It’s pretty safe to say that bullet journaling is one of the easiest and most creative ways to get your life in order. Created by New York-based product designer Ryder Carroll, the bullet journal or BuJo is an organizational system that helps anyone get more organized while freeing their creativity in the process.
The best part? You can personalize your BuJo the way you want to.
If you’re a newbie looking for fresh BuJo ideas or are a BuJo enthusiast wanting to upgrade your journaling game, you’ve come to the right place!
In this post, we list down 31 bullet journal tips, tricks, hacks, and tutorials to help you jumpstart or improve your bullet journaling game.
If you’re ready, let’s dive right in!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
For The BuJo Beginner
Check out this primer on bullet journaling
New to bullet journaling and don’t quite know where to start or what goes where? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered in that department.
If you’re a beginner in dot grid journaling, we suggest that you check out this in-depth post we’ve previously cooked up before reading the rest of the article below. This post will help you get up to speed with the entire bullet journaling process.
Don’t worry, it’s pretty easy to digest! You’ll get the hang of the basics in no time.
Take It One Step at a Time
Okay, now that you have a basic idea of how the bullet journaling process works, it’s time to let all that info sink in.
Take your time to familiarize the different elements of the dotted grid journal like the index, logs, spreads, and collections. It might seem like a lot to take in at first, but don’t worry, there’s no rush to learn it all in one go. It's totally fine to take baby steps when bullet journaling.
Don't feel pressured to start doing fancy BuJo spreads if you're not ready yet! Go with a minimalist dotted journal spread for your first few months and then work your way towards a more detailed and artsy layout later in the year.
Remember, a bullet journal is primarily made to help you stay organized. Get to know the system first and once you’ve got that down pat, bust out those fancy pens and washi tapes and start decorating.
PRO TIP: Create a pop-up legends tab!
To quickly get the hang of your legend, keys, or signifiers without constantly flipping back to page one of your dot grid journal, you can do this sweet little hack.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Take your favorite cardstock or specialty paper and cut it into a square big enough to accommodate your legend.
- Fold the square in half.
- On the left-hand side, simply write your legend or signifiers.
- Then, securely attach the right-hand portion of your card onto the inner side of your BuJo’s front cover (you can use washi or glue) and voila! You now have a nice little tab or pop-up reference card to help you take note of all the signifiers you need.
Making a pop-up legends tab is one nifty way to easily check your keys or signifiers without having to flip through hundreds of pages in your dot grid journal.
Don’t feel pressured to create spreads too far in advance
Here’s something a lot of BuJo beginners don’t realize: doing your spreads too far in advance can actually take the fun and joy out of bullet journaling.
For one thing, doing your spreads way too far ahead will keep you from regularly coming back to your dot grid journal. The excitement may fizzle and you could eventually lose interest and inspiration when you do this.
Another is that you wouldn’t have a lot of room for miscellaneous pages. You’ll never know when an idea would pop up, so it’s always best to gradually create your spreads to make room for surprise ideas or inspos.
For reference, it’s best to do your monthly BuJo spreads just before the new month starts instead of doing everything all in one sitting.
Choose materials that work for you
I’ll let you in on a secret: you don't need a lot of fancy pens, art markers, and notebooks to start a bullet journal. You can make use of what you already have. Just experiment and choose the art supplies that you like as long as they work for you.
For your notebook, you can use one with ruled, blank, or dot grid pages. Ruled notebooks are great for those who love to write long journal entries. Dotted journals are preferable if you love doing spreads with boxes and lines. Lastly, blank journals are awesome if you’re a free spirit who loves to draw or sketch while journaling.
It also helps if your bullet journal has built-in, expandable inner back pockets. This is awesome if you love keeping small pieces of paper like receipts, Polaroid photos, post-it notes, stationery and the like. This will not only help you get more organized, but it can help prevent little notes or sheets of paper from slipping or falling off.
If you wanna wing this and go DIY instead, you can always check out this tutorial:
As for your pens or writing materials, you can use any of your favorite gel pens, brush pens, colored pencils, and markers! It’s totally up to you, as long as they’re functional and easy to use.
For the intermediate BuJo enthusiast
Kudos to you for mastering the bullet journaling basics! Now, you’re more than ready to take your BuJo game to the next level. Exciting times are ahead, my friend!
