The Planner Hack: How to Bullet Journal

If you’ve looked at my about me page, then you’ve got a small taste of how obsessed I am with bullet journaling and now I’m going to tell you why and how to start your very own!

A few months ago, I was a mess. Well… I’m still a mess. BUT I’m a more organized, more productive mess. All day I’d sit fiddling around and when the end of the day would come, I’d look back and realize I’d accomplished nothing. Then I discovered bullet journaling. That sounds a bit dramatic, but I’m not kidding when I say this system has changed my life. I get so much done in a day and I feel so much better knowing that I won’t forget anything that I need to get done in the future. And becoming part of the bullet journal community has inspired and motivated me to follow my dreams and believe that I can do whatever it is I set out to do.

So, let’s take a look at how to bullet journal with this handy dandy infographic I made:

The Planner Hack Infographic

Now that you have an idea of some of the basic anatomy of a bullet journal, let’s dive in a little deeper. The system was developed by the wonderful Ryder Carroll. If you’re still confused on any part of bullet journaling after reading this post, or if you just want to learn more, I highly recommend checking out the bullet journal official website! It’s full of helpful information for getting started and seeing what all the hype is about. You can also buy The Bullet Journal Notebook there, if you want that. (I’ll give you some ideas for other possible bullet journal supplies later in this post.)

The whole system is built on something called rapid logging. The first step is to title and number your pages. The title is a short description of what will be one the page. It may even just be a date. And get in the habit of numbering your pages and filling in your index as you go. It seems like a pain at first, but it makes things so easy to find!

As you’re creating your pages, use bullet points and signifiers to help you log information quickly and effectively. I personally don’t use the bullets suggested on Instead, I created my own system of bullets that make more sense to me. I use a square to indicate a task, a circle to indicate an event, and a triangle to indicate an appointment. Take a minute before you create your own to search for “bullet journal key” on Pinterest and figure out what will work best for you. The beauty of the bullet journal is that you can adapt it and individualize it to make it exactly what you need. Signifiers “give your bullets additional context.” For example, I put an exclamation point next to bullets to indicate that they’re a priority or a little clock next to something to indicate a deadline.


If you get into the bullet journaling community and you’re not already a notebook and pen snob, you’ll soon become one. But just to be clear, you can start a bullet journal with a plain lined notebook and a ballpoint pen. Using quality supplies helps me enjoy bullet journaling more and motivates me to stick with it. But I’m also poor, so I can’t go out and buy every pen and notebook popular on Pinterest. Don’t go over your budget because you feel like you just have to have these specific supplies to really bullet journal. Seriously. In fact, when you’re first starting out, I recommend using stuff you already have around the house and make bullet journal goals and rewards for yourself. If you stick with bullet journaling for a whole month, for instance, go out and buy yourself those fancy pens you saw on Instagram. If you find that helps you and you stick with it for two months, get yourself an awesome notebook for bullet journaling.

Now, without further ado, here’s a few supplies you’ll likely see being used in the community.


  • Microns. $10 for a pack of 6 black pens. I’m an artist, so since I already had a couple of these laying around when I first started bullet journaling, they were the pens I used. They’re good quality and available in lots of fun colors.
  • Staedtler Triplus Fineliners. $13.25 for a pack of 10 colors. These were the second high quality pens I tried and I fell in love. They come in tons of beautiful colors and they’re great quality. I personally like them better than Microns.
  • Staedtler Pigment Liners. $11.50 for a pack of four black pens of various thicknesses. These are my absolute favorite pen right now. I mainly use them for design work since they’re expensive, but I wish I could use them for all my writing all the time.
  • Pentel Arts Hybrid Gel Pens. $11 for a pack of four black pens. I haven’t used these yet, but I’ve heard great things about Pentel gel pens.
  • Faber-Castell Artist Pitt Pens. $11 for a pack of four black pens (one of which is a brush pen.) Again, I haven’t used them, but I’ve heard great things.
  • Papermate Flairs. $9 for a pack of 12 black pens. These are a great everyday writing utensil and they’re a good cheaper alternative to the pens listed above.


  • The Bullet Journal Notebook. $20. It’s made for bullet journaling, so it has a bullet journal guide, an index, and page numbers already built in.
  • Lechtturm 1917. $18. A popular alternative to the official bullet journal notebook.
  • Rhodia Webnoebook. $17. I’ve only heard good things about the Rhodia. Namely that the paper quality is amazing. No more bleeding through!
  • Peter Pauper Press Essentials Notebook. $7.50. A popular cheaper alternative.
  • Baron Fig Confidant. $16. This is what I’m using right now and I love it! I had a Moleskin before and I feel that Baron Fig’s notebooks are much higher quality. Minimal ghosting, it lays flat, and it has a whopping 192 pages.

Washi Tape

Note: you absolutely do not need washi tape in order to bullet journal. It’s just a fun way to add some color and prettiness to your planner.

Ideas to Get You Started

Well, now you know how to bullet journal, you know what you might want for bullet journaling, and maybe you’ve decided you’re going to start. Below are some layouts and ideas to help you get going.

First, I promised in my inforgaphic that I would explain habit tracking. Lots of people keep track of things they need or want to be doing daily, weekly, or monthly. It can be used to help you start a habit or break a habit and track your progress. Here’s some habit tracker inspiration from Bullet Everything. Some people also use their bullet journal for meal planningHere you can find ideas for collections, and of course you need inspiration for you daily, weekly (x), and monthly spreads!

If you’re interested, here’s a peek inside my own bullet journal:

Weekly Spread 2.jpgWeekly Spread 3.jpgWeekly Spread 4.JPG

If there’s anything I missed or you have questions, feel free to ask me! And let me know in the comments: Do you have a bullet journal or are you going to start one? If not, what kind of planner do you use?


17 thoughts on “The Planner Hack: How to Bullet Journal

  1. pageflutter says:

    Great post on basic bullet journaling! You definitely hit all the highlights. Thanks for the shoutout for my monthly layouts! Keep doing what you’re doing. 🙂


  2. Kate Sparkes says:

    Fantastic post! I feel the same way about my bullet journal. I’ve used other planners and been grateful for them, but this is a whole new level. I tell people I’m a scatterbrain, but my bullet journal lets me capture all of it on paper and make sense of it. 🙂


  3. Stacy says:

    Newbie question… Your draw ask these pretties by hand? Do you use straight edge or anything? And how long does it take you to get the journal ready to use?


    • prettypracticalbyemory says:

      Hi, Stacy! I do draw them all by hand! I use a ruler for any long straight lines, but other than that it’s all freehand. The initial setup for my journal (the key, index, future log, and some collections I knew I wanted) took probably 2-3 hours. It takes me about 30 minutes to set up each week and an additional 30 minutes to an hour when I’m setting up for a new month, depending on how intricate I get. I hope that helps! Feel free to ask more questions here, or you can email me at!


  4. Mette Forstad says:

    Wow! This is wonderful! I’m a newcomer to bullet journaling, and I’ve been gathering info on WHAT to put in mine, but nowhere have I seen actually HOW to do it – practically – before now. Beautiful! Thank you so much 😀 I’ve got a couple of pins about it too: icons and drawings, etc.


  5. Amanda Boyd says:

    Which Baron Fig notebook do you get- blank or ruled? Thanks! Bullet Journal newbie. Looking for the easiest way to do it! Don’t have much time!


  6. Anna says:

    Bar none, the best bullet journal tutorial I’ve found so far with the best ideographic!!! I’m just starting down the bulleting road :-). Can’t wait to get started. Many thanks!!!


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