Bullet Journal Guide: How to Start + Benefits of Keeping a Bujo

This is a bullet journal guide for those who want to start a bullet journal but aren’t sure where or how to begin. You will learn what is a bullet journal, see some bullet journal examples and learn how to bullet journal like the pros. 

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This is a bullet journal setup guide for beginners. If you’re new to the world of bullet journals you will see how beneficial it is to keep a bullet journal and just how easy it is to start. 

Bullet journals provide an easy way to track all of your thoughts, feelings, appointments, and goals for your life, whether for today, next week, or 10 years from now. Here are some of the different benefits of having a bullet journal.

Bullet Journal Benefits

You Can Reduce Stress and Anxiety

First of all, if you struggle with a lot of stress and anxiety on a regular basis, the bullet journal can help with that. You are able to record your moods and behavior changes, which help you to determine triggers for your anxiety and panic attacks.

Since you aren’t missing appointments or schedules and become more focused on a daily basis, you can also find great stress relief.

It Helps Keep You Organized

You can also become a more organized person with the help of a bullet journal.

Perhaps you remember tasks such as chores or grocery sale days, but you tend to forget about your daily fitness regimen or don’t feel organized enough for meal planning.

The bullet journal can help with these tasks and much more. You can also use a bullet journal to keep track of projects such as a kitchen remodel or planning a birthday party. 

The Journal Replaces Your Traditional Planner

Planners are great, but there tend to be some limitations with the store-bought varieties.

They aren’t very customizable, so you are forced to use whatever calendar layouts and note pages are provided to you. This limits you to how much you can include on each page and what sections there are.

With a bullet journal, it replaces your planner and includes absolutely anything and everything that you find important.

You Get More Information About Your Personal Goals

Bullet journals can give you a better idea of what your personal goals are and what is required to reach those goals.

You will start including lists, aspirations, and bucket lists. This, when looking back on it, really gives you a good idea of what you want out of life and what tasks you need to do in order to achieve them.

You Can Track Your Regular Habits

When you enter detailed information in your bullet journal about your daily life, you will then be able to track your regular habits.

For example, if you have a food and exercise log section, it lets you see what you are eating on a regular basis, how often you eat out, and what areas of your fitness routine need work.

You can also track your moods and resulting anxiety or stress, or track your daily expenses to see where you might be able to cut back.

Related: How to Use a Bullet Journal to Organize Your Finances

Bullet Journal Guide 

To start your bullet journal, you first need a good quality journal to use. This can be any type of journal, but choosing one that is thick enough for all your different pages and ink types and that has a nice size is a good idea.

Look for one that can stay closed when needed, but when you open to individual pages, the spine isn’t so tight that it is hard to write in it. Also look for thick pages in case you decide to decorate some of the pages and don’t want anything bleeding through.

The best bullet journal on the market right now is the Leuchtturm 1917 journal which meets all the requirements above. The grid below shows some other good quality, highly rated journals to use.

Components of a Bullet Journal

While you can create the bullet journal however you like, it does help to have some direction for getting started.

Here are some components to try and include in your bullet journal that are popular among all bujo enthusiasts:

Bullet Journal Index – Every bullet journal should have an index. This lets you know what area different sections of the journal are located, such as grocery and meal planning, or finances. It is a great way to jot down fast notes as you can go right to that page.

Page numbers – Naturally, since you have an index, you also need to have page numbers. You can be as creative as you want, but make sure every page is numbered and it corresponds with what is in the index.

Bullet Journal Signifiers – Signifiers are symbols that you assign to different types of notes. It can be helpful when you want to use them in place of longer phrases. This can be a happy or sad smiley face for your moods, a heart for a date with your significant other, or a Christmas tree when scheduling holidays.

bullet journal key
photo: @k.c.kennedy

Bullet Journal Key – While there are some standard signifiers that most will use to mean the same thing, if you choose to get creative with your signifiers then remember to include a bullet journal key page to act as your reference guide so that you can remember what each symbol means.

Recommended Bullet Journal Page Layouts and Designs

Something many people struggle with when putting their bullet journal together is knowing what page layout and design to use. You might find that your journal is a little boring or you can’t quite organize the layouts properly. Here are some recommended page layouts and designs you can use.

Have Multiple Log and Calendar Layout Options

When designing the layouts for your schedule, log and calendar portion of the bullet journal, use multiple options. Don’t just restrict yourself to one style, but really use whatever works best for you.

Perhaps your journal has so many sections, you really only have room for a monthly calendar.

That is totally fine! But others might find it helpful to use daily bullet journal layouts and weekly bullet journal layouts as well. These are great because they provide more pace for writing, but in the end, it is up to whatever you want and what your needs are.

bullet journal monthly calendar, monthly log
photo:  @crafter.pillar

Difference Between Log and Calendar

I like to look as your future log as just a list of things you’d like to get done. They’re not scheduled out and do not have an assigned time in your calendar as yet. 

You can have a weekly log with a list of things you need to get done in the week, a daily log of things to do today, a monthly log with your goals for the month and a future log of just goals, ideas, bucket list things to check off etc. 

bullet journal weekly spread
photo: @plans.and.letters

Try a Time-Based Bullet Journal Daily Layout

Another good idea for your bullet journal layouts is to use a time-based daily layout. This is for when you are tracking things like your moods and feelings, or what tasks you are completing on any given day.

bullet journal daily layout ideas
photo: @journal_junkies

If you work from home, it is very helpful when trying to figure out what hours you spend working, and what hours are spent on other things. For the day, split it up into hour increments to make logging easier.

Be as Creative as You Like

Remember that everything you read about bullet journals is nothing more than a guideline. There are no hard and fast rules here. You can be as creative as you want or as minimalistic, so don’t feel pressured to have the most unique or the prettiest pages.

You are also not forced to use layouts you find elsewhere, but allowed to create your own as you see fit. That is one of the great things about having a bullet journal.

Have Some Freeform Pages

It is also a good idea to include a blank page or two in your bullet journal with no layout whatsoever. These are similar to traditional journal pages, where you are just jotting down notes in any manner you want.

You have no guidelines or set boxes you need to stick to. Just start writing, doodling, and making notes about whatever you need to remember at a later date.

Use watercolor markers like these to decorate the pages like below and bring inspiration to life. 

bullet journal ideas
Photo: @sheofthewild

If you are getting stuck on layouts, start looking at other bullet journals for inspiration. You will find a lot of great ideas that inspire you to create custom layouts for your own bullet journal.

Use them as your bullet journal guide but don’t be afraid to come up with your own ideas. 

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