What the heck is a Bullet Journal? Learn all about the system and how to get started!

What is a Bullet Journal, And Why You Need To Start One

Last Updated on July 29, 2020 by Keri

Whether you have heard of the Bullet Journal before, or this is your first time hearing of it, you are likely intrigued to learn more about this system that is almost everywhere in the planning community! So, what is a Bullet Journal, and why should you start one?

In this blog post, we are going to cover the following;

What Is a Bullet Journal?

Who Is This System For?

What Supplies Do You Need To Get Started?

The Basics of The System!

9 Ways To Use A Bullet Journal If You Don’t Have Anything To Plan Daily!

What is a Bullet Journal? Discover this planning solution that can be customized easily to suit your needs!

So, What Is A Bullet Journal?

The Bullet Journal is an analog planning system created by Ryder Carroll.

It is a big trend in the planning community and continues to evolve over time! While there are many who use the system exactly as Ryder created it, many have continued to modify the system based on what works best for them!

In Ryder’s words, the Bullet Journal is a tool meant to “help you track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future”.

It is meant to help you get organized, set goals, manage your day to day life, and be more intentional about how you spend your time.

And while a quick search on Instagram or Pinterest might make you feel overwhelmed, I promise the system can be as simple, or as detailed as you want it to be!

Who Is the Bullet Journal For?

Personally, I think everyone should try using the Bullet Journal at least once, as there are so many ways to use it that don’t include planning every aspect of your life!

But more on that later!

Who is the Bullet Journal perfect for!?

  • Moms
  • Teachers
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Students
  • Goal Getters
  • List Makers

This list could go on for a while, so I will stop here!

The Bullet Journal is for anybody who wants to get organized, streamline their processes, and work with good old-fashioned pen and paper!

And even if you don’t think this system is for you, I would still encourage you to try it at least once. With a system so customizable, you would be shocked at the benefits you can get from it!

What Supplies Do You Need to Get Started?

One of the best parts of this planning system is the minimal amount of supplies you need to get started.

You may even be able to try the system with things you already have in your house, or things you can purchase at the dollar store!

While there are many supplies that you could add to your toolkit after some time, I suggest you start with the basics until you know you like the system!

My top recommendations for getting started:

  • A Notebook – Of course, you can start with any notebook you have accessible. However, if you want to get started right away with a dot grid notebook (the typical style used in the Bujo community), I recommend starting with the Artists Loft Dot Grid Notebook – available at Michaels for less than $10!
  • A Pen – Use any pen you got lying around! No need to get fancy yet! (Unless you really, really want to!)
  • A Ruler

If you want to do a rough draft of your layout before you finalize it with a pen, I recommend grabbing a pencil and eraser as well!

Related: 7 Must-Have Supplies For a Minimalist Bullet Journal

The Basics of The System!

The system itself is quite basic and easy to pick up once you understand all of the terminologies! Let’s break down the different components of the system!

The Key

Bullet Journal is a log of bullet points or short-form sentences to organize your ideas, tasks, and events.

To keep everything in your Bullet Journal organized, it is recommended you set up a key! Each symbol will represent something different so that you can tell what is on your layout at a glance.

Here are some ideas of what you would want to include in your key! A symbol for;

  • Task
    • In Progress
    • Completed
    • Canceled
    • Migrated
  • Event
  • Appointment
  • Notes
  • Ideas
  • Urgent
  • Goal

You can use whatever symbols work best for you! But for some quick inspiration, here is the key from my Bullet Journal.

Symbols make up a large part of the Bullet Journal, and a key can help you keep track of the different notes, tasks, events and other things you include in your journal!

The Index

As you get further into your journal and continue to add more collections, you may forget where you put a certain layout that you need to refer to.

By Indexing your layouts, (or at least your collections) you are making it easier to find the page you need to flip back to!

Some notebooks, like the Leuchtturm 1917, include Index pages at the front of your journal so that all you have to do is fill it in as you go!

Certain notebooks will include Index pages, which make it easy to record your collections as you work through your journal!

The Future Log

This log is your entire year at a glance.

In a traditional planner, you would be able to jump ahead to your monthly calendar to write in any important dates, appointments or events. Since a Bullet Journal is nothing but a blank notebook, you need to have a way to record that information. Enter your Future Log.

