The Key to Bullet Journals

A lot of bullet journals revolve around the use of a set of symbols to signify certain things in their journal, allowing for quicker notation so that you can see at a glance what has been done, what still needs to be done and more.

Everyone's is different but I'm going to take you through some of the commonly used notations in bullet journaling, so that you can pick and choose and possibly come up with your own better alternatives. It's a system that totally encourages you to make it your own.


Here is my key at the moment, with small bullet points representing tasks the cross for a completed task can be drawn over the bullet point.

Migrating tasks is also a common aspect of bullet journals, and it relies on you taking tasks that still need to be done, and moving them forward as you progress through your journal. This way you keep track of things that still need to be done, even if you first entered them weeks ago. Many people also keep a task page for each month, where you can put everything you need to migrate from the previous month. This may seem like a lot of rewriting the same thing, but this is part of what helps a bullet journal keep you focused on the tasks that really matter. Each time you move tasks forward, you reconsider whether they still need to be done, and how important they are. If they are no longer relevant you cross them out, but sometimes it's just a small enough task that the thought of having to write it down again makes me simply go and do it.

As you can also see there are different symbols in my key for events, notes, tasks that have a particular priority (these have a star next to them) and things that I need to look into. I've left plenty of space to add different ideas that I might like to include in my bullet key but so far keeping it fairly simple has worked.

Here is an example of how an entry in my journal looks (although without migrated tasks as I have only just started):


As I am just starting I thought I would at least try and make my journal into one of those projects that people like Boho Berry have, where it is as much a little work of arts and crafts as it is a way to stay organised. Although this may prove too much effort in the long run I'd like to keep it up.

At the end of the week/month those tasks that weren't completed but are still relevant would of course have to be migrated to the next week/month and the task page for that month also.

To give you an idea of some other keys people  use for their BuJos here is another key idea I copied:


I like the division between events, tasks and appointments, although I don't think I really have enough appointments to warrant a symbol but others might. It also has the clever idea of keeping the date you migrated a task from, which helps you see exactly what tasks you have been really putting off. A little extra was also the cute symbols they used for different addresses, which I think I might use in my journal.

This is just a taste of the different ways in which people use symbols in their bullet journals, there are thousands of different combinations out there, you just need to find one that suits you. Lots of people use colour codes in their bullet journals as well, everyone's is different. Let us know what your personal system is and why it works for you.


Written in a Leuchtturm Medium dots notebook: Click here to see more


4 thoughts on “The Key to Bullet Journals”

  • jen farrant

    Wow, that's already looking really complicated, mines a mess of information, but the key makes such a difference to it being really useful.

    I do a recap each sunday, transferring the information I want to keep long term into Evernote, either by photo or writing it up.

    Love my journal

  • Emma McNiven

    All my Bullet Journal goodies have arrived and I'm looking forward to planning it this weekend and starting it properly on Monday. Going to start off keeping it simple (the Dominic method!) but if it works out I may introduce more creative elements..
    It was good to speak to you when I ordered on Friday Isaac - thanks for the goodies ;-) (& keep up the artistic additions to your journal - it looks great!).

    • Isaac

      That's a good idea to start off I think, my creative elements have fallen somewhat to the wayside I'll admit. Though I try to make up for it by just filling the odd page with a drawing. I'm sure you'll come up a great way to design yours that works for you.

      Best of luck with it!

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