Wondering how to bullet journal? Here are some simple bujo tips for beginners to help you get started with creating a functional, useful and attractive bullet journal.If you’ve ever looked at those pretty, perfect bullet journal spreads on Pinterest and thought – I’d love to try that, but I’m just not creative / arty / insert adjective of choice enough – then you’re not alone.
But the truth is, the beauty of a bullet journal (also known as a bujo for short) is NOT in its actual beauty. It’s in its versatility and adaptability.
A bullet journal can work for everyone.
Think about it – how many times have you invested mega-bucks on a planner, only to find it didn’t quite meet your needs – maybe there was no space to track your exercise or water intake, or it scheduled every thirty minutes of the day whereas for over eight hours you were suffering at work… so half way through the year your good intentions just kind of fizzled out and you went back to scrawled notes on paper.
Well, that will never happen with a bullet journal – because a bullet journal is created by you, for you and thus meets your needs perfectly.
I’ve always felt too intimated by bullet journals to start one, until I kept hitting the kind of roadblocks with planners that I mentioned above.
Luckily, I happen to know a number of bloggers who are bullet journal pros, and so I turned to them to ask their expert opinion on why and how you should start bullet journal. They also suggested some bullet journal hacks for beginners, and simple bullet journal spread ideas to get you started.
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HOW TO START A BASIC BULLET JOURNAL: SHANNON HAKALA OF WELLELLA
The bullet journal method is a simple, quick way to plan and keep track of all your to-do’s. It helps you be more organized and productive, and feel more in control.
Don’t get overwhelmed with all the bullet journal options. To start a bullet journal, you just need a notebook and pen.
Open up to a new page and write down today’s date. Then write down everything you need (or want) to do today in a list. Before each item, draw a small dot. This quick list-making is called rapid-logging.
As you go through the list and actually do each item, cross out the bullet point with an X. This shows that the task is complete.
Over time, crossing out each small task you complete helps motivate you to get more done. By keeping track of how you spend your time, you’ll be able to better recognize which things are truly worth your time in the first place. It gives you a detailed record of your activities that can be useful to refer to later.
There’s a planning aspect to the bullet journal as well. At the beginning of each month, reserve two facing pages and write the month’s name at the top. Number the days of the month, and write in any important events or things to remember on the correct dates.
On the opposite page, you should write down your goals and tasks for the month. You can also reserve some space here to write down your favorite memories or accomplishments from that month. These pages are called your monthly log.
At the end of each month, take a few minutes to review your monthly log. If you weren’t able to accomplish all your goals and tasks for the month, you can assess what didn’t work. Did you need more time? Did life just get in the way? Use your logs to create your next month’s plan.
You can use your bullet journal to make daily self-improvements, keep track of housework, your health, or to plan a big project. The simplicity of the bullet journal system makes it easy to adapt to whatever you need it to be.
Once you get more confident, you can start using spreads. Shannon has a FREE dot grid pdf printable that you can download to practice your spreads on – so if you’re a perfectionist like myself, this is just the thing to get over the fear of messing up your pages!
BULLET JOURNAL HACKS FOR BEGINNERS: THASSIA DEZAN OF DIARY OF A JOURNAL PLANNER
One of the biggest advantages of a bullet journal is the ability to customize every detail of it.
You can design your journal whichever way you want and set an almost unlimited number of collections to track and organize every single aspect of your life. And while this gives you lots of room for creativity, it can also be a challenge to decide where to start or what to do, which eventually can lead to procrastination.
If you are just starting out with your bullet journal, you may be overwhelmed by all the different possibilities. So today I am going to show you some of the hacks I have learned that makes journaling so much easier.
Start with simple spreads
As fun as it can be to embellish your journal with doodles and water coloring, remember that the content is what matters, not the appearance of your journal.
You don’t need to be artistic to make your bullet journal look pretty while keeping it simple.
Try a ruler when making lines, boxes or grids. Small stickers or washi tapes can be used to adorn your pages too.
If all else fails there are printables with designs already on the pages. You just need to print, glue and go!
It is likely you will make mistakes on your journal while getting used to the system and logging your entries.
It happens all the time and can get you upset, especially when you are really proud of a spread.
Don’t let it stop you from logging and being productive. A good hack for this situation is washi tape! Just cover the mistake with a pretty washi or sticker and carry on with logging!
If you have made a big mistake then you can always glue another piece of paper on top and re-purpose that page to be whatever you want. Which brings me to my next hack –
Leave blank pages in between collections
Yes, just do it now and thank me later!
