Posts Tagged Time management

Bullet Journal Symbols: Taking Your Bullet Journal Key To The Next Level

Bullet Journal Symbols: Taking Your Bullet Journal Key To The Next Level

bullet journal symbolsIf you’ve started your bullet journal, you’ve probably wondered what bullet journal symbols you should use in your key. The symbols you use in your bullet journal key let you codify different items in your tasks to quickly identify where you’re at with tasks.

The Genius behind bullet journal symbols

When I first came across the concept of bullet journaling, I was like “great another journaling how to, whoop-de-doo”. Then something caught my eye…

It was how they took the symbols and then modified them to keep track of how things progress. Why does that matter? One downside to paper journals over digital is that you can’t “edit” things. This comes into play when you want to monitor a to-do list.

Before I started with my Bujo, the best you could hope for was a checkbox . If left blank it was incomplete. If checked it was done. But what about other states of completeness? It was only an either-or option.

The way the bullet journaling approaches it, you can neatly “edit” the symbol to have multiple states (which we get into down below) by adding to the base symbol. It was simple, elegant, functional and looked good at the same time.

Here’s an example of how your base symbol is modified as you need it:

basic bullet journal migration symbols

Using Bullet Journal Symbols To Make The Most Of Your Key

Bullet journals are a great way to bring some intentionality to your life. By using a tool like a bullet journal, we can begin to master how we spend our time, stay focused on the important things, and keep important items at the forefront. Like any system, the bullet journal is just one way to manage your time. Continue reading our post on how to manage a busy schedule using a bullet journal.

What is unique about a bullet journal is it’s more than just a way to organize yourself, it gives some structure to common ways we like to organize that, in my mind, really helps you master your productivity. The system helps address a lot of the shortcomings of a paper planner over a digital solution while giving you the tactile feel of a journal or planner.

Basic Bullet Journal Symbols

basic bullet journal symbol

The most common symbols are To-Do, Started, Completed, Canceled, and Migrated. It’s important to note that your To-Do symbol is your “base symbol” meaning you start every item with that and then it’s modified to your needs.

  • To Do: The starting symbol often a dot, circle, or square.
  • Started: this is something that you have begun work on, but it’s still in progress.
  • Completed: A task that you have finished. Who doesn’t like checking things off your list!
  • Canceled: Sometimes you decide something doesn’t make the cut for your limited time.
  • Migrated: When you have an item that you didn’t complete, but moved to a new to-do list.

How To Figure Out What Bullet Journal Signifier Is Right For You?

bullet journal signifier

The power of bullet journaling is that it’s very flexible and customized to your needs. With that said, it is just a matter of figuring out what is right for you. Below I have a lot of bullet journal symbol examples for you to get inspiration from, but before that, a few words on figuring out what’s right for you.

1 There is no one right way

A bullet journal is just as unique as you are. Its flexibility means you can build a Bujo that’s right for you. It can be tempting to see what others do and copy them – I’m certainly guilty of spending hours looking at stunning spreads on Pinterest too – but in the end, find what works for you and don’t feel like there is one right way.

2 Experiment with different symbols

There are many different ways to do symbols. Most often people start with a base symbol of a dot, a circle or a box, but you find what works for you. I have my own unique way of doing things that won’t work for most folks. The great part about bullet journaling is if you try something, you can switch it up each time you migrate your tasks forward. That means you can try new things weekly/monthly until you come up with the perfect mix.

3 Start simple, then layer in more

When people start, they often go overboard with symbols thinking more is better. This is definitely a place where we want to use only enough to cover 90% of cases. Too often people start making complex symbols in their journal for edge cases, things that only happen a few times vs every day. Start with things that you use every day, then expand as certain needs start coming up over and over again.

Bullet Journal Symbol Ideas

bullet journal symbols ideas

Appointment Symbols

Events should use a unique signifier that stands apart from your normal symbols so that it’s clear they have a specific time and place that they need to occur in. I tend to use the little clock symbol because I use a base symbol of a dot. Then I add the two little clock hands from that dot, then circle the whole thing. That makes it clear when it’s an appointment, not just a task because I purposefully don’t keep a lot of meetings, so it’s important to make it really obvious when I need to be somewhere.

Migrated tasks symbols

A core part of bullet journaling is how to migrate tasks. Below is a little gif I made to show how migration works. The genius part of this is when you get most of the things on your to-do list completed, you can migrate them forward to a new weekly spread to start with a cleaner list. This lets you focus on the remaining tasks that you need to complete.

Important Tasks symbols

A list of tasks is great, but a list that is prioritized is even better. Symbols that let you highlight important items on your to-do list are a great way to manage this. While I think digital organization options have an edge here (you can reorder lists easily) you can use these signifiers in your Bujo to keep an eye on what is important and then reorder when you migrate tasks later on.

Canceled Symbols

When you’re trying to get stuff done, it’s often the case that it’s just as important to know what you aren’t going to do vs what you will do. Saying “no” is a powerful time management technique that you should take seriously. You can use these for to-do list items or events. Just remember these are for things that are no longer going to do, as opposed to things that will be migrated. The latter are things you still want to do, just not now.

