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How To Start A Bullet Journal – Step By Step Guide

Header image: Sarah’s Chapter 

I think that the art of journalling is  a therapeutic act that allows one to reflect on the past day and events. It allows you to become more in-tune with your body, mind and goals. That being said, the act of journalling is rather time consuming. I for one would love to sit down at the end of a long day with a glass of wine and my journal and write to my hearts content. But lets be honest. I’m way too tired at the end of the day to sit down and write and write. Instead, I end up with a glass of wine and my favourite Netflix series. Anyone else?

When I first heard about the concept of bullet journalling, I was initially intrigued, but after some research really confused too. Is it a to-do list or a journal? How do I do it? Where do I even start and what exactly is bullet journalling?

After much digging and researching, I now understand and love bullet journalling. Honestly if you haven’t tried it yet please give it a go. There’s a free downloadable for you at the end of this post to help you get started with bullet journalling.

What Is Bullet Journalling?

Bullet journalling is in essence what its name suggests. Instead of writing pages and pages in a journal, which lets face is time consuming and a bit of a drag at times, a bullet journal is a method of note taking and journalling that uses bullets as its main structure. It was created by Ryder Carroll of Brooklyn New York.  Initially bullet journalling can be a bit confusing as there are many terms that are used and it all seems to be very complex. But trust me its not. I’ll break it down for you and help you to understand it.Basically the main concept of a bullet journal is that you write quick notes in bullet form instead of writing long sentences. It can be seen as a framework that consists of modules.

Who Is Bullet Journalling For?

  • People who like putting pen to paper
  • People who like making lists and being organised
  • People who are trying to be more organised
  • People who are into goal setting
  • Those who love stationary
  • People who like to keep a journal or diary but struggle to keep in the daily routine of journalling

Basic Terminology

There is quite a bit of terminology that goes along with journalling, but bare with me for a moment while I explain it.

Index: This is a table of contents, or page at the beginning of your bullet journal that you will update as you go.

Daily Log: Things that you need to/ have done that day  as well as any other observations

Monthly log: Monthly calendar and things that need to be done that month and  things that you didn’t do last month but need to do this month

Future log: Year at a glance type calendar where you can put all the things you need to do as well as goals etc.

Rapid logging: Symbols that will help you to bullet journal more efficiently

Bullet Journal Symbols Explained:

When I stumbled upon this my initial thought was great, now I have to learn and memorise symbols in order to bullet journal successfully. Truth be told, its really simple and easy to remember.

X

Write an “X” over the bullet to-dos when you have completed the task. Definitely not as satisfying as crossing it off, but it just reads better especially when you check back in a couple of months.

<

Use the “<” less than symbol over the bullet to show that a task has been scheduled.

>

Use the “>” greater than symbol over the bullet to show that a task has not been completed and that it has been migrated to another day, week or months list.

Use a dash for quick thoughts, notes or smaller events.

o

Use an open circle to show major events.

*

Use and asterisk/ star to show tasks or events that require high priority and are urgent.

So there you have the symbols that you will need to use in order to bullet journal successfully. If you do not like any of the symbols then you are able to create and use any of your own. Do what works for you.

Signifiers

Signifiers are additional symbols that will give your posts extra context. You do not need to use signifiers, but they are a great way to personalise and draw attention to certain points. You are also able to create your own should you wish to. As with the symbols, signifiers will be used in the margin. But instead of over the bullet, ( because your symbols will already be there), signifiers are to the left of the symbols. Here are some useful signifiers that you can use.

Priority 

I have already mentioned this in the symbols section, but nonetheless here it is. A * can be used in order to show important call to action. This way you can quickly and easily scan your pages to find the most important points that need to be addressed.

Explore

The ? signifier is used in order to show when something needs to be further researched or explored.

Inspiration 

The exclamation mark (!) is generally paired with a note, brilliant idea or mantra.

Source: Bullet Journal

Getting Started

Now that you are familiar with the symbols and know that there are four main modules ( index, daily, monthly and future logs) you can start to bullet journal. Lets get started setting each section up. By the end of this post you will be able to bullet journal with ease. So keep going till the end of the post. I know it’s a bit long I’m sorry. It is important to note that before you start you should number all the pages in your bullet journal.

