How to Create a Bullet Journal Plus My Top 10 Tips

How to Create a Bullet Journal Plus My Top 10 Tips

Hello Brains! This is my tutorial of the basic Bullet Journal system as designed by creator Ryder Carroll. You can watch his version HERE, and I talk about why it’s awesome for ADHDers HERE. But I’m doing my own! Because pens are AWESOME. And I also wanted to share some tips for ADHDers who are just getting started. To begin, all you need is at least one pen, and a notebook. Yup, any notebook. Seriously. Most Bullet Journal or “bujo” enthusiasts prefer graph paper inside because you can get more artsy with it. But any paper will work! Now set up your key, which is just a set of symbols that represent the different types of info you tend to write down. These are the symbols Ryder uses for to-dos, events, notes. You can also use signifiers like a star for important items. This makes dumping information from brain to page as fast as possible. And keeps it organized, so you can read it later. OK! Ready?…. [Excited] Let’s get this party started! First, number your pages. I promise this is more boring than it sounds. If you prefer, you can just number them ten at a time. Or next time, do what I did, and buy a notebook that’s already numbered. The first four pages are your index. Title them “Index”. This is where the magic happens. Any time you add something to your bujo, you list it here and you’ll actually be able to find it again. The next four pages are your future log, aka, I don’t have to deal with this yet but I will eventually because “Really, Jessica? It’s our anniversary.” There are different layouts for this, but the original is pretty simple. Just take a ruler, divide the pages in thirds, and write out the months. OK, now remember the index? Yup, write “future log” there and what pages it’s on. Next is… well, whatever you want! If you decide to just stop and doodle on page 9, cool! Put page 9 in the index and come back when you’re ready. By the way, if you also want to doodle on page 23, no problem! Go back to the index and add ” , 23″. Now you know where to doodle! Next, month page! You can set this up however you want. A lot of people use a traditional calendar format, but I have calendar PTSD from all my planner failures of the past, so I like the list format the creator developed. Plus it’s super fast. Write just the day of the month with the first letter of the day of the week. It’s so brilliantly minimalistic, I feel like I’m cheating. Now, this is where you write out your day’s schedule. Not a lot of space, is there? Maybe I should buy a bigger notebook?… Stop!! It’s good if space is limited. Because you know what else is limited? YOUR TIME. But if you really do need more space, you can use a different layout here. Now, on the opposite page is your to-do list for the month. You can see how busy your schedule is on the left, and how much you have to get done on the right. Which is the first step in going, “Hahahaha, maybe I’ve over-committed.” Alright, next page, or whatever page you want, because you have an index, whaaat! [Flipping noise] This page looks good! Freedom!!!!!! Your daily log. Write the first letter of the day and the date and underline it. You can put events here, to-dos, notes, whatever you want. But keep them short and to the point. Then, on the opposite page, you can go into more detail if you want. That way your brain can look at what needs to be done without getting bogged down by details or feelings or whatever, but those details are still there if you need them. This is cool because it acts like a kind of journal. That’s it! That’s the basics. And so far, it’s just a DIY planner. But this is where the system gets really cool. Not only can you find whatever you’re looking for, because you have an index, no to-do gets forgotten about. It gets moved around. It gets deleted. Or it gets done. That’s because the system includes a process called migration. Here’s how it works. When you start a new month, you look back at last month’s to-dos and make a decision about each of them. Don’t care about it anymore? Cross it out. Does it need to be done soon? Greater than symbol points to the right, indicates that you’re copying it into next month’s to-do list. Doesn’t need to be done for a while, now that you think about it? Less than symbol points to the left, indicates that you’re copying it into your future log. This acts as a natural filtration system that simplifies your life. As I said in my original video, when you have to hand-write a to-do over and over again, it really makes you think about how important it actually is. And when you can’t find space for it, it makes you realize: you can’t dump 100 to-dos into next month’s list and expect to be able to do that on top of everything else. Basically, this planner simplifies your life, because it makes you see time as the limited resource it is. In a way that’s much nicer than your boyfriend’s horrified look when you tell him everything you need to get done by next Tuesday. So, you may not be as busy, but you’ll probably be more productive. OK, those are the basics, now here are ten ADHD-friendly tips. 1. Start with the Basics. It’s fun to create a whole elaborate system up front, but it’s better to get into the habit of using it first. 2. Design a key that works for you. I use an exclamation mark for an idea, some people use a heart for a memory they don’t want to forget, but start with just a few until you’re comfortable with them. 3. Add more tools as you go. Once you have a hang of the basic system, and figure out what else you need, go ahead and include it. If you notice that you have a lot of notes that are books you’d like to read, transfer them to a collection or list. If you keep needing to put “floss your teeth” on your to-do list, consider starting a habit tracker. 4. Keep it fast and easy to use. Remember that a system that works when we’re hyperfocusing on it, isn’t necessarily a system that works for everyday life. 5. Mess it up. Decorate your bujo all you want. Go nuts! But remember… this is essentially a toolbox. If you spend so much time laying out your tools that you’re afraid to use them, they’re not going to do you much good. Forget about perfect. And if you can’t, do yourself a favor and mess it up NOW. 6. Know where to find it. Decide on a consistent spot to keep it in, at home, at work, and whenever you’re on the go so that you can find it when you need it. You can also install “Find Your Bujo” by taping a tile to the front of it. … Ordering that. Now. But… 7. Prepare to lose it. Take pictures or scan important pages into Evernote just in case. Probably also don’t store your passwords here. Also might be a good idea to include your phone number and offer a reward for its return. Not your address. Unless you want it hand-delivered at 3 a.m. 8. Set a time for it. Decide when you’re going to check in with it: every night before bed, when you wake up in the morning, specific points throughout the day. It also helps if you have something to check. So set up a time once a month to set up the next month and migrate your tasks. If you use a more advanced layout, once a week is good to set up the next week’s daily logs. Speaking of which…. 9. Get inspired. YouTube, and especially Pinterest are great places for this, but you can even just google “Bullet Journal images”. The amount of creativity that goes into these things is incredible. But… 10. Make it yours. Remember that not every cool layout will be right for you. Some people get really creative with their journals, but the original format is fast and simple, which is great when you don’t have the time or the patience for calligraphy. … Or the skill. The skill. … For calligraphy. Remember, the whole point of this system is that you can finally have a planner that is right for your brain. Not someone else’s. That’s it for this tutorial! Let me know how your bullet journal works for you! And link to ideas in the comments below! I just started my own, so I’m still using the basic system. But when I’m ready to get creative with it, if you’re interested, I’ll make videos on layouts that work for my ADHD brain. Let me know if you want them, and subscribe so you don’t miss them. Bye Brains!