This simple layout will give you the space to write down this information. You can refer to this layout when you go to create your monthly layouts each month.

Keep track of your future events and appointments with a Future Log layout in your Bullet Journal

The Monthly Layout

For each month, you will create a monthly layout where you can plan out your month ahead.

You can go into as much or as little detail as you want here, but the point is to provide yourself a plan in one convenient place.

Some things you might consider including on this layout are;

  • Events
  • Appointments
  • Important Dates
  • Birthdays
  • Deadlines
  • Goals
  • Tasks
  • Expense Information
  • Income Information

If you are already used to using some kind of planner, this layout should be fairly familiar to you, as you would plan in a very similar way!

Plan out your month in your Bullet Journal with a simple and traditional calendar layout.

The Weekly or Daily Layout

The original Bullet Journal system uses daily layouts, however many in the community use weekly layouts. The choice is up to you, and your personal planning preference!

Either way, you would use these layouts to plan more specific details of your week or day. This is also where you might include more notes, research, brain dumps, etc.

You may also wish to include other aspects of your day, such as;

  • Meal plans
  • Exercise routine
  • Housework
  • Things to buy/Shopping lists
Weekly layouts are great for planning your small day to day details, taking notes, writing down ideas and more!


Collections are what make the Bullet Journal so unique! The blank pages of a notebook provide endless space to include a variety of information in your Journal that you may not necessarily be able to include in a planner.

Some different collection ideas to get you excited include;

  • Date night ideas
  • Books to read
  • Movies or TV shows to watch
  • Habit trackers
  • Goal plans
  • Lists
  • House project planning
  • Vacation plans
  • Journaling

This list could go on for a long while, and that is because the possibilities are endless!

Whatever you can possibly think of, there is going to be a way to include it in your journal!

Can You Use A Bullet Journal If You Have Nothing to Plan?


Even if you don’t necessarily need to plan each day of your life, there are still a ton of great ways that you can use a Bullet Journal!

I have come up with nine different ways you could use your Bullet Journal that doesn’t necessarily involve planning each day!

1.      Create A Mental Health Journal

Using a Bullet Journal to manage, track and deal with mental health is something I am seeing more often in the community! This is a tool I wish I had when I went through a bad phase of anxiety in my life!

You could use it to journal your daily feelings. Create a layout of your triggers or create a mood mandala!

2.      Goal Setting Journal

If you are a goal-getter, this system could be great for you! Set your goals and plan out your action steps. Track your results. Record ideas and do research!

3.      Project Planner

Working on a big house renovation? Include inspiration boards, appointment dates with your contractor. See some cute shops you want to go visit once everything is complete? Make a list including the address and phone numbers to the shops!

4.      List Journal

Do you love making lists? Keep all your lists neat and tidy in one spot so you never have to search through your purse again!

5.      Student Planner

Keep a list of project deadlines, notes from class, professor hours, and homework assignments!

6.      Side Hustle Organization

Do you run your own side business? Perhaps you are trying to start up your own business, or you are working for a company to sell their product when your husband is home in the evenings!

Use your journal to plan events or parties. Track your income and expenses. Come up with new marketing ideas, and create a social media posting schedule!

7.      Travel Planner

Traveling the world? Taking a two-week vacation to Hawaii? Plan your whole trip in your journal! Come up with destination ideas. Keep emergency phone numbers handy! If you are traveling to a different country that speaks a different language, maybe have some common phrases written down for easy translation!

8.      Fitness Planner

Whether you love going to the gym every day, or you are dragging yourself there to lose that last ten pounds, a fitness journal would be a great addition to your Bullet Journal! Plan out your exercise routines, meal plans, and track your results!

9.      Budget Planner

Saving money can have its challenges. But what if you could keep track of all your finances in one easy place? Use your journal for all things budgeting!

Next Steps

Do you want to start your own Bullet Journal? I hope so! This tool is so amazing, and I know it can help you achieve the goals you have in mind!

If you are ready to get started, be sure to sign up below to get my Free Bullet Journal for Beginners Checklist! It includes the layouts you need to create to get started!

From there, take a tour around my website! I blog about all things Bullet Journal, and here, you will learn about the different ways you can use your journal and set up different collections!

Until next time!

Discover this awesome planning system, that can be easily customized to suit your individual needs!

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