Do you have questions about starting a bullet journal?
Or maybe you’re wondering “what even IS a bullet journal?”
Perhaps you’re wondering whether a bullet journal is right for you?
No need to wonder any longer. In this article I’ve answered some common bullet journal FAQs and compiled my three top tips for bullet journal beginners.
Let’s get started with the most common question…
What is a bullet journal?
A bullet journal (also known as a bujo) is a combination of a planner, a to-do list and a journal.
It’s part productivity/organizational tool part intentional living/mindfulness tool.
The bullet journal method was originally developed by Ryder Carroll, as a way to track your past, order your present, and plan your future. He outlines the system in his book The Bullet Journal Method and on his website.
Ryder Carrol first began sharing his system online in 2013, and since then the popularity of the bullet journal method has exploded. (A search for #bulletjournal on Instagram will bring back over 7 million posts!)
Important note here: Many people enjoy sharing images of their bullet journal on Instagram, but it is definitely NOT a requirement! A bullet journal can be for-your-eyes-only if you wish.
Why start a bullet journal?
There are so many great reasons!
Here are some of the benefits of keeping a bullet journal.
(i) A bullet journal helps you to feel more organized
Just like using a regular planner, being able to see what the upcoming week (or month) has in store will help you feel more in control and organized.
You’ll know which important tasks need to get done, as well as which appointments you need to get to.
You won’t be taken by surprise by that thing you forgot about, and you can plan your time accordingly.
(ii) A bullet journal helps you to be more productive, and reach your goals
The key to being productive is knowing what you want to achieve and planning ahead.
When you know what needs to be done, and when all your important information is in one place, it’s so much easier to make it happen.
Setting daily goals that move you toward your big goals is a crucial part of being productive, and a bullet journal is the perfect place to both record your goals and to keep track of them.
Because the evidence is clear – when you write down your goals you are much more likely achieve them!
Find out more:
(iii) A bullet journal helps you to take better care of yourself
The key to effective self-care is creating healthy habits, for example, drinking more water, getting more exercise, eating more healthily, or creating a morning or evening routine to ensure you get both time to yourself and plenty of sleep.
A bullet journal can help you create and stick to your healthy habits through the use of trackers.
Find out more:
(iv) A bullet journal can help you develop your creativity
If you want to nurture your creativity, a bullet journal is a wonderful way to do so.
A creative hobby (whether it’s drawing, doodling, hand-lettering, poetry writing, or scrapbooking – just to mention a few), is a great stress reliever, with benefits including increased self-esteem, boosted self-confidence, and improved mental well-being.
You can use your creative skills to enhance your bullet journal in any way that you’d like (though there is certainly no requirement to do so!)
(v) A bullet journal helps you to live more intentionally
When you live intentionally you stop drifting through life, and you start doing things on purpose. The things that are important to you.
The practice of bullet journaling helps you cultivate self-awareness. With self-awareness, you become clearer about what is important in your life, why it’s important, and what action to take to ensure those important things happen.
(vi) A bullet journal is flexible and adaptable
If you’ve ever struggled to find the perfect off-the-shelf planner, a bullet journal could be your answer.
You design your bullet journal in the way that works best for you. And nothing is set in stone, so whenever you want to change things up, or do things differently, you can.
What do you need to start a bullet journal?
To start a bullet journal you just need 2 things – a notebook and a pen (or pencil). In addition, a ruler can be useful for drawing grids or layouts (if you wish to do so).
As you progress you may wish to use different types of pens and pencils in your bullet journal, along with other crafts materials such as stickers, stencils, and washi tape. But none of these things are essential.
What kind of notebook is best for a bullet journal?
Any kind of notebook, and any size, will do.
In the bullet journaling community dot grid notebooks tend to be the most popular, but you can certainly use notebooks with plain or lined paper too.
Why are dot grid notebooks most popular?
Notebooks with dot grid pages (pages that are dotted rather than lined or blank) tend to be most popular as they make it easier to space items on a page, draw tables, or write fancy fonts.
Do you need to be artistic to have a bullet journal?
No – you definitely don’t need to be artistic to have a bullet journal.
Many people find joy in being creative with their journal, but essentially bullet journaling is about content, not presentation.
It’s about building a system that will help you live intentionally, and feel organized and in control.
If you want to pretty-up your journal, or explore your creative side, there are several ways you can do so, even if you don’t feel confident in your ability to draw or write fancy fonts. These include using simple layouts, printables, stickers, stencils, and washi tape.
What do you put in a bullet journal?
There are so many things you can include in a bullet journal.
To start with there’s all your day-to-day tasks, appointments, to-do’s, important dates and reminders that would be in a regular calendar or planner.
From there you can:
- track things such as your health and fitness, sleep, mental wellbeing, finances, goals and projects, books read, movies watched, the list is endless…
- record your thoughts, memories, observations and gratitude
- create wish-lists, set goals and outline plans for the future
Just to mention a few!
When is the best time to start a bullet journal?
You may wonder whether you need to start a bullet journal at a certain time, for example at the beginning of the month or year?
The simple answer is no. You can start a bullet journal at any time you like. There’s no need to wait for the perfect time – you can start today.
How do you start a bullet journal?
For a simple step-by-step guide to starting a bullet journal take a look at my article, How to Start a Bullet Journal (a step-by-step guide for beginners)
Ryder Carrol also has also created a wonderful video tutorial on getting started:
Ready to start Bullet Journaling?
Here are my 3 top tips
1. Keep it simple
My number one piece of advice when you start your first bullet journal is to keep it simple.
Try not to jump headfirst into ambitious, colourful, creative, artistic pages. You can get creative later should you wish to.
2. Take it slow – so you don’t get overwhelmed
Because there are so many things you can include in your bullet journal the temptation can be to do ALL the things right from the beginning.
Try to resist this temptation, and start with the basics, and slowly build up to adding more content.
3. Ditch the guilt / comparison / perfectionism
Don’t compare your bullet journal to all the other beautiful ones you’ll admire on Pinterest or Instagram.
Remember your bullet journal is unique to you – it’s a tool to help you live intentionally, and feel organized and in control. It’s purpose isn’t to make you feel guilty or less competent than anyone else.
There is no perfect way to bullet journal – you do it your way.
I hope you’ve found these bullet journal FAQs helpful.
If there’s anything I haven’t covered please get in touch and I’ll do my best to answer any questions you have.
I love using my bullet journal to organize my life and feel accomplished. There’s no doubt that it’s helped me focus on my goals, get the right things done, and live a more intentional life.
I’m sure you’ll reap the benefits of a using bullet journal too.
Like a little something for your bullet journal?
Subscribe to the latest news and updates from A Lovely Year and receive these free mini trackers to print and customize in your bullet journal or planner.
You can use them as calendars, or habit trackers, or anything else you like.