How to Bullet Journal

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how to bullet journal

So, you want to know how to bullet journal? 

Great! A bullet journal is flexible and simple.   It will help you track the past, organize the present and plan for the future.  Are you ready?  Let me show you how to bullet journal today!

And since you’re here, why not say hi!  There’s a box at the bottom of the page for exactly that purpose. I’d love to hear from you!

how to bullet journal -supplies

How to Bullet Journal

There are basically 5 steps to get you started.

When starting a bullet journal, it’s best to keep it simple at first.  Get your journal of choice in hand, and get started!

how to bullet journal - selecting a journal type

The easiest way to get started is to use the basic format set out by Ryder Carroll, the creator of the bullet journal concept (watch his video below.) 

  1. Choose your journal style, and set up the index of your bullet journal.
  2. Set up the key for your journal, to show the symbols you will be using.
  3. Create a future log, and decide on your monthly and weekly formats.
  4. Create a monthly log.
  5. Start making entries!

That’s it!


Step 1:  Create the index of your bujo (that’s bullet journal, for short.)

The index will organize the content of your journal and help you quickly locate items.

how to bullet journal - create an index

When starting a bullet journal, the index will be located in the first spread.  Simply write “Index” across the top of these 2 pages.  (You can use the first 2 spreads as index pages, depending on how many pages your journal has and how many items you think your journal will hold.)   

Then number all of the pages. (Some journals will come set up with an index and numbered pages.  The Leuchtturm1917 journal already has these items created for you.  This is the one I selected as my first bullet journal, and I love it!.)

Your index will reference the page numbers for the items in your journal, so beginning on the next page number every page in the journal. (Number both the left-hand pages and the right-hand pages.)


Step 2: Set up the Key for your Journal.

how to bullet journal -setting up a key

Photo: Listefreaken (Instagram)

Turn to the next spread.  This will hold your key.  

The key will use symbols to define the items you are adding to your journal.

You can use any symbols that make sense to you when setting up the key for your journal.   The standard suggested key symbols are divided into categories and signifiers.


  • a dot (.) for a task,
  • a circle (o) for an event,  
  • a dash (-) for a note,


  • an asterisk for an important item.
  • > for an item that has been moved forward in time (moved to the next day or month)
  • < for an item that has been scheduled to a future month, and noted in the future log.
  • X for a completed task
  • Strikeout and cancelled items.
  • ! for something that is inspirational

You might choose to create the key in pencil for now, and ink it in later, once you’ve decided on your preferred symbols.  There is no right or wrong way to set up your bullet journal! Check out this post for bullet journal key ideas.


Step 3: Set up your Future Log

Your future log will be the place to note events that will take place in future months.

how to bullet journal - the future log

photo: Elisalex (instagram)

Turn to the next blank spread. Divide the pages evenly into 3 rows.  (count the number of lines on the page and divide by 3.) Draw 2 horizontal lines to divide each page into 3 sections.

Title the sections with the names of the upcoming 6 months.  

You can even make a mini calendar for each month, if you want to. (This it totally optional.)

Turn to the next blank spread and add the last 6 months in the same manner.  

Add your future log to your index.


Step 4:  Set up your first Monthly Log.

The monthly log will track events and tasks for the current month.  It is a month-at-a-glance summary of everything you need to get done during the month.

how to bullet journal - monthly log

photo: caseofthoughts (instagram)

In the next spread of your journal.  Write the name of the current month. Write the numbers of the dates for the month going down the page, and in the space to the right, write in the days of the month.  Simply write the first letter of each day, M, T, W, T, F, S, S.

The right hand side will be your monthly task list.  Here is where you will note any tasks you plan to achieve during the month.  Place a dot to the left of each task.  (Or, if you have elected to use different symbols, use the task symbol from your key.)  On the left you can include events or special dates/holidays.

Add the monthly log to your index.


Step 5:  Start making entries.

Now you’re ready to start using your bullet journal.  Start making daily entries.

how to bullet journal - make daily log entries

photo: stakis.bujo.fix (instagram)


Enter tasks, events and notes into your journal. Indicate the category of each item for each day using the category bullets from your index. Use your signifiers to mark items as completed or scheduled/migrated.

Since the bullet journal is intended to be efficient, you should put your entries as jot notes, not complete sentences.   

At the end of the month, check through all of your entries for tasks which have not been completed. Decide if items are still important and if they are, add them to your new month’s list.

That’s it!


Watch Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal Video here:

Watch as he shows you the basics of how to bullet journal:

If you want to see a basic bullet journal being set up, this is the video to watch.  Ryder Carroll explains how to bullet journal better than anyone else, and of course he should – he created it!

Now that you know how to bullet journal, you can get started right away!



Weekly Spreads, Trackers and Collections.

how to bullet journal - create spreads

photos:  @studysection, @_achka_, @thenikosnyder

  • Some people create a weekly spread by dividing a double page spread into the days of the week in order to further visually lay out the time.  The original bullet journal concept does not include weekly spreads.  These have become popular in setting up a bullet journal.  You can read more about bullet journal weekly spreads and get ideas for how to lay them out  here.
  • Collections are pages that are dedicated to collecting information about a project or list of similar items.  You can use them for shopping lists, to organize projects, or to make notes about something.  When you create a page for a collection, add it to your index.  Here are some ideas of collections you might like to keep in your bullet journal.
  • Trackers have become another popular feature of the bullet journal.  Trackers are a way for you to visually track your daily habits.  Here are some ideas about how to lay out trackers for your bullet journal.
  • Over time, your journaling style will become clear.  Until then enjoy the freedom the bullet journal gives you to create your own individual style.


Also, here’s a link to Ryder Carroll’s website

How do you use a bullet journal?  What’s your favorite feature of the bullet journal?  I’d love to hear all about it!