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How to Start A Bullet Journal for BuJo Newbies


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bullet journal notebook
If you’ve been searching for a way to be more efficient, organized, and have a system to help you bring more meaning to your life, then it’s quite possible bullet journaling can help. Bullet journal notebooks have become extremely popular, and so we’ve created this guide to help you learn more.

Carrol Ryder, the creator of the “Bullet Journal”, developed a method for “tracking the past, organizing the present, and preparing for the future”. Ryder struggled with ADHD and other learning disabilities from a young age and found a way to organize his thoughts, keep track of his obligations, and review his goals, now known as Ryder’s Method.

This is a synopsis of the method he has outlined. However, one of the great things about bullet journaling is you have the freedom to do whatever you like to tweak and perfect the basic method in order to customize a system that specifically fits you.

Keeping a bullet journal is more than keeping a planner. A bullet journal allows you to brainstorm, prioritize, track your emotions/feelings, and update your goals, effectively creating the best layout for your future. Below is a step-by-step guide for creating a DIY bullet journal.

Starting a Bullet Journal (BuJo)

Pick Out a Note Book

Starting a bullet journal notebook is incredibly easy. You can use any notebook you choose. It can be college or wide ruled or have a grid layout. Choose a journal with a cover you like and a size that is convent for you to keep in your purse or backpack, so you have it with you most of the time.

Make an Index

While there are several ways to start bullet journaling the most common is to start with an index. Open your journal to the first two-page spread. Title each page “Index”. As you move forward you will number your pages and title them accordingly, and then log them into your index. By creating an index as you move through your bullet journal you are given flexibility to work within your own layout.

Create A Future Log

Estimate approximately how long you want to be writing in this specific journal (six months is standard). Then, on the next open page spread divide the pages into columns or grids and title them with the names of the next months.

For example, if you create a future log for six months, divide each page into three sections, each section designated to a month. Then, just write the events, goals, and “to-do items” that correspond with the month.

This is just a brief overview of the large items on your to-do list or big events. This will be your future log. Add the corresponding page numbers to your index.

Monthly Log

Once again, turn to the next open spread. On the first page, title the page as the current month and then list the days of the month, going down the page (line by line), with the first letter of the day of the week next to the number.

On the second page, title that page the name of the current month as well. Then, list all the things that you would like to accomplish for that month, as well as major events happening that month. This gives you a brief overview (but still more detailed than the future log) of the direction you would like the next month to go.

You can create a monthly log for each month ahead of time, altogether, or you can create your monthly log right before the next month begins. Many people like to create their monthly log just prior to the next month when they have a clear idea of what they would like to accomplish. Also, the monthly log is meant to be more detailed than the future log. Then add your monthly log page numbers into your index.

Daily Log

Flipping to the next page, you will start your daily log. This is where you will keep track of the information that is most important to you on a daily basis.

Start at the top of the page and write the day of the week and the date if you like. Then begin to jot down your to-do list, facts that you find interesting or need to remember and events or appointments for that day.

This system is extremely flexible. Don’t worry if you miss a day or two, just start up again wherever your last daily log left off. The daily log system allows you more flexibility since you are not writing in already set spaces. You can adjust on your own terms if you need more or less space to write your notes, and you are not bothered by blank space staring at you if you do not keep up every day.

Also, you can interrupt the pages of your daily log to create other useful spreads or log important information.

Rapid Logging

Rapid Logging is the method that the bullet journal adheres to. Carroll explains that the method consists of “four components: topics, page numbers, short sentences, and bullets”.

Topics and page numbers allow you to stay organized by finding information easily (such as referring to the index). When writing down your thoughts, listing your to-do lists, and keeping track of appointments; keeping it short and simple gets the job done and reduces a lot of the extra work and the high expectations.

Journaling can be insightful and detailed, but to get the most out of the experience, consistency is key. If you are able to jot down your thoughts, appointments, and events on a daily basis you can still stay organized and stay in touch with your thoughts, feelings, and aspirations easily and you are still allowed to go into further detail at anytime you like.


Bullets help you keep track of the items on your to-do list with a few different “categorizations”.

The simple bullet, or dot ( “.”) marks things on your to-do list or actionable items. When you have completed a task, you can put an “x” through the bullet. If you find that a task keeps appearing on your daily list, you can decide to “migrate” the task. If you would like to still accomplish this task go ahead and move the task to the next month, you can go ahead and place it into your future log. Then you can remind yourself that that task has migrated by placing a “>” symbol (right arrow) next to it.

If you would like to move a task backwards, in the instance that you listed a task that has a due date far into the future, you can choose to move the task into your future log. You can indicate this with a left arrow, a “<” symbol. If a task happens to be especially important, you can place a star symbol “*” next to the task. This star, along with other symbols are called signifiers.

Open circles indicate events. Open circles can indicate appointments that are scheduled with a set time, or they can be events that are documented after they occur.

The rapid logging system does not place emphasis on any particular event. A scheduled “doctor’s appointment” is logged the same as “signed mortgage on new home”. You can always journal in a separate entry if you would like to write down your feelings or commemorate a memory.

Dashes indicate thoughts, random pieces of information, or notes. Keep these as brief and to the point as you can as well. If further information is needed you can journal further in a different entry.

Bullet Journal Tips

A few tips for when you are first starting out on your bullet journal journey:

Create a Routine – Find a time that works best for you and try to schedule journaling for that time. Schedule it in your bullet journal! First thing in the morning or before bed at night are popular times; this way you can prepare the next day the evening before or start your morning with intention.

Don’t Sweat it if You Don’t Journal Every Day – A Bullet journal is meant to be flexible. You reap the most benefits if you journal every day, but bullet journaling is very forgiving. This allows you to focus on what you are doing instead of what you aren’t doing.

Don’t be a Perfectionist – Reiterating the point that the practice of journaling is meant to benefit you when you do something right, not bring attention to your short-comings or become another chore that is on your to-do list. Also, be flexible. Learn what works best for you. If something is not working for you, scrap it and start over.

Bullet Journal Ideas

  • Create Habit and Mood Trackers – Create habit trackers or mood trackers. This practice allows you to stay up to date on the current trends in your life.
  • Create Time Block Schedules – You can even color coordinate! This allows you to proactively schedule your time and make what matters to you a priority. As well as observe where your time goes and identify any time-wasting activities.
  • Journal with Journaling Prompts – With journaling, it’s sometimes difficult to get your thoughts flowing, and having a subject, theme or idea can help to get you started. In these cases, journaling prompts can be very helpful. Simply peruse the list to find ideas that seem the most interesting to you, and then start writing. There is a variety of journaling prompts ranging from self-discovery, self-care, introspection, and creativity.
  • Keep Lots of Collections – Collections are ongoing lists of information that you update frequently. Examples of collections are potential books to read, bucket lists, and favorite foods.
  • Create a Random Information Page – Write down random pieces of information such as phone numbers, names, passwords, and other pieces of information that you will most likely forget so you can access them later. You will thank yourself in the future!

Final Thoughts

Described above is just a brief summary of the process of bullet journaling. At its foundation, one of the key themes of any bullet journal notebook is to keep it short and simple.

This provides you with the opportunity to log daily, without putting pressure on yourself to keep up with extravagant expectations, but it is also flexible enough to allow you to be creative.

A quick search on the internet will reveal just how creative the bullet journaling community has become. After you have mastered the basics of bullet journaling, you can explore your creative side and utilize your bullet journal to keep track of your obligations, update your goals, and promote your mental well-being.

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