Bullet Journal Ideas: How to Start a Bullet Journal

Bullet journaling has been a hot trend for a few years now, and it’s developed it’s own cult-like fanbase of #BUJO fanatics. While it’s not necessarily complicated, you do need to understand a few basic concepts before you dive in and start a bullet journal on your own.

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May 04, 2020

Photo By: Courtesy of twolittlepossums on Etsy

Photo By: Nicole Caudle

Photo By: Kamila, @bujo_corner

Photo By: @abulletjournaladay

Photo By: HGTV Handmade

Photo By: @yikesjournal

Photo By: @yikesjournal

Photo By: Lisa, @feather.eaux

Photo By: HGTV Handmade

Photo By: HGTV Handmade

Photo By: @abulletjournaladay

Photo By: HGTV Handmade

Photo By: @abulletjournaladay

Photo By: Lisa, @feather.eaux

Photo By: @abulletjournaladay

Photo By: HGTV Handmade

Photo By: HGTV Handmade

Photo By: Lisa, @feather.eaux

Photo By: Kamila, @bujo_corner

Photo By: @abulletjournaladay

Photo By: Kamila, @bujo_corner

Photo By: HGTV Handmade

Photo By: HGTV Handmade

What Is Bullet Journaling?

Dubbed “the analog system for the digital age” by inventor and author Ryder Carroll, bullet journaling aims to simplify the planning process to the bare-boned basics. Diagnosed with learning disabilities at an early age, Carroll was driven to develop a way to focus on tasks and remain productive, all while practicing mindfulness. Unlike other planner systems that encourage stickers and washi tape, bullet journaling combines organization, intention and reflective writing. Carroll's book, "The Bullet Journal Method," outlines the basics on the BuJo trend.

Who Should Bullet Journal?

As the name implies, bullet journaling uses bullet points as the core structure rather than lengthy, detailed reminders. Outside of being an organizational system, bullet journaling gives people a way to keep up with life in a productive and meaningful way. And while bullet journaling might not be for everyone, it’s great for those who love making lists, tracking progress and have a mild stationery-related obsession. Plus, BuJo purists say all you need is a notebook and pen to get started.

More Ideas: 12 Unique Planners + Journals to Help You Crush Personal Goals This Year

Bullet Journaling Is All About You

Bullet journaling allows you to combine elements of other planner systems, such as calendars, to-do lists, trackers and wish lists all into one. And since you create each page, there’s a lot of flexibility to turn your bullet journal into exactly what you want and need it to be.

Bullet Journal Setup

Bullet journaling usually consists of three main parts: an index, tracker logs and lists. Start your bullet journal with a fun index page or drawing, similar to a table of contents. The middle of the journal is usually reserved for daily or monthly logs and calendars. And the last section is often referred to as a compilation of lists. To help get you started, check out the next slides for a collection of bullet journal themes.

Set Those Daily Goals

Sometimes referred to as a "future log,” tracker pages help keep up with daily, weekly and monthly goals. Try breaking up your days into time periods like morning, afternoon and evening. This system will make completing those tasks much more manageable.

Wrangle Weekly Plans

Weekly themes are some of the most popular bullet journal ideas. This idea from Instagram user @yikesjournal mixes in lots of colorful calligraphy with calming, beautiful photos. The two-page spread also features a section for weekend to-dos and due-soon items.

Monthly Milestones Managed

A monthly future log helps to keep track of longer to-dos. This idea maps out the month in a calendar format with two specific sections for monthly events and goals.

Year At-A-Glance

It's never a bad idea to have a master calendar in your bullet journal. This simple year-at-a-glance theme pairs a neat black-and-white design with monthly grids and a calligraphy hello welcoming in the new year.

Don't Forget Yearly Resolutions

BuJo fans often dedicate the first page after the index to big, yearly goals. Halfway through the year and your journal? Don’t worry — you can dedicate any page in your journal to annual goals.

No Missed Birthday Surprises

Keep up with family and friends' birthdays using a colorful tracker page. Draw in monthly banners, add balloons and special dates to complete the look.

Gratitude Every Day

There's always a little something to be grateful for. This #BUJO theme aims to focus on gratitude with a line for every day of the month.

