How To Start A Bullet Journal (A Step-By-Step Guide)

How To Start A Bullet Journal (A Step-By-Step Guide)







How To Start A Bullet Journal (A Step-By-Step Guide)

If you haven’t noticed, bullet journals are all the rage right now.

When you use a bullet journal, you’ll be able to plan for productive days, create goals and habits, and track your success.

But, how the heck do you start a bullet journal?

Let me show you:

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Bullet journaling can seem intimidating.

I mean, you’re basically creating a monthly planner from absolute scratch.

And, if you aren’t artistically inclined, it can seem like bullet journaling isn’t for you.

(Here’s why that isn’t true.)

Starting a bullet journal is super simple.  Just follow these step-by-step instructions:

  1. Choose your journal/notebook or templates
  2. Purchase additional bullet journal supplies
  3. Subscribe to bullet journal YouTubers for inspiration
  4. Get started with the basics
  5. Make adjustments next month

Let’s dive in!

1.  Choose your journal/notebook or templates

The obvious first step in starting a bullet journal is to get a journal/notebook.

Depending on the sizing preference and other needs, these are my recommendations for affordable and high-quality bullet journal notebooks:

  1. Paperage Dotted Notebook 5.7 x 8 inches – $8.54
  2. Minimalism Art A5 Dotted Grid Notebook – $8.95
  3. Beechmore Books Vegan Leather A5 Notebook – $16.95
  4. Leuchtturm1917 A5 Hardcover Notebook With Numbered Pages – $19.95

Another great option to get started with bullet journaling is to use printable templates.

This way, you don’t have to create every spread by hand and can jump right into planning, doodling, and having fun with your bullet journal.

We’ve created 87 unique bullet journal templates that you can download right here.

2.  Recommended bullet journal supplies

In addition to a bullet journal notebook or bullet journal templates, you’ll be needing some other supplies.

These supplies include things like pens, highlighters, markers, a ruler, washi tape, stickers, and more.

Let’s go over each individually:


While bullet journaling, you’ll want to use a variety of different pen colors.

Here are the best bullet journaling pens to add to your collection:

  1. Pilot G2 Premium Gel Roller Fine Tip Pens (20 Pack Assorted Colors) – These pens come in a variety of different colors and glide like a dream.
  2. Vanstek Erasable Gel Pens (15 Assorted Colors) – Just in case you make a mistake, erasable pens are great to have on hand for bullet journaling!
  3. Tombow Dual Brush Pens (10 Assorted Colors) – Brush pens are a MUST have for any type of hand lettering you’ll want to include in your bullet journal.

You’ll also want to have a few quality pencils on hand for sketching out your layouts, doodles, and designs.

Next up, highlighters!


Highlighters are often used while bullet journaling to accent headers, create drop shadows, and indicate important tasks.

You’ll want to use pastel colors that aren’t overbearing and are easy to write over.

Here are the best highlighters to use while bullet journaling:

  1. Zebra Mildliner Double Ended Highlighters (Broad & Fine Tip) – These highlighters are all the rage in the bullet journal community and come in a range of beautiful pastel colors.  You can get an affordable set of 15 colors on Amazon!
  2. Javapen Rainbow Pastel Chisel Tip Highlighters – Another great highlighter option for bullet journaling.

Let’s dive into my favorite bullet journal supply – markers!


I love using markers while bullet journaling for handwriting, doodling, and accenting my spreads.

These are my favorite markers to use while bullet journaling:

  1. Crayola Broad Line Markers – Great for hand lettering for beginners!
  2. Crayola Fine Tip Markers – Use these for drop shadows, accents, and finer details.

Now for the washi tape addicts!

Washi Tape:

Washi tape is used to accent your bullet journal, cover up mistakes, and simply add decor to your spreads.

You can find different washi tape’s in tons of places, but Amazon is my favorite place to find affordable washi tape.

Check out this super cute collection of washi tape’s on Amazon!


Alike washi tape, stickers aren’t necessary for your bullet journaling experience, but they do add a fun flair to your spreads.

You can find adorable stickers for your bullet journal on Redbubble, Amazon, and Etsy!

(I apologize in advance for the amount of time you’ll spend drooling over stickers, LOL!)

As I mentioned, you’ll also want a ruler for your bullet journaling.

Once you’ve gathered all your bullet journal supplies, I highly recommend turning to YouTube for inspiration, which leads us to step three of how to start a bullet journal!

3.  Get some bullet journal inspiration

Staring at an empty notebook wondering what to do next is intimidating.

I get it.

That’s why I turn to YouTube to get inspiration for my bullet journal spreads.

These are my favorite bullet journal YouTubers that you HAVE to subscribe to….like right now.

Fair warning:  You will spend hours…and hours…watching YouTube videos of bullet journaling.

These channels are awesome because they create a new bullet journal set up video each month that you can follow along with and gain inspiration from!

4.  Set up your bullet journal

So, you’ve gathered your bullet journal supplies, got some inspiration, and now you’re ready to start your very own bullet journal.

These are the basic pages you should include at the beginning of every bullet journal, before your monthly spreads:

Title Page:

Your title page should indicate what year it is and can be designed to your liking; simple or full of doodles!


Your key is where you can list the symbols that will be used throughout your bullet journal and their accompanying meaning.

For instance, a bullet signifies a new task and a checkmark signifies a completed task.


The index of your bullet journal is where you’ll list out the pages of your bullet journal and what is on those pages.

This is very helpful when you need to locate a certain page quickly.

I recommend making your index span multiple pages so you have enough room to list each of the pages of your bullet journal.

Year At A Glance:

This page is an overview of each calendar month.

You can use this page to highlight important dates, events, birthdays, and more.

Month At A Glance:

Your month at a glance page(s), also known as your future log, is where you can make detailed notes about events, appointments, birthdays, etc., throughout each month.

Additional Pages You May Like To Include:

Along with the above-listed pages to start your bullet journal with, you might also like to include these pages:

  • Yearly Goals
  • Places I’ve Traveled To
  • Places I Want To Go
  • Books I’ve Read
  • Books To Read
  • Music I’m Loving
  • Movies To Watch
  • TV Shows To Watch
  • Birthday Tracker

These pages are super fun to create and add a lot of character and personalization to your bullet journal.

All of these pages can be found in our Printable Bullet Journal Template Bundle, too!

After you’ve set up your bullet journal with these pages, you’re ready to dive into your monthly spreads.

Monthly Bullet Journal Spreads:

Each month, you’re going to create a new monthly spread to plan out your weeks and days.

This is where you can get super creative and use different themes each month.  For instance, for October you might choose a Halloween theme for your monthly spread.

These are the pages I recommend you include in each of your monthly bullet journal spreads:

  • Monthly Calendar
  • Habit Tracker
  • Mood Tracker
  • Sleep Log
  • Weekly Layout
  • Daily Spread (optional)
  • Gratitude Log
  • Memory Log

All of these pages can be found in our Printable Bullet Journal Template Bundle and can be customized to your theme!


I know that was a lot of information about how to set up your bullet journal, but it is far easier than it sounds.

And therapeutic if I do say so myself.

Now there’s only one thing left to do:

5.  Make adjustments next month

Each month, take a peek at last month’s bullet journal spread to see what worked and what didn’t.

Then, make adjustments as you create your next month’s monthly spread.

This is the best part about bullet journaling:

Having the ability to customize your planner to your exact likes and needs!

There you have it!

The step-by-step guide to starting your first bullet journal.

And, don’t forget, our Printable Bullet Journal Templates Bundle is on sale for a limited time only RIGHT NOW.

hav fun planning!

– michelle

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