Keeping a bullet journal is a creative endeavor you can start for yourself. It offers many benefits that can positively impact your personal and professional life. But staring at a blank page of a beautiful notebook isn’t fun — for some, it can be overwhelming.
If you’re determined to try bullet journaling but don’t know where or how to start, you’re reading the right article. Here, we’ll break down the basics: from the most common reasons why you should journal to presenting beginner-friendly bullet journal ideas!
Why Make a Bullet Journal?
A bullet journal is a personalized and creative book or online tool that holds your to-do list, goals, reminders, schedule, and everything else you want to keep track of. It’s more mindful than keeping a daily schedule but more concise than journaling or diary writing.
There are plenty of reasons why people decide to make a bullet journal.
One of the biggest reasons why people start bullet journaling is because it helps them become more productive and accomplish more every day. For some, it allows them to process their feelings and thoughts about events in their lives, express gratitude, get their head in the game every morning, or manage anxiety.
Some choose to journal because it’s an easy way to track their progress, self-care, and personal development. Whereas some people who consider themselves diehard bullet journaling fans want to document their day-to-day experiences through writing or art journaling.
But no matter what the reason is, one thing is certain — bullet journaling is helpful and therapeutic, especially if you integrate it into your daily routine. It’s an excellent way to express yourself, reflect on life, and stay productive.
11 Beginner-Friendly Bullet Journal Ideas
One of the most common mistakes people commit when starting is to allow themselves to get caught up in the Pinterest world of bullet journal ideas. Don’t be one of them.
The key to starting bullet journaling is to think of functionality first, then aesthetics. Start with what functionality will make the most sense for you, then customize it later.
We’ve listed 11 bullet journal ideas for beginners below. Remember, you don’t have to use all of them at once. Use three to five ideas first and go from there.
Use a Planner as a Bullet Journal
Pro bullet journalers love having the flexibility to design entirely blank pages. However, some will say that they miss the functionality and time-saving aspect of a pre-designed planner.
If you’re already using a planner, consider turning it into a bullet journal before you decide to make one from blank pages. Planners provide a structure that serves as your guide to help you use it as a bullet journal.
Make a Digital Bullet Journal on Your Device
While some people love writing things down to help them remember information better, others prefer typing notes on a device. If you’re one of the latter, good news — creating a digital bullet journal offers many benefits.
Making a digital bullet planner is a great choice for beginners because pre-designed layouts are available, and you can customize the layouts with a swipe of your hand. Beginners who aren’t too confident about their penmanship often prefer this method as it’s faster and less messy.
Use Layouts That Only Need a Pen
Designing your page spreads is fun, but pay attention to the complexity of the layout and the supplies you’ll need. Using tons of materials for your bullet journal might discourage you from continuing this endeavor, especially if your hands are already full from running a business.
For beginners, it’s best to embrace layouts requiring only one pen. You can enhance the appearance of the spreads with washi tape, which is a beginner-friendly material.
Designate Pages for Doodle Practice
Once you’re confident making a simple bullet journal layout, it’s time to level up and create some doodles. But this is optional — your bullet journal doesn’t require doodles to be effective.
If the idea of making doodles excite you, designate some pages for practice. After creating doodles you’re happy with, incorporate them into your main spreads.
Add Doodles to Page Spreads
The previous tip talked about designating some pages for doodle practice. Once you’ve completed this task, explore ways to incorporate those doodles into your main spreads. The internet is a goldmine of ideas for adding doodles to page spreads. This design from The Bullet Journal Corner is definitely worth trying as it only requires pens (in yellow and black), is easy to recreate, and doesn’t sacrifice the functionality of the journal.
Grid off Four Days to a Page
Looking for a colorful yet easy-to-follow layout for your bullet journal? Check out this design from The Dots and Grids. It grids off four days to one page by putting them in a box and adding specific to-dos inside the boxes. The spread is designed with hand-drawn grocery items.
Here’s another design with a similar layout from The Dots and Grids. This time, the days are arranged in a vertical line, and to-dos are written outside of the boxes. Drawings are different per day, which is a great idea to try if you want to highlight your tasks for the day.
Print Pre-Designed Bullet Journal Pages
Hitting a wall after making layouts and practicing doodles is common for beginners. If you see yourself in this situation, fret not because you can always use pre-designed bullet journal pages.
Research online and type “printable journal pages.” Most of these are free but aren’t overly fancy. It’s best if you use these pages to improve your rapid logging or writing skills. After spending some time practicing, you can try making a layout from scratch again.
Design with Stickers
Who says you need to learn how to draw to keep a bullet journal? Stickers are a godsend for individuals who don’t have a knack for drawing but want to keep their spreads colorful.
Stickers come in a variety of designs, so you have unlimited options to choose from. Whether you want a minimalist theme for your bullet journal or plaster the spreads with your business logo or tagline, you can do all that (and more) with stickers!
Choose Layouts That Make You Feel Better
Maintaining a bullet journal should make you feel better, not worse. Setting goals is always a great idea, but when goals are too unrealistic, you’ll likely end up frustrated or depressed and quit bullet journaling.
To ensure longevity, focus on small, attainable goals and use layouts that are easy to recreate and make you proud of yourself. Bullet journaling is one of the best ways to promote self-love because it provides daily reminders of exactly why you’re unique.
Come Up With a Custom Collection for Your Bullet Journal
Oftentimes, custom collections are overlooked as many people focus on tracking days, weeks, and months. One of the biggest benefits of bullet journaling is customization — so make the most out of this aspect.
Take time to think of unique pages you can add to your bullet journal. For example, this design from Romielle.Studies tracks sleep duration using color-coded flowers. This design from Dotted.Plans tracks mood with different green-colored plants.
Here are other business-related ideas to try for your bullet journal:
- Finance tracker
- Books to read
- Envision your business’s long- and short-term goals
Make Journaling a Habit
To get the most out of your bullet journal, learn how to use it daily. Similar to other habits, when bullet journalling becomes part of your lifestyle, its impact intensifies.
Using the pages in your bullet journal and planning out your time daily in updating it will lead to you being more organized and productive. But if you find it hard to stick to bullet journaling and turn it into a habit, here are a few tips to help you out:
- Avoid setting unrealistic expectations. Instead, find your “why” or the reason why you started bullet journaling in the first place. This will keep you motivated long-term.
- Don’t try too much. Sure, you can always draw inspiration from the spreads you see online but pressure yourself to copy them all.
- Learn and practice, especially if you’re not confident about your creativity. Look for resources that can help bring out your creative streak.
Start Your Journaling Journey in 2023
Starting bullet journaling is easier when you have some basic prompts. Take note of the ideas listed here to get started, but don’t hesitate to get creative and make your own.
This is your bullet journal, and you can customize it any way you want. So, write as much or as little as you like, and be as general or specific as you wish. The most important thing is that you’re exerting effort to reflect on your day, connect with yourself, and use it for your intended purpose.