How Bullet Journaling Can Change Your Life (And How To Start!)

open bullet journals

It’s time for a pop quiz. Do you…

a. Have endless to-do lists scribbled on sticky notes around your house?

b. Use your own secret shorthand to jot down ideas and notes?

c. Thrive when you set goals?

d. Have a deep love for planners?

e. All of the above?

If you answered any of these with a resounding yes, you’re a prime candidate for life changing bullet journaling . Hello, most organized life ever.

What Is Bullet Journaling?

open bullet journal

This inspiring (and kind of addictive) art form was created by digital project designer Ryder Carroll, and is essentially a planner-meets-diary-meets-creative-outlet.

It’s a great calendaring technique, but it’s not just for planning your days — you can also make spreads for your dream travel destinations, your bucket list, track your mood and, ultimately, live a more mindful life. All through the magic of putting your ideas on a page!

What You Need

Bullet journaling goes way beyond a pen and paper (if you want it to). Some common supplies you can play with include:

  • A dot journal
  • Pens, both black and colored
  • Highlighters
  • Markers
  • Photographs
  • Tape and glue
  • Even watercolors and other paints!

Go-To Layouts to Get Started

We get it: looking at these intricate graphs and layouts might get a bit overwhelming. But if you’re having trouble figuring out how to take the first step into bullet journaling, we’ll break it down for you.

The Basics: Index and Future Log

bullet journal indexes

Before you really dive in, take a minute to get organized by creating a one-page index of the journal, so you can easily navigate through your entries. This is your chance to think through the “big picture” of how you’d like to use your journal, and what kinds of spreads you want to include. This step is so important, and without it your tracking journal can quickly become an anxiety-inducing monster (which is quite literally the opposite of its purpose).

bullet journal calendar

Another popular spread to incorporate into your journal is a future log. This is a bit different from a calendar (don’t worry, we’ll get to those in a sec), as it helps keep track of the major dates to have on your radar — birthdays, project deadlines, test dates, holidays, etc.

Dynamic Spreads

bullet journal spread

Dynamic spreads are a journaling technique created by yours truly. They have two vital elements: dynamic notes written on sticky notes (so you can swap ’em out anytime), and a permanent header. This saves space in your journal, while still providing room for those recurring lists you need in life, like to-do lists, grocery lists, and packing lists (if you’re a big traveler).

Pro Tip: Because these lists are needed frequently in our day-to-day lives, keep ‘em close to the front of your journal. That way they’ll be easier to find than if they’re buried and separated by meeting notes or other single-use entries.

Constant Collections

bullet journal map

These are a bit like the dynamic spreads, but permanent. Use them for unchanging lists you’ll want to refer back to — contacts, a weekly yoga schedule, the times of your art class, and fun stuff like favorite books or coffee shops.

Planner Pages

bullet journal planner

We’ve reached the nitty-gritty of bullet journaling: the planner pages. There are two views you can create — the monthly overview and the weekly logs. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Make a layout of the month ahead and use it to define important events and dates.

bullet journal weekly planner

Then follow with four weekly spreads, where you can enter the more granular events in your schedule. Essentially, you’re making your very own creative planner. To break it down even more, you can create dailies and even make an hour-by-hour schedule.

Got the basics down? Now it’s time to get rolling! Grab a journal, pick up your very best writing utensil and (most importantly) don’t overthink it. It’s not about making it perfect, but it IS about making it a habit!

Photos by Ink by Jeng.

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42 Responses to “How Bullet Journaling Can Change Your Life (And How To Start!)”


    <strong>One nice thing about being retired and getting older is that you simplify your life and you don’t need this. At least for me this is the case.


    So the email from Craftsy spruiked this topic as though it is one of their courses, particularly with the big "Watch Now" button. It was almost impossible to find the link to the video on this page. It was only via tips from other responses on this page that I even found it. Then it goes to an outside page! So, the question is - was this all just advertising for another site &amp; actually nothing to do with Craftsy or my membership here? Can't say that I'm very impressed.

  3. Nichole

    I have a bullet journal and have read Ryder's book, but wanted to make something beautiful and less business-like. Maybe this course will offer something I can create that I really would enjoy to look back on. Thanks.

  4. Mary

    Sounds interesting!

  5. Regina Buccelli

    Sounds good

  6. Carole Anderson

    Article WAY too brief. Ryder Carroll's instruction manual: The Bullet Journal Method is long &amp; at the beginning, intimidating. But he really spells out how elegant &amp; deeply customizable the system is. For me the most important elements are the index and the page numbers. I agree the habit is life changing. I started it for organizing and archiving my days, weeks etc. What surprised me though was it enabled me to discover a pattern in the toxic arguments I had with my partner and actually FIX the underlying conflict. I honestly think we could more quickly solve world-wide problems if everyone adopted bujo as a basic life discipline.

  7. Pamela Renew

    Please help

  8. Barbara Ristaino

    Sample pages to use as a template

  9. Reba Smith

    Let's get started!

  10. Angel Beatty Pritt

    Can’t wait to see how to start