While I hate the term ‘idiot’ in any relation, if you need help with starting a bullet journal for the first time, this post is for you.
But before I truly begin, I just have two things to shout at all of you, first. The main thing I want to shout at you about is this: DO NOT FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO MATCH ALL OF THE SPREADS YOU SEE ONLINE or BE SUPER DUPER CREATIVE. Bullet journaling is something meant for you. I always see people, in the various Facebook Bullet Journal groups I am a member of, say they’re intimidated because of the creativity they see throughout the online world, or that they don’t want to begin bullet journaling because they don’t think they’ll “live up” to the spreads they see when they’re online. Let me just tell you something right now — you do not need to be creative to have a bullet journal and you most definitely do not need to live up to the spreads of anyone else.
You’ll read me saying this a lot, so I might as well get this first time out of the way – BULLET JOURNALS ARE MEANT FOR YOU. They’re meant to help you become more organized, they’re meant to help guide you in whatever step is next in life and most importantly, they’re your bullet journals. If you find yourself being one of the few people who say ‘but all of these people have creative spread and I just jot down things,’ take a breather. This is your journal, not theirs.
Make your journal to suit you.
That being said, let’s truly begin this post. Now, I know there are a bunch of other blogs and youtube videos and tumblr sites out there that explain bullet journaling and all of that fun stuff but I’m here to try and simplify this to the best of my ability.
From this point on, I’m assuming you already know what a Bullet Journal is. If not — oops? (If not, there are a variety of other places you could go to, but I would highly recommend the original website)
So – where do you begin?
Step 0 – The Lingo
Spread = a type of page in your journal. It can be one page, two pages, or more.
Daily/Dailies – A spread that focuses on one day of the week.
Weekly/Weeklies – A spread that focuses on the week you’re in.
Monthly/Monthlies – A spread that focuses on the entire month.
Dailies/Weeklies and Monthlies can be as many pages as you like.
Signifier – A little symbol that marks something in your book. A ♥ could be for date night or • could be for a note.
Step 1 – Finding the perfect Book
The answer to this is simple – by finding a book to use. It can be a Moleskine book, a Leuchtturm1917, or a simple book from your local dollar store, wal-mart, target or even grocery store. Trust me when I tell you that any book will do, as long as it’s something that suits you. Also, the book can be any size. It can be small, it can be super large. It doesn’t matter.
Another fun fact – the books can be blank, lined, dotted, grid, canvas, actual planner, whatever. As long as it suits you, it doesn’t matter what type of notebook and/or planner you use.
So essentially, any book, any size, planner or not, if you want to use it, use it.
The next step, of course, is as follows:
Step 2 – Finding the perfect Tools
Most websites, instagram accounts, tumblr accounts, youtube videos and Facebook groups will tell you otherwise, or make you feel otherwise, but the only real tools you’ll need for a bullet journal is a pen — or even a pencil, yes. What you add after that, is completely up to you. The color doesn’t matter. The type of pen doesn’t matter. You can use whatever you want, because remember, the bullet journal is suited to you, for you. If you plan on using markers or anything heavier than a pen, you may want to do a pen test in the back to check for bleeding or ghosting, but it is all up to you.
You can, of course, go gung ho with your tools – you can buy mildliners (also referred to as ‘midliners’), staedtlers, stabilos, washi tape, stencils, stickers, etc. You can buy whatever you want, if you want, just please note — these aren’t necessary to complete a bullet journal. You can also buy them whenever you want – the beginning of your journey, the middle, the end, whenever. It’s always going to be up to you.
Even small tools, like pencil cases or add-ons, are not necessary. The only thing necessary for bullet journaling is a book, a pen, and yourself.
So, now you know that the only thing important in beginning a bullet journal is three things: The notebook (any kind, from any where, with any type of paper); a writing utensil (pen, marker, pencil, etc) and yourself.
Step 3 – Beginning your Bullet Journal
So, now you know the type of book you use only matters to yourself. Same with the type of utensils. Are you still a little nervous to begin your bullet journal? If so, then try practicing on sample sheets of paper, or using post it notes to sort out layouts of different spreads.
Even then, if you’re still a little nervous, most notebooks come with a beginning page, where, if anything, you should at least put your contact info in, in case you lose your journal.
After all of that, are you still nervous? First, that’s completely okay. Everyone was nervous. Second, a lot of people on Facebook tell me to just go for it. And personally, I kind of agree. Everyone makes mistakes, or ends up not liking a spread. When this happens you can either move on or cover it up. Point is, don’t let the idea of making mistakes or not liking something you end up doing hindering you. There are a lot of spreads I do not like, but grew from.
Are you not nervous, ready to jump in to making your bullet journal? Awesome 😀 First things first – CONTACT INFORMATION. You want that in your book on the off chance you lose it or misplace it somewhere. Trust me.
Second things second – The ‘key’. The key is generally a list of what you use as ‘signifiers’ for a task you want to do or something. A lot of people use the general check mark and ‘x’ symbol but some people have more. Some keys have a list of colors used throughout the journal. Your key can be as simple as you want it. You don’t even have to have a key. It’s all up to you!
Thirdly, an Index Page. The index page is essentially a table of contents. It usually lists all of the spreads you have and what pages they’re on. It’s usually at the beginning of the book. Some people use it as a table of contents in put it in the back of the book. Some people use it as an actual index, where the subject is listed and what pages they’re on, and put it in the back of the book. Some people don’t even have an index. It’s completely up to you.
Then, a ‘future log’. The future log lists all twelve months in a year, or six months, or three months. Once again, your journal, your decision, it truly does not matter. It lists the important dates to you and that way you can look and see what’s coming up if you’re making weeklies or monthlies later on. The dates can be anything from holidays and birthdays, to school related events and doctors appointments. Hell, it could even list social media dates or important television shows coming back, it does not matter.
Step 4 – What Comes Next?
What comes next is completely up to you. Hopefully, you have some idea, maybe by looking online, through youtube videos, other blog posts, etc. Just remember:
- mistakes can be made
- you don’t need washi tape or stickers
- it doesn’t need to have a lot of color if you don’t want it to.
- it doesn’t need to be as ‘creative’ or ‘pretty’ as everyone else’s.
- you can begin a new journal whenever you want.
- the journal is meant to help you.
If you have any questions, please don’t be afraid to ask. This is also posted on my tumblr, if you find it there.