If you are new to bullet journaling or thinking about getting started with bullet journaling, you may have lots of questions about how to create your first bullet journal notebook. One of those questions is most likely “What should I include in my bullet journal?” In this post I’ll be showing you, what I believe are, the must-have layouts for any bullet journal. More advanced bullet journalers don’t click away too fast, you may find new ideas and inspiration in this list.
Before we get into all of the bullet journal layouts, I wanted to go over a few basics of bullet journaling. You can find more information about bullet journaling in this post.
What Is The Bullet Journal Method and Where Does It Come From?
I like to describe a bullet journal as a DIY planner and tracker. It also can be described as “a mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system,” according to the official Bullet Journal site. Created by Ryder Caroll, the bullet journal method at its basic form is about intentional living. This simple and effective logging system that Caroll created has grown into something much bigger!
There are countless blogs, social media pages, YouTube channels, and communities full of bullet journal enthusiasts, all devoted to bullet journaling, also known as bujo. Ryder Caroll has not only written a book about this method, The Bullet Journal Method, he’s also created an app. The app is handy for those looking for a digital bullet journal.
You can learn more about bullet journaling in this post.
Features of A Bullet Journal
There are multiple brands of bullet journals for you to choose from. Some popular brands are Leuchtturm 1917, Scribbles That Matter, and Archer & Olive. Here is a great video that compares some of the top bujos. You’ll want to check it out before getting your new notebook.
Some features that most bullet journal notebooks have in common are index pages, bookmarks, pen test pages, page numbers listed, a flap in the back cover, and of course a place to write down your bullet journal key.
What To Keep In Mind
Before you begin planning what to fill your dot grid pages with, I have some advice for you. Just have fun with it – don’t feel the need to make it perfect or create elaborate spreads. The important thing is that it’s your own bullet journal, so make it unique to you. With that in mind, let’s get to the different bullet journal layout ideas.
12 Must-Have Layouts In Your Bullet Journal
This is most likely one of the first pages you’ll see in a bullet journal setup. It’s a preview of the entire year. It’s great for writing down important dates that happen further than a few weeks to a month. You’ll often see birthdays and holidays, future doctor appointments, trips, and more.
There are two ways you can go about creating your future log. It all depends on how much room you want for listing your important dates. You can use a layout that you would find in a typical planner if you don’t need to write anything down. My favorite way to create a future log is to split it into half a year per layout. That way I have plenty of room for writing.
If you enjoy goal setting and staying reminded of any resolutions you made at the beginning of the year, you’ll want this layout. These types of layouts are a great way to break down your goals as well. Whether you do SMART goal setting, Mind Mapping, or any other goal-setting exercises, you’ll want to add this to your bullet journal.
I’ve come to realize how essential a brain dump page is in the four years I’ve had a bullet journal. You can have a brain dump layout at the beginning of your bujo, with the rest of the beginning layouts, or you can add one each month. I feel like the best way is to do both if you have enough space.
This particular layout is used to have a place to write that random idea you had, or that phone number someone is in the process of telling you. There are many ways and reasons to use a brain dump page. This makes it easy to fill that blank page or pages.
Gratitude is important in boosting your mood and improving your life, and that’s just a few of the benefits. If you haven’t noticed, one of the ways a bullet journal differs from a regular planner is that you can add custom layouts that you wouldn’t find in a planner. A gratitude log is a great idea for your bullet journal because it will help you remember to visit that page daily.
If you travel a lot, you’ll want to add a packing list to your bullet journal spread ideas. This will help you not think twice about what you need to pack because you can just go down the list. This will save you a ton of time and you won’t have to worry that you’ll forget the little things.
These next two layouts are popular with many, if not all bullet journalers. A great place for these is in your monthly layouts, which you’ll learn more about later in the post.
There are two different ways to create a habit tracker layout. You can do it by habit and write it out like a calendar, or you can do it by day and have each habit be a different part of each doodle. I will say that, whichever way you decide, this page can be a big time suck. If you are short on time I recommend using bullet journal template calendar stickers, like these.
This layout may be one of my favorite things about bullet journaling, and I’ve seen some creative bullet journal ideas from this type of page. I think a mood tracker is so important when it comes to keeping track of your mental health. By keeping track of your mood throughout the month, you can be more aware of how the next month turns out. You should be able to start noticing patterns and you’ll know when it’s time to get some help.
If you struggle with organization when it comes to your bills, this would be a great layout to add to your bullet journal notebook. It also doesn’t take much time to make, which is a bonus. The first thing I do when creating this layout is draw out a typical monthly calendar with no days of the week.
The idea is to circle the days that bills are due and write them down below. Then I add a section for quarterly bills and yearly bills. This layout gives you a birds-eye view of the bills you owe, which is great if you are trying to budget. You can add this to your monthly layouts if that is better for you to keep track of. Whatever works for your own needs.
Things To Check Out
This is another simple bullet journal layout, but an important one to have if you are always asking for recommendations. With a things to check out page you no longer have to rely on your memory when people tell you about a new book, movie, etc. that they want you to check out. Amanda RachLee has a great example of this type of layout in her monthly plan with me videos.
@its_kelly_93 #question from @its_kelly_93 ♬ Beauty and the Beast – Caleb and Kelsey
The great thing about a monthly spread is that it is different for each bullet journaler. Your monthly layout can be as short, or as long as you’d like. I typically make a cover page, a goals & events page, and a tracker page, but you have so many different things you can do! I love watching monthly plan with me videos on YouTube to get new ideas and inspiration.
I’d say that weekly layouts are where I experiment most often. I like to try different placements and content to see what works best. Currently, I have my budget, task list, goals, and meal planning sections. I call my weekly spread my “week in review.” Just like monthly spreads, there are so many ways to customize your weeklies to fit your needs.
We’ve made it to our last layout! The daily layout is actually a layout that I don’t currently have, but this blog post shares lots of different daily spread ideas. A daily log is great if you are using your bullet journal as a time management tool. You can look it over at the end of the day and transfer any incomplete tasks over to the next day using the bullet journal system created by Ryder Caroll.
Now that you have an idea of what to include in your new bullet journal, you are ready to tackle your first page! We’d love to see how you create your bujo spreads. Tag us on social media if you share them.
Photos and TikTok via Kelly Clark.
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