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How to Start a Bullet Journal Index

Your Ultimate Guide to Beginning a Bullet Journal AT ANY TIME

How exactly are you supposed to get started with a bullet journal? First, begin by understanding the bullet journal index. As with trying anything new, beginning a new bullet journal can be intimidating. There are a ton of conflicting resources out there telling you what bullet journal elements you should use or shouldn’t use. And the truth is, you do what’s right for you.

On my Instagram sister site, @showmeyourplanner, the question I get asked the most is

“How do I get started?”

For this series, I’ve chosen the key elements for bullet journaling and will explain them in detail, and of course, provide you with lots of gorgeous inspiration from my favorite bullet journal accounts. I’ve organized the posts in this series in the order in which I use them, but feel free to click through the posts in any order that you like.

Your Ultimate Guide to Beginning a Bullet Journal AT ANY TIME

  1. Bullet Journal Index (you’re here!)
  2. Bullet Journal Key
  3. Bullet Journal Future Log
  4. Bullet Journal Monthly Planning
  5. Bullet Journal Weekly Logs or Weekly Spreads
  6. Bullet Journal Dailies

One final step before we jump right in to the bullet journal index. It is important to choose the right notebook.

Finding the Right Notebook

Perhaps the greatest benefit to having a bullet journal in your life is that you can START AT ANY TIME! You do not need to wait until the newest planner is released. And you definitely don’t have to go without a planner until February so you can take advantage of planners going on sale.

You can start a bullet journal at any moment AND you can put your bullet journal on PAUSE too. Your bullet journal won’t be mad if you decide to take a break for a few weeks (or even months). There will be no bullet journal buyer’s remorse because it’s just a notebook. If you like, you can repurpose it to be a place to doodle, write shopping lists, or journal.

However, when you do take the plunge into bullet journaling, and you really should, there is one  you may want to consider before jumping in: choose an appropriate notebook.

What’s the right notebook? Honestly, there is none. You can even grab a lined notebook from one of your kids. However, if you’d like to use anything more than a ballpoint pen on which to write on those pages, you’ll want to invest in a decent – not expensive – just decent notebook.

My Personal Notebook Choice

Personally, I use a Leuchtturm 1917 notebook in the A5 size. It’s the perfect size to fit in my purse and school bag. The pages are thick so that my pens don’t bleed through the page.

Gorgeous color options for these Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks

If you’d like to learn more about how I use a variety of notebook sizes for work and my personal life, check out the post on my Essential Bullet Journal Supplies. There, I show the different sizes of notebooks and offer some alternatives to the Leuchtturm 1917 brand.

Now that you have your notebook, let’s get started!

Your Ultimate Guide to Beginning a Bullet Journal AT ANY TIME

Part 1: Index

First of all, what is a bullet journal index? The bullet journal index is like the table of contents in a textbook (can you tell I’m an elementary school teacher?). It’s a place for you to write down what is on each page in your bullet journal. I’ve always added to my index as I write on pages in my bullet journal. However, some SUPER organized bullet journalists write in their index first, as a way to map out their plan for the year or next few months.

Why even use an index?

When you begin your bullet journal, you’ll realize quite quickly that your notebook will fill up quite quickly. There are two book marks that you use two mark two pages, but you’ll need quick access to more pages than that. You’ll want to turn quickly to your monthly log or weekly spread or one of your collections. The index is the quickest way to make this happen.

Bullet Journal Index Inspiration

@jasminsjournal is the perfect example of  an index – a simple list with page numbers. Page numbers are a must, by the way in a bullet journal. That’s one reason why I love the Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks – the pages are already numbered for you.

Bullet Journal Index | Zen of Planning

Ok, don’t be intimidated by this index from @malwal94_bujo. This index might be my favorite! But it just goes to show you that you can be as simple or as detailed as you like in your index. The most important thing to do is to make it work for you. If you want to list every single weekly spread or shopping list in your index, then do it! Or, start an index, then skip about 30 pages, like I do.

Bullet Journal Index | Zen of Planning

In this index from @minimal.plan, she separated her collections from the pages she uses for planning. Many bullet journalists do this, they’ll use a separate section of their bullet journal for keeping track of various collections. One such collection is books to read, on which I have written a post. If you’d like ideas on how to keep track of all your favorite books, past and present, check it out here.

Bullet Journal Index | Zen of Planning

Smart Money Simple Life also divides her bullet journal index into two sections: one for calendars and another for collections. If you want to separate different aspects of your life, this technique will work for you!

Bullet Journal Index | Zen of Planning

Using color is another way to stay organized in your bullet journal. @planwithshanners uses the same colors in the index, as she does on the headers/titles in her bullet journal.

Bullet Journal Index | Zen of Planning

The Petite Planner also uses color in her bullet journal index. She assigns a color to certain categories: finances, appointments, kids, etc. At-a-glance, she can locate those different pages in her bulelt journal.

Bullet Journal Index | Zen of Planning

Pick up some gorgeous Zebra Mildliners

In her example below, Tiny Ray of Sunshine offers this simple tip to gain more space: draw a line down the midde of the page and voila! you have twice as much space in your index.

Bullet Journal Index | Zen of Planning

If you’re looking for something more sophisticated than an index, some bullet journalers use a Calendex. If you’d like more information on the Calendex, check out my blog post here. The Calendex is an alternative to a simple index, but it takes some getting used to.

There you have it! Grab your favorite notebook, number the pages OR order a Leuchtturm 1917 from Amazon, and get started!

When you have your notebook, you’re ready to move on to number 2 in the Ultimate Guide to Beginning a Bullet Journal at Any Time: the Bullet Journal Key

You can also click through to any of the other posts in this series by finding the link below.

Your Ultimate Guide to Beginning a Bullet Journal AT ANY TIME

  1. Bullet Journal Index (you’re here!)
  2. Bullet Journal Key
  3. Bullet Journal Future Log
  4. Bullet Journal Monthly Planning
  5. Bullet Journal Weekly Logs or Weekly Spreads
  6. Bullet Journal Dailies

Looking for some awesome Bullet Journal Hacks? Check out my post, 40 Hacks for your Bullet Journal in this New Year. There are some must-read tips in there, too!

If you’re looking for some general bullet journal inspiration, check out my Bullet Journal Pinterest board. If you want to learn more about planning in general, follow my All Things Planner board on Pinterest.

The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Bullet Journal Index | Bullet Journal Index | Zen of Planning

PIN ME!

Happy planning!

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