Do you fancy creating a bullet journal but don’t know where to start? I can help with that. This article is a complete guide for beginners and packed full of ideas for bullet journaling.
What are bullet journals?
So, bullet journaling – what is it? Well it’s a great way to organize your thoughts, jot down ideas, and track milestones.
The bullet journal notion was started by designer Ryder Carroll as a method of personal organisation. The unique system can be used for scheduling events and tasks, highlighting goals, setting reminders, compiling to-do lists, ideas creation, reviewing past events and general brainstorming all in a single notebook.
It’s name, bullet journal, originally came from the use of the bullet points used next to each idea but it also came from the creation of dot journals. These were grids designed using dots instead of lines. Bullet journaling burst on to the scene back in 2013, and is now very popular and can be found being discussed across most social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook and Pinterest.
I’m going to go into more detail on how to create and use your bullet journal but here is a bullet journal quick reference guide:
Bullet journal quick reference guide
A personal journal created using bullet points, symbols, pictures and any other creative method the owner wants to use. The bullet journal can be used to organise and highlight past events, goals for the long term future and reminders of tasks to be done on a daily basis.
Bullet journaling is a fun way to keep your life organised and allows you to hold it all in one place using your own individual creativeness.
Bullet journals can be created using a simple notepad, coloured pens, stickers, photos, drawings, tables, quotes, magazine cuttings, pencils, pens and any other creative medium you would like.
11 Creative ideas for your bullet journal
Whether you’re a pro or just getting started, these 11 creative ideas will take your bullet journaling to the next level!
1. Use a key of symbols to organize and simplify entries
Making use of a key and custom symbols helps you to document and organize information with minimal writing. Symbols can make bullet journaling more efficient and can be used to add aesthetic appeal to your entries. They allow you to add extra content without taking up too much space and you can use them for specific events.
For example, stars or arrows can easily signal the end of a particular task, or an X could be used for highlighting an important reminder. You can even allocate your own icons and use them consistently, so that it comes naturally to you whenever you’re creating an entry in your bullet journal.
Here is an idea for your bullet journal key page:
2. Use coloured pens and highlighters
Coloured pens and highlighters are fantastic tools for making your bullet journal more colourful and creative. Using colour helps the important tasks to stand out. Creating decorations in your journal is very therapeutic and can help to boost your mood and make your entries look really fun and aesthetically pleasing. If your journal makes you feel happy you are more likely to use it.
Highlighting particular sections with coloured pens also helps to create a lasting impression that makes them easier to view when looking back at what you’ve written in the past.
3. Start with an overview of the year ahead
This can be the introduction to your bullet journal and a great way to begin your journaling journey. On the first page or two you can write out all the dates for each week or month and put a symbol from your key next to each day. Or simply do a box for each month and in each box write any tasks, events or travel plans you have.
This way you can keep track of what is coming up and focus on things you are looking forward to. Don’t forget to write your entries in pencil so they can be rubbed out and decorate your page with coloured pens and drawings or stickers.
4. Add in a motivational page
Scattered throughout your bullet journal can be a page with a motivational affirmation or quote to give you a boost of positivity.
“BE THE BEST YOU CAN BE”
This is where you can decorate it. Draw pictures or doodle with a calligraphy pen and really express yourself through your creativity.
5. Track your tasks and goals for the week
Set up dedicated pages in your bullet journal for each month or week to keep track of the tasks you want to complete and any other projects you’re working on.
At the start of the week, write down everything that needs doing. Then cross it off as you complete each task. Make sure you make a note as to whether or not you’ve stuck to your plan.
This is a very effective way of empowering yourself with responsibility and means you’ll learn from where adjustments need to be made in the future.
6. Create a bucket list page
You can design this page in a very simple list format using different coloured pens to highlight each item. Write down all the fun things you’d like to do in your life and the places you’d like to see. Each year you can enjoy checking back to see what you have managed to achieve and tick them off.
7. Include a page for places you want to travel to
Write a list or have some fun drawing pictures of places you’d like to travel to and what you think they might look like. Adding in ideas of activities you would like to do while you are there will add some depth to the pictures and help to create excitement around the idea of travelling.
8. Document your growth with a mood tracker and habit graphs
Using your bullet journal to keep track of your personal growth is a super effective way to watch your progress and stay motivated. Also, creating visualizations of particular habits or activities can help you see and clarify how they affect you. Use your mood tracker in a daily entry to set the tone for each day or to record your feelings after completing a task.
