Bullet Journal





Introduction: Bullet Journal

About: Becky Stern is a content creator at Autodesk/Instructables. She has authored hundreds of tutorials about everything from microcontrollers to knitting. Before joining Instructables, Becky worked for MAKE Maga...

Bullet Journaling is an optimized way of storing and marking your notes created by Ryder Carroll (Bullet Journal® or BuJo® for short). The flexible structure can be tailored to your individual needs, and all you need to get started is a notebook and pen.

The system of marking tasks as complete or rescheduled is efficient and easy to wrap your head around, so it’s no surprise the term is used as generically as Band-Aid or Kleenex. Bullet Journalists are a community of productivity and organization fiends who use common language to describe and share their planners on sites like Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, etc. Some keep a minimalist notebook while others draw and color every page. My journal falls somewhere in between.

This Instructable describes the common elements and popular supplies for Bullet Journaling, infused with my personal experience and illustrated by my journal pages. You'll also find links to supplies/products and some of my favorite sources of online inspiration.

Step 1: Daily Log

I’ve been organizing my notes in Bullet Journal form since the beginning of March, and for me it’s been all about the Daily Log. This is what sits open on my desk all week, helping me keep track of everyday todos, meetings, and events. This part of my Bullet Journal is most similar to the way I've kept my notebooks in the past, but with so much more color and flair thanks to online inspiration and a fetish for art supplies.

I was on vacation for most of this week in March.

This is the same spread, before and after the week played out.

I got excited about blending brush pen colors and circular plant motifs for this week in April. I made a mistake on the right page and covered the dates up with new badges cut from my sketchbook.

I had a busy week in May but didn't manage to capture much in my journal. The circular moon motif took hardly any time to draw.

Blending the brush pens again, I created this quick and colorful spread for this week in June. I highlighted the text with a bit of Uni-Ball Signo White Gel Pen.

Step 2: Indexing & Future Log

An index at the start of your bullet journal helps you find important pages, now and forever. My Maker’s Notebook has page numbers and a page up front for indexing the contents, but you can number your own pages if your notebook is blank. Every month (at least) I make sure to index the new content of my bullet journal, so the task never takes more than a few minutes. Indexing is the sloggiest part of this system for me, but if I could go back in time I'd make myself do this for every notebook I've ever written because I can never find anything quickly when I go back to look for an old sketch or notes.

Since you compose the bullet journal as you go (instead of writing out each month and week ahead of time), it becomes necessary to have a place to store important events and tasks that will take place further in the future than your notebook currently extends. The future log is a place to store future events and tasks until you've reached the appropriate time to create those notebook pages describing the pertinent month and week. Since I use an online calendar, particularly for far-away events like business travel, I find the future log only mildly useful. I do like having a redundant information system for those times I can't get to a device fast enough, either for capture or reference.

Step 3: Monthly Spreads

At the start of each month, a lot of youtubers I’ve been watching do a monthly spread, so I’ve been trying it out. Many cite the opportunity to get artistic on this single page or two-page spread. Some folks create a calendar view or list of days in the month to visualize events, but since I use Google Calendar for a monthly overview of my events already, I don't find the need.

This month I combined the month intro with a doodle page.

If not for the drawing opportunity, this page can also be used as a separator by applying a piece of tape along it's edge, serving as a marking tab. This way you can easily open the notebook to each month. More on tape and stickers in another step...

Step 4: Collections

Dedicated spreads will vary based on your interests. For me that means keeping track of project brainstorm lists and notes related to individual events or projects. Here are some ideas for collections you might try:

  • Recipes to try
  • Movies to watch
  • Projects
  • Chores
  • Gratitude journal
  • Places to visit
  • Yearly goals

Step 5: Trackers

Another popular thing to try is a little at-home dataviz by tracking your daily habits and activities. I’ve been refining the list of things I track, but generally fall off from marking at all towards the end of each month. Here are some ideas for habits/tasks to track:

  • Mood
  • Exercise
  • Water intake
  • Eating habits
  • Vitamins/meds
  • Social media posts

Step 6: Doodle Pages

Doodle pages are where I blow off some steam. I'll draw, color, and write when I'm feeling stressed or trying to mentally work through solving a problem. Rumination while drawing keeps my mind on track.