Creating The Index

The first few pages of your bullet journal will essentially be the index. The same as it would be in a book. Here you will write down all your important topics and their corresponding pages. This aids in quick navigation of your journal and will make your life that much easier. The beauty of the index section is that you will add to it over time and do not have to have all your sections planned out from the get-go! To be on the safe side I would set aside two pages in the front of your journal for the index.

Source: Bullet Journal

The Future Log

Don’t let the words “Future log” scare you. It’s basically just your year calendar. I would allot 4 pages for this section. Therefore placing three months on one page. In the future log collection you will need to schedule months in advance or simply things that you would like to do one day. What I like to do is draw two horizontal lines across two pages with equal spacing in between the lines. This will create the first 6 months of your calendar and then you can turn the page and do the same on the other two future log pages for the latter part of the year. So your future log will look something like this.

 

Source: Bullet Journal 

The Monthly Log

As the name suggests, this collection will help you to organise your month. Ideally you will have two facing pages to do this. On the left create the calendar for the month. Write the month in the top left corner and then all the dates for the month. The date should be followed by the beginning letter of the day. So if it’s May 14th then it will be followed by a T for Thursday, looking like this, 14 T. Ensure that you leave enough space in the margin in order to add symbols or signifiers should you want to. The calendar page can be used to schedule events and tasks or even even record events after they have occurred. The main point is that you keep things short and to the point.This page provides a Birdseye view of the page and too much writing will clutter the page. The 2nd page or page on the right will be used as the task page. Here you will right your tasks that you would like to complete this month as well as any tasks that were not completed last month. The tasks from the previous month would have been migrated. When logging your tasks in the task page be sure to use the symbols that you learnt about earlier. Don’t remember them? Have a look down below.

 

A recap of the symbols: 

You can now continue with your regular days of the month and bullet journalling. If you wanted you could even set up other monthly pages. So you could track your workouts, feelings or even days that you drank alcohol. There are some pretty amazing things that you can do. This would be placed straight after your monthly calendar and task pages. I particularly like tracking my fitness, water consumption and sleep.

Source: Rachel. W.Miller

Now that your monthly collection or pages have been set up, you can start to use your journal! Add your tasks, to-dos and appointments etc.

Which Journal To Use

Choosing a journal is very personal. We all have different taste so there’s definitely not a one sizes fits all here. What I will say is that you don’t want something that is too bulky, like an A4 journal. I would rather opt for an A5 as it is far more portable. Now some people opt to beautify their journals and they look like pieces of art.But you don’t have to go that far, or even do anything at all. Here are some great journals to get you started:

 

 

Floral Journal

Shop It Now

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peacock Journal

Shop It Now 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

            Zen Arts Bullet Journal

 Shop It Now

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I hope that this post will help you. If you know anyone else who would benefit from bullet journalling please share it with them. I love bullet journalling and have found it so easy. If you have any questions please let me know in the comments below. I would love to help!

 

 

 

 

7 comments

  • Laura

    I’ve always wanted to start a bullet journal, but I feel like I’m not creative enough to make it as pretty as I want it to be!

    Laura || http://www.thelifeoflaura.com.au xx

    • The Mod Maven

      Hey Laura

      I’m not the most creative, but at the end of the day it’s not about how it looks but rather how it helps to organise your life! Please don’t let that stop you. Mine seriously isn’t pretty at all! But it definitely is helping me to organise my time and life more efficiently.

      Happy journalling!
      Have a great day.

      May-The Mod Maven

  • I found this really interesting. I’ve never been into journal writing but I think a bullet journal might just be up my alley. thanks for a great post.

    • The Mod Maven

      Hi Vicki

      I was never really into journal writing myself, but really love bullet journalling.Definitely give it a go!

      Have a great day.

      May-The Mod Maven

  • Hey! I have never heard of bullet journal but I must say it’s quite interesting! I can even use these rules when writing my blog posts! Love it 🙂 thanks for sharing

    • The Mod Maven

      Hi Tatiane

      Glad this post will be helpful! I honestly love bullet journalling and the whole system.

      Have a great day!

      May-The Mod Maven

  • Denise

    Absolutely the best step by step instructions to start a bullet journal. Thanks for all the great instructions.

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