What is a Bullet Journal Key?

Lessons from…On the Wings of My Pen #1
~ January 30th, 2017 ~

Bullet journaling can be a wonderful, useful, and precious tool all at the same time. You can keep track of To Do’s, track life habits, have a vent page, create pretty layouts, make lists of goals you wish to accomplish, keep track of funny things your kiddos or your husband says, doodle to your heart’s delight, or create beautiful art pages…expanding your creative energy. It’s all possible and the sky is the limit.


We will be covering as many aspects of the bullet journal as possible, however the list is as long as your imagination might dream up. We will cover the bullet journaling basics, first. I will also incorporate the Original Ryder Carrolls’ very basic analog system and Kara Benz at BohoBerry to give you two other reference points, along-side my own experience.
So, let’s jump into our first lesson…


What is a bullet journal key?

The KEY…
The Key is a page that describes the symbols (Icons), color coding, and check boxes you will be using within your own personal journal system. Some people choose not to use it, as they have certain symbols they’ve used for a long time and find it redundant or not needed. And that’s okay too. You don’t HAVE to do anything you don’t want to do.
The bullet journal is Highly adaptable for all kinds of tastes/likes. You will find this more and more as we progress in your lessons.


There is NO set structure you HAVE to follow. The bullet journal conforms and wraps around your desire…whatever that may be. And what’s GREAT about the bullet journal is if there is something you don’t like that’s not working for you, you can change it up at any time!! You don’t have to throw it away and buy another journal. It moves to fit your life…perfectly, in whatever direction you choose to take! (This is what made me and many others, fall absolutely head over heels for it!! LOL) It really grows with you. <3


Now, back to our KEY… (My Version)

1st Bullet Journal Key/Hard cover Moleskine, Square grid, Black -January thru May 2016

The Key contains a way to map out your:

To Dos ~ (started, completed, migrated, forwarded, deleted)
1. To Do…simple check box
2. To Do started…half filled in check box
3. To Do completed…fully filled in check box
4. To Do migrated…check box with a forward arrow, moved to the next day {Not completed that day. You can also migrate (or move)To Dos that have been started but not finished to the next day’s tasks, if you wish.}
5. To Do forwarded…check box with a back arrow back that you have decided to put back in your Future Log for a later date/review.
6. To Do deleted…check box with a line thru it. Used when you have decided that the To Do is no longer relevant or needed.
7. Event…small circle for a check mark or filled in. (self explanatory)
8. Appointment…small triangle for a check mark or filled in. (self explanatory)


And…personal Icons I use are as follows (you can use these or add more as you like)
⦁ Deadline…clock Icon
⦁ Idea…lightbulb Icon
⦁ Urgent…exclamation point
⦁ Special…asterisk or star symbol
⦁ Taking care of Me…a fancy peace symbol
⦁ Journaling, BJC (Barefoot Journaling Chronicles)…a Navy open journal
⦁ Personal journaling/scrapbooking…a Pink open journal
⦁ Work/My blog…a green briefcase
⦁ Spiritual…a light blue cross
⦁ Research…a magnifying glass
⦁ FUN! …a smiley face 🙂
⦁ Notes… a dot, arrow, or heart <3
⦁ Doctor… Stethoscope
⦁ Dentist… Tooth
⦁ Chiropractor… Red cross symbol


Color codes:

2nd Bullet Journal Key/Moleskine, dot grid, soft cover Teal -June thru August 2016

⦁ Pink – Family and Friends
⦁ Green – Work/My Blog
⦁ Navy – Journaling, BJC
⦁ Red – Tom (my husband) and I
⦁ Light Blue – God, Bible Journaling
⦁ Black – General To Dos


These are only an example of what you can do. The list is endless and fully up to your own imagination/creativity or the many ideas within the bullet journal community. (And BJC, https://www.facebook.com/groups/evonrobinsoncopy/ , FB page Barefoot Journaling Chronicles)


Ryder Carroll’s system is very basic…no frill or creativity. Very minimalist, but it serves his purpose well. Simple, yet effective for him. Here is his video… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfRf43JTqY4


Kara Benz at Boho Berry is similar in her Key, however she is more decorative within her bullet journal. She loves her arrows, creating mandalas, quotes she likes, and working on her handwriting. She inspired me to add in monthly Gratitude pages.

I love her style and organization. And she has some amazing videos on her channel. I have show-cased her before as a great example organized creativity. Here is her video… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAk_ZusrRJQ


Mine is developing a mind of it’s own. (As you can see from my photos) I began

3rd Bullet Journal Key/Leuchtturm 1917, dot grid, Purple -September 2016 thru January 2017

this amazing bullet journaling journey in January 2016, after doing quite a bit of research in December 2015 (for myself and BJC) on all the various bullet journals floating out there in Pinterest, You tube, and ultimately Facebook.


