How To Get Started Making Your Own Bullet Journal

If you’re a lover of all things organized, then you’ve probably already heard about the bullet journal. And if you haven’t, do I have some great news for you. A bullet journal allows you to create your own journal and customize it just for you.

Ready to learn how to make your bullet journal? Let’s get started.

Pink bullet journal on desk

What Is a Bullet Journal?

How many planners have you had that didn’t quite fit your life or schedule? Most of us who use planners have to tweak them to make them work for our lives.

And that’s the magic behind bullet journals.

A bullet journal is a planner that you create for yourself. It perfectly aligns with your needs because only you know what your planner should look like. It doesn't just help you plan, either -- a bullet journal helps you keep track of your past, schedule the now, and plan for the future.

In other words, it a traditional planner on steroids!

Here's a good video that explains the concept:


Here’s the best thing: It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to make a bullet journal. In fact, you can do it for under $10.

How to Get Started with a Bullet Journal

Before you start making your bullet journal, there are a few things you should know. After all, you’ll go from using a store-bought journal that isn’t exactly right for your life to one that is perfect in every way.

However, change is change. And to make this one successful, think about the following habits you should adopt.

Not so fast

Have you ever gone back to read your handwriting when you’d written it in a hurry? If you’re like me, it’s almost indecipherable. The point of making a bullet journal is to organize your life in a way that makes sense for you.

And if you can’t read it, that kind of defeats the purpose.

So, slow down. Write neatly in your bullet journal, so all the work you put into organizing your days and weeks won’t be lost in translation.

You’ll probably flip

You will need to create an index when making a bullet journal, but many users say they often flip through the book instead referring to the index every time they want to find something. And that’s why you use larger writing and bolding. For instance, bold your headlines so you can easily find them as you flip through your bullet journal.

Seven is the number of perfection

People set up their bullet journal schedules differently, but some swear by using a weekly task list. Write the week’s dates across the top of the page and then include everything you need to do that week. You can then move all of the tasks to your monthly calendar view.

Don’t hide it

As the days go by, you’ll hear funny jokes, important things to remember, or even quotes you want to remember. If you leave your bullet journal out in the open, you won’t have to track it down every time you want to add something to it.

Stick it

Stickers aren’t just for kids. In fact, when you make a bullet journal, adding stickers to it can not only make it look better, but it may also improve your productivity. Imagine using little arrows and placing them beside every urgent task. Or putting a heart next to tasks that involve your family or friends.

Get creative and use stickers in your bullet journal to make it look good or be more useful.

Box it in

When you make a bullet journal, you will probably add something to it every day. For instance, you may make another page for a special event or add some colorful writing to one of the days. To help you stay organized with your craft supplies, create a box to keep it all in.

You can store your colored pens, washi tape, and stickers in the box. That way, you’ll never have to go looking for your supplies when inspiration hits you.

Are you ready to make a bullet journal? Let’s get started.

How to Make a Bullet Journal

If you’re ready to set up your first bullet journal, I’ve got good news for you: it only takes a few minutes. Now, if you want to decorate it with colored pen and stickers, you might take some extra time to get it just right, but for the bare bones of the bullet journal?

You’ll have it done in a few minutes.

Here’s a step-by-step process.

Fold it up

Your first step is to grab some index paper. You can use square graphs, dot graphs, or any other type of paper that suits your needs. Fold them in half, so it looks like a book with two sides.

Index it

Here’s where you will begin to see the magic of a bullet journal. The index is the place where you will log all of your notes, calendars, and schedules — and then note what pages they appear on. Yet when using a traditional planner, you have to leave blank pages and try to guess how everything will fit into your planner over the month.

Not so with a bullet planner.

Your index page is fluid. You will simply write down the pages as you add them to your journal. They don’t have to be in order.

Think of it like an out-of-order table of contents in a book.

Isn’t that incredible?

For example, if you add a month-by-month calendar on pages 1-6, but decide that you later want to add quotes for each month, simply add them and then add the pages to the index. It doesn’t matter that they aren’t in order.

For now, though, write “Index” at the top of this page and then add the index to the list. You should probably make it the first two pages of your bullet journal because you’ll need room to add pages throughout the month or year.

Looking forward

Keeping track of future events is important, and the bullet journal makes it easy to do. On your next page, write Future Log across the top. Here, you will keep track of your upcoming events, and things you want to accomplish in the future.

Start each item with a box that you can check off once you’ve completed the task, the name of the task, and the date that it will or should occur.

That’s just one way to create your future log. People use all kinds of methods to create theirs. Here's a video looking at some different potential layouts:

That monthly thing

You will also want to track your time with each month, and that’s where the monthly log comes in. To create these pages, write the name of the month at the top of the page. Keep in mind that a bullet journal is your custom creation, so you don’t have to start with January. If you’re creating your bullet journal this month — June — start with this month.

