Bullet Journal 101 – The Basics You Need!

by | Dec 28, 2019

I bet you’re reading this post because you’re wondering what the heck a bullet journal (AKA Bujo) is or you’re thinking of starting one. Keep reading because this post will give you the skinny on how to start a bullet journal.

Over the past several years bullet journals have become all the rage and for good reason! They’re the best way to keep your life organized in a way that works for YOU!

Standard journals don’t offer much in way of customization and are essentially a one size fits all type of thing. This isn’t helpful because not everyone stays organized in the same way.

I don’t know about you, but I have bought countless standard journals with good intentions of using them. What I’ve ended up with is several half-filled (or not even half!) planners tucked away in a drawer and under my bed.

Enter the bullet journal – the BEST method for being productive!

Here is a birds-eye view of BUJOs!


Who Invented the Bullet Journal (BUJO)?

Ryder Carroll invented it early in life due to a learning disability (ADD). Ryder explains that he needed a way to stay organized but couldn’t find any other helpful resources – thus, he created his own method! Check out Ryder’s short but super informational tutorial on creating a BUJO.


What is a Bullet Journal?

It’s a mindfulness practice, planner and diary rolled into one! The purpose is to help you to live an intentional, mindful, and productive life. To start, you choose a journal or notebook of your choice and incorporate some key BUJO concepts into the creation BUT you can also design it in a way that works best for YOU!

If you think the idea sounds a bit complicated, you’re not alone! Most people feel that way when they first learn about bullet journals. However, once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without one!



Who is a Bullet Journal for?

Anyone and everyone can benefit from a bullet journal. If you want to be extra productive, organized, and reach your goals a bullet journal is for YOU!




Why Use a Bullet Journal for Your Goals in 2020?

We are just days away from 2020 and I’m sure you’re thinking about your resolutions and goals for the year. We all start the year off strong and determined!

BUT most of the time we use our willpower to try and achieve our goals. We try to white knuckle our way to goal success, which is a huge recipe for failure (Benjamin Hardy has a great book on this topic). Using willpower is also just plain exhausting.

So, how can a BUJO help you reach your goals?

It keeps you accountable because you are actually writing down your goals and can track your progress. Can’t you do this with any planner? Well, yes you can.

BUT bullet journals are a big goal motivator because they are fun! You can create your BUJO however you like and using it to track your progress is MUCH more enjoyable than some generic planner or chart. In a way, it’s your own work of art!

Bujos also keep your goals front and center when you create a new daily, weekly, and monthly spread (pages in your BUJO).

Are you thinking you need to start one for 2020 yet?


Supplies for Beginners

Advanced and longtime Bujo users may use more supplies than the list below but I suggest not complicating it at first. Keep it simple and add more as you become more comfortable using a BUJO.

A notebook of your choice – it can be any notebook you like but I would splurge on a nice one, so you are more motivated and excited to use it. You can also purchase a ready-made BUJO

Pens – again, choose nice ones! Don’t use pens you don’t like. You’ll be more motivated to use your BUJO if you use supplies that make you happy

Colored markers – decorate your journal and highlight tasks however you want!


Washi Tape – Washi what?! It’s decorative tape to stick items and mark pages in your BUJO

Stencils – not 100% necessary but super fun to use them to decorate and organize

Sticky notes – you can use these instead of Washi tape to mark pages


What do Those Fancy Bujo Terms Even Mean?!?!

The terms can seem so overwhelming at first! I’ve tried to make the list you’ll find below super simple and basic. I hope it helps!

BUJO – I’ve already used the acronym several times in this post. It is short for Bullet Journal – In today’s fast paced world who even has the time to say full names or sentences? (I’m joking – kind of!) 

