How To Start A Bullet Journal : The Ultimate Guide For Beginners!

Are you confused about how to start a Bullet Journal? This is the perfect place to start! A beginners guide on how to start a Bullet Journal!

Bullet journals are everywhere and maybe you have started to obsess. Scrolling through the gorgeous photos on Pinterest and instagram, wondering if you could do it too but you are still little confused. What is a bullet journal and how do YOU get started? In this post, I will break down everything that you need to know to get started in SIMPLE terms. By the end of this post, you will know how to start a bullet journal. I promise. And if not, make sure you message me and I can help answer any questions that you still have.

To keep this post organized since I am going to cover a few different topics. I have broken them up into the following categories/FAQs:

  • What is a Bullet Journal?
  • Bullet Journal Course I HIGHLY recommend!
  • Best Supplies to get started
  • Can I Bullet Journal even if I’m not artistic?
  • How To Start a Bullet Journal – Your First One!
  • What is the Bullet Journal Key?
  • How to use the Future Log
  • Brain dump page breakdown
  • How to set up each month for success
  • Weekly spread vs daily Bullet Journal Spread?
  • Giant list of things you can track in your Bullet Journal!

OK let’s get started!

What is a Bullet Journal?

How to start a bullet journal

The Bullet Journal was created by a man named Ryder Carroll as a way to take notes, complete tasks and remember appointments all in one planner.

I think the reason that it works so well is because everyone gets to design their perfect day planner. This means that you will no longer keep some appointments on the fridge calendar, some tasks on a post it note and some important thoughts in a notepad in your phone.

Instead everything will be in one location.

The methodology includes a key so that note taking is quicker and more efficient than you writing everything out.

Now let’s break everything down.

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THE Bullet Journal Course I Highly Recommend!

Whitney’s course Journal You is a total game changer! Her and 9 other instructors have created a step by step video led course to teach the ins and outs of How to start your Bullet Journal, beginner, intermediate and advanced techniques and 100 easy follow along Printables!

I don’t have the capacity to create something SO in-depth as they have done and with their talent! PLUS they have created a private and involved group of likeminded people trying to be more productive for you to join into!

Check it out here! You wont regret it!

Journal You Bullet Journaling Course

Scroll down for your FREE beginners guide to starting your Bullet Journal today!


Before we get started, I wanted to share some of the best and most affordable tools available for bullet journalling.

This notebook which is almost identical to the cult favorite and has raving reviews for a fraction of the cost!

This pen that won’t bleed through the page and is great for inputting your dailies

This Pen for art work and faux calligraphy

These Markers for decorating and color coding your journal

These stencils for making layouts quicker

Obviously the only things that you need to get started is a notebook and pen and you will use them the most. However, the markers are useful for colour coding your journal and the stencils will save you time in creating beautiful layouts

Read my full Bullet Journal Supplies Recommendation post!

Do I have to be Artistic to Bullet Journal?

How to Start a Bullet Journal

ABSOLUTELY NOT! The bullet journal was not designed to be the elaborate things that you see on the internet now. The bullet journal was designed to help you be a more organized and productive person. That. Is. It.

If you wanted to play around in your bullet journal by making little doodles or learning new lettering then go for it! This is your book and you can express yourself in whatever way makes sense for you.

I love being able to creatively express myself, but 99% of my pages are plain and practical.

How To Start Your First Bullet Journal

First things first. Make sure you have a quality journal and a quality pen.

Now that you have proper tools – We just need to start on your first page. That first page could just be a cover page with quotes and things that have been inspiring you to start you Bullet Journal. Draw something! Have fun with it. Afterwards putting in a key or index (table of contents) that you can refer back to as you fill in your Journal would be very productive!

Check out my Instagram for more inspiration!

Here is a breakdown of the pages I recommend including at the beginning of your bullet journal:

  • A Key – I will go into more detail about that in a minute but my tip would be to have that page on the left page of the book so it is easy to reference back to.
  • An index – so you can find collections easily.
  • Grid cheat sheet – a very handy tool if you plan on make grids or splitting the page in half or thirds frequently. This way you know exactly how many dots to count to make a perfect grid without counting the whole page and dividing it each time.
  • A focus quote – not a necessity but if there is a quote that you love and you want to really embody it this year, you should include it at the front of your book so you look at it frequently.
  • Future log – I will go into this with more detail soon but SO important. The cornerstone of the bullet journal!
  • Any yearly collections/ trackers (lots of ideas down below!)

Theses pages are the big blocks of your bullet journal. The things you want to track for a year or be able to find quickly.

As I create more informational posts on these topics I will include the links for each topic listed above!!

Check Out this Minimalist Bullet Journal Post for Inspiration on these pages!

What Is The Bullet Journal Key?

Since you are using symbols in your bullet journal to save time instead of writing everything out. You will need to keep a key somewhere to reference what the symbols mean until you have them memorized. Check out my post on how to set up your Bullet Journal Keys.

Extremely Important Note About Bullet Journals : NEVER Set Up Logs Ahead Of Time. You Never Know How Much Space You Need For Each Month Or Day. Future Dates Will Get Listed In The Future Log!

This is a very important point that your Bullet Journal is meant to be fluid and adaptable to what you need and when you need it! When I was learning how to set up my bullet journal I found this tidbit very helpful!

Bullet Journal Future Log: How to Use It!

Bullet Journal Future Log

The future log is the reason you can create your day logs everyday (at the earliest the night before)

Any important dates, events, birthdays or deadlines get added into the future log.

