Bullet Journaling – The Basics

Hello there!

As you know, I’ve been bullet journaling for quite some time now, and it has seriously made my life a lot more organized.

In this post I will explain to you the basics of Bullet Journaling, but I really recommend checking out the original Bullet Journal website from the creator of the Bullet Journal System, Ryder Caroll.

You don’t need a lot to start bullet journaling. In fact, you only need a notebook and a pen.

1. Notebooks

The notebook I use is a dotted Leuchtturm 1917, but there are many more notebooks out there like for example Nuuna (which I want to try out soon), Scribbles That Matter and Rhodia. But you could use any notebook you want.
I really like notebooks with dotted pages, but you could also use lined or squared paper, it’s all up to you and what you like best!

2. Pens

There are no rules when it comes to pens for using in your bullet journal. I personally love to use the Uni-Ball Jetstream Standard Ballpoint Pen in 0.5mm, but like I said, you can use any pen you like. I also use a variety of colored pens and brush pens for my lettering, but this is absolutely not necessary!


Step 1: Number your pages

In some notebooks, your pages will be numbered, in others they won’t. In that case, it’s important to number your pages. You’ll find out why in step 3.

Step 2: Create a Key

Personally, I use the original Bullet Journal Key in my personal bullet journal where a task is represented by a ‘•’, a completed task by an ‘X‘, an event by an ‘O‘ and notes by an ‘‘, but you could also create your own unique key.

Here ase some examples of keys:

also, check out Bumblebujo’s website: bumblecreated.com!

Step 3: Create an Index

Save the next 2-4 pages to build your index.
The index will be the place to write important pages down for you to find easily afterwards.
For example: pg 1-3: birthdays (this is why it’s important to number your pages). That way you don’t have to go trough your entire journal to find that one important page or collection.

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My index so far featuring peonies 💕

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Step 4: Set up your Future Log

The future log will give you a quick glance at the upcoming months. Here you can write down events, tasks and appointments that have been scheduled some time in advance. It gives you a quick overview of the entire year (or 6 months) of the future.

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Okay, so, the best thing about a new journal is setting up new pages like the future log…. it's FUN. Also, I think the future logs are my favourite because you can see the whole year overview on it. This is the next six months. How handy it is as you're doing it yourself just to writeup where you left off (starting in May, for example) and not wasting some months at the beginning or end of the year. I love bullet journalling 💛. I am also super happy with how this turned out, with a little pop of colour along the top! I did a different colour scheme for the months following this page – I'll post that soon too! . . I am so glad that bullet journalling has made me pick up my paint brush again. I'm really loving my new-found confidence in watercolouring. . . . This page was all watercoloured in my @leuchtturm1917 with Schminke Watercolours. Calligraphy was done using the @tombowusa Fudenosuke pen, and the white was done using a Sakura Gelly Roll pen. Writing is done with a Sakura Micron 01. . . . #mybujo #futurelog #bulletjournal #jannplansthings #studyinspiration #bujo #bujolover #planwithme #bulletjournaljunkies #bujojunkies #bulletjournaller #leuchtturm1917 #bujolove #watercolor #studygram #bujofuturelog #bujosetup #getorganised #bujoinspo #showmeyourplanner #planneraddict #studyspo  #plannercommunity #watercolour #bulletjournaling #plannerjunkies #stationery #notebook #bujoideas

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Check out Jann’s website also: jannplansthings.com

Step 5: Set up your Monthly log

The monthly log is designed to help you organize your month.
There are different ways to set up your monthly log. For example, you can choose to use a grid view calendar, or you can go with the original, vertical monthly log. I use both both. The grid calendar, I use to get a quick overview of the month where I write down important dates and birthdays, and the vertical calendar I use to jot down personal appointments, important tasks and for example things I need to do for school or projects I need to finish.

