Bullet Journaling in 15 minutes

By Michelle Doshi

What is Bullet Journaling?

A bullet journal is an analog system for planning your life. It is a planner that you customize yourself to suit your needs and goals, and a system for organizing your thoughts, tasks, meetings, events, goals, and more, to help you keep up and to keep track. 

Materials required

  • A notebook. Any notebook will do. Pick what works for you
  • A Pen or pencil, with or without an eraser

Optional additional materials:

  • A ruler
  • A highlighter(s)
  • Art supplies, such as:
    • Crayons
    • Color pencils
    • Markers
    • Washi tape
    • Markers
    • Stickers

Notebook options include regular lined paper, dot grid paper, or graph paper. Some people prefer bound notebooks while others will only use a notebook with a spiral.  

The creators of the bullet journal method sell a dot-grid bound notebook that comes in three colors, with dedicated pages for a key, an index, and a future log, and a pocket for small papers in the back.

How to get started

Learn the basics in this video:

If you are a first-time bullet journal-er, try out the original system as it was laid out. See what parts you decide to create more space for and which parts of the system you do not use. Drop the parts you do not use and expand upon what you find useful as you continue bullet journaling. Customizing the system is part of the fun.  

If you are not using the original bullet journal, remember to write in you symbols key somewhere in the beginning of the book, often the inside of the front cover.


Index – pages where you log the contents of the journal for reference later

Future log – pages where notes, tasks, and goals for future months are laid out. Usually, this takes the form of 6 months at a glance

Monthly log – pages detailing a month at a glance

Daily log – pages where you make space to write in daily tasks, notes, and events. This often takes the form of pages that detail a week at a glance.

Collection – pages that are not notes but also do not fit into the above categories. For example, books I want to read this summer or a fitness habit tracker.  

Notes page – a page use just for note taking

Activity tracker – usually a graph or a table used to indicate what activities were done on which days.

Key – on the inside cover of every bullet journal is a key of symbols used to indicate what, used throughout the journal.

Why Bullet Journal?

It can be hard to find a pre-designed planner with exactly the right layout and spacing that works. A bullet journal comes to you blank, so you can use it however you want. It can be a planner, a note pad, and a journal all in one. A bullet journal can be very pretty to look at, or it can be messy and quickly written, and it can change over time. You are not locked into one layout or one way of doing things with a bullet journal. Some would say that having an index is the key to making a bullet journal work. Except, an index may not work for everyone. Use the parts of the original system that work for you and add parts to your system that others have come up with and discard the rest of it.

Customizing the system

Some ideas for customizing the system:

  • Consider a habit tracker, either added to your monthly log pages, or laid out on a separate page.
  • Dedicate a page to tracking your progress on a goal, such as fitness or diet
  • Books you would like to read
  • A month by month look at managing a garden
  • A page where you jot down Christmas gifts to consider for friends and family come the holiday season
  • A Halloween costume brainstorm page, for yourself or for children, as they tell you their interests throughout the year
  • An overview of the status of a project, with dates x task was started and completed
  • Add a “coming up next” or “weekly goals” section to your daily log pages
  • Develop your own style with drawings, calligraphy, color, stickers, or washi tape

Collections and notes pages are even more useful when paired with an index. An index prevents the need to flip through the entire notebook when looking for just one page. However, not everyone uses collections. If you are not using collections and are instead only using future, monthly and daily logs, an index may be less helpful and more tedious to log. The best advice out there regarding the bullet journaling system is “do what works for you”.

Further reading:

Further watching:

Find the official Bullet Journal YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/bulletjournal. Bullet Journal YouTube is packed with opinions and how-to videos on getting started. Simply visit Youtube.com and search either “bullet journal” or “bujo”, the shortened form of "bullet journal". Find more than enough ideas to customize or design your bullet journal that range from absolute minimalist to full-scale artist sketch pad at these YouTube video links: