I’ve been bullet journaling for almost 5 years now and it has changed my life.
Regular planners simply did not work for me. Even maintaining simple to-do lists every day did not cut it. I needed a system that provided guidelines but is also flexible. When I discovered bullet journalling, it was as if something clicked into place.
Over these years of bullet journaling and seeing others come up with great ideas online, I’ve noticed all the trends and patterns.
There are some bullet journal spreads or pages that are so useful that almost every person uses them. These have become must-have bujo pages.
In this post, I’m going to be talking about these important bullet journal pages, why you should use them, and multiple ideas for each of them.
what is a bullet journal?
- 1 what is a bullet journal?
- 2 why is bullet journalling popular?
- 3 the 5 bullet journal pages you need
- 3.1 a calendar page
- 3.2 monthly goals
- 3.3 brain dump
- 3.4 expense tracker
- 3.5 habit trackers
- 4 summing up
If you’re new to bullet journalling, welcome!
A bullet journal is like a planner except the system is based on bullets. Tasks, events, ideas, etc. are noted down as bullets in order to break them down and make them easier to handle.
Think of it as to-do lists taken to the highest level.
For more info, check out the official bullet journal page or the creator’s YouTube video.
why is bullet journalling popular?
The main reason is that it works for everyone.
The regular printed planners available in stores are good. They have the generic pages that people generally require. Nowadays, many planners come with quirks and cute designs. And they work for many people.
If regular planners are not enough for you, if you find them too rigid and require flexibility in order to make them work for YOU, bullet journalling is perfect.
Because all the pages in your bullet journal are set up by you, you can completely customize them for your needs. And if you think it will take too long to set up, it actually doesn’t. I spend only about 15 minutes setting up for my upcoming month.
Bullet journals improve productivity by keeping you organized. Rather than writing events in calendars, important notes on your phone, and random thoughts in your head, you can put it all in one place: your bullet journal.
By using this system, your brain is freed from having to keep track of dozens of menial thoughts because they’re written down in one place. Hence, you can focus better on important tasks that require more concentration.
And the best part: bullet journaling is simple. It doesn’t have a hundred rules or methods of usage. If you’d like to follow a method, you can. But you don’t have to. It is easy to pick up and use.
Related post: How to Start a Bullet Journal: A Step-by-Step Guide + Checklist
the 5 bullet journal pages you need
These pages, or “spreads” as we bullet journalers like to say, are must-haves for everyone. I’m saying this now that I’ve used bullet journals for years over different phases of my life and have seen others use it through my bullet journal inspiration page.
a calendar page
There are three types of calendar pages—monthly pages, weekly pages, and future logs.
- Monthly calendar spreads, or monthly logs, show an overview of the entire month so that you can see events, deadlines, and important dates of the month in one place.
- Weekly pages, or weekly logs, are similar but may include more details like important tasks and smaller routine events.
- Future logs show the most important dates over multiple months in one spread.
Some people like to use all of these spreads, and others like to use one or two of them. It is up to you to choose depending on what you need based on your lifestyle and the number of things to be tracked.
how calendar spreads are helpful
- They help us keep track of important dates. It’s the same reason you would use a desk or wall calendar. Just that the calendar is now in a notebook which you can carry everywhere, and which also contains everything else you need.
- You can quickly at your upcoming schedule. The point is that you can see it all in one glance. This saves you time as you don’t have to flip through pages or delay making a decision because the dates are noted down elsewhere.
Although most people use these calendars for events exclusively, they can also be used to track due dates for bills, assignments, etc.
I suggest putting anything of importance on monthly and weekly pages including calls you have to make, bill-related tasks, grocery shopping, birthdays, and meetups. Put anything that can be planned a week or more in advance. This way, you can quickly check these pages before committing to any new schedules or events.
why in the bullet journal and not anywhere else?
You can keep track of the same things on a desk or wall calendar, or even on your phone. Why should you take the time to make a calendar page in your bullet journal?
It has everything to do with the concept of the bullet journal. Having all the information in one place will keep you more organized. When writing down your daily to-do lists or schedules, you can easily flip back and check the calendar pages. And it will all be in one notebook.
calendar page ideas
- For monthly logs:
- The simplest idea is a spread mimicking regular calendars.
- Another method, which involves zero drawings, is to list the dates on a page so that you can write one line for each day.
- My favourite method is to write the dates in the middle and have arrows branching out to write the events/dates.
- For weekly logs:
- A two-page spread is the most commonly used weekly log as it provides enough space.
- You can also track other things like weekly to-do lists like in this spread.
- Some bullet journalers like to combine their weekly logs and daily logs in order to not write things over again later. This may not be good for those who have a ton to fit into every day’s schedule.
- For future logs:
- You can do a 12-month future log in order to see the entire year’s most important dates at once.
- 6-month spreads are more helpful if you have many dates to plan and mark in advance.
