You know what most people first look up about bullet journaling, “how to start a bullet journal”. Seems easy enough right? It’s a journal and you draw it in.
Oh, but it is so much more complex than that my friend. That’s why I haven’t moved in 6 hours and have been eagerly typing this post on the ultimate guide to bullet journaling.
Perhaps you came here because you’re looking for a new hobby or maybe you’ve always been fascinated by the gorgeous bullet journal layouts on Pinterest and wanted to create your own. You’ve come to the right place. Within this post you will find everything from what is a bullet journal and how to bullet journal to 75 bullet journal ideas just for you.
Ready to get started? Let’s begin!
What Is A Bullet Journal?
Great question and one of the most asked questions journalists get. What exactly is a bullet journal and how does it differ from a regular journal.
Bullet journaling is a type of creative personal organization. This creativity includes the usage of pens, paint, markers and other art material.
Bullet journaling first made its appearance in 2013, though I personally believe it was used way before 2013 without a name. This type of journaling is a great way for people to showcase their inner creativity.
According to GoodHousekeeping, a bullet journal is described as ..
“Equal parts day planner, diary, and written meditation, bullet journaling turns the chaos of coordinating your life into a streamlined system that helps you be more productive and reach your personal and professional goals. With sections to log your daily to-do’s, monthly calendar, notes, long-term wants and more, your BuJo is customized to your life”
In their article, they provide a phenomenal in-depth guide on what bullet journaling is and useful tools to take advantage of. As you begin to learn how to bullet journal it’s important you know proper bullet journal terminology.
Bullet Journal Terminology
BUJO – Another word for bullet journal
A4, A5 and A6 – This is the size of a journal. A5 is the most common and midsized journal.
Dotted Journal – This is a common type of journal used amongst bullet journalists. Instead of lined pages, the pages are dotted.
Grid Journal – This journal also doesn’t have lines and instead it has square grids.
Index – The first page of a bujo. This is where you will put your Key if you choose to create one.
Key – symbols or signifiers that you would use throughout your journal. Example: A key could be a circle which signifies you have class that day, thus on the monthly spreads you create you would circle the dates you have class already knowing what the symbol means.
Ghosting – A term journalists use to refer to ink or paint that bleeds from one page into another. This is why I use Archer & Olive dotted notebooks as they have thicker pages and I have yet to have a pen or marker that bleeds into the next page.
GSM – Grams per Square Meter, in simple terms this means how thick a page is. Thicker pages = less ghosting, but it also tends to mean more expensive
Swatch/Swatching – a term that refers to testing pens, markers, paints and etc on a piece of paper.
Theme – refers to the general idea you’re going for in your entire journal or more commonly month by month. I’ll be sharing some theme ideas later in the post.
Spreads – a term that refers to daily spreads, monthly spreads, yearly spreads and weekly spreads. This is a fancy way of saying a page (or more) dedicated to that type of creation.
Ex. Yearly Spread – Monthly Spread (April) – Weekly Spread (April 1st – 7th) – Daily Spread (April 3rd)
To save space in your journal I would recommend you combine your weekly and daily spread. Think of this like creating your very own planner. The planner opens up to the full year calendar (yearly spread), then you can look at each months calendar (monthly spread) and finally by week where each day has space for you to add details.
Who Is A Bullet Journal For?
Short answer…everyone. More specifically? I would say these types of people would benefit most from having a bullet journal.
- Individuals with any type of mental disorder
- Individuals with anxiety
- People who are very creative, but have no outlet for it.
- Individuals who are stressed
- People who are disorganized
I feel as though this can be for anyone, but for people who want more organization and control bullet journaling is a great way to ideally create your own planner.
And this planner can be as colorful or dark as you want. With doodles on every page or a super simplistic design. It’s totally up to you!
What Supplies Do I Need?
A pen and a notebook are the very basics of what you need to start off journaling. Some other types of supplies that are common include colored pencils, markers, scrapbook paper, stickers, and paint.
This is a question that mostly has to do with your budget and how much you’re willing to spend. I’m going to provide you with a list of supplies you can find locally, online or at superstores (Target, Walmart, etc) and feel free to pick and choose based on your lifestyle.
Pens & Pencils
When looking at pens, .005 is one of the smallest pen points and the size continues to go up. Some of my largest pen points are .7, .8, 1, 2 and 3.
