Planning Your Life with the Bullet Journal

Every time I mention my “bullet journal” — about twice per day — I usually garner a strange look from a friend or a passerby. I understand the confusion. It’s a weird name for what is essentially a DIY agenda, but I’m still a huge fan of the concept — name and all.

What’s a bullet journal, you ask? A bullet journal (often abbreviated to “bujo”) is a written organization system that has the potential to be an ongoing art project if that’s what you want it to be. If you want to stay organized, the bullet journal system is ideal for keeping track of everything you have to do. You can list your homework, workout schedule or anything else.

The fundamental difference between keeping a bullet journal instead of the average agenda is that you can tailor a “bujo” to fit your individual needs. Basically, you’re not as pigeon-holed as you might be if you bought an agenda from the school store. A bullet journal works well because it’s flexible.

Before starting my own journal, I always had trouble keeping up with the agendas I used over the years. Just having a calendar to write down every event I had coming up wasn’t enough. I wanted more space to mark school assignments. And I wanted the freedom that having some blank pages to fill in might provide, while still being able to maintain a neat, organized record of my commitments and upcoming tasks.

I genuinely think a bullet journal is for anyone, not just people who really enjoy staying organized. I’m definitely not even one of those people and I enjoy keeping a bujo, mostly because doing so is a lot of fun.

How To Start

To start a bullet journal, you can grab any journal you have. Lined, plain, dotted, or graph-paper notebooks are all fine. I personally use this one, which I purchased from Amazon. Some people do take things a bit more seriously when it comes to journaling, though. This particular notebook, the Leuchtturm dotted A5, is the most popular choice but is definitely not a requirement. Once you have a notebook in hand, grab some pens and you’re ready to start!

Every page in a bullet journal is numbered and the system consists primarily of different “logs.” On the first page of my own notebook, I have a log of shorthand symbols I can use to signify club meetings, appointments, etc. On the next page, I have my index. The index is a key component of the journaling system. It is where you keep track of the pages you’ve made so you can easily find them again.

A page out of my own journal! Yes, I spent too much time on this! Yes, I have since learned not to spend so much time on two pages of a notebook.
A page out of my own journal! Yes, I spent too much time on this! Yes, I have since (sort of) learned not to spend so much time on two pages of a notebook.

Near the front of my journal, I’ve purposely saved some blank pages so that I can fill them in later if need be. For instance, I might soon add a way to keep track of the books I have read or am planning to read sometime soon. Are you working on a story and want to save some pages for brainstorming? You can do that too.

I absolutely lied in the previous caption. Look at this nonsense I made for this month.
I absolutely lied in the previous caption. Look at this nonsense I made for this month.

Once you start planning on a month-by-month basis, you can start by mapping out the whole month like you would on a calendar. Then, you can make weekly logs (much like you’d find in an agenda) and add whatever else you see fit. Some people add “trackers” to keep track of how much you sleep, exercise, etc. for that week or month. I don’t, because I’m lazy, which is only further proof that a bullet journal is not only for people who have their life together.

What my weekly spread usually looks like.
What my weekly spread usually looks like.

Okay, I realize that I use washi tape like nobody’s business. That’s just something I enjoy doing, and I know that sometimes, I get a little carried away. But, don’t be intimidated. A bullet journal can be super simple if that’s what works for you. Like I said before, the great thing about a bullet journal is how flexible the concept of it is. You can be as minimalist with it as you please.

Do you still want to know more about the art of bullet journaling? Check out this article for an additional guide to bullet journaling. 


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