Bullet Journal Setup: An Easy Guide to Getting Started

Bullet Journal Setup: An Easy Guide to Getting Started

Interested in bullet journaling but not sure where to start? The difference between keeping a regular day to day journal and bullet journaling planner is not great but does vary enough to do a little research before you get started. This guide is designed to help you with your new bullet journal setup and provide you with the tips needed for taking advantage of this handy practice.

Whether you are looking to help reorganize your life, focus on responsibilities, meet new goals, or are simply looking to create a New Year BUJO to see what the fuss is all about – these are the tips you need to make it happen. Read on for some quick, simple ideas to create your very own bullet journal.

Bullet Journaling Explained

Known as a BUJO to some people, a bullet journal was born of the need to create a more organized and productive life. Unlike a more traditional journal, or diary, that is based on daily or weekly reflection, a bullet journal is organized as a part planner, part reflection, part goal making, and part life organizer that takes on a life of its own, the more you add to it. It serves as a simple way to stay on top of responsibilities, keep tasks, serve as a calendar, and work as a creative outlet when needed. When used, it is designed to help reduce stress and improve your own productivity.

woman writing on journal notebook

What to Include in a Bullet Journal

Bullet journals are organized a bit like a daily planner when you first get started, but they are personalized and tailored to your specific needs. They also include “collections” that reflect your own personalized details.

It’s really important to remember that there are a lot of suggestions and models out there for you to work off of, but what you need to keep in mind is that this is a personalized system- and there is no one size fits all organization you have to follow. Most examples are professionally created without error and follow strict guidelines to be presented in pdf format for you to copy, but a well-used example will have notes in the margins, doodles, and less than perfect handwriting.

The bottom line is, take what you like, organize how you need, and leave the rest. Order your pages in a manner that is easy to understand. You can always add to your journal as the need arises, or you can abandon sections altogether if they aren’t working for you.

Basic Journal Page Ideas

Even though a bullet journal doesn’t need to follow any specific order or series of steps, a decent step-by-step setup can be helpful when you are new to the process. Before committing to your beginning pages, first, make a list of the essential needs you feel you may want to include. The following ideas may be helpful for setting up a new journal.

journal notebook on wooden table

  • Title Page
  • Daily Tasks and Notes
  • Weekly and/or Monthly Plans
  • Weekly/Monthly Reviews
  • Budgets
  • Goals
  • Wish Lists
  • Exercise Guide
  • Quotes and Inspirations
  • Progress Charts
  • Lists (Books to Read, Subjects to Learn, etc…)
  • Wish Lists
  • Habit Creator
  • Weight Trackers
  • Affirmations
  • Meal Planners and Calendars
  • Birthdays
  • Trip or Special Occasion Planning
  • Chore Charts
  • Things to Buy
  • Shopping Lists
  • Learning Lists

Setting Up a New Journal

A pencil on top of a spread notebook

If you are looking for some inspiration for how to set up a new journal, the following guide helps explain what you might want to include in your beginning pages. This easy tutorial provides a suggestion for organization and is a simple place to start.

You may find the setup is a bit daunting and time-consuming, especially if this is the first time creating one, so it is important to set some time aside to get started. Don’t be afraid to do this over the course of a few days to avoid getting stressed. Turn it into a therapeutic creation practice instead of something you feel needs to be done quickly.

Setting Expectations

First and foremost you want to determine what you want your journal to do for you. Having some expectations during your initial planning will help you keep things organized. To do so, ask yourself a few of the following questions, such as, “what do you want this journal to do for me, what accomplishments do I want to achieve, what are my own expectations for this journal, and how might I make this experience effective?”

What You Need

Honestly, all you need to get started is your choice of notebook or journal and a pen or pencil. But since you are creating your journal from scratch, you may want to have a few other supplies handy so you aren’t running around looking for items as ideas come to you. At the very least have the following in reach once you have chosen a blank notebook, journal, or sketchbook to work with:

journal notebook, sticky notes, calendar, pins, on wooden table

  • Colored markers, pens, and pencils
  • Sticky tabs and notes
  • A ruler, scissors, and glue

A Title Page

Even if you aren’t creative don’t rule out a title page. You can place contact information here, provide a creative outlet, make a doodle page, or basically anything you want to introduce the journal as your own.

An Index

Set aside the first few pages for an index. You might want to keep this blank and come back to fill in once you have organized your journal and allotted the space you need for your collections. Also, leave room to add to later on once you are more comfortable with the journal’s use. You may find you want to change sections or start new lists.

Numbering Pages

Number Page of journal

Be sure to number your pages for quick and easy reference within your index once you have determined the organization of your creation. You can also always use paperclips, small binder clips, sticky tabs, and other bookmarks to help designate the location of your collections.

Creating Collections

Hopefully, you already have a good idea of what you want to include in your book. Daily, weekly, and monthly sections are best placed in the beginning pages of your journal followed by reflective pages. Collections of goals, future planning, lists, etc… often follow and may even be referenced within the designated calendar areas. Take a look at our own Starting a Bullet Journal article that provides more detail to what this might look like.

Organization

Once you have your wants and needs in order and have designated their location, go back and organize these collections into your index. You will most likely find that you will start to get new ideas of what you might like to include once you have decided upon these initial pages.

Conclusion

journal notebook, clips, highlighter, ballpen

The idea of creating a new bullet journal and getting it set up can sound a bit overwhelming at first if you are a newbie. Don’t let it intimidate you, however, and start visualizing how it can work for you once you have it organized. Start simple with the basic organization and collection designation before attempting to fill in the pages. Once you have this step out of the way you can best add to and make the journal your very own.

If you have any questions, or tips to share, please do so below. And, as always, please share our ideas!

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