Simple Bullet Journal Setup

Welcome to my super simple Bullet Journal setup guide. Here you can find everything you need about the basics of getting your first Bullet Journal set up and ready to go. Enjoy!

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If you’re thinking about starting a Bullet Journal, or you’ve already opened a notebook but are completely overwhelmed by the tags on Instagram or Pinterest and don’t know where to start, this is the place for you.

I know what you are feeling. I’m not artistically talented and my first year of Bullet Journaling included only simple layouts. It’s only recently that I’ve decided to join the legions making their lives prettier within their journal. Which leads me to my most important point. You are doing this for you. If you want to keep it minimalist that’s your choice, the point of a Bullet Journal is to get yourself organised in a condensed method that gives you control.

As this is the basics, I’m going to draw up my examples on a lined notebook. This is because you probably have one lying around and there’s plenty of time for spending lots on stationery later on!

Right, let’s get to it. As explained in my What is a Bullet Journal post, all you need to get started is a notebook and a pen.

Key and Index

Every Bullet Journal starts in the same way, with a Key and an Index, and possibly a cover page. From experience, I would say that these need to be across the first two double-page spreads of the notebook. The trick here is leaving yourself enough room to come back and add things, so I would say that your Index needs to be two pages minimum, more if you’re going to be including lots of different things in your journal- projects etc. or have huge writing (like me!) See below for the basic layout of these first four pages (and the all-important Key!)

The Future Log

The next Collection we need is our Future Log (yes, I’m throwing lots of terminologies around, check out my Glossary for details!) This Log can look like a standard calendar, with a year shown on a page, but that can be confining and one of the great aspects of a Bullet Journal is that you can start it at any time of the year and make it work for you.

I suggest your first Future Log covers the next year from whenever you start it, and again takes up four pages, with three months per page. The Future Log is also where you start numbering your pages so you can add it to your Index and where you can start adding your ‘stuff’ to the journal, so have a look through your current diaries and calendars (digital and physical) and transfer all your Tasks and Events across for at least the next couple of months- you don’t have to do the whole year at once if you don’t want to! Have a look at the below pictures to get an idea of how this Collection may now look.

The Monthly Log

Now we’ve got the big overview spreads done we can start ‘zooming in’ to the current month/week/day, which is where most of our content will be. Again, it doesn’t matter at all if you’re starting part way through a month, indeed, it can even be better as it means that you can play around with your Monthly Log quicker once you have more of an idea what you want from it!

I’m going to show you the basic Monthly Log as designed by Ryder Carroll as it’s the simplest to set up and use- and there’s plenty of ideas out there for fancier spreads should you want to spread your wings later!

The Monthly Log is another double-page spread so turn on over to your next blank pages (and number them!) All we need to do here is number every line of the notebook for every day of the month (see I told you it’s simple!) I’m really lucky with my notebook in that it has thirty ruled lines plus a slight margin at the bottom so every month I have just enough room to fit the whole month on one page. If you have fewer lines than this, you can just continue onto the second page of the spread for as many days as needed.

Next to the day of the month, add in the letter for the day of the week. This is very helpful in the long term, so it’s important to add in! You can now add any events or day-specific tasks from your Future Log. Traditionally, the second page of this spread is to be designated for a Tasks list for the entire month. I’ve never needed a whole page for this so don’t worry if you can’t fill it up now.

Simple Bullet Journal Monthly Log

Daily and Weekly Logs

Now that the Monthly Log is sorted, it’s time to dive into Daily and Weekly Logs. These will probably make up the bulk of your Bullet Journal. From my experience, most people use one or the other, so I would say give both a go and see which suits you.

Daily Logs are the more traditional way of working a Bullet Journal and are flexible with no space limitations. They are more reliant on your Monthly Log being up to date as it will be your reference point. This can be quite good in terms of keeping on top of everything on a day to day routine. This method is also great if you want to focus on more long-form journal entries.

Weekly Logs, by comparison, are more regimented. They are generally drawn up slightly in advance of the week ahead. Weekly Logs limit space for Daily Logging but trade that off with the ability to plan Events and Tasks in advance. They also can have various modules added such as Tasks, Next Week, a weekly Habit Tracker or a meal planner. I prefer a weekly spread in my journals as I like having a full overview of what’s happening in a week. But in the end, it is a personal preference so maybe try a couple of weeks of each to see which works best for you.

In Summary

There you have it! The most simple Bullet Journal setup. You now know the basic building blocks of a Bullet Journal to use as you see fit.

The layouts I’ve shown you here are simple, easy to draw up quickly and require minimum effort to update regularly. Don’t forget, a Bullet Journal is flexible, so play around with what works and don’t be afraid to change things around; this is just a guide, the rest is up to you!

If you have any questions please let me know and I wish you all the best with your journaling!

Simple Bullet Journal Setup

41 thoughts on “Simple Bullet Journal Setup”

  1. Pingback: What is a Bullet Journal? – H's Bullet Journal Adventures

  2. Pingback: May 2020 Bullet Journal Setup – H's Bullet Journal Adventures

  3. This is the perfect guide for making a bullet journal! Personally, I have been wanting to make one for aages but just haven’t known where to start. I didn’t even know that there was such thing as a future log and a monthly log, I thought it was just a fancy homemade calendar. Absolutely love this idea and the fact that you’ve included a simple step-by-step. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Thanks a heap for commenting ☺️ really happy you’ve found this useful, if you have any further questions let me know and I’d be happy to help! Thanks again, it’s much appreciated☺️

  4. This is really helpful! Especially for people who may just be starting out with their bullet journal. I love to keep mine simple as I don’t really have the time to be making it look really fancy! Thanks for sharing ☺️

    1. Thanks ☺️ I’m planning on adding some more guides on trackers etc. but wanted to start with something really simple- I’m not arty so would’ve been so put off by some of my more recent spreads!

