How to Start a Bullet Journal

How to Start a Bullet Journal

In 2019, there’s an app for just about anything. From calendars and food diaries to expense and habit trackers — it’s all there.

The thing about the digital age, however, is that more and more people are finding ways to step away from it. Frankly, it’s stressing us out. 

Self-care is now a priority, which is honestly a breath of fresh air. No more celebrating our lack of sleep and caffeine addictions (please).  Meditation and mindfulness is exponentially more popular, we’re eating healthier, cooking at home, sleeping more and just in 2018, a new method of tracking your past, present, and future is connecting us back to good old pen and paper. It’s called the Bullet Journal method by Ryder Carroll.

When I first heard about it, I was intrigued to say the least. I’d always been a bit of a stationery addict. Always needed the perfect notebooks, pencils, and planners if I planned to get any work done. So, bullet journaling, which could tap into my organizational skills, creativity and love for stationery all at once seemed to be a perfect fit. Adult life is kind of dull at times and bullet journals give us an outlet to keep track of our responsibilities and habits while expressing the creativity that many of us, unfortunately, leave behind as we get older. Plus, I find that it brings me back to that giddy kid feeling of back-to-school shopping. 

So, what is a bullet journal? 

Well, the typical bullet journal is done in a dot-grid style notebook that lets you track pretty much anything you want: to-do lists, calendars, your daily gratitude, habits, etc. Each page or two is called a “spread.” And, since you start with a bunch of blank pages, the format of the spreads are entirely up to you.

You may have seen some awesome bullet journal spreads on social media. Perhaps you considered starting one yourself, but didn’t know where to begin. This blog post is for you.  Let’s start with the basic layout for a bullet journal. Keep in mind, these are simply suggestions and a good place to start! 

Do I need to be an artist?

The great thing about a bullet journal is that you can go in literally any creative direction. Some people do a minimal bullet journal, where there’s a simple, organized style that is more focused on just tracking and planning with bullets. Others go full out on the creative side. 

If you’re someone who is not an artist, but you’d like to tap into your creativity, there are always ways to add some beautiful imagery and color without the paints and markers.

Washi Tape

I’ve had a lot of people ask me what the purpose of washi tape is and the truth is that there are many! You can use more translucent washi tape to create headers. You can also just splash in some washi tape for purely decorative purposes. Washi tape can also be transformed into page identifiers, bookmarkers and more. We have a large selection of washi tapes in our shop! 


Pretty self-explanatory. Re-discover your inner child and cover your spreads in stickers! 


Stamping is fun because it gives you the ability to have some pretty gorgeous images, but all you have to do is pick the ink pad color and/or color in the stamps. There are wooden/rubber stamps, though I recommend clear stamps as stated above simply because you can really see where you’re placing them in a journal. 

Other Supplies You’ll Need

To start a bullet journal, you’ll of course need some supplies. The best place to start is with a dot grid notebook. This is the one I use which is especially great because most markers won’t bleed through and it lays perfectly flat. The grid layout also makes it much easier to create bullet journal spreads, especially your calendars. 

In all seriousness, the only thing you really need to start a bullet journal is a blank journal and a pen or pencil. If you want to get really into it, however, you can stock up on: 

*note: the links are to the exact items I started out with*

Now, let’s get started on the spreads! 

The Year Ahead

Yearly Calendar 

Many people start their bullet journals with a full-year calendar. Tedious, yes. But, quite satisfying to do and admire when it’s all done. 

Helpful tip: lay most of it out in pencil first. I don’t know how many times I’ve messed up the spacing! 

Helpful tip #2: Buy calendar clear stamps (saves a heck of a lot of time). 

Year’s Quote / Doodle

Another popular thing to do once you’ve laid out the year is to pick a doodle theme and a quote and/or drawing that represents your year ahead. This year, I picked the quote, “Your Ship May Be Coming In,” which is from a Rilo Kiley song that felt super inspiring. This is just before I launched Maisie Lane Co., so it felt like my ship to the next chapter of my life was finally here. Of course, I drew a ship to go along with it.

Here’s my yearly calendar spread and quote/doodle for 2019 in my bullet journal. 

Yearly Goals & Trackers 

Next, you could reserve a page or two for your yearly goals and trackers. This could be health and fitness related, career, finance, social media etc. After you set your goals, you can create separate trackers for each one. Think: how much you’re putting into savings each month, how many books you’re reading, tracking your social media growth. It’s super fun at the end of the year to see where you started and how you’ve grown. 

Finally, we move onto the months. I basically repeat what I do for my yearly spread, but put it into a monthly format. 

The Monthly Spreads

Month’s Calendar

First, we start with the calendar. A lot of people create something similar to what you’ve seen in a typical planner, others will lay out a very simple spread without any boxes. Check out the examples below.

Start a Bullet Journal: Monthly Calendar Spread Bullet Journal
Start a Bullet Journal: Monthly Calendar Spread Bullet Journal
Start a Bullet Journal: Monthly Calendar Spread Bullet Journal

Monthly Doodle / Quote

Just like the yearly doodle and quote, you can do a monthly one too. Again, up to you! 

Monthly Goals

It’s been proven that by writing down your goals, you are more likely to achieve them. You are 42% more likely, to be exact. By physically seeing them everyday, you are bound to stay focused. That’s why I always save a page for a monthly goals spread.


When I think Bullet Journal, trackers are honestly the first thing that comes to mind. Here are some things you could track in your bullet journal: 

Habit Trackers

    • Mediation
    • Yoga
    • Working out
    • Flossing
    • Sugar Intake
    • Caffeine Intake
    • Daily Water Intake
    • Making the bed
    • Waking up early
    • Bedtime
    • Phone use 
    • Daily reading 

Besides habits, here are some more tracker ideas: 

  • Mood Tracker: A lot of people will create a page of numbered doodles (days of the month) and then choose a few colors that represent different moods. Each day, they’ll fill in the day’s doodle with the coordinating mood color. 
  • Gratitude Journal: rThey say keeping a gratitude journal has a profound impact on our overall happiness. A bullet journal is a great place to write down what your grateful for each day. 
  • Meal Plans: I’m a meal planner. It not only saves me money, but I eat healthier and it saves me from taking multiple trips to the grocery store. 
  • Expenses: Keep track of how much money you’re spending everyday and what you’re spending it on. This way you can identify trends in your spending and see where you could potentially cut costs. 
  • Social Media: Many influencers, YouTubers, and business owners will keep track of their social media growth over the year, month and week. 
Start a Bullet Journal: monthly trackers

The Weekly Spread

Finally, we have the weekly spread. Here’s where you put your days of the week, any events or to-dos along with your weekly goals. Again, the layout is up to you, but below are some fun weekly spread ideas. 

So, there you have it! How to start a bullet journal. If you ever have any questions about bullet journaling or any products, feel free to send me an email at

Love always,

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