When people are getting started with a bullet journal it is hard to understand exactly how to set up a journal.
The flexibility of the Bullet Journal method can seem daunting to someone 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 am giving you a quick guide 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 to start with.
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.
New Bullet Journal Set up
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:
- 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.
- Bullet Journal Key: Bujo keys are essential for rapid logging, check this guide for bullet journal keys here.
- 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.
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.
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:
After the first standard and custom collection page set up, it is time to follow with the calendar spreads.
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:
- 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.
- Monthly calendar spread: for the most important tasks and appointments of the month.
- Goals for the month and to do list
- Custom bulllet journal collections: basically anything you want to track this month such as book to read, gratitude log, doodles page, budget tracker, habit tracker etc. I have a comprehensive list of collection ideas here!
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.
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:
- 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!
- Daily tracker section: for instance water intake, sleep tracker or brain dump etc.
- 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.
Bullet journal setup ideas
The way I have explained above has been the best bullet journal setup that worked for me. Do you need to do the exact same thing?
Heck, you could do it totally random to start with and have the collection pages whenever you remember to add one.
Remember to always do what works for you. But, as a beginner out of any idea of what will be best for you, you are free to follow this schema above.
The general steps to set up bullet journal are:
- Key and index
- Future planning
- Monthly, weekly, daily spreads
- Customs collection whenever you feel the need
How do you set up your bujo? let me know in comments below.