It is nearly the start of a brand new year and is a clean slate for your mindset. You have the ultimate chance to re-evaluate what you want from your life in 2022, what you want to achieve and what areas you want to focus on. The past couple of years have been difficult with COVID ad although there are some uncertain times ahead, 2022 is a fresh start for you to re-focus and start the year on as positive a note as you can.
It can be so motivating when you have a new planner or bullet journal; you have fresh pages that you can start utilising to plan and set new goals and targets. Bullet journals can help you be super organised and more productive with your time. If you are new to bullet journaling and 2022 will be your first year, you may be a little overwhelmed; so, this ultimate guide will help you to set up your bullet journal.
What Is A Bullet Journal?
A bullet journal is a planner system that uses the bullet journal method created by Ryder Carroll. The system organises you with the use of to-do lists, brainstorming reminders and trackers. The name ‘bullet journal’ cones comes from the use of abbreviated bullet points to log information as well as the dotted journals, which are gridded using dots rather than lines.
Let’s Get Started!
You can set up a basic bullet journal in 10 – 15 minutes; you can always add more creative designs later, or just in each monthly spread. The ultimate guide will help you lay out your first pages: Index, Key, Future Log, Monthly Log and then Daily Logs such as habit and mood trackers.
Step 1 – Get Your Bullet Journal Supplies
Do not let the internet and social media fool you… You do not need a huge collection of bullet journal essentials and stationery. All you really need is a notebook and pen. If you want to upgrade, you can just use a dotted journal, but you can use an old notebook or even a notepad.
With designing your bullet journal, you need writing utensils; fine liners are the best and the most popular e.g. Micron, Muji or Staedtler pens. Using these particular pens is great because they are fine and have a clean line quality, making your designs look sharp.
My Recommendations For Bullet Journal Supplies:
Dingbats Notebooks – This is one of my favourite notebook brands because the paper is high quality that avoids bleeding and ghosting. They are also a sustainable company that offer different layouts – I prefer the dotted journal. This notebook is a great dupe for archer and olive notebooks.
Leuchtturm Notebooks – This is one of the most popular bullet journal notebooks. They even have a notebook that they created in collaboration with Bullet Journal. It can be helpful because the Index pages are already set up and the pages are numbered, so it can save you time.
Stationery Island – This brand is super affordable for bullet journals and has a great page gsm which makes it a great dupe for archer and olive or even the Dingbats notebooks.
Micron pens – I have a set that has varying tip sizes that can be beneficial drawing as they create smooth consistent lines. These pens can also make writing into small boxes or designs for trackers easier. These pens and the Muji pens are my favourite.
You can also use washi tape, stickers and stamps to add depth, colour and a creative flare to your posts. Now you have your affordable bullet journal supplies, you can design your journal.
Step 2 – Create An Index
Your index pages are the core of the bullet journal system to keep organised. Having the index is a quick and simple way to organise the contents of your journal.
The index pages are where you list the names of pages in your bullet journal and the corresponding page numbers. Every time you create a new page in your journal, give it a corresponding name and page number and record it in your index pages. Using index pages makes it easier to find older pages in your bullet journal.
If your journal doesn’t have index or contents pages and page numbers, you will have to manually number all your pages and then set aside 2 or 3 pages where you can record your page name and the corresponding page number. The ages you will want to include in your index are monthly spreads and collection pages – you don’t need to include daily logs.
Step 3 – Create A Key
If you get a Leuchtturm notebook that was part of the collaboration with Bullet Journal, it actually comes with a pre-printed key and space for you to create your own unique key as well. If not, you can use a page in your journal to use the bullet journal key, or you can come up with your unique symbols for your planner.
Here are the symbols used for the bullet journal system:
- A bullet point means a task and that it is incomplete
- A bullet point with a cross through it means you have completed the task
- A bullet point with and arrow head facing right, over the top, means that the task has been migrated into your weekly or daily log for another day
- A bullet point with and arrow head facing left, over the top, means that the task has been scheduled into your future log
- An open circle bullet symbolises an event
- A dash represented notes – this can be facts, ideas, thoughts or observations. This is information you don’t want to forget
- You can use signifiers which are symbols that will give your events additional context. You should out them to the left of the bullets, so that they stick out.
- A * means a priority; these are the most important tasks on your list.
- A ! means inspiration; this can be good ideas or even personal mantras
You can use a mix of the above to keep your journal organised.
Step 4 – Set Up Your Future Log
A future log is a collection of all your upcoming events. You can use it in a simple form of a calendar. There are many different layouts for this page idea. You can use this collection to record upcoming birthdays, holidays, important appointments – whatever you feel is important. You can use it for reference when you are planning out your weekly and monthly logs. These logs are helpful to organise your time and avoid double-booking yourself, or missing an important deadline.
You can spread the future log in a list form over 2 pages or a smaller design with no calendar, just the names of the months with a list of your tasks or birthday reminders.
Step 5 – Set Up Your January Monthly Log
Your monthly log is a spread hat consists of a calendar and a task page. You can have your calendar in a simple list form or in boxes to make it look more like a calendar – it is completely u to you with how you want your journal to look or how much time you have to set it up.
The idea of the monthly log is to provide you with a bird’s eye view of the whole month. You can use this calendar to schedule events and tasks, recording your reference when planning your days and weeks. Having the monthly log alongside a monthly task list is so beneficial. Wiring down all the tasks and priorities you have for the month helps you to keep deadlines. Remember… you should leave some pace on the left margin if you want to use signifiers!
Step 6 – Set Up Your January Collections
Habit trackers are a tool to remind you of existing as well as new habits. You can track habits in a list form or in other creative designs. The notion of checking off tasks whether it is a habit or a work task, it can give you a sense of achievement and productivity. Keeping a habit tracker is a great way to hold you accountable for certain actions and works as a great reminder.
Mood trackers are a great way to highlight patterns in your physical and mental health. You can use a creative design with a similar theme, or you could just write it in a list form. If like me you live with a chronic illness or chronic pain, it can help to relay information to your doctor if needed.
Sleep logs are where you track the amount of sleep that you have each night. Again, it highlights any sleeping patterns or habits that may be useful to your doctor.
Step 7 – Set Up Your Daily Log
A daily log is for your day-to-day use. If you want a basic layout that is just about planning and organisation, you just record the date at the top of your page and then just rapid log your tasks, events and any notes. If you do not fill a complete page, you can just add the next date wherever you left off and ready to continue your planning. Unless you are aware of how many daily tasks you will have each day, it is best to not create the daily logs too ahead of time, so you don’t run out of space. You can use a weekly log where you can separate the spread into days – you have to use the layout that will best suit your planning and organisation needs.
There are so many benefits from using a bullet journal as your main planner for your organisation. Here are 3 reasons why you should consider bullet journaling:
- You can tailor your bullet journal to exactly what you need. Whether that is space for tasks or to add features that you cannot get in regular planners.
- If you love being creative, using a bullet journal is definitely a way to channel organisation and creativity.
- The use of trackers and daily/weekly log boosts your productivity levels.
If you are looking for more information about bullet journaling, these are some blog posts that you need to check out:
- Bullet journal myths that are not true
- Pros and cons to bullet journaling
- 10 Bullet journal spreads to help you be a more organised blogger
- 9 ways to be seriously organised using a bullet journal