Bullet journals: Getting started

A blue bullet journal with a black marker

Organization is somehow one of both my strong points and my weak points. When I’m organized, I’m really organized: I know exactly what I’m doing, when, and for how long. When I’m not organized, though… well, let’s just say that my days end up being about as productive as a sloth that hasn’t eaten in a while.

The real problem is, however, it takes a lot of work for me to be as organized as I need to. I’ve shared here before some of what that takes—how I use calendars, my bullet journal and mini goals—but, as part of my recent efforts to stay more on task, I thought I would share a little bit more with you.

So, I’m introducing a new series here on my blog. My posts about bullet journal back in December  really only scratched the surface about what I use my bullet journals for. I thought it would be helpful, both for myself and for some of you, if I shared a little more. Each month, I’ll share a different part of my bullet journal experience: things that I track, lists or records that I keep, layouts I’ve found useful, that sort of thing.

A blue bullet journal with assorted markers

Consider today’s post to be an introduction, of sorts. That first post already talked about why I have a bullet journal, so instead I’m going to talk a bit about how to start one in the first place.

First off, you need a book. Pretty much anything will work. My first bullet journal was just an unlined notebook from the dollar store, so that I could see if I would actually like bullet journaling before investing in anything more expensive. Now I prefer to use pages with dots on them, like the Leuchtturm1917 notebooks. Other people like using graph paper, or regular lined paper. Choose whatever feels best to you an run with it.

You’ll also need some fine-tipped markers. I consider black to be a must, as it’s the colour I use most often, but you might choose to use something else as your primary colour. I use other colours for different elements of my layouts, though, and to signify different events in my calendars.

A table of contents page in a bullet journal

I’ve also started using pencil crayons, to mix up the textures in my bullet journal a bit. This certainly isn’t necessary, but it does add a nice touch if you’re a visual sort of person.

Ultimately, what you want to do is draw things out—anything from calendars to day planners to doodles. There are a few things you’ll likely want to make sure to include, though:

  • A table of contents, so that you can easily find the items in your bullet journal;
  • A key, to keep track of the symbols you use throughout the book; and
  • A future log or yearly calendar, to keep track of any important dates throughout the year.

There are all sorts of methods you could use to design these, and the rest of your pages; if you want to take the straight-forward and classic route, you should check out Bullet Journal.com. It offers a walkthrough to get you started, along with an app, an FAQ and a blog for more inspiration.

A key page for a bullet journal

If you’re looking for something a little more free-form, just search something like “bullet journal” on Pinterest. You’ll get a ton of results, and I can almost guarantee you’ll find something you’ll like. At the very least, I’m sure you’ll find something that sparks your creativity and inspires your own layout; I know that’s happened to me a few times.

That’s all you need for getting started, really. Of course, there’s more detail involved in actually using a bullet journal, but I’ll get to that. Over the next couple of months, I’ll tell you about how I handle those basic key and yearly calendar pages, then we’ll take things from there.

See you again soon!

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2 thoughts on “Bullet journals: Getting started

  1. Love this post! I can be the same way where I’m super organized but don’t always execute what I plan to do, my bullet journal helped me a lot with that too! Thanks for sharing!

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