100 thoughts on “How to Create a Bullet Journal Plus My Top 10 Tips

  1. I’ve used a Bujo for four years! It actually works for me. But I got distracted and obsessed by a Happy planner. Now I’m missing my Bujo again.

  2. Other than your useful and positive videos, I like two things very much about them! 1.Hello Brains, 2. They are short! 😀

  3. Sins 6 years ago I started doing something similar to bullet journalling in order to keep tracking of time and manage my thoughts and ideas… Progressively I learned to improve it like adding symbols and making to-do lists for the future… I didn't know this system exists 🙂 And it's been less than two months that I diagnosed with ADHD… Thanks for your videos 🙂

  4. Main bujo at home. Small notepad in pocket/purse. Every morning, write what you need to do in the notepad. Every night, transfer info into the main journal. Only a day at a time is at risk.

  5. I am starting my 2nd BuJo and was between switching back to Erin Condren or continuing BuJo. You sold me on continuing. I really like the freedom to set up whatever I want. I have a bucket list, a year overview of days off work and accumulated PTO days, a debt tracker graph and monthly views and notes from work. I think I will add habit tracker this time around. I felt a lot of pressure in Erin Condren to put stickers and create layouts and then I realized it made my look kind of crazy at work to open it with all those stickers. BuJo can be very inconspicuous and look like work notebook. It’s great!