Ideas Symbols

Sometimes you just need to get something out of your head and onto paper so you don’t forget it. That’s what these are for. I find that if an idea is floating around in my brain and I can’t focus on what I’m doing because I’m so enamored with the idea, writing it down somewhere safe lets me move on. So if you want to keep track of things, use these bullet journal symbols to keep track of your next brilliant idea.

bullet journal ideas symbols

Communications Symbols

How often have you though this “oh shoot, I meant to email ____” or “I really need to call ____ and ask them about”. That’s what these symbols are for. Keep in mind these are symbols for later in the game once you’ve honed in on your basic bullet journal symbols, but if you’re someone who does a lot of correspondence these might be perfect for you.

bullet journal communications symbols

Work Specific Symbols

When it comes to the work we do, there are some specific things we do very often. For me it’s writing blog posts, creating an email blast, or posting on social media. All these things come up a lot for me and so they derive their own specific symbol. Here a few examples of other symbols you might use in your work.

bullet journal work symbols

Bullet journal symbols for life

Work-life balance is important so don’t just think about how your bullet journal can be used for work, but also for your life outside of work too. Think about the big things you spend your time on and also what your main goals are. For me it’s time with family, working out, and reading a good book.

miscellaneous bullet journal symbols

Using Colors to further organize your bullet journal key

We can add another layer of organization. If you’re like me I wear a few hats. For some people, they like to break out work between different clients, for family life vs work life, or different major projects.

However you decide to codify your key, using a standardized set of symbols for your lists adds another layer of organization to any page in your bullet journal!

Download the Complete Bullet Journal Symbol Guide as a PDF.

Your Turn!

  • What symbols work for your bullet journal?

What To Put In A Bullet Journal To Become Insanely Effective

What To Put In A Bullet Journal To Become Insanely Effective

what to put in a bullet journalWhen you start out with a new bullet journal, it can be overwhelming to figure out what pages you should include. The beauty and trouble with bullet journaling is that it’s so flexible you can do anything, which then begs the question: if you can do anything, what do you do?

1. Start With The Basic Bullet Journal Pages:

start with the basic pages

There are a few key pages that all bullet journals need to have, we outline them here. These pages are the core of any bujo and make the whole system work. The basics are:

  • A key – a set of bullet journal symbols to codify your tasks
  • An index – a place to catalogue your pages
  • Collections – Think a focused list
  • Spreads – often a way to keep track of things weekly or monthly
erin of the petite planner

“Try a couple. Don’t tie yourself into one layout and think you have to stick with it. Try out different layouts and spend some time reflecting on what worked and what didn’t and then make adjustments from there.” – Erin of

2. Next Figure Out What You Already Do

figure out what you already do

The best way to figure out what you should put in your bullet journal is to look at what you’re already doing. Many people jump to what they WANT to do, but humans are funny, it’s hard to change habits. First, focus on what you already do and your current needs, then you can figure out where you aspire to be.

Open up your current calendar, planner, or whatever you use and see what is there. Start to write down what you see as your major items. Look for patterns, things that come up a lot, or things that often get lost in the shuffle. You can create a collection in your new bullet journal just for this! Write down what you see as needs here.


“If you’re just starting out try to keep things fluid. Try rapid logging if you can. That way you’ll get to see how much space you really need on a daily basis. . Based on these findings you can start to design a spread that has enough room”  – Rachael of

If you don’t have any system yet (why would you be looking at bullet journals otherwise?) open up your email inbox, then look at who you email most. What types of things do you notice about that?

  • What meetings do you often have?
  • What projects or tasks came up in the last 30 days?
  • What meeting invites did you receive?
  • What tasks result from your top 5 people you email?

You can do this with your text messages on your phone, social media messenger apps, the bills you get in the mail, etc. Pretend like you’re an anthropologist analyzing the pieces of your life to figure out what you do day in, day out. Add these to your collection.

“Brainstorm ideas before you even get started. Grab a random piece of paper, and just write down everything that comes to mind. What do you need your journal to do for you?  From that list, you’ll have a really good idea of what layouts you’ll need in your journal.” – Kara of

3. What Else To Include In Your Bullet Journal?

what to include in bullet journal

Next, think about beyond what you already do and think about what you’d like to aspire to be. I’d suggest starting with only 1-3 new things. Remember that we aren’t really good at changing behaviors and besides, its best to start with a few goals that we really nail, then move on to a new one. Studies have shown this to be way more effective.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What would my ideal day look like?
  • What do I want more of in my life?
  • What do I want less of in my life?
  • If I didn’t have to worry about money, what would I do?

Once you answer those things, figure out what goals you have, choosing only 1-3 goals. Write those down and think about a spread that might support that goal. How can you document your progress on that goal?

shannon of wellella

“You can either create your own layouts or search for examples online to get ideas. There are very active online communities for bullet journalists on Facebook, Reddit, and Instagram that can also be great places to ask questions and get ideas if you feel stuck.” – Shannon of

 Blossoms and Bullet Journals

“Each month, I always include a ‘highlights’ spread where I write down something good that happened to me every day. (I’ve seen others do similar spreads before, but I wouldn’t say it’s terribly common.) It’s great for positivity, and it’s also awesome to look back on later.” – Annie of BlossomsAndBulletJournals

4. Putting It All Together

putting it all together

Take your list of things you already do plus the things you hope to do. These will outline what your new bullet journal needs to do for you.

Once you you know what your Bujo needs to do, start looking for bullet journal spreads that meet those needs.

