Bullet Journal 101: Day 1

Monday was day one of the Bullet Journal 101 class I taught, and boy did I share the love of this system.


After doing some introductions, I jumped right in by sharing the system as described by the creator himself, Ryder Carroll. If you haven’t checked out the video on his website yet, you really must.

Then I had the students make a list of all the things that they needed to do, i do, and wanted to do.  This list could include tasks, events, and even goals. While they made their lists on scratch paper, I used the white board and shared a list of some of my tasks. The goal is to write the item down being as concise as possible.  Here are some of the things that I shared:

  • Tea research (decor/theme)
  • Email client regarding contract
  • 10/14 Josh & Ashley’s Wedding
  • Alumni newsletter
  • 2/27 boys game
  • 2/28 girls game
  • 4/4 dentist 3:30pm
  • Guest book designs
  • Hike all 46 high peaks
  • History project
  • Get rack for car
  • Kayak paddle
  • Set up March

We then used my list and discussed how to determine a tasks importance (is it important to me, or someone I love? – like hiking the 46 high peaks is something I really want to accomplish), if a task could be broken down into several tasks (for the history project – I need to read previous board minutes, look through boxes of old photographs, look for a display case, gather materials and actually design and put together a display) and how for some of these tasks, the help of other is needed to complete it (like the alumni newsletter – I need to receive the articles from others on the committee before I can start designing the newsletter).

After that little exercise, I passed out their journals and supplies and we dove right in.

The Key

During this portion of the class we discussed the key and how it works.  I had them use the first page in their journals for this.  We discussed using a dot or a box for tasks, a circle or triangle for events, using signifiers like an * for marking important tasks, and even color coding.

After the discussion, I allowed them to design and create their own key page. We also discussed what to do with the task and event symbols when the item is completed, scheduled, migrated or irrelevant.

The Index

The next thing we discussed was the index.  We went over it’s importance and how writing down the page numbers and a short description of the pages would help you find information throughout the journal more easily. I then allowed them the time to design their index.  I suggested using two full page spreads (meaning 4 actual pages) for the index in this style journal.

Then I had them number their pages and add the page numbers for the index and key into their index.

The Future Log

While there are several ways to do a future log, I decided to use the basic option as the one to teach. This is largely because I felt the Calendex, and some of the other versions out there were much to difficult to explain in the amount of time we had.

I explained how you simply use a two page spread and divide each a page into 3 sections. Each section will be a spot for one month. Some students even decided to do 4 pages of this, for a 12 month spread.

After showing them the basics, I gave them time to design their own.  I had printed off some 2017 yearly calendars – some students chose to paste the whole calendar into their journal on the front cover, or on a page; while others chose to cut out each month and place them into each section for the 6 month future log.


Making sure they added their future log to the index, we moved onto the next section.

Monthly Planning

I provided three options for monthly planning.  First, I showed them the version that Ryder Carrol uses.  Simply take a two page spread, title it with the month (in this case March) and number the lines 1-31; one line for each day.  Events can simply be added to the lines corresponding to the day. The other page in the spread is a list of tasks for that month. Surprisingly, no one chose to use this version.

The second option was using a simple calendar I created to paste onto one page of the journal. This a few students chose to use.


Drawing out a calendar can seem like a chore, but honestly once you get the hang of it, it isn’t really that bad.  This is the option most students chose to use.

If you’re using the same journal I provided the students with each box was 5 rows of lines by about 1-1/4″ (or the width of a clear plastic ruler).  For the example pictured above, I started the calendar on the first line of the page, using that for the days of the week. This didn’t really leave much room for the header, so I’d recommend starting to draw the calendar (in pencil) from the bottom.

I then had each student look back over their list of things we created first thing and had them add any items to their calendar that were day specific, reminding them to also add the page numbers of their monthly spreads to their index.

Daily Planning

Here’s where this system really flourishes.  After their monthly calendars were complete we discussed how daily planning works.

Opening to the next blank page, start by writing out the day and the date.  In this case February 27.  Then refer back to your calendar and add in any events for that day.


In my actual bullet journal I like to add fun colors and font styles for the headers, sometimes adding in weather for the day, a time log, or just doodling.

After adding the events, list any things that you need to accomplish that day. As the day goes on keep track of the things you accomplish by putting an x over your symbol for a task or event.

I spend time each night going over my daily list, and then create my next day. This is a little hard to explain, so make sure to check out the video on Saturday for an in depth look at how this works!

Stay tuned for tomorrows installment – day 2 of the class! And as always, stay addicted Bullet Journal-Aholics!


2 thoughts on “Bullet Journal 101: Day 1

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