Here are some tips for the intermediate BuJo enthusiast:
Trace or map things out with a pencil first
Hate making mistakes and wasting precious pages of your dotted grid journal? There’s a no-brainer way to prevent that. Simply trace or map your logs or spreads in pencil first! This is especially useful if you're drawing lines, trying out a new style, or are doing calligraphy. Trace them in with ink, erase, and you’re done. Simple but effective.
Pro tip: Use these nifty tools to save time
Face it, not all of us have all the time in the world to decorate our bullet journals. That’s why there are time-saving hacks and tools like stencils, stickers, and washi tape to help us out.
To create boxes and circles for your BuJo spreads, use premade stencils and stamps,
If you find writing calendars and dates time-consuming, you can use stick-on calendars and numbers instead.
Washi tape also comes in handy if you want to create instant separators, headers, or borders.
You can find a variety of these supplies and materials in most art supply stores. All you have to do is pick one that matches your theme and style and you’re all set!
Get creative with your bookmarks
Bookmarking can be a fun and creative way to keep track of your weeklies or monthlies. As the page you need to reference changes, a simple bookmark will help you open your dot grid journal directly to the layout or spread you need to see or use again. Plus, bookmarking saves you a lot of time and energy, so use it whenever you can.
Stick-on page markers are cute and super easy to use. These are ready-made and come in different designs, so all you have to do is stick them to the edge of the page you want to bookmark and you’re done.
Another cool way to bookmark is by using washi tape. Attach the washi tape along the length of the page you want to bookmark (just like the picture below) so you can easily see it when you turn your BuJo to the side:
There are other creative and cool ways to bookmark your dotted journals. Check them out below:
- Use snipped-off envelope pages. Take an envelope, snip off one of the bottom corners, decorate and use it as a “cap” bookmark for your pages.
- Create page cutouts. his works great if you need to mark a handful of pages (like if you want to mark an entire month’s spread). Cut out a small shape (like a tiny square, rectangle, wedge) at the bottom of the pages that you want to bookmark. Check out the details on the tutorial above.
- >Use color-coded highlighters. You can use a highlighter on the corners of your journal or along the edge of the page itself to make the spread pop and easily recognizable.
- >Make DIY bookmarks using paper clips. This is a super easy hack that anyone can do. All you need are a bunch of paper clips (we love the rose-gold and yellow ones!), a pair of scissors, glue, and a pretty wrapping paper. Simply draw flowers on the wrapping paper and cut them out. Then, stick the paper flowers to each of the paperclip using a dab of hot glue. And voilà, you now have pretty flower planner bookmarks.
- Use colorful ribbons. This is a super easy hack that anyone can do. Simply cut a colorful ribbon that is longer than your BuJo. For the end of the ribbon to stop fraying, just make sure to cut it in an inverted “v” shape angle or a 45-degree angle. Dab some clear glue on its edge and wait for it to dry. There… you got yourself an instant bookmark!
Print out photos and paste them onto your bullet journal
Since a bullet journal is pretty much like a scrapbook, why don’t you print out pretty photos and paste them onto your BuJo pages?
Pick a theme, print photos that match your spread’s color palette and then paste them onto your BuJo’s pages to add instant oomph and personality.
You can also put Polaroid photos, ticket stubs, photo cards, and other memorabilia. If you’re a fan of adult coloring, you can even cut and paste coloring book pages or watercolor art.
Set up trackers
Trackers are great if you’re intent on achieving something or if you simply want to keep track of your habits or activities. You can create habit trackers, mood trackers, book or movie trackers, expense trackers---you can make one for just about anything you want to keep track of! The best part is that you can make one out of any design.
Take inspo from these creative weekly spread ideas
On a weekly spread slump? Check out the awesome video above to get some much-needed inspiration.
Use sticky notes for random thoughts and temporary tasks
Sticky notes are best if you need to write down your thoughts but don’t want to keep them in your BuJo spread forever. You don’t really have to make new pages for your weekly meal plans or grocery list and risk ruining your beautiful BuJo spreads, simply use colorful sticky notes creatively as placeholders or reminders for temporary tasks or collection items.