Now that you’ve figured out what you need, check out some ideas for bullet journal pages.

200+ Stunning Bullet Journal Page Ideas To Organize Your Life For Good!

200+ Stunning Bullet Journal Page Ideas To Organize Your Life For Good!

stunning bullet journal page ideasSo you’re looking for some creative bullet journal page ideas? One of the great things about bullet journaling is that it’s a very flexible way to organize your life. It’s helped me tremendously with my tasks and time management, but the trouble with being able to do anything is to figure out where to start.

After using a bujo for years now, I figured I’d share some of my go-to bullet journal pages types that should be in every journal, plus some extras that others find super helpful when adding to your notebook.

How To Organize Your Bullet Journal Pages?

How To Organize Your Bullet Journal Pages

Keep in mind that your pages can be in almost any order because, with your index page, you’ll be able to keep track of where everything is. As you get more experienced with journaling, you’ll figure out what your first starting pages should be.

For me, I start by numbering all the pages if they aren’t already. After that the first page of my bullet journal is usually a “this journal belongs to” page, then I add my key and index so they face each other.

From there I usually think broadly and then narrow in scope. So I start with yearly planning and goals, then narrow to months and, within the months, I narrow again to weekly.

Start planning your bullet journal by writing different types of bullet journal pages on post-it notes, place them on the pages in the order you think you want. After you’re done, start to flip through your journal and see if the flow makes sense. If something needs to be changed, the post-its let you quickly rearrange.

How Many Pages Should Be In A Bullet Journal?

How Many Pages Should Be In A Bullet Journal

There is no hard and fast rule: Include your index and key, then start with a weekly spread. Add more pages as a need arises.

For most people they’ll often have your standard bullet journal pages, then add weekly spreads as the months go by. Some people like to insert monthly cover pages to delineate the weeks. In January I’m usually doing a lot of goal setting and yearly planning, so I often will layout pages for items like bucket lists, workout trackers , or other trackers to keep a record of new habits I want to build.

bullet journal printable sticker pages


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Bullet Journal Cover Page Ideas

Bullet Journal Cover Page Ideas

Use fun doodles, sketches or designs to dress up the first page of your bullet journal. If you aren’t super artistic consider using stamps, stickers, stencils and washi tape to do some of the work for you. This is a great place to get really creative with your BUJO!

yearly cover for bujo

A simple font cover can kick off the year. Hand letter with a fountain pen or use a stencil.

nautical monthly cover for bullet journal

Theme your journal covers each month to get excited for what’s coming up next month!

citrus journal cover page idea

Use some great pens to add some color to your cover pages.

monthly cover floral wreath

Floral wreaths can be drawn black and white or later colored in.

mini calendar bullet journal cover page

Add a calendar on the cover page for quick reference.

citrus fruit bullet journal page idea

Choose a theme for the month: Citrus designs, tropical plants, or the next trend.

fall bullet journal page layout

Find cute play on words to get into the mood. Seasonal title pages work great for this.

fall season cover

Choose thematic colors to sketch in your journal.

simple minimalist bujo cover page

Go with a super simple minimalist bullet journal cover page.

koi august monthly page design 10

Use a stamp to create repeating elements, then color them in to make them unique.

This Journal Belongs To Page Ideas

This Journal Belongs To Page Ideas

Don’t put in all this work only to lose it! I usually start my journal with a simple page letting people know who’s journal it is if they find it. Since you will often include this is every journal, consider getting a stamp as a simple way to label your journal. Some journals come with a pre-printed place to fill out your name like Moleskin notebooks.

simple text bujo page title

No need to get really fancy, All you really need is a simple text and graphics!

Can’t draw? Try out a printable version of bullet journal pages!

mountains journal index
plants belongs to notebook

Bullet Journal Key Ideas

bullet journal key ideas

The Key is what makes your bujo super effective. Different bullet journal symbols let you further organize [LINK] your to-lists, tasks, and other collections. Use these different signifiers to code your different pages and keep track of it all. The key page is where you reference your symbols to keep it all straight.

color coded bullet journal key page layout

Use colors to further codify your items

basic bullet journal key layout

Most keys keep it pretty simple: tasks, in-progress, completed, canceled or migrated.

black pen outline for bullet journal key

bullet journal printables

Flip Out Bullet Journal Key Ideas

Flip Out Bullet Journal Key Ideas

This is a really great hack for your key or index. Using a bit of heavier stock paper, you can keep it right in front of you just by flipping it out, no matter what page you’re on! Anchor the tab with some Washi tape to dress it up.

mini tabbed key for journal

Your key can double as a book mark to make it easy to find your current spot in your journal.

washi tape flip out bullet journal key

Use washi tape to dress up your flip out key or index and reinforce the edges.

Index Pages To Keep You Organized

Index Pages To Keep You Organized

One of the first pages you’ll include is your index page. Your index page will let you catalogue where things are and easily find them later. Every time you create a new spread or collection, add it to your index. This simple method overcomes one of the major hurtles of paper journals: searchability.

simple gold and black index page idea

Write what the page content is, then next to it write the page number.

ribbon bullet journal pages

If you need to continue with a certain collection, use a page range with a dash “–” or call out pages by number with a comma “,”.

bullet journal printable sticker pages

bujo printable stickers


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Daily Spreads And Layouts

Daily Spreads And Layouts

Sometimes you need to get focused on a single day: daily spreads and layouts can be used to plan your day and keep track of your to do lists. Using a daily planner spread gives you some extra space on the page to write down all the little things you need to keep track of. You can do a page per day or choose a layout that has multiple days per page.

washi tape and simple text bujo page decorations

Dress up your daily spread or other layouts simply with some washi tape.

weekly spread fall

If your journal has a dot grid follow the pattern for simple setup.

simple weekly spread with sketch blue pen

Include a mini calendar for quick reference.

black page bullet journal page ideas for weekly spread

Use black pages and opaque markers for some real eye-popping color!