Step 7: Sketches & Notes

If you're in school, you might take notes in class or during homework research in your bullet journal. I use mine as a sketchbook for project ideas but also for video notes when I'm talking to camera or composing a script.

Step 8: Supplies

I’ve been picking a limited color scheme of markers to use each month, and bingeing on YouTube videos about color blending and hand lettering. You really don't need anything but a notebook and a pen to journal, but part of the fun for me is the artfulness of it all. My growing collection of supplies:

Supplies I see other folks using (but don't personally own):

Step 9: Stickers

I see a connection between art journalling and scrapbooking, especially when it comes to stickers. I generally print out images from the internet (find all mine on my Pinterest Board) and paste them into my notebook. The Goldilocks metric of sticker-making breaks down thusly:

The odd character out, or Goldilocks herself, is washi tape, which is just another name for decorative masking tape. I like the super skinny kind for creating dividers, but you'll be spoiled for choice searching on Amazon or Etsy.

Step 10: Putting It Together

My journal motivates me to keep track of my tasks and goals because it’s fun to draw I’m a visual person. Everybody’s notebook will look different; I use a larger graphical style that really helps me navigate between my todo list and current project sketch easily. I love the community and online inspiration aspect of bullet journaling. Follow my Pinterest board on the topic, and check out these sources of inspiration:

I’m curious how y’all organize your creative and administrative tasks, and would love to hear about it in the comments.



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22 Discussions

I love this idea, I’m gonna try make one

I just finished making my journal. I used two graphed composition notebooks from walmart, used the black binding as a reference to cut the front off of one notebook and the back off of another, trimmed up the back notebook flap and used industrial adhesive to glue and overlap the flaps for the new spine. I have a roll of fancy duct tape to re-cover the notebook when everything dries.

I bullet journaled at the beginning of the year to keep track of my days at work as a tax preparer. When the season was over, so was my note taking. I didnt see myself using it at home and both of my boys are pretty antisocial so there wasnt alot of things to record for them.

When I saw that you had a maker journal I was reminded of all the things I want to make and other things that I want to learn but was never consistant with practicing. I think I've found my new "getoffyourbuttinator" motivational tool.

Ill post a pic when everything is dried and wrapped up all pretty.


1 year ago

I'm not keen on journaling or keeping a diary, but I love the "doodle" pages.

so much so, that my journal would be completely filled with them (... my journals were indeed quite artful back when I used them to track homework from school).

I used to be obsessed with writing supplies too (... I still have to remind myself that I don't need MORE everytime I go to a store, mind you), but I reached a point where just 4 colors are enough to take notes. it makes them much more easy to scan/copy/whatever, yet you still have enough colors to highlight stuff.

I do miss the old days of colorful pages, though. I may get a notebook just to doodle.

3 replies

now you got me interested... but the link doesn't work. :/

It does for me, or just look him up on youtube "Peter Draws"


1 year ago

awesome! beautiful pages ^(^

1 reply

I really like this idea. And your art is beautiful.

I would recommend people follow the link you provided to the Bullet Journalling website. It gives a fantastic overview of the core principles but without the artsy embellishment.

Your I'ble is also well done. Clear and concise with tons of illustrative (and did I mention beautiful?) photos. Nice job.

1 reply

Very cool! I might start a summer one to see how I like it. Would this kind of notebook work for taking notes in class as well?

1 reply

Of course! You decide what goes in, whatever works for you. =D

I've been bullet journaling for about a year but mine doesn't look nearly as nice as yours! That's what I love about it, you can really make it your own - pretty ot not ;)

I've used these for a few months on an iPad using the GoodNotes app. They're great!

I too recently took up bullet journaling. I hail from the more minimalist camp. Most of my entries are to keep track of what I have done in a day so I can look back and remember what happened when. Conversations with noteworthy people, trips to the hardware store, grocery runs, and paying bills all end up in my daily log. Still working on how to incorporate the other tools, but the flexibility is hard to beat.

Good Work....Love the colours

I've never heard of "bullet" journals before...but the title caught my attention. I'll have to try this for my non-work related journals that I keep. Unfortunately I can't use this for work related journals. Your "doodles" are much better hand drawings, than my hand "art" is capable of...I'm envious!! :)