3 Steps to Start a Bullet Journal


3 steps to start a bullet journal | Thoughtfully Handmade

For those of you who know me, you know that I love bullet journaling. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a versatile planning system invented by Ryder Carroll.

Today on the blog, I’m showing you how to start your own bullet journal if you’re just beginning on your planning journey. I go over the basic spreads, the supplies you need and how to make your journal your own.

The number one rule is that there are no rules when it comes to bullet journaling. It’s a way for you to make a planner spread work for you. You can customize it any way you’d like. The steps below are very general. Anything that I suggest is just that- suggestions. If something doesn’t work for you, change, so it does!

To learn more, just keep reading!

Materials

The two essential things you will need to start a bullet journal is a notebook and a writing utensil. I prefer my fancy Leuchtturm1917 dotted notebooks and fountain pens, but something from the dollar store works just as well.

Now, if you want to spice up your bujo and make it aesthetically pleasing, you might need some stickers and washi tape for decoration, and Crayola super tips for calligraphy. If you’d like to learn how to do calligraphy, I have a very basic step-by-step guide on the blog.

Step 1: Basic Spreads

The first thing you will need to make is a key. It’s your personal coding system to check off tasks and designate items.

For example, for finished tasks, I mark an x in the box beside it. For cancelled ones, I mark a straight line across the box. For ongoing tasks, I draw half of an x, and for tasks that I move to another day, I draw an arrow through the box. For events, I use a circle instead of a box to denote the difference between a task and an event/appointment.

Another basic spread is your index or table of contents. Now, it won’t be much use to you while you use the bullet journal, but if you ever need to go back and look for something, you can then easily find it. It’s meant for you to catalogue the most essential spreads that you might need to refer back to later.

The three basic planning spreads are the yearly, monthly and weekly spread. I know some people do daily spreads as well, but I find it redundant for my purposes. I’ve included some photos of my spreads below.

Yearly:

Annual Yearly Spread in Bujo | 3 Steps to Start a Bullet Journal | Thoughtfully Handmade

Monthly:

Monthly Calendar Spread in Bujo | 3 Steps to Start a Bullet Journal | Thoughtfully Handmade

Weekly:

Weekly Planning Spread in Bujo | 3 Steps to Start a Bullet Journal | Thoughtfully Handmade

Step 2: Fun Spreads

Now, bullet journals aren’t just about planning, but also about managing your life in general. Here are some of the fun spreads that I include in my bujo with photos.

Habit tracker:

Where you track how often you do the habits that you want to implement.

Habit Tracker Spread in Bujo | 3 Steps to Start a Bullet Journal | Thoughtfully Handmade

Quote page:

Where you write down a quote that resonates with you or motivates you.

Calligraphy Quote Spread in Bujo | 3 Steps to Start a Bullet Journal | Thoughtfully Handmade

Title page:

Used to mark when a new month begins.

April Title Page Spread in Bujo | 3 Steps to Start a Bullet Journal | Thoughtfully Handmade

Goals and todo page:

Where I set my yearly and monthly goals and tasks.

Goal-setting and Todo Tasks Spread in Bujo | 3 Steps to Start a Bullet Journal | Thoughtfully Handmade

There are also some popular spreads, but I don’t use them.

  • Mood tracker: to keep track of your emotions during the day
  • Meal planner: to plan out your meals
  • Budget tracker: to manage your money (I do this on my computer instead)
  • Savings tracker: to track your savings goal
  • Plant care spread: to keep track of important info for your plants
  • Pet care spread: same as plants but for pets

Step 3: Decorate

There are so many ways to decorate your bullet journal. You can doodle, draw, add washi tape, make a collage, put stickers- the possibilities are endless.

Or, you can entirely skip this step if you want to keep things minimal.

I choose a colour theme for every month and try to only use washi tapes and markers in that colour.

May Monthly Title Page Spread in Bujo | 3 Steps to Start a Bullet Journal | Thoughtfully Handmade

Conclusion

There are so many other spreads and uses for a bullet journal than the ones I’ve listed above. The point of bullet journaling and why I love it so much is that I get to create a planning system that suits my needs. It also gives me a chance to express my creativity. Honestly, writing in my bujo is cathartic and helps me relieve stress.

For more inspiration, you should definitely check out Boho Berry, AmandaRachLee and Caitlin’s Corner on YouTube. Pinterest and Instagram have some amazing accounts too. Have fun on your bullet journal journey!

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