Beginners Guide to Bullet Journaling
You got a dot grid notebook plus cool fountain pen and suddenly this weird feeling appears – what the heck should I do now. If you’re intimidated and have no freakin’ idea how to start a bullet journal, here I gathered all my tips, tricks and hacks to make your start a little bit easier.
How To Start a Bullet Journal
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After one year 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. You see these amazing bullet journal set up with a lot of spreads, gorgeous hand lettering and fancy doodles.
And you 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 writer’s. Especially if it’s your first bullet journal and you don’t know where to start (about it in a moment).
Fear of ruining a perfect notebook can be so strong that you into a procrastination trap. You give up an idea of organizing life in a flexible diy planner.
Actionable Step No. 1
Before you even think of investing in any bujo products, get a random notebook. I bought mine in a local store. 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 empty bank account. Trust me – getting awesome bujo supplies can really drain your wallet.
Problem No. 2: You’re Not Sure How to Start
Last year I read a ton of bullet journal blog posts, watched YouTube videos. I even bought books about bullet journaling. Generally, all the information I found were 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 it to 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.
Actionable Step No. 2
There is a general rule what kind of spreads you should make. Some of the bullet journal pages examples you’ll find in this article as well. Anyhow, you need to take an action right now.
As a warm-up, create one simple bujo weekly spread. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a 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
There’s nothing wrong in 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 writing and doodling skills.
Next, discover how to make your bullet journal lettering look like a pro (even if you’re a beginner). You may also read about super simple tricks that’ll make your bullet journal fonts look prettier.
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.
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 is a bullet journaling, how to create spreads and make them useful, 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 of budget or can afford more pricey products, it takes a little bit time and research ahead to find perfect bullet journal supplies that work for you.
When it comes to the 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 are 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).
During my first year of bullet journaling, I’ve tested many pens. Only two of them exceeded my expectations.
In 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 a cheap paper. More reviews you can find here.
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). Check out more reviews.
There are so many stunning accessories you may want to buy right now. But take it slow – in the beginning, I’d go for stencil set (to make your life easier and create spreads faster), some color fineliners, highlighters or mildliners and that’s all.
My Favorite Bullet Journal Products
Although I tried quite a lot of bujo supplies, I’m still in love in my top three:
For detailed review visit:
→ the best bullet journal supplies
New Bullet Journal Set Up
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 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 with less than 15 minutes.
Below I wrote down recommendable bullet journal page structure. Think about it rather as a reference than the ultimate guide.
Bullet Journal Key
If you’re wondering what bullet journal key is, it’s a page where you set up all of 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 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. In order 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
Don’t underestimate bullet journal index power. At the beginning of my bullet journal adventure, I considered it a waste of page.
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 personally, 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 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.
The main goal of the monthly layout is to have a glance for your entire month in one or two pages. It’s a great place to organize your appointments, deadlines, events and other important dates.
Similar to bujo monthly pages, bujo weekly layouts help you to keep up with daily tasks and 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 more monthly and weekly planning kind of gal. However, adding daily spread in your notebook help you to get the most out of your day.
Currently, I’m trying out Tim Ferriss’ morning routine that includes 5-minute journal.
Bujo Collection Spreads
Lucky for me, I’ve already written the article where I share over 50 bujo collection ideas. To avoid feeling overwhelmed I suggest starting up to 2-3 each month. Some of them you’ll love and for sure some of them will be useless.
Bullet Journal Printables
Let’s make an assumption. You’re a busy person. Searching for bullet journal inspiration and creating bujo spread aren’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.
There are plenty of ready-to-use bullet journal pdf templates on Etsy. Feel free to choose between monthly layout with goals section or weekly spread with habit tracker and water log.
Every week I add two more bullet journal printables to make your life easier. And yes, to make my bank account happy. But, to tell the truth, it’s a very affordable option – on average it’s a cost of one Starbucks medium coffee latte.
How to use a bullet journal print? First of all visit my Etsy Shop , get printable 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 into your notebook. I share with you my secret hack: it’s convenient to use Tombow MONO Adhesive Dots Applicator – it’s easy to use and leaves no mess.
Bullet Journal Apps & Digital Bullet Journal
There are the whole bunch of people who journal online using apps like Bear or 5 Minute Journal. I know, 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.
But I was.
Recently I’ve played around a digital bullet journal and must admit – it’s kind of cool concept.
There are quite a lot 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 team of pen and paper, I think it’s worth to try it out.
In the near future, I’ll gather all my experience and write an article about how to start a bullet journal in a digital way. So stay tuned. For now, please check out how to start a digital bullet journal video to see how it looks like.
Bullet Journaling for Beginners – Final Thoughts
No matter if it’s the beginning or middle of the year, do not hesitate to start a bullet journal right now. Avoid falling into a trap of being a perfectionist. 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? Explore Even More Tips For Starting a New Bullet Journal with these articles:
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