5 Steps to getting started with a bullet journal

Posted by Phantom Notes on

5 Steps to getting started with a bullet journal

Bullet Journals. 

We know they’re great for creatives and planners alike. 

You get to think big-picture, put your thoughts to action and actually get things done. 

But if you’re new to the bullet journal game, Instagram and Pinterest have left you feeling more confused than inspired.  

We’ve got you.

Here are 5 steps to getting started.


1. Think about your ‘why?’

The key to starting off on the right note with your bullet journal is to think about why you’re using it.

Most people miss this step and jump straight into step 2. Without your why though, the journal will be one of the many things you’ve tried but not really loved.

So what’s your why? Think deep but keep it simple. 

You might actually need your bullet journal to help you here. Jot down what you want it to do for you:

  • Need stay organised?
  • Need a way to unlock your creativity? 
  • Looking for a way to mentally declutter and unwind? 
  • Does it just look cool? Hey, no judgement. With time, you’ll find your own groove and work out how to use it best.

Your why may also change over time. 

Part of journaling fun is being free to go with your flow and change if you need.


2. Finding the right type of paper 

When you know your why, now it's time to choose your ideal journal / notebook. But with so many notebooks out there, where do you start? What’s the best one for you? 

Here are few quick things to think about when shopping around. Firstly, let’s run through the different paper design options for your bullet journal:

Plain Paper:

Think creative. You’re free to do whatever you want. The downside with plain is that it doesn’t really give you structure if you decide you want to write. 

Lined Paper: 

Lined notebook

Think traditional. Standard. Lined paper is great for words and lists but restrictive if you want to go free and create.

Dot grid:

Dot Grid Journal

Think happy medium. Dotted paper has light dots that form faint grids or squares that measure about 5mm x 5mm about 0.5cm per inch x 0.5cm per inch. 

The dots are easy on the eyes and unobtrusive. You’re free to roam on the page and you also have some structure (not too much) to jot things down and right without veering off.

Dot grid notebooks are best for bullet journaling, without a doubt. But they're also incredibly flexible. A dot grid notebook is the perfect way to keep your thoughts organized in a visually interesting way, while allowing for easy writing with any pen. 

Dotted notebooks give you more freedom, because the dots are not intrusive and you can be more creative. For example, you can use the dots to determine the height of your letters or you can imagine the dot rows as horizontal lines.  

  • Binding: Your bullet journal needs to lay completely flat, period.
  • Size: Depends what you need it for and whether it’ll move around with you or stay put in your studio or desk. A6 and A4 are usually too large for most. A5 or B5 often does the job. 
  • Paper thickness: You don’t want flimsy paper that bleeds through. If you find a journal with thickness of 100-120gsm, you’re winning.
  • The Extras: You want a few things to make your note-taking experience easy. Go for accessories like a pocket holder and bookmark – they’re actually useful. You don’t want to much fluff. The less you have, the more you can customise and make the journal your own. 


3. Choose the correct pen

No need to overcomplicate things. Just find a pen that doesn’t bleed. We recommended Artline pens, as a good starting point.

They come in different sizes to help you control the level of detail you put into your bullet journal. Best of all, they're not too expensive either. See the full range here.


4. Create on your own terms

Go on, just dive in.Be yourself. Don’t feel pressured to be someone you’re not or to journal how others do on socials. Whether you use your bullet journal as planner, goal setter, or sketchbook - the way you setup your journal is entirely personal and unique to you. Messy, organised, consistent or freeform create on your own terms. 


5. Be adaptable

You’ve started but maybe hit a hurdle. Things happen. Goals change.This doesn’t mean your bullet journal needs to go.

Bullet journaling is all about how you use it. If its not working, be bold and try something different.

That could be a new system, a new approach or a different system. It's all about finding that perfect balance that feels right for you.


Keep it simple.

You don’t need much to get started with bullet journaling.  You just need the right mindset, a good dotted notebook, and to recheck your goals along the way. 

For some inspiration, check out our range of Phantom Notebooks Limited Edition dot grid journals.

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