Your go-to Guide to Bullet Journaling

Your Go-to Guide to Bullet Journaling

In recent years, you may have heard of this new fad called ‘bullet journal’ or ‘bullet journaling’. Wondering what that is? As an avid bullet journalist, let me share more about it with you!

Bullet journaling was founded by Ryder Carroll (read more about him here). He created this product because he decided it could be adapted to individuals lives and schedules. So what is this all about? A bullet journal is like a planner or diary. It is a scheduler for day-to-day activities. It involves a certain system that is easy to pick up and as Carroll would have it, adapt to your own needs.

Bullet journals are notebooks ­­– with dots. Bullets. So yes, it’s mostly a blank book with dots. How do you use it? You create a system for yourself – or you could use the system that Carroll created.

Each day can be divided into events, tasks and notes. You’d start by writing the day at the top. (12 March).Then for each item, there’s one symbol. For events, the symbol would be a circle around the dot, tasks can be denoted by a dot and for notes a dash will suffice. The picture below is a screenshot taken from the bullet journal website.

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That done, here’s the next part of bullet journaling. For tasks and events which are completed, you would put a tick (or cross, up to you) on the symbol. For tasks that are not completed, you’d put an arrow, like the one above, to migrate it to the next day/whenever you will do it. For scheduled tasks, you’d put a backward arrow.

Now this is the recommended system by Carroll, but the bullet journal was created to be adaptable. You can use whatever symbols you’d like and the system is entirely yours to reshape. It can be as simple as the one above. Or you could decorate it as much as you’d like. I recommend that you start simple, then adapt to the system and if you don’t think you’d like so many different symbols, you could just pick perhaps two and just use them. Whatever works for you. The whole point of the bullet journal is to fit YOUR system.

Since starting bullet journalism in September 2016, I have internalised this very quickly. I realised that tasks which were pushed back 3 times, were clearly less important or maybe even unnecessary. Furthermore, as someone who usually has a lot of things scheduled in a day, just looking at the sheer number of things in a day can occasionally make me want to cancel some of them if possible. Here I will share some ideas and pointers I have.

  1. Monthly spreads.
    In December and January I needed to have a month view for ease of planning certain things as well as for module bidding, so I put the entire calendar into my bullet journal.

Picture1   Picture2


  1. Weekly spreads and trackers
    The internet is filled with ideas where you can let your creativity run wild. ‘Spreads’ are what people call weekly designs. Every week you can do a different one if you’re adventurous. Or else you could stick to one design and repeat it for the whole year. Your bullet journal, or BuJo, is yours to customize.

Here are 4 spreads I did for the year, thanks to Pinterest and Tumblr for inspiration:

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You can also include décor at the side – most people do that through washi tapes, doodles, banners/flags, stickers and so many more. Here are some examples:

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In the weekly spreads – there are two sections which are rather useful, especially for university students. Create a deadline section. Be it academic deadlines or otherwise, the deadline section is and will always be useful to scare many of us procrastinators into doing work. The other section is called a tracker section. There are many kinds of things you could track, for example exercise, water, medicine, or even sleep. Here are some examples of trackers drawn by the creative people of the internet. Here are tracker ideas and spreads – check out Kara’s spread here.



  1. Special spreads: 

People tend to get creative when presented with a blank book so here are some ideas for you. If you want more, Tumblr is an eternal black hole of beautiful ideas that you could probably spend a long time scrolling through.

I did revision schedules last semester, shown below.



  1. Organizing and planning
    Your bullet journal is a place where you literally organize your life around. I make it a point to note down everything that I have to do in a day, or people to meet, or places to be. It is a good way to review your day at the end of one, or simply to prep yourself for the next day ahead.
  2. Stationery checklist.
    Lastly, where do you get dotted notebooks? Most people use the Leuchtturm notebook. You can view/purchase it here. If you’re into cheaper notebooks like me, Muji has a $7 one which I use that has a plain front cover (which you can doodle on), or other dotted notebooks in different designs, both in ring binded and non-ring binded versions. Most pens work fine, even markers, I’ve tried quite a few and they don’t bleed easily on both the Leuchtturm as well as the Muji notebooks. There are many other sites selling notebooks so if it’s your thing, go explore.

If you’re interested, check out my Studyblr (Tumblr site for studying and related stuff) here. You can also contact me on Instagram where I post bullet journal and doodle related stuff at @distressdoodles.

Esther Yeoh
Year 2 coffee drugged literature major whose heart is with FC Bayern Munich. Also sometimes found bullet journaling and handlettering.