Introduction: Bullet Journaling: the Basics

About: Hi! I'm neon_bunny, and I love food, making stuff, and art. I especially like bullet journaling, calligraphy, crafts, and drawing cartoony foods. If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact me!

You probably have that one very aesthetic friend who has replaced her planner for a Bullet Journal, or BuJo. Maybe, now, you're interested too! If you are, this is great for you! Or if you want to be more productive and a planner isn't working, this is great! Or if you have no idea where to start or what to do, you can continue reading.

A Bullet Journal, or BuJo, is a system created by Ryder Carrol. How I think of a bullet journal is a customizable planner. It's used to plan out your whole life in one journal. Of course, there are different styles of bullet journaling, either maximalist or minimalist. A maximalist is a person who likes to go over the top with the art in bullet journaling, while a minimalist is a journalist who likes to keep it as simple and productive as possible.

I have personally used bullet journaling for four months, but I have found many uses for it. For example, you can plan your days out, use it as a shopping list, write in it as a diary, and even doodle in it when you're bored!

By the way, thank you so much, sparklingunicorns. She gave me this idea of doing bullet journaling, which is really smart. Thanks again!

Without further ado, go grab a comfy pillow and find a desk, and let's get started!

Step 1: Supplies!

In bullet journaling, minimalists will usually only use a pen and a regular notebook. Actually, that's all you need. And it can even be that pen you found lying around in your desk. However... what about the maximalists?

If you are planning to invest a little in supplies, that's great! Here are some of my (and the internet's) favorite supplies:


These notebooks are great for any maximalist. They have thick pages for drawing and watercolor, with bright pages for taking pictures. You can choose from a variety of colors and prints. I chose the black one with a cute moon print. Each notebook here has 2 bookmarks, and 160 pages. However, they are on the expensive side.

My friend just got a Leuchtturm1917. The pages are a little thin, so no Sharpies. However, they have pretty cute covers, with stickers on the back. They also have 251 pages, so great for anybody who's scared to run out.

This notebook is the original notebook, created by Ryder Caroll. These notebooks are perfect for any minimalist. They come in three colors, with numbered pages and an Index, to save you a lot of time. They come in three bookmarks, which is pretty useful.


Hooray! Pens and markers! Everybody loves these! Here are some favorites:

These are pretty great for anyone who likes tracing everything in their bullet journal. Any maximalist should buy these, and someone who's willing to invest some money. Of course, as I have said before, you can use any pen, but these are really nice.

One big fear of every first-time bullet journalists is to mess up. Of course, you can use a pencil first, but these pens are erasable! This means that there is no need to be afraid of messing up now! I find this a very smart way overcome this fear, while using high quality, pretty, pens.

If your not afraid of messing up, but you want pretty pens at a cheap price, these are for you! These have vibrant, beautiful color, that dry quickly.

These are for anyone who love highlighters, anyone who's so-so about them, or even people who dislike them! I don't like highlighters either, the colors are way to bright for my liking. However, Zebra Mildliners have the perfect color, and you can choose your favorite from packs of five.

Crayola Supertips are everything a bullet journalist could ask for: they're useful, they have a variety of colors, and they're cheap! Even though they are for 3+, almost every bullet journalist recommends them.

Brush pens aren't exactly for beginners... but I had to include them. These were my first brush pens, and I loved these so so so much. They have a beautiful results for calligraphy, and the hard tip can even be used for drawing! I recommend these to any first-timer at lettering.

Other Miscellaneous Supplies

Stickers and washi tapes are so cute and so beautiful. They are a great addition for any bullet journal. You might think stickers are for little kids, but the ones for bullet journaling are so cute, you will never, ever, say that again. There are many great washi tapes on Amazon, and Archer and Olive and LittleCoffeeFox offer great stickers.

Okay, have you used glue before? It's so sticky, and it get's everywhere. And that's even including a glue stick. Have you used tape? It's really hard to get it double sided, and it's so hard to use! So, the smart people of this world created glue tape!

Link are affilate. This means that I get a small commission of the price at no cost to you.

Remember, Supplies Aren't Everything

Just a reminder that supplies aren't everything. Maybe some of you can't buy supplies. Maybe some of you don't want supplies. That is absolutely fine. And if you did get supplies, don't just stop your path there. Remember, the whole point of bullet journaling is productivity, and not supplies.

Step 2: The 5 Necessary Spreads of a BuJo

  1. Index. The index is basically a table of contents. This is especially useful for those of you who use a bullet journal for multiple uses. I used to have to flip around the pages, because I'm not very neat. However, with a index, this will help lots! If your bullet journal does not have a index, you may have to take some time to number your pages, just something to keep in mind
  2. Future Log. The future log is used when you haven't finished a new monthly spread. That's okay! Just put your tasks and events in the future log, and you'll be good to go.
  3. Monthly Spread. The monthly spread is one of my favorites. Maximalists, it should be yours too. It is where you can see your whole month in one or two pages. Some people like to keep it minimal, while others like to go full-on on it. I will sometimes add a spot for my goals this month, but others find it not as useful.
  4. Weekly Spread. So, weekly spreads aren't mentioned in Ryder's video... but I use these so much. They're the spread where you list out your appointments, tasks, goals, etc. You can add whatever you want! There are infinite weekly spreads to try, from minimal to the max.
  5. Daily Spread. The daily spread is basically anything, from notes to meals... these spreads are kind of like a short diary everyday. I don't use this spread, just because I don't find time everyday to track things down, but if you're up to try it, go for it!