Step 6: Daily or Weekly Logs

After you’ve set up your monthly log, it’s time to set up your weekly or daily logs. This space is designed for your day-to-day use. In your monthly log, you fill in important dates and tasks that are scheduled beforehand, in your daily logs, you rapid-log your tasks for that day.
First, write the date on top of your page, then jot down all your tasks for that day and/or appointments and notes (the list can grow within the day). In the evening, review everything and set up your next daily log.
When you first start, don’t set up every day ahead of time, because you’ll never know how much space you need to write.
Now that I’m in my second year of bullet journaling, I’ve created something sort of like weekly logs. I now know how much space I need per day, so I sometimes set up a layout for an entire week at once.

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Last week, where I apparently decided to do nothing on Sunday XD. Love how this one turned out hehe. I like to think that the week gets more warm and golden during the week! . . . Items Used: 🌻@Leuchtturm1917 Dot Grid Notebook 🌻 Sakura Micron Pen in 01 and 08 🌻 Sakura Gelly Roll Pen in White 🌻 @danielsmithartistsmaterials in Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Gold and Phtalo Blue GS . . . #leuchtturm1917 #studyinspiration #mybujo #bujoinspo #jannplansthings #bujolover #planwithme #showmeyourplanner #bulletjournaller #bulletjournaljunkies #bulletjournal #bujo #studygram #bujolove #bujojunkies #watercolor #studyspo #bujosetup #planneraddict #stationeryaddict #bujoweeklyspread #getorganised #bujoideas #bulletjournalss #florals #bulletjournaling

A post shared by Jann (@jannplansthings) on

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I asked on my stories what you guys prefer to see, ‘before the pen’ or ‘after the pen.’ An overwhelming amount of you love ‘after the pen’ spreads more. I found that really interesting and it got me thinking why people prefer the messy look of a after the pen post 😆🤔 . Comment below which do you prefer to see and why? . I’m slowly going through and posting my ‘after the pen’ posts. I think I need to post them more regularly so I don’t end up posting a spread which is over 2 months old 😂. Also, Ellie the elephant might also quite possibly be one of the layout stickers I’m creating for my store @bumblecreated 🤫😍 . . . . . #bujo #bujosetup #bulletjournalss #thedailywriting #bujoinspire #bujobeauty #weeklyspread #weeklyplanner #bujospread #bulletjournalspread #planwithme #bujostickers #plannerspread #planners #bulletjournaling #bujojunkies #bulletjournaljunkies #showmeyourplanner #studyinspo #studymotivation #bujoideasrepost

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Step 7: Collections

Apart from the basic setup, you can also add collections.
Collections cover topics that aren’t assigned to a specific date or time, and because of that, don’t fit in the montly or weekly logs.
Collections are great for creating specific lists like what books you want to read or have already read, a list of your favorite songs, social media trackers/milestones, an expense tracker, favorite recipes, etc.

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Expense tracker #bujo #bulletjournal #leuchtturm1917

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A little movie log I did, testing different floral styles! I call this lazy watercolour, where you’re not really colouring in between the lines. . . . This page was all watercoloured in my @leuchtturm1917 with Schminke Watercolours, Windsor Newton and Daniel Smith. Lettering was done using the @tombowusa Fudenosuke pen. . . . #mybujo #futurelog #bulletjournal #jannplansthings #studyinspiration #bujo #bujolover #planwithme #bulletjournaljunkies #bujojunkies #bulletjournaller #leuchtturm1917 #bujolove #watercolor #studygram #bujofuturelog #bujosetup #getorganised #bujoinspo #showmeyourplanner #planneraddict #studyspo  #plannercommunity #watercolour #bulletjournaling #plannerjunkies #stationery #notebook #bujoideas

A post shared by Jann (@jannplansthings) on

I think this covers the most important things. The bullet journal is a very flexible system and designed to customize for what works for you. I recommend experimenting with it and finding out your unique way of bullet journaling.
It took me a while to figure out my style and what worked for me and what not, but now I have found my personal system that makes my everyday life easier.

Hope this post helps you setting up your own bullet journal and have fun with it.



-this post does not contain any affiliate links- 


  1. Kimmy
    July 19, 2018 / 4:53 pm

    Great article! I also love all the inspirational spreads you provided!

    • Marieke
      July 19, 2018 / 4:54 pm

      Thanks Kimmy!! <3

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