Setting Up My New Bullet Journal + Tips & Tricks

featured image 17

Hello, dears!

I’ve been looking forward to posting this for quite a while! I recently used up my second bullet journal and bought a new one, which I absolutely LOVE so far! Today I’ll show you how I set it up, as well as some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

For those of you who don’t know, bullet journaling is kind of like a planner, but it’s more of a system than a certain notebook you buy. Part of its appeal is the limitless options for customization, which makes the system pretty hard to define. But basically it’s a way to keep all your lists and notes and journals in one notebook. Click here to see the BuJo website for more information. And reading the rest of this post might help too. πŸ˜‰


To begin with: the actual journal itself. I got this Essentials grid dot journal from Amazon, and it’s my favorite bullet journal I’ve owned so far!


Its features include…

  • a hardcover, easy-to-manage size of 8 1/4″ X 5 3/4″
  • light, evenly spaced grid dots for writing/drawing guidelines
  • decently thick paper
  • an elastic strap to keep the notebook closed
  • a ribbon bookmark
  • a paper pocket on the inside back cover

The cover is kind of a boring black, but you can decorate it with washi tape, metallic Sharpies, paint pens, etc. So far I just put a strip of washi tape down the spine and wrote a title with a white gel pen.



My supply list for setting up my bujo includes the following:

  • Essentials grid dot journal
  • washi tape
  • ruler
  • micron pens (sizes 04 & 08)
  • regular pencil
  • Pilot G-2 07 black ballpoint pen

Here’s my simple cover page. I’ve always kept my bullet journals pretty simple because I do most of my journaling in the evening before bed, when I don’t have a lot of time to make it fancy. This BuJo is very minimalistic, but I still think it’s pretty. πŸ™‚


On the first spread I have a “Fonts” page on the left and a “Quotes” page on the right. (Well obviously. XD)

bujo 1

I do my Bible journal in the evening as well, where I copy down my favorite verse from the chapter I read. I added the “Fonts” page becauseΒ I often run out of interesting font ideas. πŸ˜› Do you guys have any handwritten font suggestions? I also like having a place to put quotes I find in the books I’m reading, hymns I’m singing, songs I’m listening to, etc.

bujo 8
Ugh, you can tell there’s no more softbox lighting here. XD

I love this page! Maybe because it took forever. XD Seriously though, it was one of my most time-consuming spreads. :[] I allowed myself space to fill in 17 books each month, but sadly I don’t think I’ll fill them all up. In my last journal I did read 17 books in a month (in May), but I only read 4 books in January and March. *ashamed look*

bujo 2

Here we have “Birthdays” on the left and combination of a wishlist and prayer list on the right. I was so happy I thought of this 12-layer cake for the birthday page format, but… it didn’t turn out quite as cake-like as I’d hoped. XD Oh well, it still works fine.Β For the opposite page, I divided the page in two because in my past bullet journals I didn’t use a whole page for either subjects.

bujo 3

I kept this whole spread blank for writing down notes – ideas I thought of, questions to ask pen pals, blog posts I want to make… anything else that doesn’t fit in my other pages.

bujo 4

The left page is available for either more notes or a new list. The right page is a place for my goals, whether unrealistic or practical. πŸ˜‰ It’s pretty much a long-term to-do list.

bujo 5

Now for my monthly set-up! I used my 08 micron to write the name of the month in a font that’s both simple and pretty (are you starting to see a theme here? XD). I’m also going to use the gorgeous navy washi tape for each new month. I thought about adding doodles of important happenings on each month’s cover page as I go along, but I’m not sure I want to ruin the nice clean page now. XD Maybe I can use the blank page to the left?

bujo 6

On the left I have a sort of monthly overview, and on the right I start in with my daily journaling. I’ve never used a calendar before, but I think it will be nice to see at a glance what important events are coming up. Monthly goals are pretty self explanatory, so…

The right page is the part of my bujo I use the most, and the only daily section I have. I don’t have habit trackers for everyday chores and such because, well, I do them every day anyway. πŸ˜› Instead, I just write a few sentences about what I did/what happened that day, and then make a short to-do list for tomorrow.

bujo 7

And that about wraps it up! Before you go, here are a few things I’ve learned from bullet journaling so far:


  • If you make your BuJo too complicated, chances are you just won’t use it. (Or if you’re like me you’ll still use it and just be frustrated. XD)Β The time it takes to set up a page should correspond with how long it will last. Time-consuming pages are just fine for spreads that will last all bullet journal long (like my “birthdays” page, for instance), but don’t go as all-out for pages you’ll have to remake each month. For daily things, I like to keep it as simple and easy as possible.
  • Make a halfway mark in pencil for ease-of-use.Β It’s nice to have things centered, but it’s sooo tedious to count the dots and divide them up each time you make a new page. Instead, do that just once, and mark the center on the edges of the pages for a great shortcut. Now you can check the mark before centering your titles.


  • Use washi tape for easy pops of color, and to mark important pages.Β Washi tape is a nearly fool-proof way to add color and interest to your bujo. If you wrap the tape over the edge of the page like I did with my “June” page, you can see it even when you close the journal.
  • Get a bullet grid journal and one with a pocket for random lists. I suppose I’m a bit biased since I’ve only used a bullet grid journal, but I HIGHLY recommend them over just a regular lined notebook. It makes measuring and writing things a whole lot easier, plus it looks prettier!Β I’m also really enjoying the paper pocket at the back of the Essentials journal. It’s great for holding lists that I thought of after I already set everything up, or temporary lists that I don’t need to put in the BuJo anyway.

bujo 9

Hopefully this post was enjoyable and helpful! Do you have a bullet journal, and if so, do you have any tips for me? What lists/page is your favorite in YOUR BuJo? What was your favorite of my pages?