“I currently LOVE having a daily page. While I also use weekly spreads, a daily allows me the ability to be creative and write whatever I want about the day. I don’t feel locked into a small box that you’ll find with the weekly layouts. My weekly layouts are crisp, clean, and structured. You will literally find a little bit of everything in my dailies, from art, to journaling, to stickers, to quotes, to lists, and more.” – Rachel of Planning Mindfully.

Weekly Bullet Journal Spreads

Weekly Bullet Journal Spreads

This is my preferred format; I find that a one-page weekly spread is the perfect size for most of my needs. The question of daily vs weekly is a matter of preference, so don’t be afraid to try different layouts for a few weeks, then switch it up until you find something that works well for you.

index card weekly spread design ideas

I really like this one=page spread because it uses the dot grid to quickly make the boxes.

fall weekly spread page ideas

A simple highlighted background can dress-up your headings quickly and easily.

simple box weekly spread with mini calendar

I like this one because it includes the weekend and a dedicated to-do list area.

basic weekly spread with washi tape

Simple black and white scheme can be very attractive.

Monthly Layouts

bujo Monthly Layouts

Laying out a whole month can be tricky, but sometimes you really need a view like this for planning. Use this month view to map out what’s coming up in your schedule, mark important dates, and list important deadlines. During the holidays it can be really helpful around Christmas or Thanksgiving with all that goes on in these months.

monthly calendar view for your bullet journal

Use a simple monthly calendar layout to mark important dates.

august month cover page for bullet journal

A simple numbered list that corresponds to the days can work well too!

Monthly Cover Page Layouts

Monthly Cover Page Layouts

Monthly cover pages are a great place to dress up your journal. While weekly spreads are working pages, taking some time at the end of each month to create a new title page for the start of the next month is a great way to reset. I find that getting creative with your pages once a month is about the right amount. Some people spend days creating gorgeous pages in their journal, but realistically once a month strikes a great balance of getting things done while also bringing some creativity to the mix.

water color monthly bujo

Don’t be afraid to try different pens, watercolors, or other mediums.

super simple monthly calendar page with mini calendar

Get creative with cut paper designs.

bullet journal printables


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Year At A Glance – Yearly Spreads

Year At A Glance bullet journal page ideas

Come January I’m thinking about what I want to get done in the coming year. A yearly spread can help you get organized and pointed in the right direction. Outside of January planning I don’t often use these “year at a glance” layouts, but see what works for you!

yearly floral wreathes

Thematic monthly pages across two pages give you a yearly view.

minimalist calendar bullet journal

I like this one because the lines continue across to the next page for notes.

Bullet Journal Goals Page Ideas

Bullet Journal Goals Page Ideas

A bullet journal is a great way to keep focused on what you want to achieve. Bullet journaling really helps me get things done and move ahead more than other journaling options. Use some of these layouts to outline your goals, track your progress, and celebrate your success! Get your year started off right with goal planning in your BUJO!

yearly goals career self fitness financial

Use a 4-up layout to set goals for the major areas of your life.

yearly goals fitness creative happiness money

Get healthy, save money, follow your passions, and live intentionally when you track your goals!

the fabs 20s

“It is so powerful to always see your goals laid out in front of you and work towards them on a regular basis.” – Claudia of

Workout and Fitness Trackers

Workout and Fitness Trackers

Work up a sweat, stay motivated, shed those pounds, and build those muscles. People who track what they eat often eat a third less calories, so use workout and fitness trackers to keep you moving forward with your health goals. Trackers like these help you stay accountable and look back at all you’ve achieved when all you want to do is watch Netflix on the couch.

bullet journal health goals

Keep track of your critical health stats month to month.

workout tracker

Color code your workouts to keep track of what you do and when.

tracker page

Keep it simple with a dot grid layout, add color hatching to track your workouts.

monthly exercise tracker page

What could be simpler than highlighting a day with a highlighter?

“I always include a wellness tracker on every monthly spread to track how I’m taking care of myself.” – Nicola of

Savings and Budgeting Layout Ideas

Savings and Budgeting Layout Ideas

Get your finances in order by tracking your spending, staying on top of your savings and sticking to your budget. Pages like this will help you do just that!

money tracker

Add a graph to show the breakdown of your spending each month.

budget bullet journal

Use a budget to track income and expenses to stay on top of it.

expense tracking sheet bujo

Use your dot grid to create a graph for month to month tracking.


