Setting Up Your Bullet Journal

After selecting your stationery as explained in Bullet Journal – In the beginning. 101.1 It is time to set up your bullet journal.

Depending on the type of book or if you choose an organiser, e.g. Filofax. You may have certain parts available to you. I am currently using Scribbles That Matter notebook, and that has already got some features such as a Key, Index, and pen test page. However, if you have decided to use an ordinary notebook, which is much cheaper, then you’ll have to do some extra work to set it up.

I’ll go through each part of the set-up as if you have a blank book and not one that has been designed to adding as a bullet journal. I would still recommend reading through all the stages to make sure that you fully understand their use and why they are there.


You need to design a key. Fundamentally the most used feature of organising your tasks, events, appointments, etc. Your key should be personal to you, and you recognise easily. Ryder Carroll created his own, and many have used his key. This does not mean that you must use his to bullet journal. Mine is one that had evolved from my university days when I was taken lots of note and having to remember assignment dates, classes and so on. Below is the recognised version key that Ryder created and an image that I have posted on my bullet journal feed on Instagram.

Ryder Carroll's Bullet Journal Key in my BuJo
Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal Key in my BuJo

A post shared by Danielle (@ohpositivemumbujo) on

Why do you need a key?

The short answer is to stay organised. Bullet Journaling is all about getting it done and staying on task. Carroll created rapid logging to make sure everything gets done. Many of us have created bullet journals that not only function well but have let us create aesthetically pleasing books. Among the pretty pictures; you can see the key being used.

Which brings me on to the other function of the key.


< and > can be seen in both above keys. They are used to schedule or migrate your tasks, events, and appointments. For example. You have a task set to go food shopping, and for whatever reason, you can’t go on that day. Then you can write over your task with a > and migrate it to another day. Another example is your task to make an appointment to see the dentist. You phone them up to make your appointment, you now can mark that complete, but now you make your appointment for a time in the future. This you can now < schedule your future log ready for when you create the month/week/day layout.


If you are using an everyday notebook the first 5 pages, title them “Index”. Below write the page(s) and next to page write content. Make a table around these two headings and continue to the bottom of the page. Do this on the five pages.

The reason for the Index pages is for you to find everything within your bullet journal quickly. For example, if you make a movie watch list on page 120 and again on page 161. In the Index, you will have the sub-heading content, movie watch list and under the page(s) you will have 120, 161. This keeps your collections together even if they are spread throughout your bullet journal.

Page numbers

If your book doesn’t have page numbers, then it is The future to number them. This makes it easier to find each item and each page you will use will be added to your index page. Pre-printed books usually have them on the bottom outside corners. You don’t have to do this but wherever you decide to place your page number, make sure that it is consistent throughout the book. Making it easy to locate.

Future Log or Plans

The future log is a 4, 6 or 12 months ahead glance at upcoming tasks, events, and appointments. There are some beautiful designs which people have created for these. There is no wrong or right way of doing them either. I’ve seen them combined with birthdays and anniversaries. Done in the minimal layout or look like an artist’s dream.

The primary use of these pages is, so you get a snapshot of months ahead. All the information placed here will be added to your month, week, and day layouts. That example I was talking about earlier about making the appointment. It would go here. Then when you create your month and week on which it falls. You can put it on the right day and time and make sure you never miss another thing again.

Month layouts

Now I’ve talked a lot about month layouts, and by now you have a pretty good understanding what is going to go here. That would be excellent news for me because you understand how it works, already. Not sure still? No worries, here we go.

You must by now have seen a wall calendar. Generally, display the month which we are in. The monthly layout is that. You collect all the information from the Future log and input to your month. Recurring events that you didn’t add to your future log, also gets added in. And anything like children’s parties that you just got the invite for, which is next week, and so on. You use this like you would a month to view, calendar. It is that simple.

So why do we need to break it down into week and day layouts?

You can add all your events and appointments. I believe it would become too cluttered once you started adding all your tasks.

Week layouts

Week to week plans. Again, like the monthly layout, you have your week. You add everything from your future log, which now should be in your month, and add it to your week. Here comes the added extra area. If you monitor your water intake or weight, the weekly layout is going to be the place to do it. Not only has it been filled with your events, birthdays, anniversaries, and recurring events, such as weekly music lesson. Here you would create areas within your layout to monitor your habits, the weather, your weight. Most importantly, your tasks or to-do lists. We all have them and even if it is posting a parcel to washing clothes. Each of our days is broken down too many little tasks.

Keep it simple or a splash of colour?

It is up to you how you design your weekly layout and no two weeks must be the same. This is the beauty of setting up your bullet journal. It is your design, which works for you. Not everybody has the same needs, and when you buy a diary or planner with it, all set out for the whole year, each page like the last. It doesn’t give you room for your busy days to your not much happening days. Let us pretend that you are the head bridesmaid and you have to do a lot of tasks and keep an eye on every detail leading up to the big day. You buy an expensive planner for the year and fill it to the brim. The day after the wedding, now you have this planner for the rest of the year. Are you going to use it or dump it? No wrong answer, but this system adapts to you. Therefore, it has become so popular with so many people.

Day layouts

If you have a day which is extremely busy then doing a day layout. If your every day is hectic then to save pages in your book, I would give the weekly plan a miss and do days. Now if you are into writing your journal, i.e. dear diary, your daily layout is a perfect way to reflect. Like before, you might write a day to day account for a few weeks and abandon the idea. Not to worry. Just turn the page and create a week layout and design a space you write one or two lines, to sum up, the day.

This covers the primary use of your bullet journal

The next post I am going to go through collections and what they are and some brilliant examples.

I had to add this because if like me you have a million and one jobs to do in a day. This Checklist Washi Tape is perfect for just sticking in. Anything to save time right?

Savings for your children when you shop online

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Owner/author at Oh Positive Mum
Danielle Morris-Brewer is a lifestyle blogger has had an online presence since 1998. Becoming a mother in 2010 and obtaining a BA(HONS) in Graphic Design 2011 has taken her creative, problem-solving skills to new levels. “Getting organised is the key.”
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Published by Danielle

Danielle Morris-Brewer is a lifestyle blogger has had an online presence since 1998. Becoming a mother in 2010 and obtaining a BA(HONS) in Graphic Design 2011 has taken her creative, problem-solving skills to new levels. “Getting organised is the key.”

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