How to Start a Bullet Journal: A Guide for Beginners
Disclaimer: I do use affiliate links on here, meaning that if you purchase anything through my affiliate links I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. My views and opinions are never swayed because of this. I only recommend products and services that I trust and love!
My Bullet Journal
At the start of the year 2020, my husband and I began a journey of self improvement, you could say. We decided to look seriously at our lives, and what we discovered was that it was time to make some changes. We’re massively in debt, we’re both stressed, feel isolated and just are overall living unhealthy lives. That is to say, unhealthy in terms of our bodies, our mental health, our relationships and our finances.
One of my strengths is goal setting and coming up with a plan of action to achieve those goals. I start by day dreaming. Who do I want to be? What are the people who I admire doing? What do I want my life to look like? Why do I want those things?
From the answers to these questions, I identify my broad goals. “Get out of debt.” “Improve Mental Health” “Declutter the House” “Improve marriage by improving individually as well as together” “Make less waste” Then pick ONE to start with and to focus on. Me being me however, and given my state of discomfort, I decided to tackle everything at once. Yay for being pushed to change! Ready for a complete overhaul! My moto for this year has been “Be the person you’ve always WANTED to be.” This makes me feel like I’m gaining so much and not losing so much. Just losing bad habits I don’t want or need in my life.
I look at each goal and break it down into steps for achieving them. (more on goal setting in a different post)
One VERY important goal for me was addressing my mental health. Asking for time to myself and finding ways to relieve stress and focus on me. I wanted to build myself up so I could be a better, calmer mom and wife. Some of my goals seem to help each other along like “declutter and produce less waste and get debt free” HOWEVER at times taking control of our finances seems at odds with advice people give for selfcare and improving your mental health.
Suggestions like “Go away for the weekend” “Go for a salon day!” “Treat yourself to drinks out with your friends” “Take a dance class” just don’t align with our budget. So, I was struggling a bit to come up with cost effective ways to address this goal. Then a magical thing entered my life: “The bullet journal”!
I went to Walmart, got a black journal with blank pages for 5 bucks and that was the total of my investment! I figured if it doesn’t work out for me, I’ll give it to my daughter who loves journals and it wont be 5 dollars wasted. Totally worth a try! Right?!
You can always get a bullet journal and fancy pens off Amazon, or even a bullet journal kit that gives you all the tools to easily beautify your bullet journal. But whatever route you choose this is seriously a great investment!
I ended up LOVING IT! I’ve taken my journal to coffee shops to sit in peace drinking coffee and spending time doodling alone with my thoughts. I’ve also taken it with me to sit in nature and journal after taking a FREE walk on some of Ohio’s beautiful walking trails.
But, what is a bullet journal you ask? I will tell you.
What is a bullet journal you ask?
According to Wikipedia, “Bullet journal is a method of personal organization developed by designer Ryder Carroll. The system organizes scheduling, reminders, to do lists, brainstorming, and other organizational tasks into a single notebook. In his words “the bullet journal is meant to help you track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future” the name bullet journal comes from the use of the abbreviated bullet points to log information, but also partially comes from the use of dot journals which are gridded using dots.”
What do I put in my personal bullet journal?
At the start of the year, I brainstormed what I wanted to change in my life. I dreamed of who I wanted to be, the family life I wanted to have and what I wanted to accomplish in my life. In order to focus those things, I created this “Hello 2020” page pictured below as the first page in my bullet journal. This page outlines my overarching goals for the entire year, but you can do this at any time. I styled my page like shelves in a home because I like interior design and plants make me happy, but the options are truly limitless. You can get as fancy or as simple as you want! But identifying your goal is key.
2. Cleaning Schedules
Cleaning schedules can help you stay on top of your house work. List out tasks you feel should be done daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly, and quarterly. You can create separate lists for “Spring Cleaning” and I do “Fall Cleaning” as well. This ensures you won’t miss anything!
I use trackers to figure out my next achievable goal, to track progress, and to motivate myself to achieving a goal. I am giving you my FAVORITE tracker that I created to help me limit my coffee out obsession. It was really motivating for me and really helped me stay on track to achieving my goal. This special tracker is pictured below.
When creating a motivational tracker, don’t forget to include your measurable goal as well as your why. You’re much more likely to use it when you remember the reasons you’re doing it!
4. Inspirational Quotes
Put quotes from your favorite Instagram posts or your favorite historical figures to inspire you to reach your goals and live the life you’re working toward. I included a quote from my daughter: “it’s ok mom just never give up”! I let her help color the page too which she loved and it makes me smile whenever I see it. This page in my bullet journal reminds me that she is watching as I work towards my goals and improve in healthy ways. She’s learning as she watches me and I don’t want her to learn to give up when things get hard. Looking back on inspirational quotes is a great way to stay motivated and make the most of your bullet journal!
5. Dream Lists
These make for fantastic pages to reference: bucket lists, books to read, things I want to learn to bake, recipes to try, walking trails to visit, traveling dreams, and gift wish lists are some examples. I keep a running list of gift ideas for every family member, as well as myself. This system makes it SO much easier when birthdays or holidays roll around or when relatives as for gift ideas for us. I add to it throughout the year as wants and needs come up so I’m always ready with an answer and it’s always up to date with fun ideas. Whatever you dream about, make a list to reference as you make plans for the week, the month, or the year!
6. Idea Boards
It’s my dream to write a children’s book, I used a page in my bullet journal to brainstorm ideas for it and to test out different character styles on in one spot. I’ve also used it to draw out design ideas for the playroom and my parent’s garden space.
7. Meal Plans
You can put your meal plan right in your bullet journal along with a page for meal plan inspiration. You’ll never get stumped again!
8. Coloring Pages
Honestly, I make every page a coloring page in my bullet journal by using black sharpie pens to create the pages and then simply coloring them in with my kids colored pencils. Every page is a coloring page and my four year old loves to help color them in! Seeing the pages in color just makes me happy and more likely to use my journal. Anything you enjoy seeing is more likely to get used right? That’s why I add flowers and flourishes to each page, because these are things I enjoy and it keeps me coming back!
What should you put in YOUR bullet journal?
Whatever you want! Make it yours. Select one of the ideas above as a place to start. I suggest beginning with either a goal setting page or a habit tracker to see where you might start with your first goal. 2020 can still be your year to make a positive change in your life! Pursue that person who you want to be. Don’t wait for things to happen. Take action! Set goals!
What more is there to say but..
Start a bullet journal! You won’t regret it!
Bullet journals are a super simple way to organize your thoughts, goals, and lists to keep you motivated, moving forward toward your goals and, to give yourself a mental health break. For those of you with a growth mindset, that aren’t quite ready to say you’ve reached all your goals and have everything together, this one is totally for you! I hope you find this strategy as helpful as I do and can’t wait to hear your feedback!
Don’t forget to leave a comment with the goals you’re working on and what you found helpful in this post! Also, click the link to like our Facebook page so you stay up to date on what’s happening at BIG LOVE small moments! There are exciting things happening