  6. I couldn't find a journal/notepad with dot paper, or graph paper, which I really wanted. So I made my own. I followed Sea Lemon's bookbinding tutorials and created a book that works for me. The entire project cost me about 50 dollerydoos. That's including tools and materials that I didn't already have. If you already have an assortment of craft supplies, it would be substantially cheaper. Highly recommend.

  7. "If you can't forget about perfect, do yourself a favor and mess it up now" has helped me more times than I can remember. When buying some kinds of items I'll even pick the ones with minimal damage.

  8. I know that this video is really old, but omg, I have to get it off my chest. "Bujo" is Spanish for "journal/book." The "j" is pronounced like a raspy "h," so it's "boo-hoe," not "boo-joe."

  9. I do a Day of the Week system on a mini Whiteboard. For example:
    Mo: Go to the Bank
    Tu: Groceries
    We: dfgdf

    You get the Idea. SO I can also move those things to other days if needed. Just weekly.

  10. "Your boyfriend's horrified face when you tell him everything you need to get done by next Tuesday". This is literally my life story and I bought a bullet journal like 3 months ago after my Mom(who probably also has ADD but doesn't realize it) said it's changing her life……. forgot all about it until now and now that I know how to use it properly I might! Or, I might forget all about it again. We will see. But, this makes a lot more sense than my original explanation of it. I feel like planning is such a waste of time but then when I don't plan nothing gets done. Face palm

  11. 5th tip 5:05 is the best MESS IT UP!!! We are usually too scared to spoil the journal that we never start or leave it midway. This is the best tip for journal by anyone on Internet.

  12. I’m extremely glad that I found your page, I’ve never related to anyone so much in my life and so many things make so much more sense after watching your videos…
    Also, I just went and bought so much stuff and I’m already stressing about how perfect I want it to be and know it’s probably not gonna end up how I want it but I’ve been watching YouTube videos and been on Pinterest for about 5 hours now. Sooo wish me luck.😂 #Hyperfocusmode 😬

  13. I… was doing this exact same thing EXCEPT the index.. and kept getting so annoyed with myself and that sums up perfectly how i have lived for 1 8 y e a r s compensating for my adhd without knowing i had it(i got diagnosed last week), great video thanks ill be in the corner being mind-blown if anyone needs me

  14. 1:35 – Dear Jessica, where have you been all my live? you are a god send. I've been watching your videos for a couple years, or trying (SQUIRL!!!!!!!!!) and every time I face a new dilemma, or I discover a new "problem" with me, I just open your channel and search for it and that index is exactly what I was looking for. I think I lost count of all the notebooks I've stopped using half-way through because they were so disorganised.

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. This has helped me A LOT as a person with ADHD. Sure, I do forget about it sometimes and I'm still working on trying to be a bit more consistent with it,
    but it does help with my overall productivity and ability to remember important things, To-Do lists, ideas and brain farts.
    It gives me somewhere to drop things into at any point in the day that is organized enough for my brain to not have to think about too much.
    Side note: I tried following the format where you write in the next line, it just seems too bunched together that it messes with me haha.
    I can't seem to fit those boxes with my cursive handwriting, I occupy more space per line so it doesn't look like a squiggly mess lol.

  16. 6:24 she looks like talk to me when I scrolled those beautiful-decorated bullet journal in pinterest hahaa

  17. I bought a notebook almost a month ago, just now started making this, and am now frustrated and not sure why.

  18. Speaking of numbering pages, the best way I found personally is to start from 0 and then number ever second page since that way you don’t have to constantly switch between pages. Also I found numbering with even numbers is easier then odd numbers hence why I suggest starting from 0.