Or, if you like things linear, start with January.

The thing is, it’s up to you. It’s your journal.

Along the left side of every month, list the dates. And then, just to make it easier, add the first letter of the day of the week so you can easily keep track of them. For example, as you write days 1-5, you’ll add M for Monday, T for Tuesday, W for Wednesday, Th for Thursday, and F for Friday.

Now add all of your upcoming events next to each date. If you have a dentist appointment on the upcoming Friday, add it. Do this for all of the events in your future.

Let’s move on and learn about the next pages.

An extra step

If you live a busy life, you may want to add a monthly task list every month. These pages can be added immediately after the monthly calendars (Or anyplace else. Remember, it’s your bullet journal!). Just title the page "Monthly Task List" and jot down everything you need to accomplish that month.

Remember, you can always add to your monthly task lists as things come up.

Do it daily

Next, you should create a daily log. Here’s where a lot of people actually start to get a little confused with their bullet journal. The daily log isn’t a to-do list like you create on just any piece of paper. Instead, it’s a log — of your life.

So feel free to mix the casual and serious things that happen in your life. For example, you might write, “Go to the grocery store and buy milk” on one line, and on the next, “Jacob’s first haircut.” It’s a combination of the things you need to do that day and the memories you make along the way.

All those things

Your next pages should be for collections. And only your imagination will limit what you use to fill these pages. You could create a page for books that you want to read, movies you want to see, telephone numbers of friends, places you want to go on your vacation, cities you want to live in one day, or gifts you need to buy for Christmas.

Be sure to add boxes next to each item you enter so you can check them off as you do it!

Signify what?

Once you’ve created your bullet journal, it’s time to fill it with the events from your life. And one way to keep track of those events is with signifiers.

A signifier is a categorization system that allows you to look at a page in your bullet journal and understand exactly what’s going on.

But here’s the deal: People have created a lot of signifiers. And all of that can quickly become overwhelming.

You should select a few signifiers for your bullet journal and not branch out until you’re comfortable with the process. Otherwise, you’ll get bogged down, and that will take away from the beauty of a bullet journal. Simplicity and efficiency are what you’re after, remember?

The box you used for the Future Log is a signifier. It signifies that it is something you need to do. You can use dots for things that are important, or stars for things you need someone to help you with.

Here are some signifiers to choose from. Remember to limit them when just starting!

It’s so pretty

If you’ve watched YouTube videos on decorating bullet journals, you’re either inspired or scared to death. If you’re artistic and love art, you’re probably drooling at the thought of making your first bullet journal. However, if you’re not, you may feel a little anxiety right now.

So here’s the thing: Your bullet journal doesn’t have to be beautiful. If you have the skill and desire, makes yours as pretty as you want with stickers, doodles, fancy letters, and whatever strikes your fancy. But if you’re not blessed in that department, don’t worry. A plain, basic bullet journal gets the job done as well as an embellished one.

And if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, take a peek at this video (but don’t let it stress you out).

Tips and Tricks for Bullet Journal Success

When you make a bullet journal, you have to know that it will be ever-changing. That’s because as you make it, you will tweak it to make it your own. Here are some things that will help you make it the most productive planner you’ve ever used.

Birds of a feather

Migration is an important aspect of bullet journaling because it’s how you filter the things that did or did not get done. For instance, if you had a task of buying school clothes, but didn’t finish it, you will move it to the next month when you create it.

To migrate effectively, go through the pages of the last month and look for any empty boxes, triangles, or whatever signifiers you use for tasks you need to complete. Then analyze the unfinished ones and decide if it’s worth your time to move them to the next month.

If it is, move them. If not, you’ve just saved yourself some time.

It’s sew easy

Because bullet journals aren’t put in any order, you may find that your nonconsecutive pages are difficult to keep up with. And that’s where threading comes in.

You will have all of your nonconsecutive pages written down in the index section, but threading is a way to make finding them even easier. For instance, if your pages 1, 6, 10, and 32 are all related, you can add the next pages at the bottom of each one.

For example, add a 6 at the bottom of page 1, and a 10 at the bottom of page 6. This will allow you to easily keep track of your pages.

Be different

Finally, you may decide that you want to create a yearly calendar so you can see all the months over two pages. You can do this in traditional boxes, or in lines. It’s completely up to you, and you should create yours in a way that best works for your brain.

Are You Ready to Make a Bullet Journal?

Making a bullet journal is not only fun, but it will help you achieve productivity as you’ve never experienced. It’s a great way to plan for your present and future while keeping important memories from the past. However, one type of bullet journal isn’t necessarily right for everyone. Instead, think about your specific needs and create the bullet journal that’s perfect for you.

Have you created a bullet journal yet? If so, we would love to about any tips and tricks you want to share in the comments below!

Featured Image: Pixabay License, by Pexels, via Pixabay

August 26, 2019 — Halie Heindel