How To Start A Bullet Journal

If you’re like most of the population, you don’t keep a journal. Despite journaling being a simple tool that can help sharpen your memory, boost your mood and ease anxiety, almost no one does it. It’s up there with walking and drinking enough water as one of the easiest ways to improve your health and well-being, and practice self-care.

You’ve probably even bought a lovely journal at some point, just never touched it. Maybe you grabbed it in a moment of need and jotted down a number, or you scrawled out a doctor’s appointment halfway in the middle, and now it just feels--soiled. You just got it and you’ve already messed it up with terrible handwriting!

The problem is that you’re seeing the journal as an extension of you (which it is), but you are scared to see what that’ll look like, and you fear you are doing it wrong--your thoughts are too scattered, your handwriting is atrocious. But if you’re a creative person that craves expression but is terrible at organization, dig that journal out, as I promise this technique will make your life better.

Journaling can be tough simply because writing your own narrative is exhausting, period. If you don’t write a lot in general, you can find yourself stumped entirely. Let go of the idea of a ‘Dear Diary’ situation. Most people don’t have the time required to generate that kind of material daily, and therefore it won’t happen at all. So just stick to the facts. Instead, make a list. Here are some ideas of where to begin:

Long-term goals

The grocery list

Sketches and doodles

Creative prompts and ideas

Travel plans


Weekly responsibilities

What you ate today

A new supplement you are taking

The most important part? Remember this is for you, and make sure to date every page.

A typical bullet journal page is part scrapbook, calendar, to-do list, and journal. Especially if you are a creative person, you have to give in and let it get messy. There is just something about putting pen to paper that is so satisfying, especially in a time when our technology removes us from definitive actions. Make a mistake? Turn it into something beautiful. Don’t like that? Paste something over it--a picture you like, a ticket stub. There is no wrong way, but you can’t go back to before you messed up that cursive ‘z’, you can only move forward.

Your bullet journal will be a firm, central place to keep you grounded, and focused without worrying about battery life or service. I’m awful with dates, and constantly traveling, so I don’t like relying on my phone for everything. If I start a new supplement and want to track efficacy, I know I can pop back a few pages and say, “Wow, I’ve been taking this biotin for 8 weeks, and my hair has grown an inch and a half!”

There are a lot of tutorials right now about the ‘right’ way to keep a bullet journal, even intense grids that you can mark out to keep track of 15-minute segments of your life. But that’s not really the point--simplicity is key with bullet journals. The simplicity of listing things is what will keep you using your bullet journal this time next year.