    Great video!
    I keep coming back to the bullet journal, haven’t upgraded to calendar keeping but I love the idea of using it as a brain dump. Although I quickly realised index was more like indexes since I needed sub-indexes for things. XD 🙂

    Also the tip on mess it up fast and don’t caught up in planning. <3 Yes this, I went off on all sort of tangents, maybe wading into a bullet journal as a brain dump and later as a calendar will help? …. granted I already feel myself getting annoyed at the rigid aspect of the calendar I’m currently trying to use so maybe not and I’ll dive into the bullet journal basics at some point out of pure frustration XD but we shall see. 🙂

  19. Thank you ! i am just starting, loved the cheerful way to explain boring stuff, it encouraged me to try out BUJO

  20. This really helped. In fact, it's the ONLY video that helped. Thanks for breaking this process down and simplifying it in a way that's clear to understand. 💯🙏😁🌷

  21. Quick Advice from my experiences: Keep your first version simple, don't be afraid to customize this or any other model to what you personally find helpful, make this journal your welcome assistant – NOT your dreaded tyrant, and expect to stop and restart your journal many times (i.e. "fail") until you achieve some basis of consistency (i.e. "success").

    A poor journal is still a GREAT journal! Even if your version 1 is a single page checklist of daily tasks, ideas, and steps along long term projects: ANY start, no matter how "bad", is still SOME start! And it's OK to lose your consistency many times; just like with physical fitness: success is finding your way back on the path and making the smallest bit more improvement this time around!

    Lastly: DO NOT Compare your progress to that of other people – especially the snazzy examples on Pinterest! These are largely from folks who have been working on their models for YEARS, who themselves started slow, simple, and steady. Instead: Compare your progress today to your progress yesterday!

    – A Computer Science Grad Student Enduring And Defying ADHD

  22. I tried to start, but alas, my notebook is just too small. It's literally like handheld lol. Not even enough spaces for all the days. So I'm getting another notebook, but only this one. Once and for all I will be focused!! MUWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

  23. I've only been using mine a week or so, but I got a multi-coloured pen which helps me make it look pretty (or at least more interesting) without me having to switch pens. I did also buy highlighters which are at the bottom of my bag and have remained there some time. I wrote my index more like a contents page (numbers first), but I slightly wish I'd done it like in the video. Eh well. I like the habit tracker too, although I've got quite a good habit tracker in the Daylio app so not sure if both will stay!

  24. Hey hey!! Love your channel and every single one of your videos. Have you done any on closet organization or ADHD vs autism? Would love to see your thoughts on those topics!!

  25. dreek! dreek! dreek! (music from Psycho) SCREAM!!!! Number 9 – "just google bullet journal" or check pinterest? Are you insane? That is an ADHD nightmare. Are you sure you have ADHD? You might be an imposter. Sending us off into the overstimulating, billions-of-options world of pinterest and google, as if it's a good idea that we hadn't thought of before, is like sending us off into outerspace. We'll never return. We'll go "look for inspiration" and run down so many rabbit holes, we might not return to the first page of our bullet journal for days. We don't need you to tell us to check the internet, we need 2-3 recommended starting points.

  26. I came back to this video through my history so I could actually start my own bullet journal, but was distracted by another video in my history. That was a week ago. Now I watched the originally intended video…only to be commenting here. My distractions are full of distractions!

  27. so i just got the materials to start a bullet journal.
    i got the pens and yesterday, and just got the notebook, i then realised i lost my pens. found them 10 mins later in my clothing drawers :l
    not sure how it got there (my watercolors were in there also)

  28. APPRECIATION—— OMG!!! THIS was total and extreme AWESOME! Thank you so much! Simple yet SO effective!

  29. I appreciate your short and concise videos. My challenge is that I start too many projects. Then I have a mess of unfinished projects. Ugh! Its so frustrating!! Any advise?

  30. Ha Yes, she's right. I don't like rewriting stuff again and again, if I don't complete a task. Tysm for the migrating idea!!! Currently, what works for me is a simple 99 cents journal for To Do lists And a Basic Calendar that I can see the whole month so I don't overcommit myself. I make sure the squares for the days, in the calendar, are big enough so I can write my appointments in them. Yes, keeping it Simple works. Because then I will get distracted by all the other options. Lol that's why I didn't get an Apple phone when it 1st came it out, too many overwhelmed me!!! Lol All Keep being Awesome!!! We Rock!!!

