• Ane from Boomerang

The Beginner’s Guide to Bullet Journaling



In the past, we’ve discussed how creative writing can be a valuable outlet for self-expression, but not everyone loves to write. Bullet journaling is a great alternative hobby that provides many of the same benefitseven for those who aren’t writers. This is why the personal organization method has become so popular across all genders and age groups. Not sure where to start? Here’s our bullet journal guide for beginners.


What is a bullet journal?

A bullet journal, sometimes shortened to BuJo, is a personal organizational method where you can log daily to-dos, keep a monthly or weekly calendar, jot down notes and stray thoughts, track your physical and mental health, and set goals. Bullet journals are highly customizable, so you can focus on what works best for you. Typically, bullet journal entries are composed of short sentences, bulleted lists, and visual symbols called signifiers (such as an asterisk or exclamation mark). They don’t require long-form writing or storytelling. Bullet journaling has become a huge trend over the last few years, largely because the activity combines the worlds of wellness and hyper productivity.


How do you start a bullet journal?

Starting a bullet journal is easy and inexpensive. All you need is a notebook and a pen. Many people like to use colourful pens and markers to create banners or illustrations to match each page, but that’s entirely up to you.


What notebook should you use?

Any notebook will do, but many book and office supply stores also sell pre-formatted bullet journals. Store-bought journals may have banners you can simply colour in, which some people find helps them destress. There are also many bullet journal templates available online to download and print for free at home. The most popular type of notebook used for bullet journaling is an A5 notebook because it’s able to fit easily into backpacks and bags while still providing ample room to write and draw.


Bullet journal set up

Organization is key to successful bullet journaling, so it’s important to spend some time on the initial layout. A bullet journal isn’t like a traditional diary where you start on page one and continue from there. Instead, bullet journals are organized by categories, each with their own log or tracking method.


To start, decide what categories you’d like to include. Some examples of popular categories are mood trackers, calendars, dream trackers, budget trackers, gratitude trackers, goal trackers, daily timelines, and fitness trackers. You can include as many or as few categories as you want, although you may find it easier to begin with a few, then add more once you get in the habit of bullet journaling. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by some of the more complicated bullet journals online, but remember, there’s no right or wrong way to do it.


Once you decide on categories, create an index so you can keep track of what’s where in your notebook. The index should take up the first one to two pages of your notebook, so remember to leave those free. You can then create each category and design it as you wish. Some people prefer simple bullet point or agenda formats, while others enjoy creative visual logs. Just remember to leave enough pages for each category so you won’t run out of room too quickly.


How to customize your bullet journal

Every bullet journal is unique, and there are no hard rules you have to follow. Experiment with personalizing each category in a way that makes sense to you or sparks inspiration. For ideas, check out these bullet journal ideas on Pinterest.


An easy way to personalize your bullet journal is to print out customizable templates that you can then colour in or fill out with your own handwriting. Calligraphy is often used for titles and headings.


You can also customize your bullet journal by creating symbols, or signifiers, that add context to your notes and help you jot down ideas more quickly. Signifiers can be as simple as check marks, stars, and arrows or something unique only you can understand. It’s a good idea to create a key, or list, of symbols in your journal to help remember what each one represents.


To brush up on your artist skills, sign up for one of Boomerang’s creative workshops, like the Fine Art of Drawing and Painting Animals, How to Paint and Draw the Human Face and Figure, Painting Robins (Beautiful Birds) in Acrylic, or Painting Abstract Geometrics in Watercolour.


The benefits of bullet journaling

Much like creative writing or traditional journaling, bullet journaling is an activity that helps with self expression, stress reduction, and organizing your thoughts. Even better, it helps check items off your to-do list, boost productivity, and form good habits. If you enjoy bullet journaling, you may want to check out Boomerang’s other writing and storytelling workshops to expand your skill set.


Pursuing your hobbies or rediscovering your passions has never been easier. With Boomerang, older adults can register for over 250+ online workshops a month in areas of their interest. Express your creative side, learn to cook new dishes or get active in virtual yoga classes. Our online workshops are led by passionate hosts who can help you explore your interests.


Interested in journaling? Browse and register for writing classes for seniors today!

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.


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