Bullet Journal 101

So you've heard all about the Bullet Journal but are still a little confused?

You're in the right place!

Prefer to watch & listen? Set up your first Bullet Journal with me, step-by-step, by watching the video below. Otherwise, keep scrolling to read the guide!

It began as the analog system for the digital age...

Your Bullet Journal can be whatever you want and need it to be.

"It's a diary.

It's a journal.

It's a scrapbook.

It's a notebook."

It started as a simple way to keep track of your life, but has since evolved into hybrid notebook, full of possibilities.

People track appointments, habits, goals and memories. It can be the most life changing thing you ever do.

Why not a diary?

Diaries are fixed and don't allow for flexibility. There may be days where you have 10 different appointments, and others where you have none. Your to do list might span several days, a week, or even a month.

There's rarely space to plan your goals, keep your memories and track your habits.

Dated diaries you buy from the store don't allow for personalisation - but a Bullet Journal can do everything, all in one place.

Spending time on your Bullet Journal can also be therapeutic. Organise your life and become the best version of yourself.

What you need.

All you need to get started is a notebook and a pen. As you grow your journal, you will evolve and learn which notebook best suits your needs.

Start with choosing a paper layout. Most Bullet Journals are dot-grid or square-grid but, if you like to draw, a plain page might be a good choice.

Dot-grids are easily the most popular among the Bullet Journal community,  because they allow you to draw lines and lay out boxes easily, without being intrusive. Check out our range of dotted notebooks, here.

If you want a mixture of page types and like to move pages around, a ring-binder might be the perfect fit.

Pens are a personal choice, but if ghosting and bleeding ink annoys you (when the ink shows through the page, or doesn't remain sharp) then you want to match the right type of pen to the right paper thickness.

A ruler is also highly recommended.

"There is no universal right or wrong, only right or wrong for you."

Key Elements

The best thing about a Bullet Journal is making it work perfectly for you. So pick and choose which layouts to follow and they can change from day-to-day, week-to-week or however your heart desires.


If you have a fixed notebook, you will want to create an index. Take the first page of your journal and title it with "index". When you make a new page or spread (two open pages facing each other), number the pages in a corner, and write that page and its number down in the index.

If you are using a binder, numbers are less important as you can move the pages around and use dividers to keep things together.


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If there are pages you frequently want to flick to, you can mark them with stickers or washi tape.

READ MORE: Six easy ways to mark pages in your Bullet Journal

There is no "correct" order to your Bullet Journal. The next blank page is where you create your next layout. The index is what helps to find them.

Note: The Leuchtturm 1917 and Scribbles That Matter journals number the pages for you! Both available at Journal Junkies.

Next, you will want to create your key. Your key is how you identify different elements in your spreads quickly. For example, an appointment might be signified with a simple dot, a task might be a tick-box and a note or memory might be a star symbol.

Write down your key on the inner cover of your Bullet Journal, or on the page after your index. Alternatively, create a flip out chart using washi tape so it's easy to reference wherever you are in your journal.


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Read More: How to make more room in your Bullet Journal - the Ultimate Guide to Dutch Doors.

Calendar Spreads:

The spreads used for planning days, weeks or months are generally called Calendar Spreads, for obvious reasons.

To pick a great spread that works for you, think of the diaries you normally gravitate towards. Do you like to see a day at a time? Or a whole month? You can mix and match as you choose, too, and reference back and forth.

Most Bullet Journalists start with a simple future log, which spans 6-months to a year - to keep track of big upcoming events, such as birthdays and weddings.

A monthly spread is then set up before the beginning of each month, but the type of monthly spread you'll use depends on whether you have a lot of appointments or rely more on to-do lists.

READ MORE: How to Pick the Perfect Bullet Journal Layout

You don't need both daily and weekly spreads unless you want to. The key is to think about how you like to plan and what your lifestyle allows. Do you do it every morning over a cup of coffee? Or is your only free planning time on a Sunday night before the work week?

Those sorts of things will affect whether you use weeklies or dailies in your Bullet Journal.

For spread inspiration, check out our Weekly log layoutsMonthly and Future log layouts and, of course, our Instagram where we share the best spreads from around the world.


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Habits and goals:

To get a better understanding of yourself, there's nothing better than tracking your habits, good and bad. You can put your habits on your daily or weekly layouts, or make a whole page just for them.

Inspiring yourself to start exercising or running a blog can be as simple as being motivated to fill in your tracker on your Bullet Journal. Once you see progress, you become inspired to carry on.

Some of the more popular things people tend to track in their Bullet Journals include:

  • Time
  • Water Intake
  • Exercise
  • 30 day challenges
  • Mood
  • Chores
  • Health
  • TV Shows

The possibilities are endless!

Read More: Our Ultimate Guide To Tracking Your Habits, Health & Happiness (in your Bullet Journal)


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Easy art:

Bullet Journals can be minimalist or full of colour. They grow as you grow and reflect your mood in a moment of time.

Some people spend hours drawing beautiful illustrations, others learn to use their Tombow brush pens for stunning calligraphy and the rest of us follow step-by-step doodle tutorials, hoping our pictures don't turn out like that of a 6-year-old.

Whatever you decide to do in your journal is entirely up to you. While we can't all be Picasso, or even just a talented art student, it's still fun to try new things and experiment.

If you don't like it, you can always turn the page.


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Bullet Journalling is one of those things that makes more sense the more you do, so be brave, grab a pen and notebook and just dive right in.

Once you've been doing it for a few weeks, you'll have a good handle on the system that works for you and you'll be able to have more fun with it. Don't get disheartened or overwhelmed by the pictures you see (you rarely see beginner journals on Instagram or Pinterest.)

Let us know how you get on! I love to see other people's work. Tag us on Instagram  or comment on this post.

[lightbox id="club" width="600px" padding="20px"][mailerlite_form form_id=1] (We also promise not to use and abuse your information or sell it to any third parties. Check out our Privacy Policy to know exactly what happens to your information.)


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How to set up your first bullet journal - a complete guide. https://journaljunkies.co.nz/bullet-journal-101/ #bulletjournal #bulletjournallayout #bulletjournalspread #organisation #planner

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