Many of us have annual goals or resolutions but we often forget to work on them month by month. Or you may like me, unable to truly work on a goal for the entire year. Monthly goals are much more manageable and less intimidating.
Goal setting is one of the best ways to grow constantly. Goal setting and tracking because we should keep ourselves accountable. It doesn’t have to be the same goals every month. You can switch things up, try new hobbies, or work towards something bigger.
how goals pages are helpful
They remind you about your goals because you’ll see the page often, especially if it is right after your calendar spread. We may think that we don’t need reminders but our lives are quite busy and we can forget about personal growth in the chaos.
They keep you accountable because you need to either write down your progress on the page or check off the goal as “done”. Crossing off the goals with an X to show that you haven’t done it doesn’t feel good, so you will work on it.
They don’t have to be ambitious goals. Monthly goals allow you to make smaller and fewer goals that are easier to attain. 4 weeks is a lot but they also go by in a flash. 2-3 goals a month is good.
For more help on monthly goal setting, check out this guide.
monthly goals page ideas
- Divide the page into parts according to the number of goals. You can write down the goal and leave some space for progress to be filled in at the end of the month.
- A simple list of goals also works for many. Keep it next to a page that you’ll come back to often like the calendar page so that you will be reminded of your goals.
- If your goals are measurable, you can also make checkboxes to count the number of times you’ve worked on the goal.
This is one of the most useful pages, in my opinion.
A brain dump is a page where you dump all the miscellaneous tasks and thoughts that take up space in your head. For example, tasks that you can’t do soon and hence can’t write it down in the schedule, a note on books to read, packages that you’re expecting, etc.
You can have a brain dump page for every month, one for the entire year, or wherever you need it. Place it wherever based on the number of things you have to track.
Let this page be messy because it will contain scribbled notes over time. You can start out with a neat and pretty page but don’t focus on maintaining it that way. Some spreads have to be messy to work.
how brain dumps help
All of us have thousands of thoughts every day and often jump from one topic to another in our internal monologues. Sometimes we’ll remember tasks or calls to be done in the middle, will make a mental note, and move on. Some people are good at keeping mental notes but many aren’t.
As our days become faster and contain more tasks to be done, miscellaneous notes get lost in our minds. Writing them down somewhere helps us look back easily when we have some free time. It also frees up our minds from keeping track of lesser priority items, letting us focus on the tasks at hand.
brain dump ideas
- A page titled “brain dump” works for everyone. There is no categorization and hence everything can fit here.
- If you like to be a little more organized, you can have some categories like “tasks”, “notes”, or “to look up”.
- For more ideas, check out this informative post.
Everyone needs to track their expenses either in a notebook or digitally. If you’re using a bullet journal, do it in that because actually writing down your expenses makes you more aware of where your money is going.
All of us have tons of expenses nowadays and tracking them is imperative. It will always be a must-have bullet journal page. Having a clear idea of your expenses helps greatly. Some people like to see pie charts or bars of their expenses at the end so use Excel sheets too.
expense tracker ideas
- A simple tracker with three columns for dates, amount, and the cause is the place to start. It is easiest to set up and use.
- You can also colour-code your expenses so that it is easier to notice patterns at the end of the month.
- Differentiate between income and expense using symbols or colours.
- Another method is to have different sections for bills, miscellaneous expenses, subscriptions, etc.
These are one of the most popular bullet journal spreads used, and it is so for good reason.
Habit tracking directly works towards your goals by making you do the small steps every day.
how habit trackers are helpful
- They help us notice patterns in our routines that we may not be conscious of.
- We can notice and keep track of good AND bad habits.
- They keep us accountable to do some tasks every day and hence makes it a habit.
how to make habit trackers truly effective
Harsh truth: there is no point in tracking habits every day if it doesn’t lead to actions in your daily life.
For every item on your habit tracker, ask yourself WHY you’re tracking it. What is the goal? There is no point in tracking how many days I read a book if I read everyday without any prompting. It is a already a good habit and there is no use of me tracking that anymore.
Set your habit trackers based on your ideal life. Track habits that you want to make or break. You can also track somethings just for observation. For example, I tracked my phone usage for a month and put a limit the next month. This way, I’m curbing my phone usage slowly.
And don’t forget to stop tracking habits when they have been added to your routine! Switch them out with new ones to continue growing.
habit tracker ideas
- One of the most popular layouts is having mini calendars where you check off the dates when you completed that action.
- You can also just write the dates or assign spaces for the dates either horizontally or vertically.
- If you’re writing down information to observe then you can use an entire page for that, with one line for each day.
The 5 must-have bullet journal pages are:
- A calendar page of any kind to track important dates.
- Monthly goals pages to track your growth.
- Brain dumps to clear you head.
- Expense trackers to manage your finances.
- Habit trackers to form your ideal routine.