As an organizational fanatic and lover of all things creative, it’s probably not surprising that I am a huge fan of bullet journaling.
Why? Because bullet journaling provides you with the best of both worlds; you get to organize your own planner, map out your goals, track your habits, and record your dreams, all while expressing yourself creatively.
I’m telling you, it’s awesome.
If you’re just getting started with bullet journaling, however, the entire process can feel a little bit overwhelming.
You might be asking, “Where do I start?” “What spreads do I need?” “Do I actually have time to dedicate to this process?”
Don’t worry. I hear you. In fact, I asked those same things when I just started out. So to ease your concerns, I’m going to address each one of those questions in today’s post.
- Where do I start?
- What spreads do I need?
- Do I have enough time?
Let’s start with that last question, as this is one that I hear a lot.
Do I Have Time To Start A Bullet Journal?
As I mentioned, I initially asked the same question about bullet journaling; I assumed I was entirely too busy for this type of thing, and I simply wouldn’t have the time.
Until I actually sat down and started creating, that is…
Because here’s the deal, you do have time.
How do I know?
Because you can make bullet journaling as intricate or as simple as you want. You can spend an hour working on a single spread, or you can take 30 seconds to jot down a quick to-do list.
It’s your bullet journal, so it’s entirely up to you! That’s what makes this practice so fantastic. 🙌
In today’s post, I am going to cover the five must-have spreads for your bullet journal: the yearly overview/future log; the monthly spread; the weekly spread; the habit tracker; and the time blocker.
Then, at the very end, I’ll share with you my favorite time-saving hack for making beautiful spreads in minutes. You’re going to love it.
But first, let’s talk supplies.
Bullet Journal Supplies
Luckily, beginning a bullet journal is SUPER easy, and you don’t need much.
The Best Bullet Journal Notebook
The two leading bullet journal brands are Moleskine and Leuchtturm, both of which have sewn-in bookmarks and a pocket at the back. I personally prefer Leuchtturm; the pages come pre-numbered, which is super convenient.
There are many other options out there as well, of course, so whichever notebook you choose, I suggest getting a one with good quality paper that doesn’t bleed through. I also recommend getting a notebook that is somewhere around 5”x 8″ in size. (It’s the easiest to carry around.)
You also have different options regarding the page style, whether it is lined, a dot grid, or blank pages. I like the dot grid style the best, as I think it’s the easiest for drawing straight lines, but choose what works best for you!
The Best Bullet Journal Pens
Gel pens are classic because they write smoothly and they literally sparkle. The downside, however, is that they take a LONG time to dry, and they often smudge and smear if you’re not careful.
I also have a favorite brand of felt tip pens, which dry instantly and also come in bright colors. I use these when I know I have to close my book quickly, or I am creating my monthly/weekly spreads, and I’m dragging my hand all over the page.
Finally, for those looking to up their hand lettering game, I highly recommend these brush pens, which allow for beautiful strokes and also have a crisp, fine point on the other end of the pen.
Not a fan of fancy pens? Totally fine. The classic Bic pen works just as well. As long as you have your notebook and a writing utensil, you’re in business. 😉
A ruler or bullet journal stencils. More on that below.
Okay. You have your notebook and your favorite pen(s). Let’s talk about the spreads, shall we?
5 Bullet Journal Spreads You Need to Get Organized
Yearly Spread/Future Log
First up is your yearly overview.
The idea behind this spread is just as it sounds; you create a general overview of the primary events coming up throughout the year. This might include birthdays, holidays, conferences, vacations, concerts, etc.
Generally, you set up your yearly overview at the beginning of the journal, since it provides the outline for your planner.
Depending on how detailed you want your yearly overview to be, you can list all 12 months on the 2-page spread. You could also do 6 months. Or, as you can see in the picture above,👆 you can do 3 months. This is the approach I generally take since it allows me to fill in reminders and updates in addition to the usual birthdays and holidays.
The monthly overview is just like your standard calendar. Again, you can get as creative or as basic as you’d like.
Ryder Carroll, the creator of the bullet journal, simply writes the month at the top of the page and then lists the dates down the left-hand side. If you’re looking for quick and easy, this approach is for you.
I am more of a visual person when it comes to calendars, and I like to see where things are laid out within the month, so I use a more traditional calendar spread.
Similar to the yearly overview, you can play with the size of the spread. Depending on how big you write or how many events you have going on that month, you might do a 1 or 2-page spread. (See examples above.👆)
Once you get to the weekly spread, bullet journalers get really creative. And if you search bullet journal ideas on Instagram, you’ll be blown away by the talent of some of these artists.
As you’ll see in the different spreads above, I keep my weekly layouts pretty simple. Regardless of the intricacy, however, the general idea remains the same: the weekly spread provides an overview of your to-do list and appointments for that week.
So whether you’re trying to drink 8 glasses of water a day, get to the gym 4 times per week, or practice self-care daily, habit tracking is a great way to hold yourself accountable.
By incorporating that habit tracker in your bullet journal, you have a great daily reminder to keep yourself on track.
In the spread above, you’ll notice that I also left room to record my goals, write down my to-do list, and reflect upon my favorite quote for the week. (You can also see another option to the weekly spread on the right side of the notebook.)
Bullet Journal Time Tracker and To-do lists
As you know, I LOVE time blocking. I think it’s one of the most efficient ways to mindfully manage your time and make the most out of your day.
So with that in mind, I find using a time-blocking spread absolutely critical for peak organization and productivity. It helps me stay on track throughout the day, and I have an easier time getting to everything on my to-do list without getting overwhelmed.
If you want to learn more about time blocking, be sure to check out these two posts:
The Ultimate The Management Strategy: Time Blocking
How To Make Time Blocking Work for You.
Bullet Journal Stencils: Time Saving Hack
Now, I hear you. You might be thinking, “How can I create those spreads quickly? I’m a busy human!”
You see, I thought the same thing myself. And in fact, I pondered that question for quite a while until I came upon the solution…
Bullet journal stencils.
Yep, I created a whole collection of bullet journal stencils that allow me to create beautifully organized spreads with ease.
No more need for a ruler. No more worrying about perfectly spacing out your spreads or running out of room on your page. The stencils have you covered.
So if you’re ready to give bullet journaling a try, and you want to make the most efficient use of your time, be sure to check out the different stencil options I have over on Etsy! I think you’re going to love them.
And for all of you bullet journal aficionados out there, if there is a stencil you’d LOVE to have, but I haven’t made it yet, please let me know! I’m happy to play around and create one for you 🙂
Do you want to dive deeper into the world of bullet journaling? Then be sure to sign up for my free bullet journaling class here! You’ll be on your way to bullet journal fun in only 30 minutes.🙌
Have you tried bullet journaling before? What spreads are your favorites? What stencils would you like to see? Let me know below!