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!
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.
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.
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!