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Brain Dump Bullet Journal Pages

Declutter your brain quickly with these brain dump spreads. I find that if an idea is sticking in my brain and I can’t get it out, putting my ideas down on paper really helps. I usually spend around 5 minutes writing down everything that is going through my mind, outlining ideas that I’m excited about, or things that bug me. In the end I usually feel better and can move on with my work.

notes page in a bullet journal

A bullet journal is as unique as you are, so call it notes, brain dump, thoughts, ideas, etc.

brain dump science sections

Give yourself different areas to explore different ideas.

simple blank page for brain dump bullet jouranl page

Go minimalist with your bujo with just a blank box.

life is messy and brilliant

“A brain dump page is useful for whenever I have too many thoughts running around in my head.” – Jenniffer of

Contact Lists And Address Pages

In the age of digital I still find a place to write down contact info helpful. How often does someone lose a phone, drop it in the water or your contacts get erased by accident. A paper contact list and address book is a great solution to all these modern problems.

bullet journal printables

Birthdays Tracker Ideas

If you’re anything like me, you’re terrible at remembering when people’s birthdays are. A list of birthdays helps you keep on top of them. Also consider important dates such as anniversaries, holidays, etc.

birthday trackers

Try to view the entire year in one view so you can know what’s coming up next.

two page birthday page

Split up your tracker by month, then list birthdays in order.

printable bullet journal stickers

Mood Trackers Ideas

For those who are trying to improve their mental health, not just their physical, a daily mood tracker can be really helpful. Fun designs that you color in to indicate your mood keeps it fun, but also lets you spot trends and patterns.

fall leaf tracker for mood

Use a black and white outline to serve as a template to fill in with colors to match your mood.

coffee cup coloring mood tracker

Use a stencil to repeat icons that you can color in later.

bullet journal printable sticker packs


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Habit Tracking Pages

A daily habit tracker helps you keep up momentum when your trying to establish a new pattern. Keeping a log of it lets you keep on top of it and get back on track when you start to slip.

cactus habit tracker

Color code your habits to trak them and spot patterns.

habit tracker bujo spread

Use a simple dot grid pattern with color coded hatch to track patterns.

sticker for bullet journals

Level 10 Life Wheel

Create a level 10 life wheel or worksheet to master different areas of your life. I’ve found this to be really easy for me to use, there is some actual science behind it, and it quickly shows you what areas you are deficient in.

level 10 life bujo spread

Choose any 10 areas of you life that you want ot focus on them rate them.

level 10 graph design page

Instead of a wheel use graph bars instead.

level ten life bullet journal spread

Using a dot grid journal you can quickly make a “wheel”.

printable bullet journal stickers

Bucket List Page Ideas

Set lifelong or seasonal goals for yourself. Think about the big things you want to do in life and write them down, then start checking them off. You can find countless seasonal bucket lists like “fall bucket list items” to make sure you do all the fun things during the season.

“I keep a wish list in my planner. This isn’t entirely out of the ordinary, but I use it for more long-term goal items. As a plant fanatic, I also include a plant section in my wish list!” – Elizabeth of

Packing List Ideas

Don’t forget a thing for your next trip with a packing list collection. Group like items in fun ways, use check boxes to make sure you pack everything you need and don’t worry about forgetting anything.

bullet journal printable sticker packs

Blank Bullet Journal Pages With Decorative Borders

Sometimes you just need a blank canvas to get your ideas down, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be boring! Use these blank BUJO pages with some flourish for your next spread.

printable bullet journal stickers


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Gratitude Logs

There is a lot to say about focusing on the good things and a gratitude log does just that. Life can get messy, but a way to keep track of the good things keeps your day a little brighter and focused on what’s important.

“I love my monthly Gratitude Log. It helps me to reflect on each day and always try to find the good.” – Blogger Kara of Boho Berry

Books To Read Log

If you’re anything like me, you’re a major book person. I constantly have 10-15 books on deck to read next and I’m often reading more than one book at a time. Keep track of the books you’ve read, the ones you want to read next, and rate them once you’re finished.

bullet journal printable sticker packs

Movies To Watch

This is a great way to keep a list of movies you want to see, movies that are coming out soon, or movies that you’ve already watched.

stickers for bullet journals

Sleep Tracker/Log

The older I get, the more I realize how important sleep is. Use a sleep track to log when you go to bed, when you get up, and how rested you feel after a night’s sleep.

printable bullet journal stickers

Quotes Page

These pages serve as reminders, inspiration, and even add some wisdom to your bullet journal.

bullet journal printable sticker packs

Post-It Notes Bullet Journal Pages

Using sticky notes in your bullet journal is a really great way to design a single page and reuse the design over and over again. You can design boxes to “hold” the post-its for you. Consider using different sizes, shapes, and colors to organize your journal and stay flexible while doing it!


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To sum up, a bullet journal is super flexible so you can pick and choose bullet journal pages that suit your needs. I hope these page ideas helped you choose different layouts and spreads that will suit your needs when you design your own journal!

How to Start a Bullet Journal and Master Your Productivity

How to Start a Bullet Journal and Master Your Productivity

How to Start a Bullet Journal and Master Your Productivity

How to start a Bullet JournalAs someone who is obsessed with mastering my time and productivity, I can’t emphasize the benefits of starting a bullet journal enough. A bullet journal is a paper journal, but it’s also a planning tool. Thanks to the system of migrating tasks, it’s a powerful goal-setting method as well.

printable bullet journals for saleWhen you start a bullet journal, you’re essentially wrangling all the bits and pieces floating around in your head (and on post-it notes around your desk). You’re setting priorities and creating a deliberate, practical action plan. You’re able to track your status and know your next step each day. Bullet journals offer clarity and focus.