Key – Typically in the front of a BUJO it’s a quick view of how you organize your information

Ghosting – When you can see the ink from your marker or pen through the page

Bleeding – When the ink from your marker or pen bleeds through the page

Spread – A page or pages in your BUJO (daily spread, weekly spread, or monthly spread)

Tracker – A spread (page or pages) where you track something

Washi – Decorative tape to use in your BUJO (mark pages or use it to stick items inside)

Signifiers – Symbols that help label things such as data and allow for a quick glance and additional context

Future Log – This is where you keep your future events in one place (holidays, vacations, etc.)


150 + Journal Page Ideas

Here are 150 (maybe more – I lost count) page ideas organized into various areas of life. Not all of these will apply to you (or maybe they will). The possibilities are endless when it comes to page ideas. YOU get to design and use your bullet journal in the way that works for YOU!

Mental Health

  • Morning Routine
  • Evening Routine
  • Sleep
  • Medication Tracker
  • Mood Tracker
  • Gratitude Log
  • Self-Care
  • Moods Tracker
  • Feelings Tracker
  • Journal Prompts
  • Self-Care Ideas
  • Therapy Session Tracker
  • Affirmations Journal
  • Energy Level Tracker
  • Happiness Log
  • Brain Dump
  • Things You Love About Yourself List
  • Bad Day List
  • Accomplishment List
  • Habits Tracker
  • Trigger Tracker
  • Symptoms Tracker
  • Uplifting Quotes
  • What makes me happy


  • Meditation Log
  • Journal Log
  • Affirmations
  • Self-Care Ideas
  • Journal Prompts
  • Monthly Self-Care Splurges
  • Self-Care Ideas
  • Me Time Tracker
  • Self-Care Books
  • Exercise Log
  • Hobby List
  • Gratitude log
  • Self-Care Splurge List


  • Chore Tracker
  • Meal Planning
  • Family Activities
  • Grocery List
  • Cleaning List
  • Emergency Contact List
  • Homework schedule
  • Home Improvement Wish List
  • Pantry Inventory
  • Warranty and Maintenance Tracker
  • School Activities List
  • Meal Prep List

Personal Development

  • TED talks to Watch
  • Books to Read
  • Podcasts to Listen to
  • Documentaries to Watch
  • Habits Tracker
  • Morning Routine
  • Things to Improve on
  • Accomplishments Tracker
  • Life Lessons
  • Vision Board
  • Yearly Goals Tracker
  • Weekly Planning Log
  • Deadlines List
  • Goals List
  • Goals Tracker
  • Future Projects
  • Resolutions
  • Inspirational Quotes
  • What I learned
  • Goals for 2020
  • One Year Plan
  • Five Year Plan
  • Education Goals
  • Motivational Quotes


  • Workout Tracker
  • Healthy Snack Log
  • Sleep Tracker
  • Healthy Recipes
  • Grocery Shopping Lists
  • Weight Loss Tracker
  • Healthy Foods List
  • Calorie Log
  • Meal Planning Log
  • Water Tracker
  • Exercise Log
  • Healthy Foods Grocery List


  • Movies to Watch
  • Podcasts to Listen To
  • Places to Travel
  • Restaurants to Eat at
  • Outdoor Activities
  • Books to Read
  • Series to watch
  • Places I’ve visited
  • Social Media Log
  • Events List
  • Stay-cation Ideas


  • Budget Planner
  • Savings Planner
  • Monthly Income Tracker
  • Coupons
  • Debt Tracker
  • Credit Card Tracker
  • Vacation Fund Tracker
  • Monthly Spending Tracker
  • Bill Tracker
  • Expense Tracker
  • Grocery Spending Tracker
  • Financial Goals Tracker
  • Subscriptions Tracker
  • Daily Spending Tracker
  • Monthly Entertaining Budget
  • Utilities Tracker
  • Weekly Spending Log
  • Account Info


  • 2020 Goals
  • Travel Goals
  • Business Goals
  • Monthly Goals
  • Yearly Goals
  • Life Goals
  • 5 Year Plan
  • Achievements Log
  • Health Goals
  • Work Goals
  • Education Goals
  • Monthly Entertaining Spending
  • Bucket List
  • Relationship Goals
  • Vision Board
  • Blog Posts

