Right so, you’ve decided to start a bullet journal. You’ve spent hours researching your supplies, spent more hours deciding on what notebook to buy, then patiently waited by the mailbox for it all to get to you. But now what?
Yip, it’s super daunting, when you search “how do I start a bullet journal” and you get bombarded with jargon and images of beautiful works of art and you just want to know what the hell do I put on the first page?!
Ok, so well, that first question is easy. Make sure you put your name on that first page, if there’s a “this book belongs to….”, then use it, add in your phone number as well. Because I can guarantee that you are going to get attached to this notebook and if you lose it, you want every chance you have of getting it back.
But what comes after that?
Here are the 5 main spreads you should have in your bullet journal:
#1 – Bullet Journal Index
A bullet journal index is like a contents page. This is where you reference in all those collections you add to your bullet journal. And by collections, I mean your monthly logs, daily logs, book trackers, movie trackers, cleaning schedules, recipes… everything that you’ve decided to add to your bullet journal
From my experience, leaving 2 – 4 pages for an index is enough. If you want to reference in every single page you have in your notebook, you’ll need to adjust the number of pages you leave blank.
Then simply create a small column on the left for the page numbers, with a wider column to the right (on each page) for the description of the page. Or switch around the columns is that’s your preference.
If you’re lucky, some notebooks have pre-printed indices in them, such as the Scribbles That Matter or Dingbats* notebooks.
Here are some great examples of a Bullet Journal Index:
This standard bullet journal index looks even more awesome due to her immaculate handwriting!
Decorate your Index by using washi and writing a creative heading (check out this POST for some great hand-lettering ideas)
Add some colour and cute lettering to make your favourite pages !pop!
Switch your columns around and keep it minimal:
Create little subheaders for each month to make things even easier to find in your index:
#2 – Bullet Journal Key
No, not an actual key – are you now thinking about those lockable diaries you used to have as a kid?
A bullet journal key is simply a list of all those symbols you use within your bullet journal to save on time and having to write to much. This forms a part of Rapid Logging in the bullet journal system.
Now those symbols are technically referred to as signifiers. They add extra information and context to your journal without having to write too much and are usually used over and over.
For example, a task that needs to be completed can be signified as a “•”
So each time you have a new task to be completed, list it by using the “•” in front.
Once you’ve finished the task, place an “✘” through it. The “✘” now becomes the signifier for a completed task.
Just remember, you don’t have to use the same signifiers as everyone else. You can decide which ones suit your needs the best and use those.
You can also decorate your bullet journal Key page however you want.
If you’re into colours, you can also include a colour code in your bullet journal key as well, such as these ones:
#3 – Future Log
What is a Future Log?
A future log is a spread that aids in your long term planning. For instance, if you’ve been invited to a wedding in 6 months time, the Future Log is where you’d write this down.
In general, a future log will encompass a full year in advance. However, some people don’t plan out that far ahead, or their bullet journals don’t last that long, so it’s ok to have only 9 months or 6 months in your bullet journal. The choice is up to you.
Here are some cute ways of setting up a Future Log in your bullet journal:
This future log has 3 columns per page, each column topped with the monthly calendar. Any important dates will be listed underneath with a description.
Here’s an option if you want to capture all 12 months on a two-page spread:
Or go with a horizontal layout:
Now if you’ve been invited to a shotgun wedding that is happening next month (yeah these things do happen!), then this wouldn’t go in your Future log. It would go in your Monthly Log, which we’ll look at next.
#4 – Monthly Log
So now that you’ve got your long term planning sorted, it’s time to look at what is coming up in the next month of your life! The bullet journal monthly log is where you keep all the appointments, tasks, reminders that you need for the coming month.
The original monthly log from the bullet journal system is as simple as writing the month at the top of the page and then writing the day and dates in a column down the left hand side of the page. Appointments, tasks and reminders etc are written down next to the corresponding date. So you can quickly see at a glance what you have on for the coming month.
In this simple monthly log, I’ve highlighted the weekends to make it even easier to read.
Other examples of monthly logs generally come in the form of a calendar format, and these are much like the monthly pages that you’ll find in a standard pre-printed planner. You can create this on one page or use two side by side pages. It depends on how much space you like to use.
Make sure to add in your goals or tasks that aren’t date specific but are items that you want to achieve in this month. And also don’t forget to refer back to your Future Log and transfer any items for the month from there.
You can mix things up a bit by creating a horizontal monthly log. But be warned, this type of layout is not for someone who has a lot going on!
#5 – Daily Log
The daily log is where you get down to the nitty-gritty of your daily life. Here is where you write down your to-do list for the day. Highlight any important tasks or events. And it’s also where you can write notes or comments about your day or mood, meal plan, meal log. Basically, anything that can and will happen in your day.
The simplest form of a daily log is to create a heading using the date. Then start rapid logging (list your tasks, notes, events). Once the day is complete, repeat again for the next day.
The daily log forms part of the original bullet journal method. But it has evolved in the last few years to become part of the Weekly Log.
A weekly log, as the name suggests is much like the Monthly log except it only focuses on the current week. Usually on the weekend preceding the week in question, you would sit down and create a weekly log. Or if life has been hectic first thing on Monday morning. (Ok, ok, I’ve sometimes not got round to creating my weekly log until Tuesday or Wednesday).
I almost always use a weekly log in my bullet journal, as this gives me an overview of how my week is looking. A quick glance at my weekly log can show me when swimming lessons are on, when to bake for the school fair, who’s birthday party I need to herd my kids too…. which helps me plan out the rest of the week.
Usually a weekly log is created over two side by side pages. With set spaces for each of the days of the week. Weekly logs can be as simple or as complicated as you wish. Some people like to add meal planners, habit trackers, mood trackers, weather trackers and all sorts of other bits and pieces.
This one has a box for each day as well as a “currently” box for some quick memory keeping:
While this one includes a habit tracker, weather tracker, reading tracker and a box to note the shit that my kids say:
So there you have it! Once you have these 5 bullet journal spreads set up in your bullet journal, you’re basically a pro!
Creating a bullet journal isn’t so hard as long as you keep these five spreads in mind. So why don’t you give it a go! And if you get stuck, feel free to reach out to me via email. I’m always happy to help.
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