How to Make a Bullet Journal: A Step by Step Guide

Bullet journals are the newest organization sensation and rightfully so. These simple yet effective tools are a great way to track past events, organize the present, and plan for the future. While using a bullet journal may be simple, learning how to initially make one can be overwhelming (especially if you only know about bullet journals from seeing the beautiful layouts on Instagram). To set your minds at ease, here are the basics of bullet journaling.

All you need to get started is a notebook and a pen. The notebook style and size is up to you. The pen colors can be as fancy as you’d like, but you really only need a basic ballpoint.

For starters, bullet journals are broken down into modules. The standard modules include: Index, Future Log, Monthly Log, Daily Log, and Collections. Within each module, you’ll use bullets and signifiers to rapid log tasks, events, and notes.

How to Make a Bullet Journal: A Step By Step Guide to Bullet Journaling

Index

This module is exactly what it sounds like, a table of contents for your bullet journal. This module should be the first in your journal and will be updated continuously. This is where you will add topics and their pages numbers. Some topics will only span a few pages and some will be spread throughout your journal. Not everything will be added to your Index, but it’s a great place to store the important items for reference.

Future Log

The future log is a module used to document tasks and events that need to be scheduled well in advance or that are not time sensitive. This log can be set up in three month, six month, or twelve month sections. This forward-focused module should be set up in a view that is most useful for you.

How to Make a Bullet Journal: A Step by Step Guide

Monthly Log

The monthly log is more detailed than the future log. Each month should be set up on two pages, preferably starting with a left page, in order to view the entire month in one view. This first page will be a calendar page. For example, January would have 31 lines, numbered 1 through 31, for each day. The second page will be a task page. Both pages will be used to schedule and record monthly tasks and events.

Daily Log

This log is where your day-to-day updates will be tracked. Here you will record your daily tasks, events, and notes in list form, starting with the date at the top. This documentation can occur throughout the course of a day or you can set aside a specific time each day to capture the day’s contents. This page should not be set up ahead of time as each day may vary in length. If there is available space on the page at the end of the day, start the next day where you left off. This daily process is called Rapid Logging. All of these tasks, events, and notes should be short and objective.

How to Make a Bullet Journal: A Step by Step Guide

Collections

This is an optional module used for miscellaneous lists, such as shopping lists, books to read, or ongoing projects. Each list will consist of notes and tasks for that collection.

Bullets and Signifiers

A key component of a bullet journal is the actual bullets used for each task, event, and note. For actionable tasks, use a standard bullet ‘•’. Tasks include items such as ‘Pay rent’ and ‘Call Mom.’ For events, use an open bullet ‘O’. Events are date-related tasks that can be scheduled or logged after they occur. For notes, use a dash ‘-’. Notes include thoughts, facts, and observations from that day.

Signifiers are added to the left of a bullet to add emphasis or priority, such as ‘*’ or ‘!’. Bullets and signifiers can be personalized. Once you’ve started your bullet journal, it’s helpful to add a key to keep track of your bullets and signifiers.

Migration

At the end of each month, the next month should be set up with items from your future log. Your past month’s tasks should be evaluated to determine if they should be carried forward. If you’ve completed a task, update the bullet to an ‘x’. For any unfinished tasks, assess whether they are still worth your time to complete. If they are not, strike a line through them. If a task has been scheduled for a later date, update the standard bullet to a left arrow ‘<’. If the task still needs to be completed, update the standard bullet to a right arrow ‘>’ and carry forward the entry into the new month. This process is called migration. It makes you stop and think about each task to add awareness and intentionality to your everyday.

Although the explanation of how to make a bullet journal may seem lengthy, bullet journaling is not something that takes a long time. It’s a valuable tool that serves as your planner, your to-do list, and your diary.

How to Make a Bullet Journal: A Step by Step Guide

A few of our favorite journals: 

Kate Spade Notebooks // Anthropologie Journals // Rifle Paper Co. Journals and Notebooks // Sloane Stationary Notebooks // Design Darling Notebooks

And a few journaling resources:

Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration // The 52 Lists Project: A Year of Weekly Journaling Inspiration // 52 Lists for Happiness: Weekly Journaling Inspiration for Positivity, Balance, and Joy // The Five Minute Journal: A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day // You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

By Danielle Koban: Danielle is a freelance writer with focuses in career and wellness topics. Her work has been featured in Mavenly + Co., Elana Lyn, and Her Agenda. When she’s not writing, she can be found planning her upcoming wedding and hanging out with her German Shepherd, Moose. To learn more about Danielle, visit www.danielledoolen.com

Incredible bullet journal inspiration via @Pages2Plans.

8 Responses to How to Make a Bullet Journal: A Step by Step Guide

  1. Jordyn says:

    I’ve recently become OBSESSED with looking at bullet journals on instagram and Pinterest. I have yet to start my own but I love the look of them!

  2. Sara Holt says:

    Love your journal! Your handlettering is gorgeous!

  3. Annaliese says:

    Um okay I think I need to do this! Your journal is beautiful and oh so organized!

    xoxo A
    http://www.southernbelleintraining.com

  4. Greta says:

    I love bullet journaling! It keeps me organized and on task for the day!

    Greta | http://www.gretahollar.com

  5. Anna says:

    You’re so organized! I don’t think I would be able to keep up with bullet journaling!

    -Anna | http://www.fivefootandfabulous.com

  6. Omgosh I love this! It’s too cute! I love the sleep log in your future planner. I should start doing that as well.

    Michelle | She’s Not So Basic

  7. Woah this is extremely inpressive! inspiring me to get my life together lol

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