Whether you’re starting a bullet journal for the first time or just starting a new bullet journal notebook, these are the 5 things you should do to set it up.
1. Count the dots
I count how many dots horizontally and vertically and write it on a sticky note and place in the front cover for quick reference. Now when you want to set up a spread you don’t need to recount the dots every time.
Related Post: Otto Dot Grid Bullet Journal Notebook
2. Set aside more pages for the index / contents
Some dot grid notebooks don’t include them and when they do it’s usually only 1 or 2 pages which isn’t enough for me. I know you could put the index anywhere but I like having this in the front of the notebook. If you forget to set aside some front pages you could use the back pages instead.
3. Spread counting
At some point you’ll probably want to do a 2 column, 3 column, 4 column spread. E.g. a monthly calendar might have 4 boxes or 7 boxes. If you setup a spacing template it’ll make it much quicker to draw up all your spreads OR another option is to use one of my favorite tools – the Ink By Jeng Row & Column spacer template
4. Pen Testing
My favorite part! Time to justify all those pens, highlighters, stamps, brush pens etc. you’ve been hoarding for years to see which ones bleed through, ghost etc.
Related post: Tombow Brush Pen Testing in 8 Different Bullet Journals
Related post: Scribbles That Matter Notebook
5. Choose your key / color code
Some helpful posts:
- 50 Category Ideas for Color Coding Your Planner
- Color coding your planner: how to choose which colors to use
- 7 Color coding mistakes to avoid in your planner or bullet journal
If you have pages you frequently flip to you could make a separate key for these and mark the pages with washi tape.
This works well for:
- Habit trackers
- Cleaning schedules
- Routine tasks lists e.g. daily, weekly, monthly
- Shopping wish list or gift ideas lists
- Last time I did
- Go to meals list
- Quick tasks list
- If I have time list
If you’re not sure what pages you want to put where, write the page topic on a sticky note to work out what’s going where or to ‘reserve’ that page for future use so you don’t accidentally write on that page.
Some helpful posts with some pages you might want to add to your bullet journal:
- 52 Life admin tasks to add to your planner this year
- Setting up a new planner: 70 Tasks to add
- 50 cleaning task reminders to add to your planner
If there’s a page you use often that you don’t want to keep ruling up the spread for, you can resize a printable to fit any size notebook. Instructions are in this post.
More bullet journal tips
- 15 habit tracker tips & ideas to try
- 10 Different ways to do a monthly goals review in your planner
- 10 Bullet Journal Daily Scheduling Layout Ideas
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