The concept that really sealed the deal for me on bullet journals was the system of migration. With bullet journals, you roll over, or “migrate” unfinished tasks each period (weekly or monthly). This methodology quickly helps you keep track of what’s on your plate at any given time.

The other feature I love is an index as page one of the journal. It’s searchable and convenient. Again, it’s such a simple solution, but that’s the appeal of bullet journals—they seem stupidly simple, but they’re incredibly useful.

Simple, but genius! That sums up bullet journaling.

productivity quote from Benjamin Franklin

Finally, there’s no understating the convenience of paper. Now, I know the trend these days is toward cutting back on paper and going digital whenever possible. I agree with this idea for the most part, as well. I’ve digitized much of my “paper life,” and it’s been beneficial for organizing. BUT a few weeks ago, Google Calendar went down. I logged off my computer and stopped working for the day. There was no way to know what I was doing, and that’s where paper wins—paper can’t “go down” like the internet.

There are many additional reasons to start a bullet journal as well. This is a great productivity system. Here are all the details you need to know to start a bullet journal and take control over your to-do list.

Why Bullet Journals Work So Well

why do bullet journals work so well to organize your life

I got turned onto bullet journals by my friend, Zach. I was visiting the school where he worked and during our conversation a question came up. He reached for an innocuous looking journal. He checked the index and then flipped right to his plan. Instantly, he had the answer.

I had to know more about this super-efficient notebook system. I asked a lot of questions: What was a bullet journal, and how did it work? How should I start a bullet journal? Most importantly, would a bullet journal actually increase my productivity and help with organization, or was it a pretty way to doodle (and waste time)?

As many of my readers know, I’m a big fan of any tool to organize the chaos of everyday life and bring a minimalist mindset to work. Bullet journals are no exception.

Keeping a simple office and minimalist working habits

I’ve explored a lot of productivity concepts, time management, and planning activities. Anyone who’s hoping to follow a minimalist approach to their schedule (cutting out the chaos, clutter, and stress) has probably looked into many of the products and ideas like the Pomodoro method, daily planners (like the Franklin-Covey system or the Happy Planner system), and digital tools like Trello, Basecamp, and Asana. There is no shortage of ways people try to tame the chaos in their lives.

While most of these productivity tools have pros and cons, I’ve found there are positive takeaways and lessons in each one. The main idea of any efficiency tool is organizing your time and taking control of your schedule.

being stressed out over time managmentChaos, stress, clutter, and confusion all stem from a lack of priorities. Minimalism is the counterfoil to chaos because it’s all about aligning your life to your priorities.

Do you know your priorities? Do you know where you’re going? Do you know how you want your future to look? Clarifying these questions and distilling down the solutions help you move in a productive direction toward the life you want. Bullet journals offer you a simple, clear road map to your destination.

The most appealing aspect of the bullet journaling process for me was the process called migration. One of the biggest problems with other productivity methods is the lack of a way to carry tasks forward. With digital calendars and apps, you check off a task and forget it, or you keep mindlessly rolling it forward and changing the date. With a paper list or planner, you turn the page, and it’s gone.

The idea of migrating tasks is shockingly simple at face value, but from a practicality standpoint, it makes a HUGE impact and is a big deal for me. Writing down each task reinforces your dedication when you migrate them forward. You are thinking about what you’re doing, and you’re solidifying the importance.

how to migrate a bullet journal

The other aspect of bullet journals, that I liked was the index. As I said, when Zach showed me his index, it was one of those “ah-ha” moments. I’d avoided the idea of a paper planner or journal because it seemed there was a lack of searchability (unlike digital tools). You must flip through every page to find your notes. The index feature of a bullet journal provided an analogue, but still effective solution to my hang up with paper journals.

The paper aspect of a journal is nice too. Paper is convenient; you can take it anywhere. There’s something very intentional and deliberate about writing by hand. You think of what you’re jotting down. You write it with purpose. If the bullet journal system resonates with you, I think you’ll find the paper factor is a pro rather than a con.

Since bullet journaling seemed to work so well for Zach, I figured I’d give it a try, so I jumped in and learned how to plan and organize my life with the bullet journal method. I researched bullet journals further and was blown away by the amazing and artistic spreads and layouts, interesting collections, and the system itself.

What is a Bullet Journal (and How Does it Work)?

what is a bullet journal and how does it work

A man named Ryder Carrol invented the bullet journal (or bujo as he likes to call it). The system of “rapid logging” was designed to help people quickly jot down their thoughts and ideas. This method consists of bullets and signifiers (symbols) to indicate the status of each item.

There are central components to a bullet journal:

  • Index
  • Key
  • Spreads
  • Calendar/Future Log
  • Collections (projects)

We’ll go into the definition for each of these components, but it’s important to realize there is a lot of internal jargon and lingo when it comes to bullet journaling. These terms may seem intimidating or off-putting at first, but let me assure you, the components and actions are actually straightforward and practical.

introspection quote by Ryder Carroll

In addition to the basic components, there are many different collections/projects people like to include:

  • Habit trackers – Meals, workouts, moods, and more…
  • Brain dump or mind map sheets
  • Goal sheets
  • Lists – Books/movies/podcasts, travel, shopping
  • Schedule or agendas
  • Plans for meals or workouts
  • Inspiring quotes
  • Vision boards

enjoy the journey with beautiful printable bullet journal pagesAs you see, there are endless bullet journal ideas out there. The bullet journal layouts vary for each collection. After viewing so many bullet journal ideas on Pinterest and Instagram, I have to say there are very talented artists out there! The aesthetics of bullet journals was one of the aspects that really appealed to me personally. They’re small works of art for some avid bullet journalers.

