Bullet journals provide a daily space for productivity, relaxation, and reflection. Soothe your mind and get creative by bullet journaling.
What is it?
Designed by Ryder Carroll in 2013, the bullet journal (or BuJo) is a self-designed planner system that helps you stay organized and flexible. It contains schedules, to-do lists, diaries, meditations, and everything in between—streamlining life’s chaos into manageable bullet points that fit in your brain and backpack.
The Sections of a Traditional BuJo
While you can personalize your bullet journal to your needs, a tried-and-true foundation will help get you into the BuJo spirit. You'll find these sections designed across a spread in most bullet journals: the index, future logs, monthlies, dailies, and collections.
—Set aside the first three pages or so. This is your BuJo’s table of contents.
—Use the index to keep track of your content and the corresponding page numbers.
—Remember to update it when you add new pages!
—This is the first page after your Index and it's the BuJo way of keeping track of the future.
—Have an appointment months in advance? Save it here and add it to a monthly later on.
—A spread of your month at a glance.
—You can depict it however you'd like! A list or a traditional calendar are most common layouts.
—It can include your goals, aspirations, and thoughts for the month.
—Write down plans, appointments, dates, or deadlines here.
Dailies and Weeklies
—A spread of your daily or weekly to-do list.
—There are many ways to lay these out—it's all up to your personal preference.
—You can add anything you’d like to them, such as meal tracking, steps walked, or mood.
—Catch-all for things that don’t fit into your monthlies or dailies.
—Can be lists (shopping, book recs, etc.), brain dumps, trackers, recipes—anything!
—Start a collection on the next blank page of your BuJo, or, if you prefer having a separate section for your collections, start at the end of your journal.
Make Your First Mark
An unspoken rule is to stay away from journals with lined paper. Instead, pick up a journal with a dotted grid—the most popular style in BuJo! Here are some journals ready for your random thoughts, sprawling to-dos, and doodles:
Paperage Dotted Notebook
- This notebook is the perfect travel size, and contains a pocket to store any postcards, newspaper clippings, or stickers you have future plans for.
Leuchtturm 1917 Dotted Notebook
- Although more expensive, this notebook not only has ink-proof pages (i.e., ink won’t bleed through), but they are numbered, which makes indexing much easier.
Bullet journalers recommend you use tools dedicated to BuJo use. Fancy pens will brighten up your journal and keep you engaged. To spice up your BuJo, check out these pens:
- For pops of color: Zebra Mildliner
- These pens are good for highlighting your writing or adding a flair of color.
- For a great all-purpose BuJo pen: Muji pens
- You’ve definitely seen these pens around, and there’s a reason for that. They’re precise, refillable, and come in many colors—perfect for both drawing and writing!
- Classic, quality black pens: Sakura Pigma pen set
- This black pen set scores high on affordability and quality. The crisp and smooth lines will cater to your inner perfectionist.
At the heart of bullet journaling is flexibility, so as you construct your BuJo, add your own personal touches. Record fond memories in your monthlies, doodle a character from your favorite movie, or collage clippings from your go-to magazine—whatever will make it yours.
Remember to set aside some time daily (or at least weekly) to update your journal, but keep everything light and brief! When you cross off agenda items or design your next spread, it should be relaxing and help you control your stress.
If fear of imperfection is holding you back from putting pen to paper (perhaps you’ve scrolled through too many picture-perfect spreads), take comfort in Carroll’s reminder: "It’s not about how it looks; it’s about how it feels, and, most importantly, how it works for you."
Tips & Tricks
Update your index whenever you add new pages or spreads to your BuJo. Ctrl + F or a Search bar are out of the question, so keep up with it to ensure your future reminiscing is frustration-free!
Don’t be afraid to mess up or make mistakes. Obsessing over perfection will ultimately hinder you from actually bullet journaling. Chant done, not perfect to yourself if you feel the "BuJo block" coming on.
Experiment with what layouts and spreads work best for you. Your BuJo is meant to help you, so it doesn’t have to look nice all the time!
Want to add a personal touch to your BuJo? Collage snippets from an article you enjoyed, or paste those old movie tickets onto a spread. These taped-in items add a level of craft and personality to your process.
If you want to be artsy without trying too hard, use stencils or stamps to decorate your spreads. Even if you aren’t the most artistically inclined, these “shortcuts” ensure anyone can bullet journal with flair!
In a rush? The official BuJo website has shorthand symbols to help you journal more efficiently. You can also make up your own shorthand for your BuJo.
If something about your BuJo doesn’t make you feel good or productive, don’t do it. The point of a BuJo is to help you relax and stay focused—not add more stress!
Here are some creative ideas to jump-start your imagination.
- A year in pixels—Turn your bullet journal into a time capsule that tracks your ups and downs with a year in pixels. Make a box for each day of the year and color-code different emotions in a table key. Color in each box according to how you felt each day. Once everything is said and done, you'll have a chart of how you felt that year for you to reminisce upon.
- Gratitude log—These logs help set aside time each day to remember what you’re thankful for.
- Monthly goals—Have something you’d like to improve? List your goals for each month and track your progress throughout your dailies. This keeps you accountable and motivated. Be sure to reward yourself when you meet your goals!
- Brain dumps—If you’re feeling overwhelmed or just want to word-vomit into your journal, save a few pages for brain dumps. They will untangle your thoughts in a creative way.
- Movie Spreads—Inspiration for using your BuJo to organize the movies you want to see or have already seen.
- Book Spreads—Creative ways to visualize the books you want to read or have already read.
- Washi tape—Want to take your BuJo to the next level? Color-code it with this set of washi tape to spruce up the pages, or just make cool designs.
- Watercolor washes—Another way for your BuJo to burst with color is to create spreads of watercolor washes. Watch this YouTube tutorial to learn how!
Still need more tips or ideas? Check out this list of BuJo collection inspo.
The BuJo Community
The vibrant BuJo community disproves the stereotype of the solitary journaler. There are lots of opportunities to make bullet-journaling friends and to exchange tips, inspiration, and ideas.
- The Bullet Journal Blog – This is the official BuJo website blog. It boasts a myriad of tutorials, tips, and inspiration articles for you to explore.
- Bullet Journal For Students – A Facebook group and hub for student bullet journalers.
- Original Bullet Journal Facebook group – If you prefer your BuJo minimalist, sleek, and largely free of decoration, then this is the group for you.
- Check out @bulletjournalcollection for a variety of BuJo inspiration, and @feebujo for more monochrome designs.
Ultimately, the way you bullet journal is completely up to you. Whether you choose to stay minimalist or color-code your every page, doodle in the margins or keep it linear, the BuJo is a space for you to find relaxation so you can make the most of your past, present, and future.
BuJo → Common abbreviation for “bullet journal.”
Collections → Catch-all spreads for things that don’t fit into your monthlies or dailies. Can include anything—recipes, brainstorming, journaling, etc.
Dailies → A spread of your daily to-do list or projects.
Future logs → Keeps track of your future appointments, projects, and obligations before you have a monthly spread in your BuJo. For example, if you have an appointment in April but don’t have an April spread drawn out yet, add the appointment to your future log.
Index → Your BuJo’s table of contents. You update the index as you add more pages or spreads to your BuJo.
Monthlies → Spreads of your month at a glance. Typically include a list or traditional calendar.
Spread → A group of pages that are about a related topic; tend to be two pages facing each other.