So you’ve probably come across the gorgeous Bullet Journals all over Pinterest and Instagram. If like me, you love the idea of a bullet journal to keep your work and home life organised but you’ve been put off as you’re not ‘arty’ or good at drawing. Then this post, Bullet Journal for Beginners, is for you.
I’ve been using a bullet journal for a year now. In this post, I’ll share the steps I took to get started, the basic supplies I use so that you can be inspired to give it a go. No expensive calligraphy pens, stacks of stationery or colouring pens required.
Step One – The Bullet Journal Method
Firstly, watch the Official Bullet Journal YouTube Video to learn the basics.
Next, visit the Official Bullet Journal website created by Ryder Carroll. In the learn section there’s a great list of the basic pages, symbols and layouts that are perfect to get you started.
TIP: Sign up to the Official Bullet Journal Newsletter for beginners tips. Also, have a read through some of the blog posts as there’s some great advice on getting started and keeping it simple.
I’d highly recommend investing in a copy of the official Bullet Journal Method book. You can read my book review here, which includes links to buy on Amazon. This has been really useful over the past year as a reference and reminder of how to organise things like projects.
Step Two – Invest in a Journal
There is an official Bullet Journal that you can buy. Personally, I didn’t do this as I wanted something a little more colourful and inspiring. Remember, your journal will be with you every day so buy one that you LOVE the look of.
You don’t need to spend loads of money on a Bullet Journal and pens. Here are a couple of suggestions on the type of journal that would be useful, so that you’re up and running in no time.
My mum gifted me this gorgeous Dot and Scribble A5 Bullet Journal, which I LOVE. There are pages at the front to add the key symbols, several Index pages ready to use, 2 ribbon bookmarks and a pen holder on the side. Each page has faint dots, which help you layout your page using the symbols and line drawing if you decide to add boxes etc. This is a lovely book for beginners or advance BJ users alike.
Alternatively, I often see people in the Bullet Journal Community recommend the Leuchtturm1917 journals.
I’ve got my eye on this gorgeous Nordic Blue cover journal. But I haven’t made the switch yet. I decided to continue with the book above until it’s full before buying a new journal. Some BJ users prefer to start a brand new journal in January but I’m a bit old school ‘nothing goes to waste’.
Step 3 – Find a nice writing pen?
If you already have a favourite writing pen then definitely dig that out and use it. If you don’t have a favourite and would like a nice writing pen then here’s what I use.
These are lovely to write with and useful if you do decide to doodle or draw later on. I use black for every day use so I’ve listed a pack of 10 from Amazon that should last you a while.
You can also buy the Stabilo 88 in a range of colours should you wish to jazz up your journal over time.
But remember, don’t waste time fretting about it looking pretty in the beginning. Just get into the habit of using your bullet journal to organise your busy brain and life 🙂
It’s also useful to have a pencil and eraser handy when you first set up your pages. Use a pencil to lightly add your page titles, Index, Symbols etc. to make sure you’re happy with the placement then go over it with your pen. That way you can quickly rub out any mistakes and not spoil your first few pages, nothing worse in a nice new book!
Step 4 – Start with a simple set up
Great, so now you have your journal and pens, it’s time to set up your first few pages. Exciting!
Here are the pages I’d recommend setting up initially:
- Key Symbols page
- Index page
- Daily Log page
- Monthly Log page
There are a couple of ways to tackle these first few pages so as a reminder, either:
- Re-watch/pause Ryder’s ‘Getting Started’ video above, or
- Follow Part II in the Bullet Journal Method (starting at Page 51). This is what I did, there were really useful diagrams that I was able to copy straight into my own journal. Great option for beginners.
This doesn’t take very long to set up. Pick an afternoon, get cosy (PJs optional) and play your favourite tunes whilst having fun with your new bullet journal.
Once your first few pages are set up you’re ready to go. Over the next week keep your journal with you and practice adding notes, thoughts, tasks and events such as appointments. Remember to use the symbols, which you can refer to at the beginning of your journal.
If your bullet journal doesn’t have page numbers already printed on them then get into the habit of adding these as you start each new page. That way you can practice adding the details into the Index. This helps you navigate back to your notes when you need them throughout the year.
Step 5 – What next?
After a couple of weeks you’ll be ready to add more Bullet Journal templates to help organise your life. But really think about what would be useful to help you on a day to day basis.
TIP: Don’t add a new page type unless it’s really useful or supporting your yearly goals.
One of the traps beginners fall into is adding lots of pages to capture lists and trackers and boxes to fill in stuff throughout the day. Ask yourself do you really have time to fill them in? What benefit are you getting from it?
My advice would be to keep it simple. As an example, my next pages were:
- Book reading tracker (listing the books I complete. Used in end of year blog post review)
- Book Notes (at the end of each chapter I write notes when I’m reading, this speeds up my writing process for blog post book reviews)
- Future Log (calendar view of the year ahead with birthday’s, events colour coded)
- Training Log (personal development goals and tracking progress)
- Personal Projects – (wedding project as I’m getting married in June)
That’s it, after my first year I’m consistently adding to my journal each day. All my page inputs are keeping me organised, supporting my goals and making me more efficient. I feel much more in control and I never miss anyone’s birthday yay! 🙂
Step 5 – Bullet Journal accessories
Finally, now that you’ve learnt the basics and you’ve been using your Bullet Journal for a while, now you can explore what others are doing within the BJ Community. They’re a friendly and very talented bunch.
Check out my Touring Tales Bullet Journal Pinterest Board, which I regularly update with new ideas. Why not follow my board so you don’t miss any of the updates.
The great thing about your new hobby is that family and friends will be able to gift you Bullet Journal Accessories for birthday’s and Christmas. Send them the link below for lots of gift ideas.
I hope you’ve found my Bullet Journal for Beginners useful. Please share this link with anyone you think may be interested. Use the comments section below to say hi and let me know how you’re getting on.