How To Bullet Journal For Beginners (A Complete Guide)

how to bullet journal for beginners
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You’ve probably come across many bullet journal spreads while scrolling through Instagram or watching videos on Youtube or perhaps someone recommended you to try journaling to be producive.

No matter how you have discovered bullet journals, by now you’re probably excited and ready to get started but suddenly you feel a wave of confusion on how to bullet journal.

Coming from first hand experience, when I stumbled across bullet journaling, I immediately bought a journal and got started only to feel overwhelmed by everything I thought I knew.

It was even more difficult to truly grasp bullet journaling so that it became a system that I could use rather than just recreating someone else’s spread that was customized for them.

This is why I decided to create this guide on how to bullet journal for beginners that will ensure that you have nothing to stress about or leave out any details that you might not be aware of.

Here you will learn how to journal, what kind of materials you will need, how to start your journal, important collections, pages, and spreads to include, ways to decorate and fix mistakes, as well as essential tips every beginner must know.

However, I do warn you, this is an exceptionally detailed and well thought out guide with golden information and tips, so it’s a long one.

Grab a page for notes if needed and let’s get to it.

Choosing The Right Bullet Journal

If you haven’t already bought a bullet journal, then here are a few types of journals you might want to consider.

The great thing about bullet journaling is that you don’t only need to use a dotted grid journal but you can easily start a journal with a blank or lined journal that you already have.

See also: Can You Bullet Journal With Lined Paper?

There’s no rule that you have to use a specific journal even though the majority of people who do journal tend to opt for a dotted grid journal.

It’s just cleaner and easy to use if you plan to carefully create layouts otherwise anything goes.

If you’d like to know more details about dot grid journals, see it here.

Or if you’d like to see the different recommendations for the best-dotted grid journals, you can find them here.

Supplies You Will Need

You might have seen plenty of places where fancy pens are used like microns or pastel highlights.

Honestly, you don’t really need all of that. If you just want to journal, then use the supplies you already have.

But if you want to use supplies that are bleed proof or are better quality, then you should upgrade what you have by investing in those fancy fineliners and pens.

I recommend for those who are just starting out to simply use a few basic pens and color pencils or markers to get started.

This way, you will know for sure if bullet journals are something that you enjoy doing or a passing interest.

Spreads

To start things of quickly for those who aren’t too sure of the specifics of bullet journaling, spreads are basically pretty layouts usually designed according to a subject and decorated with an overall theme in general.

Types of Spreads

There are three types of spreads:

  • Colorful/Themed – Usually has a cohesive theme for the month (eg. planets/animals) and is decorated with fancy hand lettering, pictures, stickers, and markers with intricate designs.
  • Minimalistic – These are black and white spreads that can be fancy or simple but they tend to lean towards less is more.
  • Basic – These are just simple spreads with one or more pens and don’t include drawings or details but focuses on written content rather than making it look attractive.

Depending on what kind of style you want to aim for, this will heavily influence how your bullet journal spreads will look.

If you’re feeling to nervous to start designing detailed spreads, then try going for a minimalistic style.

However, there are pros to making your spreads look fancy and attractive in which you’ll always feel excited to open up your journal and look at your work.

These colorful spreads will keep things fresh and new, especially since you can alternatively your designs every month or weekly depending on how much time you want to spend journaling.

Where To Find Ideas

The best place to find ideas would be right here at Bujo Babe but there are second best places you could try like searching #bulletjournal on Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr.

There are also great videos on Youtube that will show you how to design a full months spread with pretty themes and layout ideas you can use for your own journal.

This way you won’t need to have to stress yourself with thinking about designing or drawing things all on your own when it’s already done for you and they look fantastic.

Here are our top 4 favorite bullet journal channels:

Themes

As mentioned before, themes are often used when creating spreads but it’s not completely necessary.

They’re fun, creative, and you get to make your spreads look visibily appealing.

Journaling will no longer a boring task if you take the time to have fun while jotting down the things you need to get done in a week.

