How to Start a Bullet Journal [2021/2022 Step by Step Guide]

Today you’re going to learn how to start a bullet journal.

In fact, it can be really overwhelmed.

You got a dot grid notebook plus a cool fountain pen and suddenly this weird feeling appears – what the heck should I do now.

So if you want to know:

  • how to start a bullet journal
  • what are bullet journal basics
  • how to create custom bujo pages in your notebook
  • what are these little tips, tricks, and hacks that’ll make your start easier

Then you’ll love this awesome beginner’s guide to bullet journaling.

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. It means that I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase a product that I have recommended. It won’t cost you any extra money.

How To Start a Bullet Journal

After three years of regular bullet journaling, I know exactly how enormous overwhelmed is to start your own bujo. 

Especially if you spend a lot of time scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest. 

Undoubtedly, you see these amazing bullet journals set up with a lot of spreads, gorgeous hand lettering, and fancy doodles.

As a result, you’re stuck.

From my experience, there are three most common obstacles that bullet journal newbies meet.

Problem No. 1: First Page Fear

In my opinion, an empty first page of your brand new (and sometimes really expensive) notebook is like a blank page syndrome for many writers.

Especially if it’s your first bullet journal and you don’t know where to start (about it in a moment).

Indeed, the fear of ruining a perfect notebook can be so strong that you’re into a procrastination trap, giving up an idea of organizing life in a flexible diy planner.

Bullet Journal Actionable Step No. 1

First and foremost, before you even think of investing in any bujo products, get a random notebook.

For example, I bought mine in a local store.

Without a doubt, the temptation of buying all these stunning notebooks, fancy pens, and funny accessories is high.

Nevertheless, you don’t want to end up with tons of useless products and an empty bank account.

In general, getting awesome bujo supplies really drains your wallet.

Problem No. 2: You’re Not Sure How to Start a Bullet Journal

simple bujo weekly spread flower doodles

Last year I read a ton of bullet journal blog posts, watched YouTube videos.

Moreover,  I even bought books about bullet journaling.

Generally, all the information I found was super useful. However, I wasn’t able to make them work for me.

For a long time, I didn’t understand why bullet journaling took me so much time, and somehow it didn’t serve me very well.

I loved the idea but I couldn’t find a way to suit my needs.

Do you know why? – because of copying other bullet journalists’ setups.

How to make a bullet journal? – The very first thing you want to do is to try this kind of system.

Maybe you’re a ready-to-use planner girl and that’s ok too.

Bullet Journal Actionable Step No. 2

If you’re wondering what kind of spreads you should make in your first bujo, some of the bullet journal page examples you’ll find in this article as well.

However, you need to take action right now.

As a warm-up, create one simple bujo weekly spread.

And it doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of the month or today is Thursday.

Just do it now and see how you feel using it for the whole week.

Problem No. 3: Being a Perfectionist

simple indexes

There’s nothing wrong with having aesthetic bujo pages.

However, if your next obstacle for not starting a bullet journal is your inner perfectionist, please get rid of her.

It doesn’t matter that your lettering is terrible.

No one cares that you can’t draw.

Of course, you may not get tons of likes on Instagram but does it matter at all?

Here is an example of starting a bullet journal, using ordinary stationery from a local store.

And yes, I misspelled one word – who cares?

Besides, after spending some time on regular bullet journaling, you’ll see how it improves your bullet journal fonts and doodles.

Now let’s talk about mistakes.

There is no way that you’re able to avoid any mistakes in your first bullet journal.

Accept them and move on.

Bullet Journal Actionable Step No.3

Learn from other bullet journalists’ mistakes and check out how to fix them easily here.

Bullet Journal Supplies

Now, when you know what bullet journaling is, it’s time you decide if it’s something that is worth your time.

If yes, it’s shopping time.

It can be the funniest part or the worst nightmare of starting a bullet journal.

You visit Amazon and suddenly you have absolutely no idea what you should get.

No matter if you’re tight on budget or can afford more pricey products, it takes a little bit of time and research ahead to find the best bullet journal supplies that work for you.

Notebook

LEUCHTTURM1917 - Medium...
188 Reviews
LEUCHTTURM1917 - Medium...
  • The A5 MEDIUM notebooks are the perfect size with a wide range of colors making them...
  • Thread-bound to open flat which helps make reading the contents easy and adds...
  • Features 80g/m² acid-free paper with high ink compatibility to help prevent bleed...

Last update on 2021-10-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

When it comes to choosing the best bullet journal notebook, there are several important factors that you should take into consideration.

First of all, think about what kind of bujo you’d like to use.

For all artistic souls, when doodling, drawing, using watercolors, inking is priorities, the main factor that influences decision making should be the paper thickness.

It literally means how thick is the paper – if you want to avoid bleeding through the paper and ghosting from fountain pen or markers, focus on the weight of the paper and invest in a more pricey option.

