A Beginner’s Guide to Digital Bullet Journaling

But first, what is a bullet journal?

A bullet journal is a customizable planner system—some call it “a mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system.” It can be your to-do list, your calendar, a sketchbook, a diary, and most likely, it will be all of the above. The beauty of digital bullet journaling versus paper bullet journaling is that you never have to worry about making mistakes and you have complete creative control over your layout and designs.

Getting started

If creating a bullet journal feels overwhelming — don’t worry! We’re going to show you how easy it is to create your very own digital bullet journal using Notability. First, you’ll need to download the app. You can download Notability for free from the App Store here.

Digital Bullet Journaling with Notability detailed tutorial

Step one: set up your Favorites toolbar

Before diving into journaling, it’s helpful to take a minute to customize your Favorites toolbar inside of Notability. This will save you time throughout your process and help you maintain a consistent style. You can save custom pens and highlighters in various thicknesses, strokes, and colors. You can even save your commonly used eraser preferences. This simple step will save you a lot of headaches when switching between tools in the future!

Step two: set up the journal structure

Here, we will cover all the typical pages you may want to include in your bullet journal. It’s worth noting that these pages can look different for each person. You can choose to customize however you want, but we’ll share our preferred method here.

The key

The first page of your bullet journal is the key. This is where you will list out signifiers (symbols for your journal entries) and other important information.

Here are some examples of signifiers:

  • Tasks represented by a bullet point
  • An X over the bullet means the task has been completed
  • An arrow means the task has been migrated
  • A line through it means the task has been canceled
  • An asterisk signifies a priority

You can also color code tasks and events in your journal for easy reference. Consider this page your home base.

Year at a glance

This page is a great tool to help you remember important holidays, birthdays, goals, and tasks. It’s helpful to place this at the beginning of your bullet journal, so you can plan for all your future events in the following pages.

Month at a glance

This page is where you keep your month overview. You can choose to format this as a list or a calendar. If choosing to make a calendar, we recommend using a light grey color to make the content pop. It also helps to customize your colors for specific types of events.

First write the month at the top. You can create a custom section on the right of your page with space for tasks you want to complete that month and any unfinished tasks from the previous month.

Tip: Once you are happy with your design, duplicate the page before adding any content. That way you can fill it in month after month without recreating the format.

Once the page format is complete, take a minute to transfer appointments, events, and other important dates from your existing calendars. Don’t forget to add in any important dates from your year at a glance page (tip: it helps to use the Multi-Note feature in Notability to quickly reference both pages while filling in dates and tasks).

Monthly check-in and brain dump

You’ll want to divide this page into two parts; the left side for a monthly check-in and the right side for a brain dump. The monthly check-in is a space to check in with yourself emotionally, spiritually and physically. It’s a place where you can evaluate your relationships and understand what you need to do to improve these areas of your life. The brain dump is a page where you can release whatever is on your mind without any judgement. We’ve found this page can alleviate stress because when you take the time to express your thoughts on the page you can organize them into smaller, more actionable tasks.

Daily memories and habit tracker

The daily memories page is a space to reflect on life’s small joys and remind you how these moments affected you at the time.

To begin your habits page, you can copy the small calendars from your year at a glance, so you can track your progress. Every day that you successfully act on a habit, you cross off the corresponding date in the calendar. It serves as a daily reminder to act on your habit and it feels rewarding to see how many times you’ve maintained your desired action.

Daily gratitude

This next page is where you can collect daily gratitudes. In the morning, write one thing you’re grateful for and then repeat this once in the evening. There are two bullet points for each day. You can even add a more personal touch by recording audio notes to your entries with Notability’s audio playback feature.

Daily log

To create the daily log page, begin by making seven headers for each day of the week. You can start by filling in the date, day and weather. Divide the space below each header into three sections. Then fill in your tasks and events for the week.

Here’s a technique to keep you focused — list out your top three tasks of the day above the first line, then less important tasks in the middle space, and finally any personal events or items in the remaining space below. Many people like to use the daily log to check water intake, meals, exercise, etc.

So there you have it, your very own bullet journal!

Congrats! Your bullet journal is ready for use. By going digital you don’t have to worry about making mistakes, you have more creative freedom to bring ideas to life, and you are saving paper in the process. One of the most wonderful things about your bullet journal is that it will become a time capsule and a keepsake for all the important moments in your life.

Here are some final pieces of advice as you navigate your bullet journaling path:

  • Make this a time to be mindful and creative as you start your day.
  • Try to make it a habit. Reference your journal first thing in the morning and right before bed (even if it’s just for a minute).
  • Don’t feel pressured to compete with the most beautiful journals you see online.
  • This is your space!! Make it as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be.

We hope you feel inspired to capture your ideas and thoughts in a new way. If you want to expand your creativity and get additional content to use in your journal — give the Notability subscription a try. You will get access to a plethora of hand crafted stickers, planners and more.

Bullet Journal Starter sticker pack (available with Notability subscription)

We’d love to see your creations! Feel free to share your notes with us on the Notability Gallery.

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