For The Certified BuJo Fan
Even if you’ve been bullet journaling for quite some time now, there’s still a lot of room for improvement and inspiration
To help take your journaling game up a notch, here are a few BuJo ideas and tips to help you out:
It's okay to make mistakes
Behind every seemingly “perfect” spread are tons of mistakes. But there’s no need to stress. There are many creative ways to correct your boo-boos and even turn them into works of art.
Here are some of them:
- Use correction tape. This is one of the easiest and most straightforward ways to correct mistakes. All you need is a swipe from some good old correction tape and you’re good to go!
- Tape two pages together. Say you’re making a two-page spread and mess up. Tearing them off would mean wasting not just two, but four precious pages. So what are you going to do? Easy. Just paste the two pages together, of course! Use a double-sided tape or glue stick so the pages stick together smoothly without any creases or wrinkles.
- Blot it out with a black marker. This is one of the coolest BuJo ideas out there! It’s not only easy to do, but it can also turn your mistakes into a beautiful monochrome aesthetic. Here’s how you do it: blot your mistake out with a black marker then write over it using a white marker or pen. You can also use silver or gold gel pens to create a fancy effect.
- Use a white pen as a white-out or correction pen. White gel pens have a ton of uses! Aside from allowing you to write on dark surfaces, you can also use a white pen to “erase” or hide small mistakes like typos and other intricate details. Once dry, you can write over it like nothing ever happened.
- Make a collage or doodle over it. When in doubt, doodle it out! Yes, you can turn your errors into art by doodling over them. You can also create a beautiful collage to hide your mistakes.
- Get creative with washi or stickers. If you’re not keen on drawing or doodling, patch your errors up with your favorite washi tape or stickers. You can also cut out and use plain white sticker paper to cover your mistakes.
- Use erasable pens. As the name suggests, erasable pens are, well, erasable! The only catch is that you have to allow them to dry completely before you can rub them off the page.
- Cut it out. Well, if all else fails, you can just take out your scissors and snip the errors away. If they take up about half of the page, don’t worry. You can use the remaining part as an extra page for notes and other reminders.
Make a mood board full of your favorite spread inspirations
Inspiration and ideas are everywhere, so make sure to create a folder or mood board full of your favorite spreads.
Find a ton of these inspiration spreads on social media sites like Pinterest or Instagram. Don’t forget to take a screenshot of your faves and save them in a folder on your phone or computer for future reference.
This way, if you're feeling like you’re in a creative slump or becoming uninspired with your BuJo and need a boost of creativity, you can open your folder or check out your mood board to get your creative juices flowing again.
Switch things up!
One of the best things about bullet journaling is that its highly customizable. You can design it the way you want to and use whichever style works best for you. That being said, don't be afraid to try different ways to do your logs and spreads.
Some people like having spacious weekly logs whilst others prefer a more compact daily thing.
Don’t be afraid to play around and explore.
Check out these cool header ideas
There are so many ways to create bullet journal headers! Learn how to mix and match fonts, shadows, banners, and other header decorations with the tutorial above.
A bullet journal is only as good as your commitment to it. For your BuJo to be effective, you have to come up with a regular journaling habit.
For example, you can start creating your monthly spread towards the end of the previous month or at the start of each new month. For your daily entries, you can start filling them in at the start of each day or the night before going to bed.
Dedicate a specific time of your day or week to fully reap your dot get journal’s benefits.
A reminder for every BuJo enthusiast
There’s no right or wrong way to bullet journal. So here’s our final tip for every bullet journal enthusiast out there: STOP comparing your bullet journal to others!
We know, it's so easy to get jealous of other people's seemingly perfect spreads. But like every bullet journal out there, those “perfect” spreads took a lot of effort and time (and mistakes) to make. So don’t get demotivated from doing your own bullet journal.
Just trust the process, consistently practice, and dedicate your time to making your bullet journal. As long as the system works for you, you're okay!
Well, that’s it for our ultimate guide to bullet journaling. We hope you’ve learned a lot by reading our bullet journaling tips, tricks, and hacks, and have loads of fun watching the tutorial videos!
Which tip are you most eager to try? Let us know in the comments below!
If you enjoyed this post, share this with all your BuJo buddies and subscribe to our newsletter.
As always, don’t forget to do what you love and free your creativity!
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