How to start your own bullet journal

Take some time to yourself and start keeping a journal. Here's our guide for where to begin.

Woman in brown top writing in a journal.
Image credit: iStock

From George Orwell to Dawn Powell, journalling has helped many literary minds stay productive and creative.

But journaling isn’t just for writers; increasingly, more and more people are turning to it as a way to reflect, write down their worries, be creative and set goals. And now more than ever it’s easy to see its appeal: we’re preoccupied by things big and small, and we’re no longer seeing friends, family and colleagues in the same way we used to, so our sounding boards have changed. 

The bullet journal is therefore the perfect companion to our lives, offering us a moment of quiet in our busy days. Crested by Ryder Carroll to help with his ADD, a bullet journal is part calendar, part meditation and part diary.

So, where do you begin? Bullet journals can take a variety of forms, from books you create completely yourself – including drawing calendars and deciding on what pages you want in them – to regular diaries you adapt to your needs to guided journals that provide you with prompts for each day or topic.

To help you get started, here are some tips on making the most of your journal, and recommendations for some books and equipment we think will aid you.

1. Find a 10-minute moment in your day

It might seem impossible to find time every day to write in your journal, but try to dedicate 5-10 minutes to being still. Instead of rushing around when your coffee brews in the morning, allocate the space to filling in a page or two, or settle down with a cup mid-morning to some journaling. By associating this time with journaling, you’re also setting up gentle prompts to uncap the pen everyday. You can also make journalling a family activity; there are guided journals available for children to help them process there days as well.

2. Listen to your changing moods

Journals never bind you to strict guidelines. Instead, writers are encouraged to adapt the material to their own personalities and circumstances. Be mindful of how you’re feeling each day; if you’re stuck on a page, or don’t feel up to a certain task, don’t be afraid to skip forwards or backwards in your book. Alternatively, if you’re feeling generous with your time, write a few extra pages.


3. Set a year-long plan and make note of your progress

Set a year-long action plan for completing your journal, and check back on your progress at the end of each week, month or quarter. Celebrate the chapters you’ve accomplished and reflect on what these milestones mean to you.

4. Create a writing altar

Indulge in new pens, set yourself up at your favourite chair, and brew a pot of your favourite tea. Write a list of your goals and intentions and place them under dedicated stones or crystals. If you wish, light a candle to focus your attention.

5. Look for inspiration and ideas on social media

Bullet journals take all sorts of forms, and everyone includes something different. If you want to create a bullet journal from scratch it can be intimidating knowing where to start, so have a look around for ideas on Instagram’s bullet journal tag, or search for bullet journal videos on YouTube.


You’ll see that as well as keeping track of finances or writing down their moods, people set up pages for everything from what they’ve watched that month to how many glasses of water they drink a day.

6. Choose the right journal

What do you want to achieve with your journal? Do you want to be more grateful, spend more time in nature, or have better control over your finances? Do you want something that allows you to be creative on the page? Focusing your intention – and being honest about the biggest areas of improvement in your life – will help you stay motivated and grounded in your purpose throughout the new year. See below for some of our favourite guided journals.

7. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes

You might think from social media posts that every journal is completely perfect. But don’t be fooled, every journaller makes mistakes. Don’t worry if you spell something wrong, use the wrong colour or completely mess up a page. It’s your journal, and the mistakes are as beautiful as the rest.

Our favourite guided journals

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