I am declaring publicly that I, Jemma Michelle Bakker, am going to start a bullet journal. You heard right. I am going to start a bullet journal and hopefully keep it up for more than three weeks. I’m one of those people that can’t form a habit past three weeks. If you have any tips at all for sustaining a habit past this, please let me know.

Pinterest has been my go to as well as the official bullet journal website for research. It looks rather difficult but I am sure, like everything, once you get the hang of it it’ll be all gravy.


Bullet Journaling 101 - learn how to start a bullet journal AND maintain one in this epic post

Before we get into the nitty gritty – this post contains affiliate links. In the event that you purchase any of the supplies mentioned through the links provided, I may receive a small commission. But hey, don’t worry, it won’t cost you any extra. 


So what is a bullet journal?

Well, my friend, a bullet journal is a journal will bullet points in it. Kind of. Let me find you the official definition.

A bullet journal is designed to help you track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future.

Phew, that seems like an awful lot of work for one wee journal. You can make your bullet journal as simple or as complex as you like. Your journal can be your task manager, sketchbook, journal, idea catcher, and basically whatever you want it to be.

The Bullet Journal is an organizational system in a notebook that keeps track of anything you would like to write down in a nice, simple, fun way.


What you need to bullet journal

Buy a journal. Or use one that you have stored away. If you are anything like me, you will have a pile of them stashed away waiting for that elusive day when you declare you are indeed intending to use it.

Grab some pens. Otherwise, you can’t write/draw/list in your journal. And that will defeat the purpose.

Make sure you have the right mindset. This is super important. If you go in with a half-arsed mindset you will only put in a half-arsed effort.

Bullet Journal


  • A dedicated notebook (to show you’re actually serious about this journaling business)
  • Fun, colourful pens make journaling less of a chore
  • Stencils, to bring that wow factor to your journal. Plus, as an added bonus, bring out your inner school kid
  • Washi tape brightens your journal

Starting your bullet journal

There are some essential bullet journal fundamentals that you need to put in your notebook to kick-start your journal.

The first is an Index Page so you can find all your amazing lists, tasks, doodles, notes

The second is the Future Log so you can keep track of all those appointments, trips, birthdays and such

The third is the Monthly Log to have a birds-eye overview of the current month

The fourth is the Daily Log to record your daily-ness

There is also a Key of sorts that we shall go through shortly


Bullet Journal


Components of a Bullet Journal

There are several components to a bullet journal. These are:

  • Index
  • Collections
  • Rapid Logging
  • Migration


The index is exactly what it sounds like, it is a place to pop all your bits and bobs into one organised page. You just add the appropriate page number and collection to the index as you go. Think of it as a work in progress. This enables you to find your page easily later on. Top Tip: Remember to number your pages as you go along or else you will render the index page rather useless. And then it won’t fulfil its job and feel sad.

For example, one day you may think, “Hmmm I wrote a list of my favourite songs but I just can’t for the life of me figure out which page I put it on. There are so many filled in pages. Oh! I know! I’ll look in my handy index page and find out where it is. There it is! Page 241″ *flips to page 241* Well ain’t that useful?


Collections are the things you fill your journal with. They can include (but not limited to) your future, monthly and daily log, lists, doodles, goals, gratitude log, notes, trackers, mind maps and anything else your wee heart desires.

FYI: everything is considered a collection in the bullet journal world.

Just remember, every time you make a new collection you need to add the page number to your index.

Future Log

This is where you write down events occurring in future months. You can create the layout that makes the most sense to you, such as dividing your page into equal parts and jotting down all the future tasks that you are aware of (that darn dentist appointment in March) or things that you want to get around to one day (cleaning out the car *one day*). The layout is completely up to you and what works for you.



Monthly Log


The Monthly Log consists of two facing pages, one is the Calendar page and the other is the task page which will help you to organise your month. This is just a birds-eye view of your month so don’t write a novel for each day. You can do those as separate entries.

