You’ve got your journal, pens and other accessories and it’s time for setting up your bullet journal. Giving some thought on how you want to map your bullet journal will help you stay more organized. You can always add or take away pages later through migration, but here are some tips for the beginning stages of setting up the bullet journal.

Your bullet journal index

A bullet journal index is similar to the content list at the beginning of a book. It tells you what you can find on page 3 to page 103. An index records where all of your pages are and what’s on them. You can organize your index to whatever style suits you best. The index will help you track what’s were in your bullet journal.

How to Set up an Index

Creating a bullet journal index can be as easy as writing “Index” at the top of the first page of your journal and leaving the next couple pages blank. As you build pages, you add the page name to your index with the page number next to it. Give yourself enough space though because there’s nothing worse than running out of room for your index. Check the number of pages in the journal and make sure you have at least that much room in your index. If you do run out of room, just flip to the back of the book and continue it there.

2. Organize It Your Way

A bullet journal index can be linear like a book index or categorical. You can list every page in the index as it is created. If you prefer to keep your pages together with their specific categories, you can structure your index with different categories like “Projects” or “Calendars.” Each page will go under its category with the page number.

3. Be Specific

Use specific names to label your pages in the index. For example, instead of saying “House Ideas,” using “Organizational Updates for the House” will be clearer and make it easier to find the page.

4. Use Creative Bullets

Create your own bullet system for collections or lists that are unfinished, completed, or have been moved to another page or another journal.

Bullet journals can be fun and practical ways to get organized. Instead of floating lists or a hundred journals with only three pages used, you can keep track of everything in one place. A bullet journal index allows you to keep your journal organized the way you want.

mood tracker

Collections and Lists

One aspect of bullet journaling is the flexibility of keeping track of your responsibilities or tasks and notes in different specific manners or ways. One of the many ways people organize their information that they keep in a bullet journal is by creating and using collections. Normally you would make a collection in a bullet journal when you find a reoccurring theme or task that you routinely log in your bullet journal.

Think of a collection like a list, which can be a list of any information, tasks, events, ideas, favorites, or goals you might have.

For example, if you want to see how your mood fluctuates through a month, you could create a mood tracker collection instead of writing it in your daily log. This makes keeping track of repetitive things much cleaner and take up less space in your precious bullet journal.

Below are some variations of collections and lists you can make in your bullet journal outside of your basic Future log, monthly log and daily logs:

Habit Tracker

This can really be about any type of habit you are trying to keep record of, such as exercise, healthy eating, water, sleep, and other habits. Simply use the bullets in your journal to outline boxes for the amount of days in the month for the habit you are trying to track. Label each pixel or box as a number to indicate the date of the month.

You can keep track of your ability to perform tasks and help create habits by color filling in a box every time you complete that repetitive daily task. Putting color tape on the edge of the page is beneficial as well, so you can easily refer back to it on a daily basis.

Book Tracker

Have a lot of books you need or want to read over the year? Keep a list of books and checkmark boxes next to those books to always keep track of your reading progress! You can additionally add a reading section to your habit tracker as mentioned above.

Pages

Here is another section of your bullet journal you want to plan out beforehand. Decide what pages you would like to include in the journal, after starting your index. Once you decide on the pages, you can then start organizing the bullet journal by putting them into the right order, and starting to number them and add them to your Index.

Signifiers

An important aspect of setting up your bullet journal is to choose signifiers. These are the cornerstone of a bullet journal, as they allow you to make notes in the journal without writing a lot. Writing traditional journal pages is not practical in this type of journal since there is rarely sufficient space for it. Instead, you choose symbols, known as signifiers, to represent each note you make.

Here are some examples:

<3 – Use a heart signifier for anything you like or love in the bullet journal.

*  – Use the asterisk symbol when you want to mark something important.

$ – The money symbol is perfect for anything related to your budget or finances.

Get creative when choosing signifiers for various notes and lists you add to the bullet journal.

Calendar Pages

Since your bullet journal is being used primarily as a way to plan and organize your life, it naturally consists of calendar pages. We talked about these briefly in a previous chapter, but let’s delve a little deeper into these pages and how they are set up.

Calendar Spreads VS Logs

In your bullet journal you may have logs and spreads which are not the same thing.

Calendar Spread – The calendar spread is what you see with any calendar program, app, or planner. The monthly calendar spread shows you the current month with a box for each day. Then there is a weekly spread with larger spaces to see your week at a glance, and daily spreads for things like events and daily tasks or to-do lists.

Calendar Log – With the Calendar Log, it is simply a list of things that will happen on that day, week, or month. You typically want to list the log items first every time a new month begins, then use that to fill in your monthly calendar spread.

Monthly Calendar Spreads and How to Create Them

bullet journal goal review

Each of the twelve months of the year are usually given a single page in a bullet journal. At the top of a monthly page, write the given month and below number the lines 1-30 or 1-31, depending on how many days are in that month.

Next to each numbered date, write the letter abbreviation for the day of the week it is. Use M for Monday, T for Tuesday, W for Wednesday, H for Thursday, F for Friday, Sat for Saturday and Sun for Sunday.

Since you only have one line for each day of the month, use this space wisely. It’s okay if you leave some days left blank, depending on what your schedule looks like and whether or not anything noteworthy is planned.

One interesting possibility for bullet journals involves printing out a monthly calendar and gluing it into your journal. Or using your pen and create one!

I actually prefer to do them one month at a time giving me flexibility to play with different layouts every month.

Additional Pages

Before you start setting up the pages in the bullet journal, make sure you are thinking of any additional pages you want to include. This is entirely up to you and determined by your main use of the bullet journal. If you are in school, you may want pages with your class schedule or other notes about your degree, while people using it for personal use will have some pages dedicated to household chores and finances.

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I love journaling and writing out all of my thoughts, the good, bad and shadow side of things. Through journaling I have tapped into my own intuition and connected with my soul so that I could rewrite my story from foster kid reject to foster kid success.  Read more

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