Keep It Clean

Keeping track of chores in your bullet journal doesn’t have to be one. Gather up those cleaning supplies and get inspired with this themed page designed to help you tackle all that vacuuming and oven cleaning.

Motivated Movement

This workout challenge is a great way to keep track of activity and daily exercise progress. Plus, the little monthly guide at the bottom right helps to motivate movement each day.

Make (Or Break) Habits

Keep up with the habits you'd like to focus on, or let go of, with this colorful and detailed tracker by Insta user @feather.eaux. Make a block for the month beneath each habit and check the box for each day. That floss tracker is a must!

Organize a Weekend Getaway

Hit the road with a plan. This one-page weekend getaway idea by Instagram user @abulletjournaladay outlines what you'll need for the trip, activities to do while in transit and a section for things to do once you arrive.

Get Packing

Planning for any trip can be a little overwhelming if you don’t have a solid packing list. From clothing to toiletries, this themed page categorizes all those on-the-go essentials.

Dream Travel Wish List

Right up there with annual goals, you can also use your bullet journal to create wish lists. One popular page theme is dream travel spots. This idea uses banners to call out action items associated with specific locations.

Penny for (All) Your Thoughts

Put all those wandering ideas on the page with this fun — and trendy — brain dump theme. This idea uses a bit of washi tape and a bright blueberry pattern for a pop of color, leaving the middle of the page blank for freestyle jotting.

Mood(y) Moon Tracker

This moody black and gold tracker by Insta user @bujo_corner uses the moon as a daily mood guide. Look back on the month with a moon for every day and every feeling.

Halloween Mood Board

Keep track of all those moody, spooky Halloween vibes with a dedicated mood board. This idea uses pictures for inspiration, from fall decor to party food ideas. Bonus: This idea could work great as a costume idea tracker, too!

Season of Giving

Get a handle on holiday shopping with a gift list theme. Add recipient names to a two-page spread and fill in with gift ideas as you get them.

Punch Up Your BuJo With Pics

Don't have extra time to draw on the pages of your bullet journal? Try adding a few pictures to create a fun, visual reminder. Use a larger photo to create a cover page or add a few smaller ones to your daily entry page and let the pictures do all the talking.

All the Lovely Things

Mix in some memories with a bullet journal theme page that's all about the things you love. From travel to movies, recipes to poetry, this themed page dedicates two side-by-side pages with the main topic in the middle surrounded by perfect little circles filled with topical faves.

Accessories to Get You Going

While you only need a basic journal and pen to get started, you might crave a bit more creative flair as your bullet journal enjoyment grows. Choose a dotted journal to fit your needs — the sky’s the limit on color, size and layout.

Buy It: Etsy.com, $12.99

A Classic Fave

Some BuJo enthusiasts prefer the look and feel of a classic Moleskine notebook with a hard (or soft) cover, hidden back pocket and elastic band.

Buy It: Target.com, $19.99

All About Fancy Pens

As you get more experienced, and your bullet journal obsession grows, you might want to add a bit more color to the pages. Extra fine tip, multicolor pens are always a hit — just be sure to grab the ones with smear-free ink.

Buy It: Amazon.com, $12.52

Make Those Pages Pop

Many bullet journal themes incorporate watercolors. Pick up some watercolor brush pens or paints and add a splash of color to those daily to-dos and monthly reminders.

Buy It: Amazon.com, $15.99

Pocket-Sized Precision

Make lists with perfectly straight lines every time. This cool little tool is super easy to use and only the size of a credit card. Use the protractor feature for A+ angles, or start your index page with perfect, bulleted triangles.

Buy It: Amazon.com, $8.95

Craving a Little Calligraphy

Add some flow to the pages of your bullet journal with faux calligraphy. If your cursive is a little rusty, practice writing a chosen word or phrase on a scratch piece of paper before putting ink to the page.

Learn More: Write Like a Lettering Pro With This Faux Calligraphy Hack

Courses to Keep Learning

Keep that creative spark going. Learn a new skill or brush up on an old one with these online courses designed for basic hand lettering, watercolor painting and, you guessed it, bullet journaling.

Learn More: 9 Creative Online Courses to Gift This Year

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