It is easy to get excited and set up your journal for months in advance. But what if you want to add a new collection or a longer entry and realize you don’t have enough space?
If you are just starting out you may not know exactly how much space you will need for daily logging and tracking. Also, as you learn and become more comfortable with the system it is very likely you will want to add more collections and find new inspiration.
(By the way, a collection is a way to organize things based on a common theme. Diet and fitness trackers are collections, as are to-do lists, calendar spreads and so on).
For this reason I always leave a few blank page between monthly entries and at least one blank page after a newly added collection. If I don’t need that space eventually I can doodle on it or write an inspirational quote.
Use sticky notes for temporary information
I log using sticky notes for anything that doesn’t need to be permanently written in journal. My meal planning spread and grocery list for instance, which changes weekly, are kept on sticky notes inside of my journal.
This hack helps me re-use spreads that otherwise would have to be re-done on a regular basis. It helps saving time and precious pages!
When you are just starting out journaling is not a habit and you need to learn how to stay motivated to do it every day.
I use the following hacks to make bullet journaling a daily habit:
Use bullet journal trackers
You can keep track of so many things with a bullet journal. It doesn’t only help you reach your results but also keeps you accountable to log (preferably daily) your tracking entries.
Create a perfect journaling space
Begin by having a good environment setup for journaling. It is so much easier to be motivated to log in daily when you are happy with where you are writing.
Use your favorite supplies
A good notebook and pen does wonders to your creativity and motivation. There are no rules here – use what you love, any color, size and style.
Be ready to take it everywhere
If you have to leave home for the day/week just make sure you take your bullet journal with you. Have a little pouch for your journal including pens and accessories you like to use, so you can always take it with you.
Check this post for even more super bullet journal hacks from The diary of a journal planner.
BULLET JOURNAL SPREADS FOR BEGINNERS: GEMMA WILLSHER FROM THE GOAL CHASER
Once you’ve set up the basics, it’s time to work out the types of ‘extras’ that you want and need in your bullet journal.
Bullet journal spreads are simply layouts in your bullet journal where you focus on a particular theme, task or activity.
They can be added in as you go along, or you may like to start them at the beginning of your journal.
Alternatively, some people like to keep these pages separate from their daily planning and therefore they start these types of pages from the back of the bullet journal.
Now there are loads of ideas around the web of beautiful and elaborate bullet journal layouts, but many can be intimidating, and rather cumbersome. The best way is to work out what will work best for you.
What are some things that you want to plan, record, track or focus on? Because these are the things that make great bullet journal pages.
Here are just some of the many ideas for pages that you could create in your bullet journal:
- habit trackers – wanting to stop or start a habit?
- goal planner – to map out and plan your next big goal
- gratitude logs – keep a record of your daily gratitude
- inspiring quotes – create a motivating collection of your favorite quotes
- memories page – to record those big or small special life happenings
- self-care ideas – compile a go-to list of self-care ideas that work for you
- bill planning and payments – plan and record the expenses, track spending and upcoming costs
- house projects – plan, sketch, budget and track all those home projects
- packing list – for an upcoming trip
- gift ideas – record birthday and Christmas gift inspiration and never struggle for ideas again
- birthdays – record special dates, birthdays and anniversaries
- cleaning schedules – boring but will keep your home tidy and organized!
- meal ideas – create theme ideas, recipes to try or simply record your go-to meals
- savings trackers – create an inspiring page (with pictures) to track your savings goal
- routines – if increasing your productivity is a focus, then creating a routines page can be very effective
- lists – basically any type of list that will work for your lifestyle – books to read, movies to watch, restaurants to try, etc.
- brain dump – I always include a brain dump page each month and it’s a great way to jot down, doodle or record random events or happenings.
- wish list – whether these are wants or needs, big or small, writing a ‘wish’ list can be great for assessing if you truly need to buy that shiny new item or not. It can save the impulse purchases and make your spending more intentional.
The possibilities are endless.
Find what works for you and adjust what doesn’t. That’s the beauty of the bullet journal.
Check out these other bullet journal page ideas from The Goal Chaser that are both simple to set up and super useful.
Starting a bullet journal does not have to be complicated.
Start simple – keep away from those sophisticated spreads until you’ve been bujo-ing for a few months. Spend the time practicing some basic spreads (using the downloadable pdf I mentioned above).
Then start with your notebook.
Then get some erasable markers.
Track yourself for a while before you launch into your full bullet journal setup. Then brainstorm those things you wish to plan, record, track, or focus on. Make a plan – and begin!
Do you bullet journal or feel motivated to try after reading this post? Let me know in the comments.