Bullet Journal Basics

What is a bullet journal?

In very simple terms, a bullet journal is a customizable journal that you set up to track any or all aspects of your life.

In a world of endless different phone apps and online documenting, the bullet journal is a more old-school analog system – but don’t doubt its power to get you organized!

You can be as fancy and creative as you want…or you can keep it all pretty simple – whatever works best for you.

Think of it as your calendar, diary, project planner, memory keeper, to do list and life tacker all rolled into one.

Here is a brief overview of the original bullet journal system:

Would a bullet journal work for you?

The beauty of bullet journaling is that it is completely customizable and easy to set up. However, it’s definitely not for everyone!

Here’s a few points to help you decide if bullet journaling is for you:

You don’t need to be 100% digital

While online calendars, apps and trackers can be efficient, cheap and transportable, if you still love to write lists, physically write down information and get that sweet satisfaction of checking off a box, then bullet journaling may work well for you.

There’s too much going on

Do you have some ‘stuff’ recorded on your calendar, various apps for different purposes, a notebook for goals, shopping lists, your forgetting things and you have a gazillion post it notes floating around?

Then a bullet journal has the ability to contain all this information – yes, out of your busy, overwhelmed brain and instead, all neatly contained in one easy to find place. Now, doesn’t that sound so effective?

Bullet Journal Supplies

Yet another great benefit of bullet journaling….is the ability to get started and go! All you need to begin, is:

  • A notebook
  • A pen

Everything else is an optional extra!

Yes it’s great to use washi tape, a fancy notebook, great pens and highlighters. But you don’t have to. The best way to start is to ease into it and see what works for you.

In actual fact, it’s better to start with the odd notebook you already have lying around the house – that way you can play around with it first and see if it’s a system that will use.

The Bullet Journal Basics


The Bullet Journal Index

The index (or contents page) allows you to quickly find any list, page, collection or find a particular month or week that you’re looking for.

It doesn’t seem like it when you first start, but your bullet journal can quickly fill up and if you don’t utilize the index page, then you may have trouble finding things.

To avoid this, every time you create a page, add the title and page number to the index page – trust me, you will be thankful later!

The Bullet Journal Key

The original bullet journal key is great to begin with. But you will quickly find that adding your own personal touch will benefit your ability to stay organized.

I tend to follow the original but have added a few colour-coded keys (a different colour for each child, green dollar sign for money coming in, red dollar sign for money going out etc).

The Future Log

The future log is a simple approach to forward planning. Usually kept at the front of the bullet journal, you simple section off a part of the page for each future month (you may want to do your future log for months to one full year).

This is essentially a planner/calendar, where you record any important dates, block out holidays, appointments etc that you know are already planned.

The Monthly Log

Some people don’t feel the need to create a monthly log each time, but it’s actually one of my most used pages of my bullet journal.

The idea is that each month, you set up a page or two dedicated to the month ahead. Here you can record any:

  • planning tasks,
  • important dates,
  • expenses/spending log,
  • bills to pay,
  • goals you want to achieve
  • trackers

Weekly & Daily Logs

From here, and depending on your schedule or routines, you may want to create a simple weekly layout in your bullet journal, or simply have running daily logs of tasks, events and important notes.

This is the part that probably takes the most experimenting with. I have weeks where I really need to see ‘the week at a glance’ and then other weeks that I write very little – apart from a running ‘to do list’. The great thing is that the bullet journal is very customizable and you simply fit it around your planning needs at the time.

Bullet Journaling Ideas:

memories bullet journal

Beyond the basics of the bullet journal system, there are limitless possibilities for customizing your own bullet journal, including adding dutch doors.

Have a think about what types of pages that you need in your bullet journal, what you need to trackgoals you want to plan and lists that will help you get the most out of your bullet journal.

Here are just some ideas:

bullet journal dutch door

Recommended Resources for Bullet Journaling:

As I mentioned above, the beauty of bullet journals is that you can literally use any notebook and pen you already have at home.

However, it is tempting to want the beautiful thick journal pages you see online and the fancy pens. Therefore, below are a few of my personal favourites if you’re wanting some bullet journal supplies above and beyond the basics.

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