The calendar page is where you jot in events and tasks that have specific dates. You can pop them on your calendar in advance or after the task is complete.

The task page is where you write all the tasks you want to tick off that month and is where you migrate your unfinished tasks to (more about migration below).

Daily Log

The Daily Log is designed for day-to-day use. At the top of the page, record the date as your topic. You can jot down your tasks etc as they occur.

Don’t set up Daily Logs way ahead of time. Create them as you go or the night before. You never know how much space you may need. Some days you may feel more ‘writey’ than others.

Other Collection Ideas

21 ideas to put in your bullet journal. The world is your oyster!

The world is your oyster pretty much. You can add whatever takes your fancy. If you have any more ideas to add to the list make sure you let me know. I need some inspo.

If you need more inspiration check out Pinterest, there are loads of ideas at the click of a search.

Rapid Logging

Rapid logging is a little confusing to start off with. It is essentially a key. Beside each task, you do a little symbol which represents the task, a completed task, a migrated task and a scheduled task.

The key:

• Task – Goes beside any task you write down.

X Completed – Once you’ve completed a task, mark it with an X (like a pirate map)

> Migrated – If you didn’t complete a task, you migrate it to another collection. (This may be where all my tasks end up)

< Scheduled – Tasks with specific dates in the future. These can be added to the future log.

o Event –  Events are date-related entries that can either be scheduled or added in afterwards


Bullet Journal Key



– Note – Notes include facts, ideas, thoughts, and observations.

* Priority – Tasks with an asterisk are given priority

! Inspiration – Placed next to a task these can be great ideas, personal mantras and insights

(Eye) Explore – These are used when something requires further research, information or discovery (my computer hasn’t got an eye icon. Don’t write ‘eye’. Draw one)

Points to remember with the key and signifiers

Rapid-logging is used throughout your bullet journal in the collections (including monthly and daily logs). You jot down short snippets and add signifiers to add more context. You don’t need to add a signifier to every task – just the ones you feel appropriate.

You can add your own signifiers to suit you, you can add extra ones or change the symbols. It is your journal to personalise how you see fit.



Migration is an important part of bullet journaling. At the end of each month, review your month and migrate any incomplete tasks to the next month (if they are still relevant). Remember to check out your future log as well to see if there are any tasks that need to be added to your new monthly log.


Some tips for maintaining your bullet journal

  • Make it simple to start off with – you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with All The Things
  • Use colourful pens to brighten up your journal – make it look inviting
  • Place your journal somewhere out in the open – so it looks dolefully at you if you miss more than a few days in a row
  • Try and fill it in at the same time every day so that it becomes a habit
  • Be inspired – check out Pinterest for loads of different layouts in a variety of styles, tonnes of collection ideas and some good ole jealousy of all the amazing bullet journals out there
  • Carry your journal with you – or download a note-taking app on your phone so that you can quickly transfer lists, ideas, inspiration etc when you get home. It’s the worst thinking of a spectacularly amazing idea and only to find out it’s gone and disappeared on you by the time you get home.

Bullet Journal Mood Tracker


Other things to note

Phew! Wasn’t that a lot of information in a short space of time (page)?

Remember, your bullet journal is your own. You can organise it in a way that makes sense to you. You can pop whatever the heck you want in there. Just try to stay consistent (don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it every day) and have fun with it. Be creative.

I would love to see pics of your journals. Fire them at me by emailing admin@accordingtojem.com. I would love to see them.

What are your thoughts on bullet journals? Do you keep one? Have you ever thought about keeping one?