There are an endless amount of theme ideas you can use to fill your bullet journal and I’ve created a really detailed list a while back which you can find over here if you’d like to discover a few more ideas.

For now, here’s a quick list of theme ideas you might like to include or to give you idea what I’m talking about:

FruitsFoodLandscapes
SeasonalIce CreamPaper Airplanes
FlowersSweetsLight Bulbs
AnimalsHot Air BalloonsRainbows
bullet journal theme ideas

You don’t need to choose only one theme and use that the whole year or month because that would just make it boring.

Try mixing up a few items and see what you can come up.

For example, during the summer months, you could include cute ocean theme drawings, seashells, ice creams, and fruits.

First Few Pages of A New Bullet Journal

The first few pages of a brand new journal are sure to make you feel a little anxious and excited at the same time but before you get started, here are few ways you use to customize your bullet journal:

Index Page

bullet journal index spread, bullet journal key

An index page is great to have if you want to organize your journal and know exactly where everything is and on which page.

You can also include a key to indicate specific symbols towards a task that will enable faster and efficient planning.

The best place to have these two pages are usually at the very beginning of your journal.

Yearly Cover

yearly cover page spreads

If you’re just starting your journal at the beginning of the year (or at any month) it’s a good idea to show which year you’re currently journaling in.

This way, if you have leftover pages, you can continue journaling in this one but it’s always great to make these pages stand.

It’s like starting fresh and as if you’ve been given a second chance.

There are many ways you can design these pages (from fancy to simple) but I think the perfect way to do it is to really make it personalized so add whatever doodles or decorate items you want to make it look and feel like yours.

Future Log

The next page you would want to consider is a having a future log. This page is an overview of the entire year in which you can design as a table or a two page spead with blocks.

Here you can plan out important life events or birthday reminders but it’s a great place to always ensure you’re up to date with tasks.

You can also use these pages to plan your year out if you are working towards something.

Yearly Goals

With every new journal, you’re bound to write down your yearly goals and those things that you want to accomplish.

We do it every single year but this year, make it your mission to complete these goals.

There are tons of goal page ideas that you can try, but for this specific yearly goals page, it’s best to focus on your massive goals that will take time to complete.

Leave the small goals that can be accomplished early for your monthly layouts.

Year In Pixel Spread

You might have seen these spreads before or not but I think their a fun little task to do every day.

It’s basically a table with the months in colomns and the days in rows and for each day, you will bloack in a color of a specific emotion you felt on that day.

The best and most motivating part about this spread is that feeling when you’re reaching the year’s end and the table is almost completed.

It’s really fun and highly recommend you try it.

If you’re looking for creative ideas, you can check out our full list of year in pixel spreads right here.

Monthly Layout Ideas

First Month Cover Page

Once you’re finished designing the first few pages of your bullet journal, it’s time to really get started.

The first thing you’ll want to do for a new month is to decide on whether you will keep this month’s spread themed on not.

This page is great way to start off with a new theme and it makes the overall monthly spread look cohesive and well thought out.

If you reference back to our theme ideas listed above, you can come up with many ideas on what to choose.

However, if you want to just pick anything that looks great, then you can see these ideas over here.

Calendar Overview

The followup page will be your calendar view to jot down your tasks, appointments, events, birthdays, and plans for the entire month.

You can keep adding to them as you go through the days but this is the best place to schedule everything you need to do.

As mentioned before, you could even write down your smaller goals that you would like to accomplish in this month (for instance, read 10 books or go running 2 times a week).

This spread can be done on one or two pages depending on how much information you need to add.

Weekly Spreads

Now you’ll want to dedicate a few pages towards your weekly spreads to ensure you have sufficient space to plan out everything while also having space to make these spreads look amazing.

These spreads give you the opporutnity to be really creative and fun with it.

If you’re looking for inspiration, then you can see our fantastic list of 25 best weekly spread ideas here.

