How Do I Start A Bullet Journal?

Disclaimer: I am by no means an expert on the following subject matter. What follows in this post are merely suggestions from massive amounts of research and my own personal experience. This post is written for the Facebook group, Phoenix Rising Fledgling Bullet Journalists. All pictures included are from our own personal journals, not staged specifically for this post. Also, there is a ton of information in this post, making it a long post!!

“I’m new to this stuff. How do I start?” or “WHERE do I start?” or even “This is all overwhelming to me, can someone help me get started?” “What do I put for my first page?” “Can I see pictures of your BuJo so I can get an idea?”

I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve heard these questions or seen them posted… When I first started, I was looking for ideas of what to add to my own personal organizer and came across ‘bullet journal’ stuff. The more I looked into it, the more I thought, “Well hell, I’ve got a plethora of not yet used journals, lemme try this and see what I can come up with.” I thought I could keep up with it on a daily basis, after all, I wrote a journal my entire 4 years in high school no problem, I can pick up the habit again, right?

LOL!! That’s was so funny! It’s harder than looking at pictures on the internet makes it out to be! And, dealing with being BiPolar and having severe anxiety problems, as well as PTSD, I was feeling really overwhelmed with trying to figure out what goes in a bullet journal. What type of journal should I use? What size? Lined or unlined? Dots, grid, plain, colored, spiral, notebook, hardbound, WHAT THE HELL DO I DO???

It took me a while to figure out that my bullet journal, or BuJo as it is commonly called — not a BJ, for obvious reasons considering the gutter mind of the internet! — was just that: MINE! I could put whatever I wanted into it. If I wanted to do daily journal prompts, I could. If I wanted to try to keep track of my triggers and symptoms, all I had to do was figure out what would work for me. And that was the hardest part.

Because I felt so overwhelmed with what to put in my BuJo, what did and didn’t belong, how to do it, charts, graphs, pictures, what do I do? I soon got so frustrated trying to figure out what I wanted in my ‘organizer’ that I gave up on it, set it aside and didn’t give it another thought for over 6 months.

My Mother was my push to start a second time. My Mom likes to play with paper crafts. She wanted some stickers for some projects that she was looking at playing with and asked me, since I’m pretty good in Photoshop, if I could make her some stuff, or if I could edit some of the pictures and things she found. While I was working on some things for her, it dawned on me that I can make my own pages for my organizer, I just needed to – once again – try to figure out what exactly I wanted. Oh boy, lemme tell ya, that didn’t go quite as planned! But it did go better than the previous attempt!

I pick out a journal, one of the untouched, hard bound ones I had in my closet to be used “eventually”. I thought about what I needed to keep track of, what new habits did I need to get into, what habits did I need to stop? I also decided to use my BuJo to help figure out patterns with my mood swings, as well as what some of my PTSD symptoms are and what triggers them. I set up a few pages, things I thought I would use. It was halfway through the month, so I just started from there, set up the last 2 weeks, and then started fresh with the next month. I’ll give you three guesses what happened, and the first two don’t count!

Yup, you guessed it! It got put aside and forgotten about! LOL! One of the habits I needed to drop was being lazy and forgetful… One that I needed to get into was journaling every day again. {sighs} That didn’t go so well. But, Abigail Phoenix saved me! How? She accepted me into the Facebook group!

I remember mentioning in a post (or a reply, I honestly don’t remember which) that I was good with Photoshop. She asked me to make a few graphics for her and after several conversations, she invited me to her Admin team. Before that, I would check the group maybe once every 3 or 4 days. Now, I check it several times a day to see who needs help and what others are suggesting. Well, hell! Wouldn’t you know it! I found something that helps me check things regularly! LOL!!

So, now I keep up with my journal! And let me tell ya…. It’s been a great learning experience!! Between ideas from others in the group, and continuing research for what to add to mine or suggest for others, or requests for page ideas from others, I’m still learning a lot more! The best advice I have ever read/hear regarding what to put in your BuJo, and I’ve passed it on several times, goes something like this:

Your bullet journal is just that, YOURS. No one can tell you what needs to be in there or what shouldn’t be in it, because no one knows exactly what your life is like, what organization and/or motivation you need and will work for you. You might not need to track every hour of every day, but that person over there? They do. So they can put daily tracking pages in theirs, but you don’t have to put them in yours if you won’t use them! If you only need a single page for a week, like my Mother, then just use those. Don’t need that much detail? Then just make monthly trackers for those things you want/need to keep track of.

You do not need to be a great artist, you don’t even have to know how to draw at all. So what if your doodles look like a kindergartner scribbled them! Your BuJo is not a contest with anyone else of who has the best looking one. There are a plethora of free printable pages that you can download and use for your BuJo, many of the ones that I have made I’ve added to the group files and photos, and am working on adding more to my website. Hell, you don’t even have to add pictures and embellishments to your journal if you don’t want to! The original idea by Ryder Carroll was a minimalist idea, no pictures or embellishments at all!

Bullet Journals are a reflection of who you are, not Joe Blow over yonder. Everyone’s bullet journal should be unique to them, not a copycat of someone else’s.

“Well shit, that’s useless! You haven’t told us how or where to start!”

Actually, I have…

There is a plethora of posts from various sites that have good “How-To Start” information.  Here’s a few that I recommend.  After you check them out, if you choose to, you can check out the process I used when starting my own 2019 BuJo!

The Original Bullet Journal System, by Ryder Carroll

The best Bullet Journal Glossary I have found on the net yet!