But again, it’s easy to get caught up or intimidated by beautiful layouts and designs. You don’t need art skills to create a bullet journal. Many of the signifiers (symbols used to indicate the status of items on your log) are simple: a star, a checkmark, a box, or a greater than/less than symbol. You don’t need to be a calligrapher or designer to create an aesthetically pleasing bullet journal.

Better still, there are many bullet journal printables and pre-designed layouts to help you get precisely the look at features you need—no artistic talent required!

masculin printable bullet journal pages of moutains

Bullet Journal Printables

Get a head start on your bullet journal and do it in style with these printable designs.

tropical leaves printable bullet journal pages PDF

Basic Terms of Bullet Journaling

Basic bullet journaling terms

In bullet journaling, there are many specific terms used to describe the various pieces. Here’s a quick breakdown of bullet journal terminology and their definitions:
  • Index: This is the first page of your bullet journal. Each subsequent page gets a number and is logged in the index. With a quick check, you’ll find each piece of information at a glance.
  • Key: Like the key on a map, your bullet journal key breaks down the symbols (signifiers) and colors you will use to indicate the status of your projects. Most people like to put the key in the front (or in the very back), so it’s easy to reference.
  • Signifier: Signifiers are the symbols indicating the status of each task. Usual signifiers include a square (for a checkmark when complete), a > (meaning a migrated task), a < (meaning a scheduled task), a – for a note, and a * for priority. Customize signifiers to whatever makes sense to you.
  • Spread: A two-page overview of the month. The left side contains the dates, usually written as a numbered list. The right page contains your tasks/to-dos for the month. Some people prefer a weekly spread.
  • Daily Log: The heart of your bullet journal, your daily log is used to write down bullets (rapid logging) each day. You enter multiple days on a page. The topic is the date (or dates) on the page.
  • Collection: Each page in the bullet journal has a topic, and those topics are referred to as collections. Every entry in your bullet journal, whether it’s a project, list, or tracker, is called a collection. You may have several collections aligned with the tasks on your monthly spread.
  • Future log: The future log is essentially a calendar where you will add your future tasks. You consult your future log when you set up your spread each month (or week).
  • Migration: When you set up your spread, you’ll migrate the incomplete tasks/to-dos from the right page of your last spread. The migration system ensures you never lose track of what you’re doing. Migration also really sets your intention for the next period.
  • Dot Grid: Many bullet journal users journals with dot grid pages. These dot grids are useful for tracking habits and to-do items. For example, each day you work out, you may fill in a square on the grid (or a line segment) to show your progress.
  • Doodles: While this isn’t necessarily a specific term for bullet journaling, many journals feature themes, doodles, or drawings. They’re often very beautiful with different motifs used throughout the journal. Many people find a beautiful journal is more motivating.

How to Start a Bullet Journal

how to start a bullet journal in a few easy steps

When you set up your bullet journal, you’ll create the index on the first page. Then you’ll number all the pages in your journal, if it isn’t already numbered. Decide if you want your key on the front page or the back page.

You’ll want to set up your future log next. This is a year-long calendar (usually set up with space between each month, covering 2-4 pages). In this log, you’ll add significant dates like vacations, holidays, birthdays, conferences, etc. Think of your journal as working from the broad to the specific, starting with your bigger goals and planning, then as you get deeper into the journal, you get down to the nitty gritty of weeks or even daily spreads.

You may want to leave a few pages to set up various collections as you go. You don’t need to set up your collections anywhere in particular, but some people like to put them in the front of the journal. These include lists like your bucket list, books, movies, podcasts, and more. You could add your goals, meal plans, and other collections here as well.

From there, you’ll set up your first spread. The left page should show the monthly overview, including the primary goals you’d like to accomplish, as well as other important or meaningful tasks. The right page is your focus for the next week, with a daily list of goals, tasks and other important items.
example spread pages
Your next pages contain your daily log. Each day, you’ll write down notes, to-do items, scheduled items, and goals. Next to each item, write a symbol to indicate the status. A sample log may look like this:
example daily spreads
Each day, you spend a few moments noting and then migrating tasks. The migration process really makes bullet journaling a great way to stay organized. Despite being an analog method for project management, I find bullet journaling simple and effective.

bullet journal migration steps

At the end of the week or month, you’ll re-write your tasks and information on the next spread. You’ll migrate the to-do list forward, adding any incomplete items to a new list (along with any new tasks). Each time you add a new spread or a new collection, you’ll add it to your index.

Thanks to the rapid logging and signifiers, the process is quick and efficient. Scan through a bullet journal very fast and know precisely the status of every item.

