the holy grail of organization: bullet journal basics

Happy Almost-Friday!

Last summer, I started bullet journaling and it changed how I organized my life in the best way possible. The concept seems complicated, but it’s really pretty simple. Some of the best breakdowns of the process have been done by Buzzfeed, LifeHacker, and Tiny Ray of Sunshine.

The basic principle of the Bullet Journal is its a home for everything. How often have you had a planner for work, a planner for home, a journal for writing, a sketchbook, a prayer journal – and found you couldn’t keep up with it all because you couldn’t carry around 30 notebooks with you wherever you go? Well, your case may not be as severe as mine, but I am an organizational freak, I am type triple-A and I love everything to have its place. But that what what caught my attention about the bullet journal in the first place, everything had its place in one place. I was stunned, shocked, and immediately wanted to make one.

The Basics

  1. Page Numbers – Very important. Label each page with a page number.
  2.  Index – At the front of your journal, mark aside a few pages for the index. Here, you will mark where all of the items in your journal are by page number so you can quickly find everything.

    Index from my bullet journal, marking the important and random notes I take each day. (Also a good example of why to get non-bleeding pens… but we will get to that in a minute.)
  3. Future Log/Calendar – Basically, this is a page where you can list the next six or twelve months with empty space so you can take quick notes about birthdays, days off, or other important notes for the months ahead.

    The first future log I made – the beauty of designing it myself means I can emphasize what is important to me, and improve upon previous spreads to make them even better.
  4. Monthly – A place for you to list out specifically what you are doing each month by day. A more traditional planner page, if you will.

    An example monthly spread. There are so many options to design your own views.
  5. Bullet Points – I know, crazy that a bullet journal has these! You can design a key with symbols to indicate tasks, events, appointments, and other items you want to highlight. This way, you can create lists of what you need to do and where you need to go, but keep the points concise.

    The key for my bullets. I like to keep mine simple. I have seen some out there that make me more stressed than organized, but to each his own!

Up to now, what we have had are the outlines to a regular planner. It is important to note, however, that in designing your own views for each of these components, you can truly create each to work best for you.

Getting Creative

A recent weekly spread I made. Took forever to do but boy was it fun!

Some may be daunted by sheer amount of freedom a bullet journal allows. You can chose to lay out each week at a time, go day by day, or create pages for both. You can journal in between weeks (an essential for me) and incorporate lists, recipes, budgets, shopping lists – everything. And nothing gets lost, because it is always tied to a page number and the index at the beginning. There is no need to keep everything in perfect order. It is the hodgepodge that is your life in one notebook.

If you are just getting started, you will notice a huge community who use the bullet journal as another creative outlet, getting elaborate with spreads and hand lettering. This is not part of the core system of bullet journaling and I would not let it put you off. Personally, I have found activities like coloring books to be too simple to be a relaxing, creative activity. Instead, in drawing out layouts for my weekly spreads or hand lettering a header for a list, I find that creative outlet while I am organizing! A two for one, and anyone who knows me knows I am obsessed with bogos.

Books I Want to Read: the best way I have ever found to keep my reading list current and active.

Some ideas for what to include in your bullet journal:

  • films & TV shows you want to see or books you want to read
  • shopping lists
  • debt, credit card, or spending trackers
  • favorite quotes, bible verses, or words (I have one of each of these!)
  • habit trackers (for wellness, exercise, or habits you want to keep yourself accountable to starting)
  • recipes

    Recipes! I have so many in my bojo, and it makes shopping lists so much easier since it’s all in one place!
  • mood mandelas (look these up on Pinterest – so cool!)
  • goals you want to achieve
  • doodles
  • color palates and design ideas for your home
  • meal planning
  • address book
  • chores and household maintenance trackers
  • gift ideas
  • so so SO much MORE

    A Habit Tracker: I have tried and tried to keep one of these going, but I always end up slacking off! Currently, I am working on one with 5 manageable habits. We shall see if I succeed!


Starting a bullet journal does require dishing out some cash for the right supplies (but no more than you would spend on a pre-designed planner). The best notebooks for journaling are Moleskin or Leuchtturm1917 (the creator of the bullet journal concept also sells official notebooks as well). These are the best due to their durability, page quality, and both have a nice pocket in back. I would recommend getting a dotted or grid styled notebook since these will be easiest to use in designing various types of layouts.

High-quality pens will be the big budget item. If you don’t want to get creative, then a standard ball point pen will work fine. However, if you do want to get more into the creative side, getting non-bleeding pens is so helpful. I really enjoy Stabilo and Micron pens for designing. Another tool that is very useful is a small ruler that can fit inside your journal. It comes in handy more than you think, and if you are as crazy about getting a straight line as I am, a necessity.

That is all I would focus on for now. There is a continuous list of items you can acquire from washi tape to stamps, but we’ll get into that at another time.

Get Started

You have the tools, some tricks of the trade, and a whole lot of organizing to do – so get started! Do you have any questions about the bullet journal process? Feel free to drop me a line. I LOVE talking about bullet journals, to the woe of all who surround me. The process has truly changed, not only how I organize, but how I think about organizing as a whole.

And don’t let the process daunt you. You will make mistakes. Pages will get smudged, handwriting will be messy, and it will take time to learn how to organize a new way. But the process is so worth it. And keep in mind, no one is posting up pictures of their failures, but they are certainly having their fair share.

Jump in. Relax about it. And have fun!


xx raina xx


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