Bullet Journal 101 – The Basics

Who's ready for week #3 of Bullet Journal 101? This week we're covering all of the individual parts of the Bullet Journal as well as how they all work together to form a complete system!

Welcome to week three of Bullet Journal 101! So far in this series, we have covered a brief overview of the Bullet Journal system, as well as some tips on pre-planning and practicing before you dive into your Bullet Journal.

Before we get started today, I want to (again) say a huge thank you to each and every one of you for your support along the way. This series has truly become a labor of love on my end. Seeing your excitement week in and week out has made every bit of work I’ve put into this series 100% worth it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

This week, I’m excited to go deeper into each of the components of the system and showing you how they all work together. From the Index to the Daily Logs, I’m going to break each piece down for you in the hopes of making them simple and easy to understand.

Ready? Let’s go!

Who's ready for week #3 of Bullet Journal 101? This week we're covering all of the individual parts of the Bullet Journal as well as how they all work together to form a complete system!

BULLET JOURNAL BASICS

While trying to come up with the best way to show you the basics of the Bullet Journal system, I realized that the best way would be to show you the entire system in action. To that end, I grabbed a gently used notebook and a regular old pen and got to work.

Starting on September 1st, I started keeping a “bare bones” Bullet Journal in tandem with my “fancier” every-day Bullet Journal. I challenged myself to go entirely back to basics and not use any of the hacks that I regularly incorporate into my journal.

Although the Leuchtturm1917 notebook that I am using is pre-numbered, I decided to renumber the pages starting at #1 for the index. I thought this would make for a more “realistic” demonstration for you.

Here are the results:

THE INDEX

Bullet Journal 101 - The Index

The index is where all of your entries and collections get organized. I often get asked what types of things I usually index. Do I index every single page? Every week? Every day?

The short answer is that you should index whatever you feel is important. Personally, I like to index each month and each new collection that I add to my Bullet Journal.

For those of you curious, here’s a glimpse into my current index:

Bullet Journal 101 - The Index

As you can see, I have each month indexed with their starting and ending page numbers. If I’m looking for a specific date, it’s easy enough to flip to the starting page number for that month, and then page forward until I find what I’m looking for.

In addition to the months, I have each of my lists and collections indexed along with their corresponding page numbers. For collections that skip around multiple pages, I simply add in each new page number to the line corresponding to that collection.

You’ll notice that even though I’m almost all the way through my current Bullet Journal, my index doesn’t even span two whole pages.

Of course, it’s completely up to you how you choose to index your pages. If you want/need to index every single daily spread, then, by all means, do it. Remember that the beauty of the Bullet Journal is how adaptable it is to your individual needs.

THE FUTURE LOG

Bullet Journal 101 - The Future Log

The future log in it’s simplest form as laid out at bulletjournal.com is how you will be logging your future events and appointments. Since nothing is set up ahead of time in the Bullet Journal, it’s necessary to keep a future log of some sort to log future events as they come up.

There have been many hacks and adaptations of the future log, which we’ll cover in more detail next week. If you’re curious, though, check out my Future Planning post right here.

THE MONTHLY LOG

Bullet Journal 101 - The Monthly Log

The monthly log is where you’ll be keeping track of all your current month’s events, appointments, and tasks. I’ve played around with several variations of the monthly log over the past year, and I keep coming back to this original one for its simplicity.

Once you have your dates and days of the week written down the left-hand side, just fill in any upcoming events and appointments that you know about at the beginning of the month. Then, as the month unfolds, you can log any little tidbits of things that happened each day, as well as add additional appointments as they come up.

The right-hand side of the spread is for your monthly tasks. I like to write these out in no particular order, but you’re welcome to organize them by category or even put little signifiers next to each one to indicate what type of task it is.

In the example above, I used W for work, P for personal, and H for home tasks.

THE DAILY LOG

Bullet Journal 101 - The Daily Log Bullet Journal 101 - The Daily Log

The daily logs or “dailies” are where the Bullet Journal system comes alive! The daily log is where that method of rapid logging and using signifiers enters into play.

As you’ll see in the examples above (you can click on them to view full size), each day is filled with tasks (bullets), appointments/events (circles), and notes (dashes).