Secondly, decide how much you want to invest in bullet journaling.

Good news – there are still many great options for a reasonable price under $10.

Thirdly, consider some other features like the paper color, cover (hard or soft), additional conveniences (page numbers, index, key, inner pocket, bookmark).

Pen

PILOT Metropolitan...
2,819 Reviews
PILOT Metropolitan...
  • Pilot's sleek Metropolitan Collection signature pens
  • Finest quality at a mid-range price
  • Medium nib
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Sakura Pigma 50034 Micron...
2,100 Reviews
Sakura Pigma 50034 Micron...
  • Sakura 50034 6-Piece Pigma Micron 005 (0. 20mm) Ink Pens, Blister Card, Black
  • Nib size for precise line width is 0. 20-mm
  • Archival quality ink for use in acid-free environments

Last update on 2021-10-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

During my first year of bullet journaling, I’ve tested many pens. Only two of them exceeded my expectations.

In the fountain pen category, the winner is Pilot Metropolitan Collection Fountain Pen.

For a really great price, you get a pen which seems to be more luxurious than it is in reality.

It writes super smooth and comfortable even on cheap paper.

For regular pens, I highly recommend Sakura Pigma Micron pens.

The pens are easy to hold and don’t smear (even if you’re left-handed).

The black of the ink is unbelievable….black.

You get them in a great variety of sizes – from thin (amazing for fine detailing) to thick (for larger areas).

Accessories

Sale
Zebra Pen Mildliner,...
22,108 Reviews
Zebra Pen Mildliner,...
  • Double ended highlighter featuring a broad, chisel tip and fine bullet tip for broad...
  • Each highlighter features water resistant, quick drying ink in soft colors
  • Available in 15 subtle hues: Brown, Vermilion, Gold, Magenta, Smoke Blue, Red,...
Sale
Tombow 56185 Dual Brush...
8,653 Reviews
Tombow 56185 Dual Brush...
  • Ideal for fine art, brush lettering, faux calligraphy, illustrations, water color...
  • Set of 9 colors and 1 blender pen, with flexible brush tip and fine tip in one marker
  • BRUSH TIP: Durable and flexible nylon fiber brush tip, creates medium or bold strokes...

Last update on 2021-10-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

There are so many stunning accessories you may want to buy right now.

But take it slow – in the beginning, I’d go for a stencil set (to make your life easier and create spreads faster), some color fineliners, highlighters, or mildliners and that’s all.

New Bullet Journal SetUp

As I said before, starting a bullet journal can be a daunted experience.

That’s why it’s so important to build it up slowly and create the following bullet journal layout step by step.

There’s no need to rush.

One of the most common bujo myths is that it requires a lot of time.

Of course, doodling, drawing art, or hand-lettering are time-consuming.

However, if you focus only on the practical part of the diy planner, you tackle it down in less than 15 minutes.

Below I wrote down a recommendable bullet journal page structure.

Think about it rather as a reference than the only way of getting started a bullet journal.

Bullet Journal Key

key ideas bujo

If you’re wondering what a bullet journal key is, it’s a page where you set up all of the symbols and icons you use to categorize all the information in a clear, visual way.

Simply said: it’s your personal code.

The main goal of creating a bujo key is to manage your personal or business (or both) tasks, memos, or to-do lists and their stage of process aka progress (completed, migrated, canceled).

The basic symbols include tasks, appointments, events, notes. You’ve already known that the beauty of bullet journaling is in customization.

To personalize it, you may need to add some icons important for any aspect of your life.

It could be symbols for prioritizing the tasks (urgent, important), managing a budget (expenses, bills), deadlines (due date, reminders), or personal life (birthday, ideas, inspiration).

Aside from the signifiers, there is another bullet journal key option.

By adding a color code to your notebook, you make your notes easier and faster to understand.

It’s a huge time saver.

Bullet Journal Examples: Index

bullet journal spread ideas

Don’t underestimate bullet journal index power.

At the beginning of my bullet journal adventure, I considered it a waste of pages.

I was so wrong. I started my current notebook in January and after five months I made many spreads.

It’d be hard to know where is what without a bujo index.

It’s like a guide. Very good guide.

It enables you to stay on track of your layouts, bujo collection spreads, habit tracker, and other stuff you create in your diy bullet journal planner.

For me, keeping your bullet journal index and key as simple and minimalistic as possible is the best way to make it work.

If I have to be completely honest, the hardest thing to describe and help you is to tell you how to set up the following pages.

There are so many bullet journal page ideas you’ll find on Pinterest or Instagram.

My only advice would be to keep it simple, try out something new every single time, and see what works the best for you.

Bullet Journal Future Log

bullet journal planning ahead

Along with key and index pages, a bullet journal future log helps you plan and organize next week, month, or even year events.

In other words, a lack of a regular yearly calendar doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker when it comes to choosing between a bujo and a regular planner.

Obviously, setting up a yearly overview can be exhausting.