  31. I just set up my third Bujo, in three years. My best one got left out in the rain and melted a long time ago. Things just hit critical/crisis again. So here we go again. Someday it'll work out. I'm leaving off the migration feature for now. See how long this one lasts. Thanks Jessica, and maybe it's time for an update on this sort of thing? What are you using now? I've tried a bunch of APP stuff, but it all sucks and there's never going to be an Android version by that other guy.

  32. I started a bullet journal the beginning of this year but I kept it in a drawer and since I never even set up a monthly page or a weekly thing, I forgot about it or put it off because I just wasn’t creative enough or I was busy or I wasn’t in the mood. I’m going to try again now that school is starting and make it more simple. Wish me luck lol😅

  33. I use letters . For example:

    A- Assignments
    E- Exam
    Mt- Must do today
    Mw- Must do this week

  34. I'm not sure I even understand this. Please tell me this doesn't necessarily mean I'm not ADHD. This is too many papers for me. Maybe it's just my ASD talking here. 🤷🏼‍♀️

  35. Thank you SO much for this explanation!!! I tried a bj before and was totally lost. Now it makes sense. I put mine together and am using it already!

  36. Habits are great for us with Adhd, living without meds for 15 years (something I kind of regret) has at least taught me ways of dealing with my issues, and one of those is habits, people ask me why I carry so much around in my bag, things I don't always need, simple if you get in the habit of always having these things on you, you will not forget them on the one chance you do need them, is it more work to carry around, yes, but less of a problem then forgetting important items.
    My journal is my memory, my phone is my thoughts set reminders while your focused on it, get told of an appointment set a reminder then and there, I call them Hugin and Munin from Norse mythology they are my ravens Thought and Memory.

    A reminder or goal can be changed, rescheduled or deleted, but if I don't set a reminder it will always be forgotten.

  37. My biggest struggle is not know what to do but why, before I can do anything I need to know why, most tutorials do not explain this very well.

  38. Recommendation: if you're a perfectionist like I am, number the pages one at a time as you write in them. If you need to rip out a page then you won't mess up the whole number system

  39. But i want to find the perfect notebook and I want to browse notebooks on Amazon and I want a notebook with glitter on it that I will love and then I've spent an hour adding notebooks to my wishlist……

  40. Am I supposed to read and review the information I put into it? I know it sounds silly- but I am not sure to be honest.

  41. I don't have ADHD, but am autistic. This video is very useful. 🙂 I've just bought a bullet journal and hope to start using it soon. Just need to set it up. Personally I'm no good with drawing etc, so I have some cute stickers. 🎨

  42. "Remember that a system that works when you're hyper-focused on it isn't necessarily a system that works for everyday life." – That's such a brilliant point.

  43. I get it now! I took notes, pausing the video while I copied your format. Works for me! Thank you for: Your energy and presentation. Bright ideas. Kindness and understanding.

  44. im always hesitant about bullet journals because I can’t write. My ADHD tragically came with Dysgraphia. Writing, even with pens and colors, is one of those very very painful chores. It also physically hurts. And it isn’t just “messy,” I can’t even read my own writing or spell consistently. I’ve tried bullet journaling and it didn’t work. I’m going to try a digital version where i can type things and just hope that it works just as well

  45. I watched your original Bujo video, then this one. I went and watched fifty others. After all that, I come back to this video to start the process again. I’ve started 3 times in the past two months. I’m using a dollar store composition notebook, a seven inch ruler and a gel ink pen that I always have in my shirt pocket. (Do you know how hard it is to find pocket protecters?). Wish me luck.

  46. New here. Trying to incorporate bullet journaling and get away from daily to dos and multiple notebooks. Looking at bojo but thinking digital like Evernote. Any thoughts?

  47. @Anna Svane: Thank you for providing Danish subtitles! I've written some for some of the other "How to ADHD" videos, but we aren't that many doing it – some other Dane needs to read them and aprove! Please?
    It's much easier, of course, than writing them in the first place, which takes hours. Reading them should only take a few minutes more than it takes to just watch the video. Except for getting distracted along the way, because… you know … ADHD.

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