Once a task is complete, it gets crossed off with a simple “X.”

Bullet Journal 101 - The Daily Log

On my current spread, you can see that I have a few open tasks over the past several days. I like to keep unfinished tasks open until I turn the page, and then migrate them forward all at once.

COLLECTIONS

Collections can be lists, projects, or anything else that you want or need to insert into your Bullet Journal. You can see in the pages above that I have a couple of collections interspersed with my daily pages.

That’s the beauty of the Bullet Journal system, y’all! Whenever you need to write something down, you can go to the next available page or space and get to writing. To organize your collections, it’s as simple as writing them into your index so that you can easily find them later.

MIGRATION

Migration is an intensely personal part of the Bullet Journal system. As I mentioned earlier, I like to keep all of my unfinished tasks open on my current spread. I treat the entire spread as one giant to-do list until I turn the page. Then, I analyze my open tasks and either migrate them forward, schedule them, or strike them through if they are no longer relevant.

Here is a video about my method of migration if you’re curious.

To view all of these parts in action and see how they all work together, check out today’s video over on YouTube or right here below:


As always, please feel free to drop your questions in the comments below. I’ve been getting SO many questions, which I’ve decided to do a bonus video at the end of the series so that no question gets left behind.

Next week is all about making your Bullet Journal your own. We’ll be covering things like Bullet Journal Hacks, different collections, index alternatives, and dealing with the dreaded overwhelm that can sometimes accompany your first foray into the Bullet Journal world.


OTHER PARTS IN THIS SERIES

Introduction
Bullet Journal Overview
Pre-Planning
The Basics (you’re here!)
Make it Your Own
Bonus Wrap-Up + Q &A

Kara Benz
Kara Benz is the artist and author behind Boho Berry, where she inspires her readers to lead a more centered, fulfilled, and inspired life. Kara also runs a successful sticker shop on Etsy – Boho Berry Paperie.
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  • I kind of love the “bare bones” bullet journal that you show in the video. I stopped using my Bullet Journal when I tried getting to fancy with it, but I’m inspired to go back and use a “bare bones” version again, especially as I get ready for a new job. Love this series, Kara!

  • Wrenaissance Art

    Thanks for this very clear explanation of how each main section of the Bullet Journal works!
    You’ve mentioned that you’ll be moving your bullet journal to a Filofax in 2017. Will you be changing your Index from one at the front to one for each divider? (An index for the time planner, an index for the projects section, index for blog stuff, etc?)
    The original style Future & Monthly logs are not very visual! Any tips for those who prefer to see a time flow rather than just a written list? :-)
    I also noted that the Dailies Log here is kind of a “week on 2 pages” format. Do you ever use a Weekly Log, followed by Dailies?
    For those of us who also need journal/diary space for personal reflection, how can that get incorporated?
    Thanks again for this helpful series!

  • Nanette Stearns

    Thanks for the video, it’s really helpful for someone new to the process. I know some folks use weekly pages in addition to monthly/daily pages. Is that something useful? I use monthly and daily pages but haven’t found a good use for weekly ones so am curious about how those are used. Thanks again!
    Nanette

    • Thanks, Nanette! I’ll be addressing your question in the Q&A video on Monday :)

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  • Judith

    I have just started Bullet Journaling and I am finding it is helping me to keep track of things and I am definitely more organised. How do you keep track of those tasks which only occur say once every month or every 3 months or every year?

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  • Lesley Ann Smith

    Hey Kara, so I’m new to bullet journaling but all of your stuff has been super helpful. My question is: is there really a need for a monthly, weekly, and daily spread? I find myself writing the same things on the weekly and daily, which feels redundant. Help?!

    • Ivan Menchavez

      I have the same question since I pretty much do the same things every day.

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  • Sara Kovach

    This video was AMAZING! I learned so much. I am new to bullet journaling, and I think I am going to rethink some things. I think I have decided to use this year and current journal as an experimental, or work in progress, journal. After watching this video, I feel like the back to basics – bare bones journal is where I need to begin. And, as I said, play around or experiment along the way. If I find something new that works – go with it. Thank you so much for doing these videos. You are very inspirational and informative.

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