There’s no dogma to bullet journaling either. Similar to minimalism or living the tiny life, there are guidelines, but the process is entirely up to your interpretation. Find the ways bullet journaling works for you. Start simple, adjust as you go, and incorporate new ideas and new collections as you become more comfortable with the process.

how to know what to focus on, goal settings quote henry thoreau

Keep in mind, you WILL make mistakes (we all do). This bullet journal is for your personal use. There’s no way to really “mess it up” or ruin your journal. If you’re worried about aesthetics, you may want to invest in whiteout or use erasable pens before you go out and buy calligraphy markers (which are in no way a requirement for bullet journaling).

You’ll also want to remember this is your journal! Use it to make notes, jot down reminders, and make notations. The power of a bullet journal is that you can refer back to it for years and years.

Using a Bullet Journal to Manage Projects

using a bullet journal to manage projects at work

Where bullet journals really shine is as a project management tool. While bujos are also a useful tool for goal setting and getting organized, I find the method is also very useful for projects requiring step-by-step action.

For example, when setting up land for a tiny house build, a bullet journal is a highly effective way to manage all the lists, to-dos, and planning.

As you see, the bullet journaling process helps you organize and keep track of moving pieces. You’ll know the status of every part of the project. Easily adjust timelines and plans accordingly, add to the lists and refer back as needed.

Some people prefer to set up a separate journal for a big project like a build. Others prefer to keep all their to-dos in one place and manage the project in their single journal. I’ve found it’s nice to create a bullet journal for each project because it gives me plenty of information to refer to later. The journals are helpful for blogging and future tiny house projects. If I run into a question, I look back in the appropriate journal and know precisely what I did, how long a task took, and any complications I encountered on the job.

Bullet journals are practical because they give a home to all the moving pieces you’re tracking. You no longer need to hold everything in your mind, jot it down on sticky notes, or access an app to remind you of the status. It’s all right there in your organized bullet journal.

An example of a bullet journal page I created for setting up land for a tiny house:example page to set goals in a bullet journal

If you’re looking for a way to organize information clearly, keep track of your day-to-day activities, or get serious about your goals, I highly recommend bullet journaling. It’s a beautiful way to keep track of your life!

Bullet Journal Printables

tropical leaves PDF printable

Start your bullet journal today with these tropical plant inspired printable journal pages.

Rugged moutain masculin printable PDF bullet journal downloadable

Get organized with these mountain inspired printable bullet journal pages.

Your Turn!

  • What’s your favorite method for goal setting and tracking?
  • What do you like about the idea of using a bullet journal?

A New Take On Time Management

I was reading this article and it spoke to me while it described following your passions, but in a productive way.  It is an interesting take on how to organize your day and boost productivity, check it out.

Reprinted from, written by Danielle Laporte


I’m done putting my life into categories. Quadrants. Day types. Feck.
Here’s how it happened: Last year I turned my life upside down. Took a break from marriage. Moved. Shelved numerous obligations to meet a writing deadline. Avoided said writing deadline for a long time. Slammed that writing deadline. Put my health significantly further up on the priority list. Chose yoga over blog posts. Hung with friends instead of wooing clients. Launched stuff at light speed. Killed projects. Stopped cooking dinner mid-boil to capture an idea. Talked on the phone with friends…in the middle of the day…for hours.

I lived more, because it was time for some things to die.  I had to arrive at thrive or I would get stuck in survival mode. In this dimension, nothing is predictable, and unbridled is the only way to go. It was not the time to “manage” my time.

Time management systems are tricky beasts. They may help us be more productive, but not necessarily less stressed, or more fulfilled, or more in touch with our true nature. We may look freer with our priorities all tidy, but too often, time remains the master and we get “given” time for obeying the system.

I’d rather be fulfilled than obedient. And it turns out that when I’m fulfilled, I’m…fulfilled – whether I’m productive or not. And that gives me plenty of energy to be more focused on what matters most, which makes me truly productive. It’s a beautiful thing. Here’s how I got there:

1. Stop keeping a detailed to-do list. If it’s truly important, you’ll remember to do it. A few post it notes and texts to yourself should be all you need.

2. Say no, thank you to four things a day. My coach gave me this assignment. It changed my life.

3. Relentlessly focus on the one or two vocational desires that turn you on so much that envisioning doing JUST those things seems so fantastical that it borders on erotic pleasure (yep, I think it’s your birthright to feel that hot about your work in the world). Everything else that is not about fulfilling your most intense vocational desires is getting in the way of making your fantasy life a reality.

4. Work with talented and excellent human beings. Amateurs, posers and mediocrity-makers are time squatters. Move ’em out.

5. Delegate the stuff that doesn’t light you up.

6. Have (only) 3 important things to accomplish every week. Make those three things happen and you’re closer to making your fantasy life a reality. Accomplish more than that and you’ll feel like a super hero (good esteem fuels fulfillment AND productivity.)

7. Batch n’ chunk. Pay all of your bills at the same time. Create a day just for errands. Make all of your calls before noon. This “while you’re at it” kind of momentum is incredibly efficient.

8. Ask yourself every morning what you really feel like doing. Not what’s most important. Not what’s expected of you. But what you’re most excited to do. Enthusiasm is the DNA of making things happen. Start there.

Flying without a to-do list made me worry. It was scary to let go of revenue streams and planned projects. Going to yoga when I had obligations actually took some moxie. Doing what I was truly stoked to do each day was unnerving, guilt-inducing and exhilarating all at once. And it didn’t take long for this free forming time style to reveal my most lucrative, artistically satisfying, relationship-enhancing year ever.

Easy does it.