- Dixon Ticonderoga HB 2
- OptiFlow Ink Pen
- Pigma MicronPn *This is a type of pen EVERY journalist uses on a daily basis, they are AMAZING bullet journal pens *
- Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pen Sets
- Staedtler Pigment Liner
- Kuretake Fude Brush Pen – *Favorite Pen*
- Pentel Fude Touch Pen – *Favorite Pen*
- LePen Drawing
- Graphik Line Maker – *Favorite Pen*
- Faber Castell Black Pens
- Tombow Hard & Soft Tip Black Pens – *Favorite Pen*
- Papermate Mechanical Pencils
- BIC Xtra Smooth Mechanical Pencil
- Archer & Olive – I use their 195 paged dotted notebooks.
- Leuchtturm1917 A5 Notebooks
- Moleskine Notebooks
- Any type of small notebook from Amazon/Target
Markers, Paint & Colored Pencils
- Tombow Markers – *Favorite Markers*
- Blick Studio Markers
- Crayola Colored Pencils
- Crayola Washable Markers
- Crayola Super Tip Markers (Great for details)
- Sharpie Markers
- Copic Markers
- Zebra Mildliner
- Artists Loft Acrylic Paint
- Komorebi Japanese Watercolor Paint
Other Bullet Journal Supplies
- Scrapbook paper
- Washi Tape
- Tombow Glue Tape
- Elmers Glue Stick
- Ruler & Scissors
What Do I Track In A Bullet Journal?
The most common usage for a bullet journal is for tracking. Whether this is in your monthly spreads, weekly spreads or other types of trackers. Let’s dive into the bullet journal habit trackers, sleep trackers and social media trackers.
The most common type of tracker people create is called a habit tracker. This is, just as the name suggests, a tracker for your habits. This is ideally a place where you would track goals you create each month, week or year. Here are some ideas of healthy habits you can track:
- Healthy Eating
- Water Intake
- Bullet Journaling
People create these habit trackers in a variety of ways. You can choose to create a simple and minimalistic design or be a bit more creative and design it based on your monthly theme.
I’d highly recommend you search these terms on social media (especially Pinterest) for inspiration;
- Habit tracker inspiration
- Habit tracker ideas
- Minimalist habit tracker
- Habit tracker colorful
A sleep tracker is where people keep track of their sleep each night. I used this type of tracker a few times, but felt many times I wasn’t fully sleeping throughout the night to keep track well enough.
This type of tracker is great if you want to get into the habit of going to sleep/waking up at a specific time and observing how many hours you sleep a day.
This type of tracker differs in design based on others. Usually the design of this tracker is similar to either a bar graph or dot graph where one axis has the day and the other axis has the hours ranging from 5 – 10.
A sleep tracker is ideal for people who want to prioritize tracking their sleep schedules.
Social Media Tracker
If you are a blogger or influencer this is the tracker for you. A Social Media Tracker is for people who want to keep track of social media growth and goals.
I’ve just begun using this type of tracker and find it extremely useful. I would recommend creating a social media goal specific to the platform you are on and track the following
- Amount of followers
- Average Likes
- Growth over a period of time
- Amount of time spent dedicated to content for the platform
As we finish up bullet journal trackers, let’s move swiftly onto bullet journal ideas.
Bullet Journal Ideas
One of the most difficult aspects of bullet journaling is finding inspiration (also over-perfection, but that’s a story for another day). When I first started journaling I found myself losing hope to stay consistent because I couldn’t come up with ideas I wanted to include in my bullet journal.
I want to see you grow and succeed in the journaling community and wanted to include 75 different bullet journal ideas just for you! Oh my, did I say 75? That’s a lot. Which is why I hope you refer to this post later when you’re looking for MORE theme ideas.
Feel free to bookmark this post so that you can refer to it every so often. Remember to share your personal creations with friends and family members to encourage them to join the bullet journal community. Woohoo!
Remember what a theme is? Well, feel free to use these theme ideas anywhere you please. I encourage you to pick colors and designs that would perhaps go with the theme idea.
If you’re curious what my theme is for April it’s the 80’s! I plan on making my theme bright and cheerful using hot pinks, blues, yellows and browns.
- Decade – 70’s, 80’s, 90’s or maybe you’re feeling the 60’s, Groovy!
- Color – Pick a specific color and create a theme around that color! Yellow? Lemons, sun, sunflowers etc
- Doodle Themed
- Winter Wonderland
- DC or Marvel Themed
- Mood themed (Happy, Sad, Angry, Hopeful?)