To Do Lists

For those who have a long list of things that they would like to do in a month, having a to do list in your journal is a great way to plan for it.

You can easily sort through tasks here but it’s also a fun way to add more pages to your bullet journal.

Trackers

Trackers are a large part of bullet journaling and almost all journals tend to keep track of a one or more things.

There’s usually a dedicate page towards trackers but you can also find smaller versions of them on a monthly layout spread.

You can keep track of just about anything but the most common one’s are:

Gratitude Logs

I love having a gratitude log in my journal every single month because it’s a brilliant way to remind yourself to stop for a second and write down at least one thing you are grateful for daily.

These logs are great if you want to practice mindfulness but they are also fantastic for self-care.

If you’d self-care is something that interests you too, here’s an awesome guide that I wrote on self-care journaling that you can also include in your bullet journal for a richer experience.

Misc. Page And Collection Ideas

Journaling only about the above pages will become too tedious and boring if you do the same thing everything single month.

The good news is that there plenty of other things you can include in your journal that will always keep bullet journaling a fun activity.

Here are other bullet journal pages you can include:

  • Favorite List
  • Song Lyrics
  • Best Movies
  • Bucket List
  • Summer Activities
  • Inspiring Quotes
  • Dreams
  • Dream Holiday Destination
  • Favorite Clean Eating Recipes

This is just a few ideas!

Here’s the full list of 110+ bullet journal page ideas you can use that is packed with mind-blowing awesomeness.

You’ll never run out ideas!

Fun Ways To Decorate Your Spreads

Now that you know of the best pages and spreads you can include in your journal, you might be wondering how to actually decorate them.

Well, it’s easier than you may think.

Here’s what and how you can decorate it with:

how to decorate bullet journal spreads

Washi Tapes

These are decorative tapes that are not only cheap but they come in all colors and patterns.

You can easily use them to create pretty borders around your pages or fill in blank spaces.

They can definitely make a spread look amazing even if you’ve barely decorated the page.

Related Post: Best Washi Tape Ideas And Spreads For Your Bullet Journal

Markers

Having colorful markers and liners will make things so much easier for you.

They’ll be a lot more options for you to decorate your spreads if you choose to use them. You can get thick and thin lines fine liners and highlighters are great for making words pop.

Also, if you want to create awesome headers, then you’re going to need to use makes.

Here’s a fantastic tutorial that will teach you how to create pretty headers that you can use to instantly make your spreads look amazing:

Stickers

If you don’t like or want to doodle yourself, then using stickers will save you a lot of time and effort. Just a few stickers here and there will make your spreads look more interesting.

If there aren’t any stickers available for you to use, then you could always try printing out cute pictures to make do.

Photos

Using personal photos will make your journal feel more like yours and it’s a great way to incorporate your memories into. If you’ve been travelling recently, then use a few photos from that trip to create travel journal spread.

Scrapbooking Paper

Using patterned pieces of paper is a great way to add texture to your journal. You can use them to create corner borders or make a heading stand out.

Either way, if you don’t want to spend time doodling and looking for a different way to decorate your spreads, then using this paper with stickers and wash tape is also a fantastic option.

Essential Tips For Bullet Journaling That Is Helpful

Here are a few tips you can use when bullet journaling that will ensure you’re never worried:

Keep It Interesting

Bullet journaling can be incredibly fun but also start to feel mundane when you’re keeping track of the same tasks over and over each month.

Try switching things up by using new spreads, layouts, and trackers.

Create exciting challenges that will keep you coming back and have so much fun while doing it.

This is a great way to change your life for the better while doing something you love.

Here are a few bullet journal challenges you can give a try:

  • Writing Challenges
  • Health Challenges (No Sugar 30 Days, No Cheat Meals)
  • Weightloss Challenges (100 Squats, 3 Days Workout, No Carbs)
  • Self Improvement (Meditate 4 Times, No Spending)

Pick A Style That Suits You

The last thing you want is to stress over silly things like your spreads not turning out the way it was supposed too.