Moreover, it’s really tedious task.

But the general benefit of keeping a 100% customizable DIY planner exceeds this little bit painful bujo chore.

Monthly Layout

bujo monthly layout

The main goal of the monthly layout is to have a glance at your entire month in one or two pages.

It’s a great place to organize your appointments, deadlines, events, and other important dates.

Weekly Spreads

bullet journal beginners spread

Similar to bujo monthly pages, bujo weekly spreads help you keep up with a daily routine and set goals.

Bujo Daily Log Set Up

For the most part of my bullet journal journey, I haven’t used daily pages very often.

Maybe I’m a more monthly and weekly planning kind of gal.

However, adding a daily spread in your notebook helps you to get the most out of your day.

Currently, I’m trying out Tim Ferriss’s morning routine that includes a 5-minute journal.

Bujo Collections

workout tracker

Definitely, this is the moment when bullet journaling can become not only a life-changing tool to keep up with literally a single aspect of your life but also a little bit overwhelming.

To avoid it, I suggest starting up to 2-3 each month.

For instance, you can use your notebook as a budgeting bullet journal, fitness tracker, self-care journal, or travel diary.

Definitely, it’s a long process of a lot of trial and error.

Undoubtedly, some of the bujo pages you’ll love and for sure some of them will be useless.

However, when you find your absolutely favorite ones, you’ll see how your daily life improves.

So if you’re wondering what you should include in your notebook, here you can find over 150 bullet journal page ideas to get inspired.

Also, remember that all bullet journalists have a completely different lifestyle.

With this in mind, I created the following bullet journal guides:

Bullet Journal Printables

summer weekly spread ideas

Let’s make an assumption.

You’re a busy person.

Searching for bullet journal inspiration and creating a bujo spread isn’t necessarily your thing.

Does it mean that you can’t using a bullet journal system to manage your time and organize daily tasks?

Absolutely not.

First and foremost, you can use free bullet journal printables.

In fact, I also created a bunch of planner templates you can download from my resource library.

Along with this, there are plenty of ready-to-use bullet journal pdf templates on Etsy.

Feel free to choose between a monthly layout with a goals section or a weekly spread with a habit tracker and water log.

It’s a very affordable option – on average it’s the cost of one Starbucks medium coffee latte.

How to use a bullet journal print?

First of all, get printable of your choice and print it out (in order to avoid scaling the pages when your print, set the print size to “actual size”).

Next, cut it out and glue it into your notebook.

I share with you my secret hack: I love using Tombow Mono Permanent Adhesive Applicator – it’s easy to use and leaves no mess.

Sale
Tombow MONO Permanent...
5,012 Reviews
Tombow MONO Permanent...
  • Bonds instantly, cleanly and wrinkle free
  • Safe to use on paper, photos, cardstock, etc.
  • Permanent bond, Acid free; refillable-Easy to refill with snap-in refill cartridge

Last update on 2021-10-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Digital Bullet Journal

April Bullet Journal Ideas Weekly

Definitely, nowadays it’s very simple to replace (or complete) a physical item with a correspondent digital product.

That’s why you shouldn’t be shocked (as I was at first) that you can start a bullet journal on your iPad.

There are quite a lot of pros: no spending on bullet journal supplies, easy to fix mistakes, reducing the use of paper and be eco-friendly, portability.

Although I’m a huge fan of analog tools, definitely it’s worth trying digital planning.

With this in mind, recently I’ve played around with a digital bullet journal and must admit – it’s kind of a cool concept.

In the near future, I’ll gather all my experience and write an article about how to start a bullet journal digitally.

Creative Bullet Journal Page Ideas

As you can see, I’m pretty much a basic bullet journalist when it comes to aesthetics.

However, I always admire more creative journal page ideas.

With this in mind, I only want to show you some bullet journal pages, decorated with beautiful lettering and doodles.

Bullet Journaling for Beginners – Final Thoughts

cacti theme bullet journal weekly layout

No matter if it’s the beginning or middle of the year, don’t hesitate to start a bullet journal right now.

Obviously, you may love it or hate it but who knows – maybe it becomes your hobby.

Just look at me – I started my bullet journal because all kinds of planners or other time management tools simply didn’t work for me.

Indeed, keeping my daily notebook quickly becomes my passion, and eventually my work.

Wow, it sounds so unrealistic but it’s a fact.

Basically, if you ask me for any bujo advice, here are my top ones.

Avoid falling into a trap of being a perfectionist.

Just mess up with these beautiful pages with horrible handwriting and be more productive and organized than you’ve ever been in your life.

What’s Next? Here You Can Find More Tips On Bullet Journaling:

150+ Bullet Journal Monthly Cover Ideas for 2021

Bullet Journal Tips: Make Your Bujo Work In 2021

Get Your Bullet Journal Ready For 2021 With These Awesome Hacks

2021 2022 getting started bullet journal

How to Start a Bullet Journal

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