  5. Anita MITCHELL

    Thank you for affirming what I do. I’m not arty and I don’t (at this stage) need pretty. I play with different colour pens. But this is just what I needed! I actually use both weekly and daily just to keep organised. Looking forward to seeing your extras, so now I’m going to subscribe to your blog. Thanks again

    1. Great to know this is useful for you ☺️ it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of amazing bullet journal art that’s out there but it’s always important to remember that you do you and don’t let anyone dissuade you from what works☺️ good luck with your journaling and stay safe x

    1. I’ve always wanted to make my own bullet journal but I didn’t exactly what I’d out in it. And I actually didn’t think about these logs! 😂 I wanted to add some habit trackers or something. Well, now I have an idea, thanks to you, I can start up again. Thanks for sharing these tips! 💕😊

      1. So happy to hear I’ve been able to inspire you! I think people only really show the fancy bullet journal parts it’s easy to forget the basic building blocks of the monthly and daily logs. My advice would be to start simple and see how you go; it’s a lot more intimidating if you start with everything looking like a work of art 😉 thanks for commenting!

    2. The new year is always a great time to start something, although one of my favourite things about the bullet journal is that you’re not tied to the calendar year- you can start whenever you need to ☺️ thanks for commenting Rosie!

    1. It’s soothing but I also find it so helpful! I’m so much more organised now I keep a bullet journal! Thanks for commenting ☺️

    1. The key of bullet journals is that they’re modular. Once you understand the core modules it’s yours to create as you need!

  6. This is very interesting. I keep a daily gratitude journal and also do the morning pages every day – 3 pages of stream of consciousness first thing in the morning – I wonder if this is a way to combine the two of those?

    1. Wow, that’s an impressive amount of journaling, you must go through notebooks very quickly! Honestly the main benefit of a bullet journal is you can construct it any way you wish: you could easily draw up a weekly spread for tasks and events then carry on your normal pages for the week afterwards. As long as you have a bookmark or sticky note in your weekly or monthly spread, it’ll still be easy to find. We’re about to start a new month so maybe have a go at including a monthly log and see how it goes!

  7. lynnmumbingmejia

    I really liked this post! I always try and start bullet journalling then I never end up going through with it. Your post gave me motivation to start again. Let’s hope I’m successful with this one 🙂

  8. I read the introduction to this blog, and it is like you have read my mind. Every bullet journal I’ve seen looks AMAZING, and I felt like my artistic abilities (or lack thereof) meant I shouldn’t have one. The overwhelming feeling was eradicated after reading this post. I love how helpful this is and provides a starting point for anyone looking to start a bullet journal. Thank you for sharing.😊

    1. I’m so glad I could help you! When I first started a bullet journal in 2016 there wasn’t so much overwhelming content online but when I restarted last year there was so much fancy stuff. I ended up going back to my original attempt to figure out how it worked and what layouts to use. While the content being shared is amazing, it can be very difficult to understand the purpose or know where to begin- hence this guide! Thanks for contributing☺️

      1. Thank you for your response and for sharing your experience. 😊 I do love seeing the content shared by others, but it can be overwhelming. Thank you again for sharing this helpful guide.

  9. I have been drooling over all the elaborate, over the top bullet journal spreads that people have been sharing on Instagram. While I love them, they are so beautiful and well-done that they look completely unattainable. This breaks it down in a way that I think I can actually follow! Thank you!

    1. Glad to be of assistance; pretty spreads are amazing, but also make it hard to figure out what’s going on and why they’re set up the way they are. Going back to the basics made sense to me when demonstrating how to set up a bullet journal. Thanks for commenting ☺️

  10. This is an incredible guide. I haven’t been using the bullet journal system in 2020 but plan to go back to it and incorporate it into my Notion app as well as use the traditional notebook.

    1. Thank you! I just love that’s it’s such a flexible system you can jump in and out of and fit you rather than the other way around! Thanks for commenting ☺️

    1. Thank you ☺️ and yes, there a few core pages to get your head around, but once that’s done you have unlimited freedom!

    1. It is so fun to look at pretty bullet journals, I agree! Although hopefully they’re as useful as they are beautiful ☺️

  11. I didn’t know much about bullet journals, but after reading your post I think this is just the thing for me. Thank you so much for the very detailed and helpful information on getting started!

    1. One of the best things about a bullet journal is that you don’t have to wait for a new year or a new month to start one- you can do that at any time!

  12. This sounds like a great idea, I should start one of these. I do honestly love writing things down but usually its never in this way. I might see how it goes and I enjoyed reading this, nicely written

    1. Bullet journals work because they are what you need them to be! Once you get the hang of the essential logs and how to record them in the index, the rest just falls in to place ☺️ thanks for commenting!

  13. Pingback: Imperfect Bullet Journal: 4 Interesting Reasons Why Imperfect Works - Planning with Em

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