Bullet journals are powerful productivity tools but overwhelming when you don’t know where to start. Here are some easy bullet journal ideas for beginners so you can get more done in less time.
What Is Bullet Journaling?
Bullet journaling is a productivity technique developed by Ryder Carroll where you quickly log your ideas and tasks into an organized system. The technique is meant to get everything out of your head and into one place so you can get more done in less time.
While many creative people have turned their bullet journals into an art form, the premise of bullet journaling is quite simple. You think it, you write it down quickly using a system of symbols and shorthand so you can organize your lists and tasks to be accessible when you need it.
Bullet journaling works for not only your current tasks but your goals, habits and long term goals you want to accomplish.
The Benefits of Bullet Journaling
Here are just some of the benefits of bullet journaling:
- it can be as simple as you want and need it to be
- it is a system for getting all your ideas in one place
- it is flexible. if you have a new idea for a list or something you want to track, you just flip the page, record it on your index and keep going
- using trackers can help you cultivate daily habits which allows you to make sure that you fit what is important to you physically and emotionally into your day
- using trackers can help you develop effective routines which allows you to put more of your day on autopilot knowing exactly what needs to be done next so you can get more done in less time
- it gives you a system to track those long term goals and ideas so you don’t forget them and can access them when needed
- works for visual based learners who can draw out mindmaps, flowcharts and project plans to see a map of their day and goals
- works for journalers who like to work through their thoughts and ideas
- works for people who don’t have a lot of time
- works for creatives who want to add some color and artistry to their journals
- helps organize all your ideas into lists so you can prioritize and take action on what is most important
Easy Bullet Journaling Ideas for Beginners
Bullet journaling does not need to be difficult or fancy. When you are beginning, the most important thing is to create a bullet journal that works for you, your needs and your lifestyle. The simpler the better when you are just starting out.
Choosing a Bullet Journal
If you really want to keep this easy, choosing a bullet journal means just pulling out an unused notebook (or in my case the gazillions half used composition notebooks my kids have leftover from prior school years).
But if you want better quality paper and more of a keepsake, then here are some of my favorite high quality journals to get you started. I’ve noted the gsm of the paper, the higher the number, the thicker the paper. For a frame of reference, regular printer paper is typically around 80 gsm. My favorite planners have a 100 or higher gsm but I love good paper!
My Favorite Erin Condren Journals and Notebooks – I have a coil bound dot grid notebook and a softcover notebook and either one would be perfect for beginner bullet journalers.
Scribbles that Matter A5 journal* – 100 gsm
Scribbles that Matter A6ish size journal* (5.8″ x 4.3″) – 100 gsm paper, and preprinted index, key and pen test pages
Leuchtturm 1917* Dotted A5 size – 80 gsm, one of the most popular bullet journaling notebooks, comes in various sizes ad colors with preprinted numbered pages. Since the paper is thinner, gel pens may shadow (which means you can see the writing on the other side but ink doesn’t bleed through completely).
The Best Planners for Bullet Journaling
I think planners make ideal bullet journals for beginners because much of the hard part is already laid out. These are my favorite planners for bullet journaling because they already have great goalsetting and daily or weekly layouts and plenty of notes pages for your bullet journal lists (called collections) so you can have everything in one place.
Planners can also help you figure out what works for you and help you identify what you want/need in your bullet journal if you decide to create one from scratch.
How to Bullet Journal in a Passion Planner: the Perfect Planning Solution – 120 gsm paper, love this paper and planners comes in 3 sizes with lots of notes pages.
How to Bullet Journal in a Plum Paper Planner – about 105 gsm, the first planner I bullet journaled in, super smooth paper
How I Bullet Journaled in a Day Designer Planner – 90 gsm paper – thinner paper than other brands since it’s a daily planner
Accessories to make Bullet Journaling Easier for Beginners or Non-Creatives
There are so many gorgeous artistic bullet journals and I wish I could create one but sadly I have not an artistic bone in my body. Here are some of my favorite accessories to make bullet journals pretty easily without getting frustrated over lack of drawing skills:
Starter Stencil Set* – flags, banners, weather icons, checkboxes, hearts and other fun icons you can stencil right into your bullet journal
Calligraphy Stencil sheet – stencil lovely calligraphy letters into your bullet journal. This was my first attempt…
I’m not much of a stickerer but I do love the quality of these small fun and functional stickers that add pops of color and joy to bullet journals.
- Do it All Sticker Pack*
- Pastel Sticker Sheets*
- Customizable Habit Tracker Stickers*
- Functional Flags Sticker Set*
- All in One Perfect Planner kit* – includes stencils, stickers and washi tape
Pens and Highlighters
Colored pens, colored pencils and highlighters are the easiest way to add color to your bullet journal. I’ve tested out lots of pens in my planners and here are my hands down favorites:
Fine Point 0.5mm: Pilot Precise v5* – these are great especially if your paper is on the thinner side. They are less inky with the fine tip so they don’t shadow as much as the inkier/bigger tip pens. They are the same brand pens I used in my Simplified Planner.
Medium Point 0.7mm: Pentel Energel* – these write super smoothly and ink dries quickly
Highlighters: Zebra Mildliner Highlighters – I got this 15 pack and love the colors. They are inky so they can shadow through on thinner paper.
Colored pencils: Crayola Colored Pencils* – yep good ole Crayolas. These are great if you don’t want any shadowing through and of course they are readily available with a huge assortment of colors. The ones I used in my Passion Planner weren’t fancy but they worked well.
More Tips for Easy Bullet Journaling for Beginners
Here are some of my favorite easy ways to incorporate bullet journaling to simplify and keep track of your busy life:
- How a Summer Bullet Journal for Kids Saved my Sanity
- 5 Things to Know Before Starting a Bullet Journal
- How to Set Goals Using a Bullet Journal
- 25 Home Organization Bullet Journal Ideas
- 5 Productive Ways to Use a Bullet Journal at Work
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Well I hope I’ve taken out some of the overwhelm and pressure from starting a bullet journal and given you some easy bullet journaling ideas so you can just get started. Once you start, you will find ways to customize your bullet journal for your needs. Whether it’s a creative outlet or a strict to do list, bullet journaling can help you get more done in less time so that you have more time for fun! So grab a journal and start bullet journaling the easy way to a more productive day and your dream life!