- Baking themed
- Sorority/Fraternity theme (based on your colors)
- State themed (California, Florida, NYC…)
- Artist (Painting, Drawing etc)
- Dog themed
- Cat themed
- Tropical Birds
- Fitness (Kettlebells, dumbells, yoga mats)
- Cartoon themed
- Television show themed
- Gold themed
- Galaxy/Space themed
- Polaroid Themed
- Rainy Day
- Night Sky
- Hot Air Balloon
- Greek Mythology
- Harry Potter
- Lord of The Rings
- Sea Animal
- Lock & Key
- Comic book
- Koi Fish
- Social Media themed
Advice & Common Questions
As we begin to come to a close to this very long and very in-depth post. I’d like to dedicate this section to questions and pieces of advice from bullet journalists.
Let’s first dive into a couple common questions asked by new journalists.
Can you start a bullet journal in the middle of the year?
Many people worry they can’t start a bullet journal in the middle of the year. This is untrue. You can start a journal at any point in the year. In this case I would recommend making your yearly spread start at the month that you begin journaling.
Why? So you don’t have that awkward amount of months before the month you actually begin your bullet journal.
There is no reason to wait until the start of a new year to begin bullet journaling. You can start any day at any time.
Do I need to buy the most expensive bullet journal supplies like other bullet journalists (Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube)?
NO NO NO NO NO …do you get my drift? You do NOT need those expensive pens or markers you see your favorite bullet journalist on Youtube use. Chances are they used a less expensive paint set or pens when first starting out and I urge you to do the same.
Especially if this is your first time bullet journaling, it’s not worth spending 50$ on a new notebook and pen set. You can use a much cheaper alternative by you. Yes, the quality may not be the same, but like I said you’re just starting out. There is no point in jumping head first into the deep end if you’re not even sure you like swimming.
Take it day by day. If a month from now you’re enjoying bullet journaling enough feel free to splurge on some more expensive material.
What if I forget to bullet journal? What do I do?
Hey! It happens. Life sometimes gets the best of us and our journal that we spent hours creating is left gathering dust in our drawer. This tends to happen to me during the school year.
If possible try to utilize pages that you made, but forgot to use. Maybe you created a habit tracker, but forgot to track your habits in it overtime? Try using it now that you know it’s there.
If you forget to journal for a period of time you have one of 2 choices. Either you can try to alternate past weekly/monthly spreads to the current week/month you’re in or you can continue journaling as if nothing happened. I tend to go with the second option and continue on with my journaling life.
What do I do if I make a mistake?
Nobody’s perfect, that’s what Hannah Montana said right? She’s right. We aren’t. Even the best bullet journalists on Youtube and social media make mistakes.
I can’t tell you the amount of times I make a typo mistake like spelling Wednesday wrong. It’s embarrassing to say the least. Many times I’ll have this great drawing idea in my head and then eagerly put it on paper and let’s just say it resembles actual dog sh*t.
I recently wrote a post on tips for what to do if you make a mistake in your bullet journal and other useful pieces of advice.
Here is the post if you want to check it out! LET’S GO!
Some tips for taking care of bullet journal mistakes are:
- Doodle over it
- Use Wite-out
- Paint over it
- Cut out a piece of scrapbook paper or use a sticker and paste it over the mistake
*Try not to rip out pages as it damages the spine and makes it wonky*
Advice From Bullet Journalists
I personally reached out to two bullet journalists on Instagram and asked them what their advice would be to new journalists. I hope you take their words to heart and view their pages as they’re filled with so much inspiration.
From Journeyinbullets (on Instagram) –
“Hi there! Here are my tips for beginners:
- Don’t get too overwhelmed with all the artsy stuff you see
- Bullet journaling is an outlet to relieve stress, so if you are getting stressed from making your spreads, try changing it to suit your needs
- You don’t need to be the “best” when starting out
- If you feel you are too lazy to start or keep up with bullet journaling don’t feel pressured and just do you
- Just enjoy the process, and don’t be shy to ask for help”
From Yikesjournal (on Instagram) –
“Honestly I think the best thing anyone can do is start off by copying other peoples bujo layouts and then as you get better and better with the layouts and designing spreads to slowly change it up to add your own sense of style. For me the biggest thing was constantly looking to other bujo accounts for inspiration and practicing my lettering nonstop”
Who would have thought you would make it all the way here. You made it kid! You completed my ultimate guide to bullet journaling with tips on how to start a bullet journal, as well as plenty of bullet journal ideas to keep you busy for a while.
I wish I had a certificate to give you, instead here is a virtual hug. I look forward to seeing you in the bullet journal community and engaging on other posts here at JoyfullyHer.
If you’d like here is my bullet journal facebook group, Bullet Journal Babes, this is a place where you can be at any place in your bujo journey. Here you will find tips and tricks on bullet journaling.
Have a goodnight babes! Share this post with the world!