When you start your bullet journal, make sure you include the future log somewhere at the beginning of your notebook!

How To Use Brain Dump Pages

The Brain Dump page is very important (in my opinion) to add when you are learning how to start a bullet journal! It can feel overwhelming to try and add all of these pages, and wanting to just get thoughts on the page like a diary. This page helps with that!

Add anything that is swirling around in your mind to the brain dump page so you can stop stressing about what needs to get done but isn’t exactly a to do item yet.

I keep a brain dump page at the beginning of my book as well as one in each month’s collection. I just have way too many ideas for one brain dump page and I am sure there are a ton of Type A individuals that have the same struggle!

How to Start a Bullet Journal: Set Up Each Month for Success!

August Monthly Bullet Journal Spread

There are a few different methods for the monthly spread but the idea behind them all is to organize your tasks and appointments into one place so it is easy to stay organized.

Ryder Carroll does a very simple calendar type layout on one page with room to write down events, appointments, birthdays etc. and on the second page he has a todo page. Write down whatever tasks you need to complete for the month on the to do page. Using the key system, you will shorthand these items and keep track of when they are partially completed, completed, migrated or cancelled (migration means that you moved that to-do item to the following month).

Other people have enjoyed doing a traditional calendar with a spot to add a to do list.

You can choose what ever method works best for you!

Some months I have more time and I create a more elaborate monthly spread. Other months, I have less than five minutes so I just throw down some numbers along the left side of the page and call it a day. (Talk about being a mom to a hyper-active toddler!)

A Note About Monthly Collections or Trackers:

A list of collection ideas is at the bottom of this post, so make sure you read to the bottom for those!

Monthly collections are the things you would like to track within your Bullet Journal. Things that I like to track in my own journal are my finances, daily habits, sleep and time spent working on the blog!

Many people will track their mood, habits and finances each month. You can try different things each month until you find the things you want to track. Each month you may have different needs and will need to track different things. You might have a Calendar just for your kids recreational activities! In December you could track your Christmas present purchases! In August, track your back to school to-do items.

Your Bullet Journal is flexible to whatever YOU need!

Check out these posts for some of my favorite monthly Bullet Journal Spread Inspiration!

2020 Monthly Bullet Journal Spreads

15 Monthly Bullet Journal Spread Ideas

Weekly vs Daily Bullet Journal Spread

This is a topic you will need to test for yourself!

I LOVE the flexibility that doing a daily spread offers me each day versus trying to pen everything in a week in advance. Sometimes my week requires that I do both because I am so busy, but I am usually able to rely on my monthly bullet journal spread to keep me up to date on events going on!

minimalist schedule layout

A Weekly Spread offers structure to the week, allowing you to block out what you are doing each day of the week instead of planning that the night before each day! This is great for meal planning and those with BUSY schedules.

August Weekly Spread with Tracker and Goal Lists. Days of the week are highlighted yellow

I recommend a daily spread personally because I love the flexibility. I love having as much space as I need on a busy day to go wild. On a slower day, I might not add anything. This works for ME, but it might not for you.

Try it out over the first month of making your journal and see what you like more! Comment below what you found you enjoyed doing more!

GIANT List of Bullet Journal Spreads

Bullet Journal Spread Ideas

Self Care Bullet Journal Spreads

  • gratitude log
  • self care ideas
  • sleep log
  • mood tracker
  • dreams and goals
  • affirmations
  • acts of kindness logs or ideas
  • word or quote focus for the year
  • things you love about yourself
  • things to improve upon
  • period tracker


  • Maintenance schedule
  • Cleaning schedule


  • weight and measurement tracker
  • fitness test tracker
  • workout log
  • workout ideas
  • step counter
  • running log
  • water tracker


  • grocery lists
  • food ideas
  • meal plan
  • food log
  • whole30 rules
  • favourite meals
  • restaurants to try
  • pantry and freezer inventory


  • bible reading log
  • bible study notes
  • prayer requests
  • favourite bible verses


  • clothes and shoe sizes
  • family tree
  • present ideas
  • the phone numbers to your kids friends
  • emails to your kids teachers
  • birthdays and anniversaries
  • kids sport schedule
  • things my kids say
Bucket List Spread Idea

School Bullet Journal Spreads

  • professor emails
  • grade tracker
  • study log
  • class schedule
  • study tips
  • study plan
  • exam schedule


  • debt repayment tracker
  • budget
  • bill tracker
  • spending
  • savings tracker
  • financial goals
  • income tracker
  • things to sell


  • Doctors Appointments
  • Baby HR at each appointment
  • the size of baby and any developmental milestones
  • how you are feeling
  • tracking babies kicks each day
  • baby names

Hobbies / Interests

  • books to read
  • podcasts to listen to
  • tv show tracker
  • movies to watch
  • favourite music
  • places to visit
  • activities to try
  • packing list


  • dream log
  • weather
  • interesting facts
  • lettering alphabets to reference for new font ideas
  • grid cheat sheet to reference
  • feng shui rules
  • memories of the month or year
  • my year in polaroids
Happy Birthday Bullet Journal Spread

What About You?

Has this helped you learn more about bullet journaling and how to start a bullet journal? Are you planning to start one now? If not, what is holding you back?

If you want to see more from us then follow along:

Don’t forget to pin


12 Bullet Journal Hacks That Actually Work!

15 Monthly Bullet Journal Spreads To Check Out!

51+ Minimalist Bullet Journal Spreads