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Learn how to bullet journal in 7 easy steps. The beauty of bullet journaling is that it can be whatever you want it to be. All you need to start is a notebook and a pen. Everything else is just add-ons to make your bullet journal more personal and prettier.

Who created bullet journaling?

Bullet journaling was created by Ryder Carroll as a tool for him to handle his learning disabilities and still be productive and creative. It is a simple way of structuring notes and calendars using visual aids and a defined format. It can be used privately as well as for work.

A bullet journal has, despite this, endless possibilities for you to let your creativity be part of planning, keeping track of to-do’s and keeping a diary, both as a beginner and as a long-time bullet journal user.

Why bullet journal (it's simple - online vs offline)

How to bullet journal is connected to why bullet journal. When you create your own bullet journal, knowing why you want to bullet journal is important. Is it to remove all of your sticky notes from your desk, sort your thoughts out, keep track of the progress of goals, or just spend some time using your creativity?

Since a bullet journal is supposed to be personal and simple to use, there is no one how to bullet journal method, so you have to work out what it is you need from your bullet journal. Most people use an offline bullet journal, but there are also online versions that you can use.

Bullet Journaling for beginners

Bullet journaling for beginners is dead easy: get a notebook and pen. Spend 30 minutes thinking about how to bullet journal in a way that will suit your needs. Make an index, and start filling the pages with your todo’s, thoughts, ideas, appointments and goals.

How to Bullet journal

Step 1: Get your journal kit and pens

The start of a bullet journal is to get a notebook. Any notebook will do, but the size is important. Too small means you will not fit all of the things into it, and too large means you will not bring it with you always. If you choose blank, dotted or grid pages is up to you.

Then the pens. One is enough, if you go for the minimalistic style of how to bullet journal. However, different coloured pens will give you the possibility to colour code your notes, adding a visual aid to help you keep things apart. Always use a pen, and not a pencil.

Step 2: Make an index page

Once you have your bullet journal gear, make an index page at the beginning of the notebook. The index is to help you easily find the different things you put in. Leave a few pages for the index to continue. Number each page.

In the left-most column write the page number, and next to it what the page contains. Probably the first entry of your bullet journal will be the heading “Index”, with the first line “1-3 Index”.

Step 3: Chart out your logs

Normally, when thinking about how to bullet journal, you will need a calendar to keep track of things. To keep it simple, start with a monthly calendar. Use a new spread, two pages, and number them.

In the leftmost column on the left page, enter the dates of the month, one day per row. For clarity, put the first letter of the weekday after the date. Enter your calendar entries to the right of the letter of the weekday.

The right page can be used to list activities that have no specific date.

Step 4: Setup a symbol system

To enhance visibility and simplify overviews, a symbol system is good to have. Again, when deciding how to bullet journal, for beginners, keep the symbols to a minimum when you start your journal.

There are three standard symbols, which will cover most of your needs: The dash, which indicates a note about something. A dot, to mark tasks. o, to signify an event.

It is a good habit of creating a page with the key to your symbols in your journal. Remember to number the page and add it to your index.

Step 5: Set your goals

The goals pages can be really intimidating for beginners if you happen to stumble across other peoples bullet journals. If you are trying out how to bullet journal to suit you, nevermind what other people do, and start with the basics. You can always elaborate once you get the hang of it.

Create pages where you list your goals. Remember to number the pages and add them to the index. Once you have listed your goals, you can start thinking about how to visually track progress, and if you want to break some of your goals down further. Create new pages as needed, for keeping track or detailing down.

Step 6: Plan ahead and make time for journaling

Use your bullet journal to avoid cramming too much into the same time slot. Once you get the overview, it is easy to get a better picture of how much time you will have for bullet journaling.

In the beginning, when you are learning how to bullet journal, allow some extra time for journaling every day. Once you get the hang of it, you will pick up speed. Or, alternatively, you can allow your creativity to take a larger place in your bullet journaling.

Step 7: Hang in there (you will eventually become better)

Finally - keep using our bullet journal! It will get easier, take less time and become a natural habit. By thinking about how to bullet journal, you will note what works for you and what needs to be re-thought to suit you and your life better.

Allow yourself enough time each day, and think of the time you spend on your journal as a way of summing up your day, letting it go and planning and preparing for the coming ones. Give yourself at least two months with daily bullet journaling before you evaluate the overall results.

Benefits with bullet journaling

Some of the benefits you will find when you have figured out how to bullet journal are:

  • Overview of your plans - with the calendar pages, you will get a better visual picture of your month, helping you too understand if you are overloading your time or have room to add more things.

  • A cleaner desk - there will be no more sticky notes cluttering your desk or computer screen. This will help you concentrate and be more productive.

  • Time management - you will know if you spend your time on the right things.

Is a pen and paper better than a digital version?

There are digital apps for bullet journaling, so you can use a digital version. Digital or analogue is not the main thing, but rather the format itself, and actually keeping a bullet journal.

However, many people find the analogue version a way to relax after long hours at the computer. And a notebook and a pen do not require any electricity or wifi.