of what happens during the day. List each appointment and task, and log additional items as they come up throughout the day.

The traditional layout for the daily log includes the day’s date at the top of the page as the main topic. Below this, record all of your tasks, events and notes using the symbols that you defined in your key. Don’t forget to number each page and add it to your index so that you can easily find this date again.

Keep in mind that your ideas about setting up a bullet journal are bound to evolve over time. You are definitely going to go through a period of trial and error as you learn how to bullet journal. That’s perfectly fine because there’s not just one way to bullet journal.

Here is an incredibly simple daily log:

 

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In this example, more than one day is included on a single page:

 

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has all of the days of the week listed on one page:

 

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When it comes to setting up a bullet journal, this lady got really creative. Her use of stickers and ephemera really makes for a memorable layout.

Of course, you don’t have to get that fancy when it comes to how to use a bullet journal. Here’s a plainer, but no less attractive, example.

If you’ve been wondering how to start a bullet journal, then hopefully this guide has been a useful bullet journal tutorial. Remember that when it comes to setting up bullet journal entries, there are not many rules to follow. Some people get really creative by using a blank notebook with stickers, colored pens and plenty of artwork, but that’s not a requirement for how to make a bullet journal. A well-designed planner with some dot-grid pages may be the perfect answer to get you started in the right direction.