By Jiji Lee

Bullet Journal Ideas To Get You Started


Bullet journal essentials, plus tips for taking it to the next level for goals.

Between all the YouTube tutorials and beautiful photo spreads on Pinterest, it’s so easy to fall down a rabbit hole of bullet journal ideas. 

But if you’re new to bullet journaling, all these ideas can be a little overwhelming. What does one even focus on? Should a bullet journal focus on goal planning or habit tracking or goal setting? 

According to bullet journal creator Ryder Carroll, your bullet journal can be whatever it is that you want it to be. It can be customized to be a reflection of your life, your interests, and your wishes and dreams. In this blog post, Carroll likens a bullet journal to an empty house: 

“I gave the community this house to fill it with their own lives. That’s the key, to furnish your space with the things that serve you.” 

A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself: how can this bullet journal support my needs? Other questions to consider: Is there a big goal that I’d like to reach? Am I looking for creative inspiration? Do I want to get to know myself better? 

If you’re still unsure where to start, we’ve got you covered. Below is a guide to different bullet journal ideas, ranging from productivity and organization to creativity and self-development. So you can spare yourself from going down the rabbit hole of the internet, and start using your bullet journal to serve your needs today. 

Bullet journal tools

Dot grid notebook. The dot grid notebook lends itself to lots of different layout options. It also makes your writing and designs look straight and even without having to rely on a ruler. You can create calendars, habit trackers, circle graphs and more. 

Gel pen. While any old pen will do, BuJo enthusiasts enjoy using a gel pen for journaling because the bold ink looks nice on paper and a gel pen glides easily across the page as you write—so no hand cramps! 

Nice-to-have tools

Depending on how crafty and creative you want to get, here are additional tools that you can use to have fun with your bullet journal.

Colorful markers. You can use markers for highlighting, habit tracking, designing your layouts, or to simply add some pretty color to your pages.

Washi tape. This is great for structuring your Bullet Journal and creating borders or separate sections within a page. You can also write on Washi Tape to create titles or headlines for your pages. 

Pens with different tip sizes. Fine point pens are great for writing while pens with broader tips are great for designing or writing large text. 

Stencils. According to author and bullet journal user Deborah Harkness, you can use stencils if you want to create pretty bunting on your BuJo pages but aren’t confident in your artistic abilities.

Bullet journal ideas for productivity

If you’re new to bullet journaling, you might want to start off with something simple like a good old fashioned to-do list.

You can begin by creating a master to-do list for the month. These are all the tasks, deadlines, errands, and other action items you have to accomplish.

Next, go through your list and identify your main priorities. You can weigh your priorities by taking a look at the following:

  • Urgency. Does your task need to be done by a certain day or time? 
  • Importance. Is this a task that is relevant to your goals? Is it something that would take a huge weight off your shoulders?

Tip: Take advantage of the bullet journal’s blank pages by making your to-do lists more visual. For example, you can use markers to highlight your most important priorities. Or cordon off your weekly priorities with washi tape. Or add colorful flags or post-its to your pages. The different colors will help draw your eye to the page, and signify to you that you need to get X or Y done by today or this week. 

After creating this overarching list, you can break it down further into weekly and daily to-do lists. 

Bullet journal ideas for goal-setting

A bullet journal is also an effective goal-setting tool.

A big goal can be hard to manage because it usually comes with a lot of different moving parts and targets. For example, if your long term goal is to get a new job, you’ll want to keep track of things like networking, learning new skills, polishing your resume, updating LinkedIn, etc. That’s a lot of different components to keep afloat in your head.

You can use your bullet journal to capture all of these various streams. You’ll have a big picture view of your main goal as well as a micro view of all the nitty gritty things you have to do.

You can devote a section of your bullet journal to your big picture goal and other sections that focus on monthly or weekly goals. 

Tip: Create calendar layouts to help you keep an eye on your short and long term goals. Or create a timeline so that you have a visual way to map out your progress. 

Bullet journal ideas for self development

A popular bullet journaling idea is to use your notebook for habit tracking.This is particularly helpful if you’re trying to build new positive habits like meditation or a running routine. 

When we’re building new habits, we’re not going to see big results right away, which is why it’s so easy to abandon them. 

That’s where habit tracking comes in. By tracking our incremental progress everyday, we can start to see that we are making gains and that we’re heading in the right direction. Habit tracking can help motivate us and sustain our interest.

Need some ideas for habit tracking? Popular ones include:

  • Fitness goals like running or weightlifting
  • Healthy habits like flossing, taking daily walks, or eating vegetables for every meal.
  • Cultural habits like reading a book everyday, or working on your art every week. 

Bullet journal ideas for creativity

Contrary to popular belief, creative ideas don’t appear out of nowhere. We can’t just wait around for inspiration to strike, we have to cultivate our creativity and develop our ideas.

Your bullet journal can help with creativity by serving as an outlet for your ideas and inspiration.

You can use your pages to…

  • Maintain an observation log. Use this space to record all the things you’ve observed that day. Maybe it was a funny conversation you overheard. Or an interesting design. Or a meal that you had. Often, inspiration can be borne out of observation, no matter how mundane it may seem. 
  • Keep a catalog of interests. Write down your favorite movies, books, artists, music, etc. By keeping track of your interests, you may be able to draw inspiration from them or find links between them to help you come up with ideas. 
  • Keep a running list of ideas. It doesn’t matter how bad or silly the idea may seem, jot it down. They say you have to go through tons of bad ideas in order to find the diamond. 

Tip: Refer to these pages regularly so that you can refresh your memory and tap into your creative side.