Thanks so much for reading, dears, and please have a lovely day!



100 thoughts on “Setting Up My New Bullet Journal + Tips & Tricks

    1. Thank you so much, Bella! I’m glad you liked the book tracker page. πŸ˜€ Last time I did something similar to it, which was inspired by Pinterest, but this time I wanted something simpler.


  1. hey Alison, You may think I am one of the 2,000 followers that’s just commenting on your blog for the 20th time but anyway,
    I have a giveaway going on tomorrow on my blog Middle Mary, and I was wondering if you would check it out. Thanks!!

    ~Mary E. @ Middle Mary~

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, Mary! Aww, well I love reading all of my followers’ comments, whether it’s their 20th time or their 2nd. πŸ™‚ And that’s so exciting, dear! I’ll be sure to check it out!


  2. Ahhh this is amazing! I’m so looking forward to buying a journal that’s just the right size and type for my personal bujo! I love your set up!! Thanks for the inspiration, Allison! Wow, look how many exclamation marks I used, haha. πŸ˜›

    Liked by 1 person

    1. THANK YOUU! Oh yes, it’s so great to find one that fits you just right. πŸ™‚ And thanks again! Hee hee, well I’m glad this post was worthy of the exclamation points. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can honestly say your bullet journal is a work of art!! I loved the pages with the empty book spines. πŸ™‚ Now I wish I spent more time on my *cough cough* bullet journal. -Jo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this! Thanks for sharing! I just recently started BUJOing, and I appreciate all your tips! ^.^
    How do you do your daily section? I use weekly spreads the most, and I’m trying different ways for it, and want to see other options. πŸ˜‰


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! Thanks for reading! πŸ˜€ I’m so glad you found it helpful, Grace. πŸ™‚
      I just write the date, a few sentences about my day, and a short to-do list for the next day. I hope that helps!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You know, it IS overwhelming, I understand you there. :[] I think it helps to plan it out in pencil so you get a good idea of where you’ll want everything before you put it down in pen. I’m so glad you liked my BuJo, and best wishes for starting yours!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Bujos….yaaaaaas….They excite me…because of al the creativity that goes into it…I don’t have much of supplies but I’m working with what i’ve got and working on getting more….
    Also if you are “in the market” for a new penpal me at

    Love your post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hee hee, ME TOO! Mmhmm, well one thing I love about BuJos is that you can do them with only a pen and a notebook if that’s all you have! It IS more fun to use more supplies though, right? πŸ˜‰
      And thank you so much for your offer! Unfortunately I’m kind of getting behind on my current pen pals’ letters as it is, heh heh, but if I get ahead, I’ll definitely check into it! πŸ˜€


  6. I just started using a bullet journal in January. As a newby, every month I allow for some changes in my set up as I see fit or need. And the more months go by I get a better idea of the rhythm that works for me. My favorite page is my habit tracker because it helps me stay focused on my goals and I can visually see where I’ve improved or need improvement. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! You’ve got some great ideas too!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great tip! It’s a really good idea to leave room for change, because it’s hard to know what you’ll use the first couple of times. And habit trackers are so neat! You’re quite welcome, and thank YOU for the comment. πŸ˜€


  7. I don’t have a bullet journal, but I’ve seen lots of pictures and really like them! This year and last year I’ve been using a store bought planner (well, I had been) and writing what we did each day in the daily sections, and also just things I’ve been thinking and occasionally a to-do list. We don’t really go out much or anything, so a lot of times I don’;t know what to writer in planners, but I really like your ideas! What kind of white gel pen do you use? I have one that just came in a pack of gel pens, and it doesn’t work. : /

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yesss, they’re so neat! Ooh, that sounds good, and ha ha, I know what you mean. Thanks so much, Laura! I use a Gelly Roll white gel pen. It’s not perfect but I use it a lot and I do really like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve been really wanting to start a bullet journal, and this is really helpful and inspiring, not to mention just a fun post overall! Your bullet journal is so cute and #goals hahaha! ❀ ❀


  9. OOOHHH, THAT WAS SO PRETTY, DEAR! Your calligraphy and fonts and all are getting so much better! (Not that they weren’t pretty in the first place, but you know.) I love how minimalist this journal is, and I LOVE your book page. β™₯ β™₯ Lovely post, dear!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I was doing a daily/weekly sketch journal (bullet journal type scenario) for a while, but recently with taking on the pursuit of writing and illustrating a book that has become more of an impromptu activity for days I truly feel the need or have a little extra time.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love your bullet journal! It’s so nice and minimalist and makes me happy πŸ™‚ That idea about using a pencil as a halfway mark is SO SMART how did I never think of that??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, that’s too bad. :/ I hope you can start it up again! Hand lettering is fun, but of course not a necessary ingredient in BuJo’s. πŸ˜› Still, it DOES make it prettier, doesn’t it?
      Also thank you SO MUUUCH!

      Liked by 2 people

  12. I haven’t written in my bullet journal for ages, and mine is not as fancy as all that, but I do prefer it to having a “proper” diary. I am looking forward to seeing more about your journal πŸ™‚


  13. Your bullet journal is amazing, Allison! If I ever get one, I want it to be like that – simplistic and easy, yet pretty. πŸ™‚ I love your lettering/handwriting – it looks so good!

    -Clara ❀


  14. I love this post so much! You really do a great job on your bullet journals. I wish I could be as artistic as you are with your bullet journals. XD Thanks so much for posting this! This is really inspiring!


    1. Aww, thank you SO much, Kaylyn! I’ll bet you could if you tried – it’s quite simply, really! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, and thanks for commenting! πŸ˜€ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No problem, Allison! Aww, thank you! I do really like to do lettering and stuff like that. I am not to bad at it. πŸ™‚ I really did! You’re welcome!


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