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Bullet Journaling 101 - learn how to start a bullet journal AND maintain one in this epic post
Bullet Journaling 101 - learn how to start a bullet journal AND maintain one in this epic post


Bullet Journaling 101 - learn how to start a bullet journal AND maintain one in this epic post


4 comments on “Bullet Journal 101 – How to start a bullet journal (and maintain one)”

  1. Hello, I just came upon your post and liked it quite well! I have been collecting ideas for a bullet journal, oh…And not to mention a very handsome caddy of supplies to use with it have been coming to my doorstep for that journal that was to have started January 1,2018. (Thanks Amazon!) Today is…March 12,2018. The items have supplies have all been unwrapped, even did a trial run of a mood tracker in a 97 cent composition book. Problem number one…In ALL the utube, Pintrest through the land, not one (and I recognize everyone’s book is unique, but as you had mentioned regarding the index…Do I put the index the very first page when book is opened…Or is that the key? Seems like key should come first then the index because you add on. And I am not grasping the ” Future log, daily log, monthly log” either. If those are to be a calendar of such depending on how the individual wants them, how are you listing those in your index? Couldn’t you list M1-W1 for month one/week one and all the corresponding pages be listed under that title? I have been quite ill. On days that I’m marginally well I obviously over-think things. Today was bad, but naturally being its almost 10pm….I’m not in as much pain so I’m up and have all my pretty supplies on my bed like the witch stroking her flying monkeys. Nice image that gave you I’m certain! Please! I have got to get this together to track not so much my appts…I have 4 calenders, white board and an iPhone for that. I’m just thinking creativity, an outlet for the anger, depression, anxiety and many other things that I could not only track, but may help relieve. Any ideas would be welcomed. If there is another Pinner that you think could be helpful to what I’m sure is simple to normal people, yet I frighten you… you can smile and just tell them you have someone “special” needing help! ? Much thanks!

    • Hey Julie,
      Sorry, this message got missed amongst all the craziness that has been going on. So sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. The key goes first and then the index page. The index is where you write down the page number for EVERYTHING so you can easily access it down the line. Future log and daily log are slightly different. Future log is where you pop all your upcoming appointments etc and daily log is like your to-do list for the day. But at the end of the day, your bullet journal is YOURS so you can lay it out however you please. You don’t have to follow the ‘rules’, you can make up your own! Keep on keeping on Julie, you will get there
      Arohanui (much love)

  2. No need to appologize. I did start on my “key” Sunday night. My book will not be a traditional bujo and as stated in many other blogs, post, utubers etc… everyone is unique as well as their level of creativity and what will meet thei needs. Mine will focus on just being more positive, creating a medication “refill date” tracker since the idiot pharmacy I have to use is…well, I used to work for the hospital here in this rural town and they knew how to get it done. Otherwise, it seems like you have to check your bag for the straw when you leave a food service drive thru. No joke, very frightening and these are meds being dispensed.
    Looking at the “key” again now (knowing it still wasn’t don’t) I hate it. It took me hours with hand tremors and cramped up or numbness in fingers. I like the damn wash I tape! So, getting your email actually was inspiring. I have a dr appt tomorrow and really had hoped to shave my legs and do a manicure, but… now I think I will do the manicure, pull out some card crafting paper and washi tape it over this mess ( wish I could do that to my life right now) and make it better. I thought I could send a snapshot. This platform clearly had limits for safety.
    You had another post the other day that had me with my head in my hands. I sense you being much younger than me, but the things you express in words I often feel, but can’t seem to find the right words, have given up on trying to explain…and really it doesn’t matter because my younger, but high and mightier social worker sister has brain washed my family into believing some kind of crap that we just don’t even speak and now my kids are beginning to drift away. I don’t think I have ever found someone (especially by accident) that seems to kind of “just know”. And bless you for even sending a reply to me. That shows the kindness you have and the kind of integrity you hold with regard to a quality blog whether it be about a journal or experiencing life without rose colored glasses. Thank you, YOU are a Jem ?

    • Hey Julie,
      I am pleased you are picking up your journal again. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, as long as it is helpful to YOU that is all that matters. Unless you are going to show it off to everyone it doesn’t matter if it is scribbled, crossed out, messy or torn 🙂
      I am so glad you have connected and please feel free to reach out whenever you need it

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