How I’m Setting Up My Bullet Journal This Year

December 18, 2020

I’ve talked about bullet journaling before on the blog, but I’ve never shown you all how I come up with ideas and set up my bullet journal. I thought this would be perfect to add to Plan Week this year. Bullet journals can be especially helpful if you haven’t found a planner that fits your needs. 

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Bullet journal

What I’ve Learned About Bullet Journaling 

My bullet journaling journey hasn’t been perfect, but I’ve learned a lot the past few years of me having one. I thought I’d share them with you today. Some of these may help you to decide if you’d like to start bullet journaling.

  • Don’t get caught up in comparison: Like anything else, once you start comparing your bullet journal to someone else’s you take the fun out of yours. It’s easy to see all these creative, and beautiful, spreads and become upset that yours doesn’t look like that. I’ve been there a time or two. The key is to remember that each bullet journal is unique. That is the whole point of it. You know that quote “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle?” That saying applies here. Don’t count yourself out on bullet journaling so fast.
  • You don’t have to buy the most expensive products: There are so many products out there that can be used when bullet journaling. This is where I get in trouble because I tend to want it all. I’ve learned that I’m able to get more of a variety of products if I go for the decently priced options. I have one or two products that are non-negotiable for me personally, anything else I buy what I can afford. You honestly can just do a bullet journal with a dollar store notebook and pen. Don’t let the myth that bullet journaling is expensive, stop you from starting. As you can see there are low cost options for bullet journaling as well.
  • It’s all about experimentation: Sometimes you’ll get so excited by a layout that you just created, or maybe even seen someone else create. Only to find that it wasn’t what you needed because you didn’t use it. That is okay! It’s important to keep experimenting to determine what you do and don’t like. 

Bullet Journal 101

Now it’s time to really dig into what bullet journaling is. Below you’ll find some popular contents to include in your bullet journal, as well as some supplies suggestions. Remember that you may not need all of these, so just choose which ones work for you.

Contents To Include

  • Index: This is basically what a table of contents is in a book. You write down your different sections and what page they start on. I typically like to group my collections by sections. My index would look something like goals, mental health, finances, fun, business, routines, etc., followed by the monthly layouts.
  • Key: This is a guide to what different symbols mean in your bullet journal. It is really helpful if you follow the traditional way of bullet journaling. You van find more information about that here.
  • Cover: This is just a simple way to start your bullet journal. You can include a quote, the year, a picture, etc..
  • Future Log: Your basic yearly calendar with a breakdown of holidays & events happening in each month.
  • Collections: These are my favorite part of my bullet journal. There are limitless options for here, from fun trackers, to routines, brain dumps, and more. I made a list of collections for you to get started with. You can find it below.
  • Monthly Spread: There are many options for these as well. I usually center mine around a theme and include a calendar, goals, habit tracker, and mood tracker. 
  • Weekly Spread: Again, countless options here. You can go for a basic planner spread, or play around with different layouts and techniques.
bullet journal collections


  • Bullet Journal: Like I mentioned before, you can literally use a dollar store notebook for your bullet journal, but there are other bullet journals if you are wanting a higher quality bullet journal. I’d recommend a Scribbles That Matter one because that has been my favorite, this will be my third one with them. Here is a comparison video so you can determine which one is right for you.

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Pens: There are many options here. Of course you have your basic everyday writing pens, but then there are also gel pens, among others. These are the pens that I love the most for writing in my bullet journaling.

Fineliners: Fineliners are great for small embellishments that you don’t necessarily want to use a pen for, but you also don’t want a marker. Papermate Flairs have always been my favorite fineliner, but I got these and I’ve liked them as well.

Brush Pens: This is one of those products that I will spend a little extra on. My brush pen of choice are Tombow Dual Tips. I’ve tried lower cost ones and they just didn’t work for me as well as Tombows do. 

Markers: My favorite product for these are Crayola Super Tips. They are inexpensive and come in many different colors.

Highlighters: This is another product that I pay a little more for. I really love my Midliners for adding color backgrounds to my text. They have lasted me a long time as well, so the cost is worth it.

Washi Tape: I don’t personally use washi tape as much, but I know other bullet journalers do. I do have a pack that I’ve used for a few years when I do feel I need washi tape. I like the variety of the designs that this pack has.

Stickers: I am a sticker fanatic and I’m not afraid to say it. They are perfect to decorate your page when you either don’t have the time to deck out your page, or aren’t as great at embellishing your page as you’d like to. The Happy Planner is by far my favorite business to get stickers from. They have so many fun packs with a large amount of stickers in each of them.

Ruler: Lines are hard, at least in my opinion. So this ruler has saved so many of my layouts. I like the size of it because it fits the page easily.

Stencils: Another great option if you aren’t as artistic, but still want your page to look that way. I’ve been using this set of stencils throughout each year I’ve had a bullet journal.

My Bullet Journal Set Up Process

Here is the process I go through each month to set up my bullet journal. This could also work for setting it up for the year.

  • Figure out the theme: This is my favorite part because I love themes. You can just pick a random theme or relate it to the month.
  • Get inspiration: Once I have my theme picked out I go to the internet to see if anything inspires me, either doodles or layouts. My monthly layouts are usually a mix of my personal ideas and those that I’ve found online.
  • Sketch the layout: Before I commit to the ideas I have I like to sketch them out in my sketchbook. This helps me determine if I can actually create my ideas, or if I need to change something up.
  • Pick the colors/supplies: I try to stick with the same color scheme throughout the month. 
  • Start creating: Now the time has come to get creating. I put on some music and immerse myself into my bullet journal, it’s a great self-care activity.

More Places To Go For Inspiration

Here are some of the places that I go for inspiration for my bullet journal. From YouTube to Pinterest, there are a variety of accounts and channels that have helped shape my bullet journals over the years. I’ve also included some new channels/accounts I have found recently.

Now that you know a little more about bullet journaling do you plan on starting to bullet journal in 2021? If you have any questions about bullet journaling feel free to comment below or dm me on Instagram. If you love collecting and/or writing in notebooks you are going to love tomorrow’s post. See you then.

Comments (1)

  • My Bullet Journal Setup For 2021 – Budding Joy

    January 10, 2021 at 6:07 am

    […] help you as well. Bullet journaling is one of those resources. To learn more you can check out this post where I discuss more about what a bullet journal is. Today I’m sharing my 2021 bullet journal […]

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