Here is an example of a daily mood tracker for when you get back from work:
This mood tracker allows you to colour in a bubble each day to express how you are feeling. After a week or two you will have a clear picture of how your work makes you feel.
Habit graphs are useful for tracking your behaviours and seeing how they form patterns as time goes by. Tracking them means you might be able to see when changes are happening and detect subsequent results more clearly.
9. Organize your time with personal calendars and timelines
Creating personal calendars and timelines can provide you with a clear overview of how you are dividing up your time and energy. For example, if you set out each task or activity along with a rating of its importance, you should be able to quickly spot areas where you are spending larger amounts of your time more easily. By doing this you can decide whether this is the best thing to do moving forward. Maybe you could divide your time a bit more evenly so other aspects of your life are being nurtured too. Use your bullet journaling to help clarify this so that it is easier for you to understand and put a plan into place.
10. Use your bullet journal to set yourself reminders about your morning self-care routine
Create a time plan starting from the time you wake up and note down in list form all the activities that you need to do to make sure you are focusing on the best self-care you can.
Here is an example:
7:00am – Wake-up
7:05am – Drink a glass of water
7:15am – Perform stretches
7:30am – Eat a bowl of porridge with blueberries
And so on…..
Each time can be a different colour and you could use stickers and drawings on this page to brighten it up. Remember this is just a guide and you should avoid getting stressed if you cannot stick to the plan each day. Life can throw us challenges and you need to be able to stay flexible with your goals. I work on the basis that something is better than nothing.
11. Set yourself some monthly goals
A spider graph is the perfect way to visualise what your monthly goals will be. On a page right down the months of the year and then around that month draw lines coming off it. Write your goals by these lines. Here is an example:
Refer back to this page at the end of the month to see if you have managed to achieve each goal you set yourself.
Other ways to find ideas for bullet journaling
If you are lacking a little bit of inspiration and need some more ideas for your bullet journaling the there are plenty of resources on-line. Some examples are Pinterest, YouTube and Reddit.
Ideas for bullet journaling on Pinterest
Here are some fantastic profiles on Pinterest where you will find awesome bullet journaling tips and ideas:
Ideas for bullet journaling on YouTube
YouTube is packed full of bullet journaling videos. So this particular channel is a great place to start if you need some ideas:
In this video Sadia talks about how to start a bullet journal. She gives some really useful and easy ways to create your own personal organisation tool from scratch without much effort.
Ideas for bullet journaling from Reddit
In Reddit, there are many groups that have been setup by people who are keen bullet journalists. One that caught my eye is called Bullet Journal. It is packed full of ideas from other people who love creating. Check it out to see what others are doing and maybe pick up some tips along the way.
Apps for bullet journaling ideas
Is there an app for bullet journaling?
Yes indeed there is. In fact there are quite a few. If you don’t want to create a physical book you can create a digital version. Here is an example of an app for bullet journaling that I have come across and have some great reviews:
GoodNotes is free with in-app purchases. It is super for people who are looking for a totally digital freeform bullet journaling option with an as close to paper experience as possible. It’s a very popular and highly regarded app. One benefit it offers is that you can sign up for the premium version with a one-time fee instead of monthly payments.
The app allows you to make as many notebooks as you like and customise page spreads just like you would on paper. Sticking in digital photos or stickers is an easy to use option and the app can be controlled with an Apple pencil too.
Bullet journaling on iPad
As well as creating a physical bullet journal there are plenty of digital ones that you can download and use on your iPad. One of my favourite places to go for all things creative is Etsy.com.
On Etsy you will find a huge selection of digital and physical bullet journals to choose from. Very often the designs of the products on Etsy are truly unique and different because they have been designed by individuals. So, if you don’t want something that is off the shelf and fancy something a bit different Esty is the place to go.
How much do bullet journals cost?
Bullet journals don’t have to cost a lot if you are creating your own one. You literally just need a blank pad which costs around £5 and a pencil. Some highlighter pens and stickers etc. don’t have to cost a lot either. So this is definitely an activity you will be able to successfully achieve on a budget. If you want to get a head start and buy a bullet journal with page templates already created then you can buy them at places such as Amazon or Etsy for around £15.
Bullet journal gifts
Giving a bullet journal as a gift is such a wonderful idea and a unique one too. Believe it or not many people have never heard of bullet journaling. Therefore introducing someone else to this concept could help them to improve their self-care. You will find plenty of pretty bullet journals on a website like Etsy as I mentioned before.