Holiday Tracker

  • Birthdays
  • Gift Buying
  • Shopping List
  • Party Planning Checklist
  • Baking List
  • Food Preparation List
  • Decoration Plan
  • Gift Wish List
  • Party Menu
  • Party Guest List
  • Shopping List
  • Festive Activities Plan
  • Party Ideas
  • Party Theme Ideas
  • Anniversaries


  • Employment Goals
  • Continuing Education
  • Deadlines
  • Project Ideas
  • Task List
  • Meetings Tracker
  • Meeting Plans
  • Committee Tasks
  • Professional Development Plan
  • Development Goals
  • Work Hours


Until next time!

– Jen x


If you enjoyed this you might also like my post, 4 Powerful Ways to Reach Your Biggest Goals




  1. I know bullet journals are super popular but I’ve never been exactly sure what their purpose was. This post was so helpful explaining how it all works! I’m a dedicated planner so maybe this year I’ll give bullet journaling a try.

    • I’m so happy you found it helpful! Happy Holidays 🙂

  2. Very informative post on Bullet Journaling. Great post 🙂

  3. Might give this a try , Birthdays be handy as grandchildren are growing fast lol

  4. So much great info! Pinned to share with others and for future reference.

  5. This post was incredibly helpful! I have a bullet journal but hardly use it because I couldn’t decide what to put in it. Thank you for providing a list of ideas and a breakdown of terms. Now I can get my bullet journal on track!

  6. this post was very helpful!

  7. I love this post. I am not at all artistic but I’ve just been sat putting my first BuJo together.

    I’m putting together all my blog stats and ideas in one and then keeping a personal one.

    Thank you for the great ideas x

    • I LOVE that idea!!! Putting all my blog stats and ideas is something I might try too!

  8. I’ve been wondering what a bullet journal is for a while now. Thanks for the clear explanation and all the great ideas for what to journal about! I think I’m going to give it a try!

  9. Having a planner is definitely beneficial for me when it comes to blogging. It makes my schedule easier when things are planned out and organized. Great advice!

  10. Oh! I opened this article having no idea what a BuJo was and learned that I use to keep one years ago. They are great. I used it for everything and took it everywhere.

  11. I keep seeing people sharing about bullet journals and I’ve been debating getting started with one myself. It looks like such a great way to organize your life and maintain focus on your biggest priorities.

  12. I’m a Happy Planner user but I’m trying to insert some more customized bullet journal type pages into my weekly and monthly spreads. I guess it would be considered a frank-in-planner?

  13. I didn’t know there were so many things you could customize. I’ll have to thinj of what I’d do. I’ve considered starting one but felt any ideas I’ve seen were just okay. This was a good read and full of info. I also like finding out how it started. I didn’t know any of that.

  14. Such a thorough explanation! I’ve seen some incredible bullet journal ideas on Pinterest, I love how creative you can get with it! I’ve personally never tried bullet journaling, but maybe I will this year!

    -Madi xo | http://www.everydaywithmadirae.com

  15. This is awesome! I’ve been seeing so much on bullet journaling and have never taken the leap to give it a try. I’m definitely going to give it a whirl now. I love how thorough this post is, thank you for that! 🙂


  16. I love my bullet journal and have been trying think of more ideas for my 2020! Thank you for the tips and tricks

  17. Thank you for all the info! Didn’t knew there were so many options!!

  18. Finally an article with all the nitty gritty on bullet journaling! Thanks for the inspiration to get started-

  19. Thank you for the terms! I haven’t gotten around to using a bullet journal yet but I keep wondering if it would be a good option. Feeling better about giving it a try 🙂 – Carme

  20. Journaling is my passion and I use three separate journals. Do you write in more than one journal?


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Jen Ryan