Library Blog

Bullet Journaling

craft supplies

Intrigued by the hot new creative trend of Bullet Journaling?  Learn how to create a personalized and organized “Bullet Journal.”  Part planner, part diary, you can make it as simple or as elaborate as you like.  Dot grid notebooks and some simple supplies are available as this month’s Adult Take & Make kit. (While supplies last.)

Journaling is not only a fun hobby, but studies show that there are numerous health benefits to it, as well.  For example, journaling:

  • Relaxes you.
  • Helps you clarify and organize your thoughts.
  • Encourages you to get in touch with your feelings.
  • Reduces stress and anxiety, which may even lower blood pressure and boost immunity.
  • Improves your memory, (especially if you write by hand).
  • Plus, it just feels so nice to have free time and quiet space to write and do whatever you feel like!

Bullet Journaling (sometimes abbreviated “BuJo”) refers to the style of journaling.  It is a system for organizing thoughts and tasks through the use of “rapid logging.”  Rapid logging is writing in short-form notation paired with symbols to quickly capture, categorize, and prioritize your thoughts.  These sentence fragments, each preceded with a “bullet point” (or dot or star or slash), made quick work of journaling.  No need for complete sentences, (just like texting)!  Different bullet styles symbolized different things: tasks that need to be done, tasks in progress, tasks that are completed, etc.  Thus, with a glance, you could easily keep track of your tasks over time.

However, as Bullet Journaling evolves, the way people use it is getting more and more elaborate!  These journals are not as strict and minimal as they used to be.  Bullet Journals are now much more free-form!  “Rapid logging” is still the norm; yet drawing, painting, and calligraphy are often included to enhance and decorate beautifully-designed journal pages.

A Bullet Journal becomes your personal creative outlet and organizational tool.  Your Bullet Journal is a super-simple and easily portable thing that keeps everything in one place.  Everything you need is at your fingertips: it’s a planner, calendar, to-do list, diary and sketchbook all-in-one!  You customize it and select the tools that you want to include.  Your Bullet Journal is completely flexible.

For the most flexibility, many people prefer to use “dot grid” pages for a Bullet Journal.  Dot grid paper uses grids of tiny dots to act as guidelines, (as opposed to the more familiar lined notebooks).  These subtle dots give you infinite options.  Use them as a base for writing or drawing lines or boxes, (you can use a ruler to connect the dots).  Or, if sketching or painting or scrapbooking, the dots fade into the background.

Though your journal will be unique to you, most “expert” Bullet Journalers recommend starting your journal off with these steps:

1. Number your pages.

  • Starting with the first page, number the front side only of each page.
  • Place the number anywhere you like.
  • Start at 1, and end on 30.

2. Turn Page 1 into your “title page.”

  • Add your journal title, your name, other pertinent information, decorations, etc.

3. Label each page with pretty, bold headers.

  • Label each new section with a title/heading.
  • Start by labeling page 2 as “INDEX.”

4. Create an Index. The Index lists the beginning page of each section of your journal.  Hold off on filling out the Index until your Bullet Journal is roughly established, and return to complete it later.  This allows you to more naturally arrange the Bullet Journal as you like, rather than forcing your Bullet Journal to fit an Index.

  • Write page numbers (1 through 30) down along the margin of the Index.
  • List page 1 as “Title Page,” and page 2 as “Index.”
  • Return to fill in the remaining page titles after your Journal is roughly established.

5. Make a Key of various symbols to use. These symbols are an easy way to quickly identify various appointments, lists and plans.  Hold off on filling out the KEY for now.  Take some time to decide what you want these symbols to mean.

  • On a blank spot on the INDEX page, find a space to create a KEY.
  • Label it “KEY” and add a DOT, CIRCLE, STAR, and X.
  • Return to fill in the Key after you have decided what you prefer each symbol to mean.

6. Use page dividers, decorative tape, or other indicators. This makes it easy to locate and jump to each section as you need it. Washi tape or sticky tabs are nice for this.

7. Start your Bullet Journal with a Future Spread. This spread lays out your long-term “Bucket List” life goals.  It’s a nice way to start, with an overarching view of what you want your future to look like, or things you might want to experience someday.

  • Label page 3 as “LIFE GOALS” or “BUCKET LIST” or something similar.

8. Next, narrow your Future Spread down to a Yearly Spread… then narrow that down to a Monthly Spread… and then down to a Weekly Spread.

  • Your page spreads can be in either linear fashion (making a list of days down the side of the page), or non-linear fashion (using any number of styles, including traditional calendar-type grids).
  • Your next page can be your plans for 2021 at-a-glance. So label page 4 as “2021 GOALS.”
  • Then break 2021 down into each MONTH. These will be your plans for the month in general.  So label page 5 as “JANUARY” or “January At-a-Glance.”
  • Then break each month down. You can make plans for each week, and/or each day of the week.  So page 6 (front and back) can contain the four sections for each week (roughly) of January, or simply 31 days.
  • Next, page 7 can be “FEBRUARY” at-a-glance, followed by page 8 (front and back) for the four weeks and/or 28 days in February.
  • Repeat this pattern for the remainder of the year.
  • Log all desired tasks for the year, month, week or days in your preferred way: bullets or pictures or whatever strikes you.
  • Don’t forget to leave some space for notes, keepsakes, and a place to journal about your day later.


Ideas for Creating Your Own Bullet Journal

Page Ideas:

  • Bucket List
  • Daily, weekly, monthly calendars
  • Daily, weekly, monthly to-do lists
  • Things to look forward to
  • Things to be grateful for
  • Travel- plans and/or memories
  • Notes
  • Brain dump
  • Sketches, artistic expression
  • Fitness tracker
  • Health tracker
  • Water tracker
  • Personal goals
  • Memories
  • Self-improvement
  • Cleaning schedule
  • Chores
  • Budget
  • Books, movie planner
  • Books, movie scoring systems
  • Seasonal fun things (e.g. Summer, Christmas, rainy day)
  • Local fun things
  • Freestyle
  • Collections
  • Meal plans
  • Projects
  • Party planning
  • Time management
  • Bill paying
  • Spending tracker
  • Time tracker
  • Habit tracker
  • Wishlists

Decorating Ideas:

  • Paper with grids, dots or lines
  • Color
  • Color-coding
  • Boxes
  • Borders
  • Dividers
  • Stylistic lettering
  • Shapes
  • Doodles

Materials Needed:

  • Paper (blank, grid, lines)- thicker to prevent ink bleeding
  • Pencils (for sketching)
  • Rubber erasers (for erasing areas of sketch marks)
  • Pens (black, colors, felt-tip, brush-tip watercolors, calligraphy)
  • Markers, highlighters, colored pencils, crayons, paint (for color)
  • Ruler (for straight lines)
  • Other decorations (stickers, mementos, stamps, pictures), as desired
  • Washi tape (paper tape in various colors and patterns, in various widths)
  • Hole punch
  • Pencil case

Kelly is a librarian at the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. As the Adult Programming Specialist, her focus is bringing adults the library programs they love.  (Kids can’t have ALL the fun!).  She reads strictly nonfiction and picture books.  She believes that anything you could ever need or want is located somewhere in the library.  Including friends.