Of course, even though these are the necessary spread of a bullet journal, you can always change it up a bit. For example, I don't use daily spreads. However, I do add in the big goals for the year at the front of the journal, right after the index. It's all up to you!

Step 3: Collections

Collections are basically everything that is not necessary, but you still want to include. They can be added based on your hobbies. Here are some ideas that I love:

  • Memory Log! These are amazing, and once you filled up a whole page and look back at them, it just makes your heart feel so happy. For example, once, when I put salt in my dad's dinner for April Fool's Day, his face look so disgusted when he took a bite. Writing this down means that I can always remember this.
  • Gratitude Log. If you want to have a better mindset, this collection is for you. All you need to do is spend one or two minutes everyday, writing down something that your thankful for, it can be small or big, simple or complex.
  • Meal Plan. For adults, it's really hard to plan out your meals, unlike when you were kids. And then, the other day, you get inspiration and have so many ideas! Now, just use a meal plan! This can plan out your whole week, and you can even include a shopping list.
  • Book Log. Any other book lovers out there? I love reading, and I want to track down all the books I read. All you need to do is to include a log at the beginning of your bullet journal, and use your index to refer back to it.
  • Things to Check Out. Perhaps you have that one friend, who keeps on recommending you songs to listen to, but you keep forgetting? And movies and books and YouTube videos? Use this collection to track all of these

Step 4: Trackers

Trackers are sometimes hard to use. Sometimes, we don't have time. Sometimes, we forget about them. And sometimes, we're just too lazy! However, if you're in for it, here are some ideas:

  • Habit Tracker. As the name suggests, you write down your habits and then fill a box in when you complete it. Very customizable, but this is one tracker you have to commit to.
  • Mood Tracker. Mood trackers track your mood, so after a few years, when you look back, you can know how you were feeling. There are many mood trackers you can try, some very creative and fun to draw out.
  • Health Tracker. We all want to be and stay healthy, but sometimes, that's a little hard to accomplish. What about a health tracker? You can track whatever you want, such as sleep, hydration, weight, pain, and food.
  • Trip Tracker. Well, right now, we can't go on a trip. But do you have that one place you really really want to go to? Use a trip tracker! Draw a bar of how much money you need to save up, and fill a little bit everytime you saved up some money. You can also plan out the places you want to visit.
  • Places to Visit. For this tracker, you can find a small map and glue tape it on, or draw your own. Once you visit that part of the world, fill it in. This is a rather fun tracker that is pretty easy to fill out. Recommend this tracker highly!

Step 5: Doodling and Other Spreads

Of course, we can't forget about doodling! I like to fill pages with my doodles when I'm bored. Every month, you can even have a page dedicated to a brain dump, with all of your random ideas!

For those of you who are students, you can also take notes, the ones that you want to remember. Take it on graph paper, or whatever you use first, and then refine it on you BuJo.

Step 6: Minimal or Maxamilist


Minimalist, as I said before, means simple. You probably only use a black pen, and just write freely, maybe even messily. Maybe you use a little bit of color, for important information.

If you like this, there's no shame! Some minimal bullet journal are beautiful, yet still very productive. And in plus, that's how Ryder does it!


If minimal spreads don't appeal to you, great! Do you like pretty spreads, with bright, bold colors and designs? You are a maximalist. I do like minimal spreads, however, but I love maximal spreads much better.

If you are a maximalist, but drawing isn't your thing, that's okay! You can still make your bullet journal look amazing without a great deal of skill. Believe me, I'm not good either. I'm not very great at drawing either. Here are some simple, yet beautiful ideas to try out:

  • Use washi tape and stickers to decorate and divide your BuJo.
  • Use magazines and find things that stand out to you, or polaroid pictures from you phone.
  • If you have messy handwriting, use cute stamps to replace it.
  • Use your pens to draw simple shapes with color

Step 7: First Page Fear

A big fear that every new journalist has is messing up. Once they open up to a page, with all of there supplies, they start worrying that they might mess up. This happened to me too. I was so worried that I almost messed up immediately.

As you can see, the picture above is my first page. I had wobbly lines, everything was out of place, and I even wrote something wrong!

This is normal! Remember, everyone will mess up. Just breathe. The whole point of bullet journaling is to try, fail, cover it up, and then get back up. Don't give up on your bullet journal so quickly! No one is perfect. I've written the wrong date, wrong month, smeared ink, my Sharpie bled through... it's all okay. There is a way to fix it! Bullet journaling is just trial and error.

Step 8: Finishing a Bullet Journal

If you're a maximalist, and use many many pages quickly, you will need to move into a new journal. Many bullet journalists do not know what they should do. Should they pages to the back of their journal? Or should they just get a new journal altogether?

Moving into a new journal is much easier then gluing on pages, however. Here are some tips about how to migrate. Look through your bullet journal. What worked out for you? What didn't? You can even dedicate the last couple pages to write this out. Was the index useful? Were your monthly spreads lacking color and creativity? Did you like going minimal or maximal?

Once you move journals more, however, you should get the hand of it. If you want, however, you can get a Leuchtturm1917, because they have 215 pages. There are many things you can try out.

Step 9: Putting It All Together

Okay... you finished! Good job! Hopefully, you are already planning to start a bullet journal. If you want some ideas, here are links you should check out:

If you tried out bullet journaling, please put how it went in the comments. I hope this Instructable was useful for you!