You also don’t need to make your spreads look perfect.

If you have messy handwriting and you don’t know how to create those beautiful hand-lettering fonts that everyone seems to be using, take your time to learn.

Also, choose a theme or style that you find most alluring.

Maybe you are the person who absolutely loves how simple those black and white minimalist spreads are but you also love colorful ones too, don’t be afraid to include both of those in your journal.

Just remember that your bullet journal does not need to look uniform. I

t’s for your eyes only unless you want to share it and you can express yourself in any way you feel fit.

Don’t Rush

If you really want your spreads to look beautiful, then don’t try to rush it or it will end up looking sloppy. Take your time to find ideas and things that inspire you which you can include in your journal.

You may see an idea from someone and another idea from a different site that you like equally, try combining those two to see what you come up with.

Rather than trying to finish quickly, wait for the time where you are in the mood to journal and you’ll be surprised at what you come up with.

Enjoy the process.

Important Things To Be Aware Of

I know that bullet journaling seems like the next best thing, there are a few things you need to know before getting started that you may not have come across often.

Time Constraints

If you’re short of time, then using a bullet journal like some of the others may not be an option for you, especially if it requires you to create detailed spreads.

This can be incredibly time consuming and one or two pages could easily take anywhere between 15 – 20 minutes depending on the type of spread you are aiming for.

Also, if you just want to have a straight forward journal to plan your day to day activities, then it would be better to just you a planner instead or keep your bullet journal really simple.

Alternatively, if you can make time to journal everyday (maybe in the morning or before bed), then this will work for you.

Another option would be to set a day to review all your spreads like your fitness logs, gratitude list, mood trackers, and more.

You could also use one day in a month to design a full monthly bullet journal spread so that you’re completely set up.

Monotony

This may not be an issue for many people but from my own experiences, I have felt bored a few times while journaling.

When you’re doing the same things every single day, it can get tedious.

Depending on how you use your journal and what you use it for, you’ll be able to create an ideal journaling routine that will ensure that you don’t feel bored or tired of journaling.

The best recommendation I can give to you is to always keep updating your bullet journal with fresh new concepts.

Quitting

A bullet journal is not something that will magically solve all your problems but it is a useful tool that you can use that will help improve your life overall.

For some, it may even be life-changing but that is due to the fact that they have found a system that works for them.

If you find that bullet journaling isn’t as fun as you thought, you may even quit it completely only to come back a year from now to give it a second chance.

Don’t try to create an identical copy of someone else’s bullet journal. Create a bullet journal that will suit your lifestyle.

This means trying out new spreads and layouts, page ideas, and fun things that will keep you journaling.

You don’t need to create perfectly beautiful spreads with the most amazing handwriting. As long as you are having fun and being creative in your own way even if it’s messy, embrace it and you’ll love your bullet journal even more!

Questions & Concerns You May Have

Is Bullet Journaling Expensive?

No, bullet journaling is relatively cheap if you already have all the supplies you need like pens, markers, and stickers.

The only purchase you might have to make is buying a dot grid journal which usually costs anywhere between $8 – $12 but the journal will last a year or more depending on how often you use it.

Is Bullet Journaling Worth It?

Absolutely! Bullet journaling is a fantastic way to organize your life, keep track of tasks and goals, get more done, and a simple way to get to know more about yourself.

It’s a great motivator to ensure you are always keeping account of the things you do and it feels great to look back when the journal is completed.

If you’d like to explore more into the why a bullet journal is worth it, you can find it over here.

Do You Have To Journal Every Day?

No, you don’t. If you don’t have to tick of daily tasks or trackers, there’s no need to use your bullet journal everyday.

However, if you keep a daily checklist, gratitude log, or even a habit tracker, then you’re bound to use it at least once a day.

You could always create a schedule to journal that will make sure you have the time to journal if you find yourself too busy but this will ensure that you don’t quit journaling altogether.

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