How to Bullet Journal

Have a goal to stay organized? In need of a scheduling system you'll keep? Then plan in style with a Bullet Journal! It's a unique way to keep events, notes, goals, general life and creative fun in order. So whether you're completely new to the writing craze or a journaling pro, here are some "BuJo" tips for beginners and creative inspiration for pros.

What Is a Bullet Journal You Ask?

A system of logging all sorts of information meaningful to you in a way that is easy to find and prioritize. (And a great excuse for growing your pen and washi tape collection.)

The Bullet Journal Method

The book that started it all and your personal guide to the world of the Bullet Journal. Ryder Carroll created this method of organization out of a need to focus and spend time and energy on what is most meaningful in our lives. So give this a read if you're interested in the philosophy behind the Bullet Journal and in picking up some goal focusing habits.

Getting Started

All you need to start your Bullet Journal journey is a notebook (preferably blank or dotted grid) and a pen of choice. What makes the process fun and unique is the ability to completely customize your journal to how you want to use it. Take a few layout ideas or spreads here and there, then add your own creative flair (and plenty of stickers) to make it your own.

Check out Ryder Carroll's video, opens a new window on starting your journal.

Quick Start Plan

Ready to jump into your Bullet Journal? Here are a few quick steps to get started.

  1. Grab your journal (notebook, or any form of blank pages bound together that is easy to travel with) and a pen (pencil, gel pen, felt marker—whatever type of writing instrument you'd like to experiment with). Start off by writing your name and info inside the cover to make it yours.
  2. Number all the pages if they are not already.
  3. Make an Index with the first few pages of your journal. Divide the pages into two columns, one side for page numbers, the other for page titles. When you log anything in your journal, write down the page number and description in the index to help you find it later.
  4. Create your own Key. The Bullet Journal gets its name from the bullets used to take notes. Each of these bullets can be different shapes and symbolize different things. Use a star for important info, square for a task, triangle for an event, etc. Use the standard Key in The Bullet Journal Method or create your personalized version, just be consistent.
  5. Make a Future Log. This is a big picture view to plan further ahead. Using two or more pages in your journal, divide into sections and title each section with a month and list out all the numbered days in the month along with any events happening on those days. Your future log can be of just a few months or include a whole year. Now jot down the page numbers in your Index.
  6. Make a Monthly Log. Flip to the next free spread space in your journal and title it the upcoming month. You can list out dates or organize the layout of days and events in calendar form, with more to include more details or artistic elements. And as will become habit, jot down this monthlies pages in your Index.
  7. Make a Weekly Log. This is a spread showing your week at a glance. I like to use these spreads to keep track of expenses and more detailed to-dos/loose notes and motivating quotes for added inspiration. You can also do Daily Logs instead, dividing pages as you see fit to tackle each individual day's task, up to your preference...and you guessed it, Index!
  8. Use and check your journal often, keep up with your Index and most importantly, experiment! The Bullet Journal is a constant work in progress, so have fun with it and journal away.

Dive deeper into the Bullet Journal process with The Ultimate Bullet Journal Guide., opens a new window


Customizing your journal is endless, start getting inspired with Megan Rutell's creative journal ideas.

Beyond Bullets

For readers of all ages, this book explores creative writing and imaginative ideas for all journaling paths.

Journal Sparks

Writing Help

Organization and schedules aside, the journaling process can be a wonderful way to express yourself creatively with writing. But if you need to get back into practice then dust off the cob webs of your writer's block by joining a Writers Circle.


Bullet Journals have also become excellent places to practice hand lettering and illustrative typography techniques. Take a look at the books below to get your hand lettering game on!

A complete introduction into hand lettering techniques, supplies and designs.

Happy Hand Lettering

Brush pens are your friends when it comes to working on your Bullet Journal and this book will help you learn how to use them.

Brush Pen Lettering

Add some painting and flair to your hand lettering with this creative quide. 

Watercolor & Hand Lettering

Techniques for mastering hand lettering, brush lettering and pointed pen calligraphy

Hand Lettering Step by Step

With it's collection of alphabet styles this book will inspire your next design.

Hand Lettering

Jazz up your journal spreads with not only lettering but decorative elements and designs.

An Introduction to Hand Lettering With Decorative Elements

Less Bullet More Art Journal

If you'd like more of an artistic exploration in your journal adventure, check out these creative art journal guides.

Liven up the look of your journal spreads with this book filled with inspiring ideas.

Art Journal Kickstarter

A step-by-step guide to getting well on your way to making beautiful journal spreads.

The Art Journal Workshop

Get a jumpstart on creativity with this handy guide that walks you through creating an art journal or sketchbook.

Ideas & Inspirations for Art Journals & Sketchbooks

Stay creatively energized with this helpful guide full of art prompts and artistic material techniques to keep you creating year round.

No Excuses Art Journaling