How to set up a bullet journal

By Sara Shohoud

The boredom of quarantine has gotten to me. I have been passing time binge-watching Netflix shows and staying up for hours on end watching mediocre TikToks. I realized that I wanted to use this free time to be productive, and so I decided to start a bullet journal. 

I had started one in the past but never committed to it because I was “too busy”.I can no longer use that excuse, so I decided to give it another go. Here is how to set up a simple bullet journal for first time bullet-journalers:


Step One: Choosing a Theme

Choosing a theme is not necessarily essential, but it does help make everything cohesive. For the month of April, I chose “April Showers” as my theme with the colors blue and gray for the palette. I started the month off with an overview calendar of the month of April. 

Step Two: The Calendar

The second and third pages are a basic calendar to just give me an overview of the month. It also helps me keep track of what day it is while in quarantine. I drew little cloud doodles in the bottom right corner to keep the “April Showers” theme. 

Step 3: Setting Up the Planner

I found this planner set up in a YouTube video. I cut the pages in half and put two boxes on each page. Each weekday gets its own box while the weekend gets one box split in half because I usually have less to do during the weekend. I filled in the extra full pages with cloud drawings to fit the theme. This setup is very easy to do and doesn’t involve too much measuring. I find it very cute and simple, and I am very happy with the way it turned out.

Step 4: Mood Tracker

Once done with the calendar and planner aspects, I decided to set up a mood tracker. Quarantine has taken a toll on my emotions so I figured it would be helpful to track my mood through the days. I found inspiration from a similar layout on a website and I absolutely loved it. It’s very easy, especially for someone like me who can’t draw, and it fits in perfectly with my month’s theme. I put a key at the bottom of the page, assigning colors to how I feel. 

Step 5: Habit Tracker

Maintaining a healthy and productive lifestyle is difficult during quarantine. So I decided to include a basic habit tracker to ensure that I keep up with some form of a routine day to day. However, I am human so of course I don’t keep up with these habits everyday, but with this tracker I can reflect on how I am living in quarantine and improve when I see myself stop these habits. 

Step 6: Music

During quarantine many negative emotions tend to spring up, and I typically spend 60% of my time listening to music. I made a list of what songs I should listen to when I feel sad, lonely, or bored. I chose these songs because I know that they’ll help me out of my rut and make me feel more positive and productive. 

Step 7: Movies

Spending my quarantine days watching movies is not the most productive thing to do, but I knew it would happen eventually. I made a list of movies to watch each day and I would color them in once I had watched them. I thought I would have more time in quarantine to watch every movie, but I underestimated the amount of homework I would have and personal projects that I wanted to do. Regardless, I am glad that I made this list because if I ever get excruciatingly bored I can just watch my “assigned” movie for the day.

Step 8: Books

I never read. I hate reading. The only reason I ever read school books is because I would have to write an essay later that would be worth half my grade. However, I know it’s important for me to stimulate my brain during quarantine. This page is dedicated to books I should have read in the month of April. I drew a bookcase and some rectangles to make it look like a bookshelf. I put the title of various books in the rectangles then colored in the books I read. I ended up reading one-and-a-half books this month. I really did push myself to read, but I became so bored with one book that I would move onto the next one within the first 25 pages. 

Step 9: Quarantine Crafts

I have been going on TikTok a lot more during quarantine, so I decided to make a list of interesting crafts I saw and really wanted to try. These projects took up more time than I anticipated, and it really helped pass the time along. So far I have painted my mirror and I am currently painting a movie collage of Wreck-It-Ralph. 

I am so glad I started this bullet journal. I have been wanting to start one for a while and it took me being trapped in my house to finally do it. It does seem very simple but I am hoping that in future logs I can have more features and interesting set ups.