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Bullet Journal Setup – The ultimate step by step guide to set up a bullet journal

Setting Up A New Bullet Journal

When people are getting started with a bullet journal it is hard to understand exactly how to set up a journal. This is the easiest bullet journal setup tutorial with tips for anyone starting a bullet journal from zero, migrating to a new notebook or changing your journal for the new year.

The flexibility of the Bullet Journal method can seem daunting to someone who is just getting started. When you have too many options it is easier to procrastinate and do nothing at all.

So how to get beyond that first page frighten and set up yourself for success in your bullet journaling journey?

Keep reading because in this post I will give you a quick tutorial to set up your planner efficiently, while also keeping the process simple.

 

How to set up a bullet journal

After you purchase your notebook it is good to have some bujo supplies for your journal setup.

To learn more about my favorite tools and supplies you can check out this post here.

If you already have your supplies then gather everything you need and let’s start. Some essential tools are:

There may be some other tools you like to use or need but these are the basics to grab for now.

When you start working on different pages, you will decide then if more needs to be used.

Now let’s follow this guide for bullet journal setup for beginners.

 

Bullet journal step by step setup

The way I explain below follow the original bullet journal setup. Remember to always do what works for you though.

But, as a beginner, you may not know yet what will be best for you, then you are free to follow the info below.

 

New Bullet Journal Set up

The general steps to set up bullet journal are:

  1. Key and index
  2. Future planning
  3. Monthly, weekly, daily spreads
  4. Customs collection whenever you feel the need

 

  • Bullet journal first page

You may start your bullet journal with a theme or a personal page, perhaps the year or even a quote.

There is really no hard rule here.

You can be as creative as you wish or go straight to the bullet journal keys.

 

  • Bullet journal index, key and future log setup

Next, it is time to set your bullet journal keys and index.

  1. Bullet Journal Index: This will help you find your content over time, some notebooks already come with this page pre-printed. Here is my in-depth post about the bujo index.
  2. Bullet Journal Key: Bujo keys are essential for rapid logging, check this guide for bullet journal keys here.
  3. Future Log: This is where your mid and long term tasks are logged for now. I teach how to set up a future log here!

 

  • Bullet Journal Monthly Setup

Now that you are ready with the standard set up bullet journal pages we will follow the monthly calendar for the current month you are in.

In this part you will be able to log birthdays and anniversaries or other appointments and events for the near future that you already know about but don’t have your weekly spread to add them yet.

After the initial pages I normally follow to setup my next month layouts.

You can read more about monthly layouts in this post here but I basically use the following spreads:

  1. Bullet Journal Monthly Cover Page: You don’t necessarily need one but I love the feeling of a new start and I also change monthly themes.
  2. Monthly calendar spread: for the most important tasks and appointments of the month.
  3. Goals for the month and to do list
  4. Custom bulllet journal collections: basically anything you want to track this month such as book to read, gratitude log, doodles pagebudget tracker, habit tracker etc. I have a comprehensive list of collection ideas here!

bullet journal doodle art

 

  • Bullet Journal Weekly setup

The monthly pages are followed by the more detailed weekly schedule pages.

The weekly, as it is commonly called, is where all your tasks and rapid logging happen (this can also happen in dailies, when you have more space per day to add your tasks).

Here you can plan what needs to be done each week, and on which day. And be totally creative about your layout, play with your bullet journal grid spacing to find the best weekly layout for you.

The weekly pages usually have larger sections for each day of the week so that you have enough room to write down daily trackers, detailed to-do lists for completing certain tasks or things you need before an appointment or event.

In my weekly set up I normally have:

  1. Weekly spreads using 2 pages, but you can set it up in less or more pages depending on how much space you need. I have some minimalist weekly ideas here!
  2. Daily tracker section: for instance water intake, sleep tracker or brain dump etc.
  3. Dailies: some people use weeklies and dailies (the difference between weeklies and dailies is just how you set your pages or what you call them). Dailies are more individual pages for days of the week, specially useful if you like to (art) journal in your bullet journal or to write prompts.

December bullet journal weekly spread

 

Bullet journal setup ideas

Check the options below to find the one that best suit you, we will give you bujo set up tips depending on what situation you are in at the moment.

 

  • 1 ┃ I am starting my first bujo:

If you are just starting on your first notebook then there are a few collections that you add first before anything else!

These collections are present when setting up a bullet journal for the first time to help you use the bullet journal method in the best way possible.

Standard Bullet Journal collections to include:

  1. Bullet Journal Index: This will help you find your content over time, some notebooks already come with this page pre-printed. Here is my in-depth post about the bujo index.
  2. Bullet Journal Key: Bujo keys are essential for rapid logging, check this guide for bullet journal keys here.
  3. Future Log: This is where your mid and long term tasks are logged for now. I teach how to set up a future log here!

The pages above are the normal pages to include in every new book, however you don’t have to stop here.

bullet journal index

 

 

  • 2 ┃ I am starting a new bujo for the new year:

If you are starting a brand new book around New Year’s time then, on top of the pages already mentioned above, you can also include:

Keep reading below because we have the monthly and weekly set up to add to the journal too.

How to create a vision board in your bullet journal

 

  • 3 ┃ I have finished my notebook, what now?

If you are setting up your bullet journal when you have had previous notebooks already you might not need some of the collections again.

For instance, I don’t need to repeat my bujo key page because I know exactly what every signifier means already.

I will also not add another vision board if it is not the end of the year and I will revisit my old one in the previous notebook.

I might add though new custom collection pages if they are relevant to the moment for me.

I add them here, before the monthly setup, if these collections are permanent and irrelevant to the month I am in, such as:

  1. Washi tape swatch
  2. Konmari checklist
  3. Meal Plan

After the first standard and custom collection page set up, it is time to follow with the calendar spreads.

 

Konmari method for bujo

 


This has been the best bullet journal setup for me. Do you need to do the exact same thing?

Obviously not!

Heck, you could do it totally random to start with and have the collection pages whenever you remember to add one.

How do you set up your bujo? Let me know in comments below.

 

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About Diary of a Journal Planner

We are lovers of all things journaling that have serious pen and washi tape addictions. Lifelong doodlers who love to keep life organized. Want to keep a bullet journal? We share lots of bujo, calligraphy and doodle ideas to get you started.

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