Beginners’ Guide to Bullet Journaling

As you may remember, I’ve kept a journal regularly since I was 11. So anytime there is news in the exciting world of journals, I take an interest. Bullet journaling is something I’ve been hearing about for a while now, but I’ve always been unsure about trying it for myself. Despite the best intentions, I’ve never written in my journal everyday, but when I do write I go with a narrative style and pretty long entries. The bullet journal is the opposite of that: part planner, part to-do list, part journal. You make entries every day and they should be short and to the point. But, in the spirit of journal science discovery, I was willing to give it a try.

This beginner guide explains things better than I can, and gave me some grounding in how to do things the “right” way. Then I pretty much just took the parts of it I liked and did whatever I wanted. First you’ve got your monthly calendar. Here’s mine for July:


Other people have really fancy layouts and draw theirs, but my journal had a section of calendar pages at the beginning so I just used that. You can use it to plan out your month and to refer back to etc. After that is my table of contents:


Surprise! I’m bad at recording things in a table of contents. Oh well. Then you get down to the daily entries. I would usually start the day (or sometimes the night before) writing down everything I needed and wanted to do that day next to open boxes I could fill in when I accomplished it. At the end of the day, any un-filled-in boxes got moved to the next day. I also recorded stuff that happened that day with bullet points:


Near the bottom of the page I recorded what I ate and what I spent money on too. At the end of the month I could make a chart! Because if you love charts, bullet journaling is all about that. Here’s me recording monthly habits:


I know, pathetic, but I was sick for a while this month. I haven’t made myself a little chart for July, but if I ever do this again, I want to try to use more fabulous colors. On the other hand, some of the elaborate bullet journal layouts you can find online seem, to me, way more trouble than they’re worth.

Overall, bullet journaling really kept me more organized than I have been, particularly with things like chores that don’t really have deadlines but still need to be done consistently. I still wrote more narrative entries below what I considered my “bullet journal entry” for the day, but not always, and often just short sentences elaborating on my bullet points. I’m not sure I’ll stick to this format, but I’ll probably incorporate some elements of it into my normal journaling. Like charts!

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