Planning Mindfully: The Ultimate How To Bullet Journal

The Lazy Genius Collective: How to Bullet Journal: The Absolute Ultimate Guide

Mommy Is A Wino: How to Start a Bullet Journal – Plus Examples to Get You Started

Here’s How To Use A Bullet Journal For Better Mental Health

How to Start a Bullet Journal to Begin Organizing Your Life

And that should be way more than enough to get y’all started.  Now, if you read the disclaimer at the top, I mentioned that all pictures were from our own journals…  Actually, they are from my own journal.  Check out the next post for a walk through of the process I took to set my 2019 BuJo up.

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Blank Calendars

Just some more free printables for your Bullet Journals!







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Now, for that legal stuffs…


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Alone At Last…

What if my loneliness were mine and mine alone? My innermost feeling never to be shared with another, and another’s never to be shared with me. Would I feel pleasure or pain? Would my loneliness be part of me to be accepted as inevitable as death? Could my loneliness be accepted the same? Perhaps my loneliness is a part of who I am, was and always will be. Suddenly one’s companionship seems so much sweeter. But why do I not taste its flavor? Why does it elude me like an illusion without shape or form? how do I escape from my cell that has no walls? How can I find a key to my doors that have no locks?

     Perhaps I am indeed…
        …Alone at last…

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In A World Somewhat Like Today

If I had a gun right now
I’d blow myself away
Right now I’m in a living hell
A world where I don’t want to stay..
A world somewhat like today

If I had a knife right now
I’d stab it through my heart
I’d finish my goal and end my life
So then I’d have done my part.
In a world somewhat like today

If I had razor blade right now
I’d use it to cut my wrist
I don’t care what anyone would say
To me my life did not exist.
In a world somewhat like today

In a world somewhat like today
No matter what anyone would say
This life of mine was not worth it
It was just not my place to stay…
Nor did my life have any reason to delay..

In a world somewhat like today

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Once Upon A Midnight

I open my eyes to the moon’s glare
Yet when I close them I see you there
You are the man I nightly quest
Whose warmth and smile are the best
Nightly I travel the deserted streets
Endlessly after everyone sleeps
In hopes of arriving at your hearth
upon this truly lifeless earth
As I approach your window
In heart uneasiness shows
For outside your I stand awhile
And feel as though I ran a mile
To reach my final destiny
Where I now stand temporarily
It seems forever yet suddenly I see
The same face that has driven me
To be where I am this early morning
My heart begins a frenzied pounding
And I feel feelings language cannot say
Oh am I glad to have come this way
For now I need not close my eyes
Your company now in front of me lies.

Written for William Craig Coffey, © 1988

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The Apple of My Eye

I cannot live like this, no one can
Always on my mind he is
as selfish as it sounds
Why? Why?
Why must I be haunted by that
which I cannot obtain
Why must I be bombarded with a
future dream I cannot piece together?
Why are my clouds so dark
and why do they get darker with time?
Why has Cupid disguised such pain
and emptiness with the shell
of my expectations?
Thou hast given and thou hast taken away all that I will live and die for
Thou hast presented an apple which hangs from no tree
just suspended in mid-air
How does one with no solution
obtain such a fruit?
And if not hungry, doesn’t curiosity create an appetite?
He is like the apple – there but unobtainable
having no solution
and temptation as well as doubt.
The tree, which I cannot see, has beaten me
and caused me to look to another tree
for my apple
For the time being, other apples will have
to satisfy my appetite and fill my stomach
But none will satisfy my intellect
and fill my heart
like the apple of my eye.

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To Mother

In your eyes I see a tear
A reminder of why you weep
Cry not for me mother
The daughter you want to keep
Always I will be your little girl
In many ways I am still a child
I will always need you to watch me
To tame me when I’m wild
When a child leaves their mother
It does not last forever
For the bond that we two share
The strongest force cannot sever
I may travel far and wide
Trek for a thousand miles
But to the one who gave me life
I will return for a while

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To Daddy — The Rope

Once wound so snug and tight
The rope begins to unwind
It goes and goes until it is pulled
The end one cannot find
And yet to the original
Structure connected it is
The structure keeps the rope
Stable — never to go amiss
Yet one day the rope unravels
That represents the bond
For once it represented shelter
That for freedom’s sake is gone
Oh my father don’t be sad
For now I am a woman grown
Who must see what the world has
To offer me — I must go alone
With me I’ll carry your love
With me I’ll carry your thoughts
For I know always you will love me
If it is success I find or not
Truly to leave you I do not mean
And to see you again — someday I will
For without your loving influence
I would be with you still

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A Lonely Death

Remember the fun we had
We got a kick out of being bad
Remember the times we have played
Those memories will never fade
Remember last summer like nothing man
The days we made out in the sand
Remember the day you gave me your ring
I was so happy I did nothing but sing
Remember the first time we broke up
We couldn’t stand it so we made up
Remember the kisses we have shared
The first time you told me you really cared
Remember the day you were talking to her
When it came out that you didn’t care
Now I’m in a home for unwed mothers
But why should you care, you have many others
Today I’m writing and fighting the pain
I’m keeping a child who still needs a name
The doctors came in a while ago
He says there’s trouble; Oh God, please no!
I found out he wasn’t lying
The nurse told me I was dying
The baby they say will be alright
But as for me, I’ll be somewhere else tonight
Before I go, before I die
I love you darling, take care and good-bye.

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I thank you for the times you cared
And all the memories that we have shared
I thank you for the sweet memories
A friend to me you will always be

I thank you for the tenderness
That fills each day with happiness
A joy that will last for all eternity
A friend to me you will always be

I thank you for just being there
And all the things you had to bear
And though there are time we don’t agree
A friend to me you will always be

I thank you for the gift of love
A gift that was sent from high above
A love that is of purity
A friend to me you will always be

I thank you for the things I can now see
And for what out friendship means to me
I thank you for all eternity
A friend to me you will always be

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