I turned a corner in my journaling journey when I found the Bullet journal. I absolutely LOVE mine and would never go back to the way I used to journal. This is much more meaningful to me and I make special pages/collections and let my creativity run wild and free. Or just add in a few doodles, washi tape, and stickers if I’m lacking time to fully immerse myself. That’s okay too.


*I’ll let you in on a secret…Shhh…I love to get creative when something or someone’s bugging me…instead of venting.* It puts a much more positive spin on my day. My BUJO is the PURR-FECT place for that…and more!


I began my personal bullet journal in the New Year January 2016 with a Black Classic Moleskine squared that lasted me thru May 2016.


Next, I tried a soft cover Moleskine, dotted for the summer months (June – August 2016).


I have nearly completed my third installment (Leuchtturm 1917, Purple, dotted, A5 size) of my style of the bullet journal (September 2016 – January 2017).


My next bullet journal (Leuchtturm 1917, Very Berry, squared, A5 size) is currently undergoing February setup as I key this. (January 29th) YAYYY!! 🙂

4th Bullet Journal Key/Leuchtturm 1917, Squared grid, Very Berry -February thru June 2017


Please leave me a comment, question, or photo of what Your KEY looks like (if you have one) in the comments section below. I will answer all of your questions and comments promptly!

Soo happy to have you with me on this journey. We’re gonna have soo much fun!!

Was this post helpful?? I look forward to your comments…
Stay tuned for even more lessons…


~Evon Robinson
Barefoot Journaling Chronicles (FB group)
Lessons from…On the Wings of My Pen

16 thoughts on “What is a Bullet Journal Key?

  1. This is very cool! I have always struggled with organization, and it’s so frustrating because I see people using lists all the time and they seem so organized.

    Whenever I attempt to use any kind of list or organization technique I always end up getting frustrated. From forgetting to keep it up to date, to getting weighed down with the minutiae of documenting the smallest detail.

    I think my largest frustration is that as things change and evolve (as things tend to do) the list itself gets terribly messy resulting in me looking for ways to organize my attempts at organization.

    That always leaves me feeling like the whole effort is fruitless.

    This concept of a bullet journal, something that adapts to how I work instead of me changing my strategies to comply with someone else’s rigid structure appeals to me.

    Thanks for an amazing journey into the realm of BUJO’s. I look forward to reading more!

    1. Aww…thank you for stopping by my new website James! Your kind words mean a lot to me.

      I look forward to teaching you through my ‘lessons’ and easing you into the amazing world of bullet journaling. It has become much more extensive for those of us who are creative and like to give it that fun, creative spin.

      However, it is a very useful tool in getting you organized and giving you targeted goals to shoot for, track, and obtain valuable record of your successes and struggles within your business or even personal life.

      YES!! The bullet journal ALWAYS fits to your own personal specifications, whatever they may be. If you try something within your bullet journal plan, and it’s just not working, you can always change it up to work better for you. It really grows with you as you move forward.

      Do not hesitate to contact me, if I can make this experience easier and more enjoyable for you. I look forward to seeing how it helps you in your business and personal life.

      We’ll have to have that ‘lunch’ when we both come to a celebration point. I would enjoy meeting you in person, James.

      My pleasure James…happy to help in any way I can. You will enjoy the ease of the BUJO…it is truly a unique and useful tool…my Fave.

      ~Evon 🙂

  2. This is such a great idea, I’ve been keeping journals of various things for most of my life and have never thought of using a technique like this.
    It’s one of those things that I never knew I needed, and now that I know…I need this. Thanks for opening my eyes 🙂

    1. Thank you for your kind comments Shelly! I only started bullet journaling in January 2016 after researching it out in Dec. 2015 for my FB group, Barefoot Journaling Chronicles. Now I would Never go back to the way I used to journal. It fits every unique individual in what ever way they wish to do it. And there are a million ways –evolving all the time.

      Now you should learn to do a spread of all your cat antics!! Wanna know how? Keep checking out my blog…and join my group!! 😉

      Come along…we have lots of fun!!


  3. Okay, you have officially inspired me! I have been trying to think of ways to make to do lists and I’m so happy I stumbled on your site. I think the color coding will really help me 🙂

    1. Ohh that makes me soo happy to be able to help you Emily! The bullet journal makes it soo easy and it forms right around your life and habits. If something’s not working out for you, you can change it up ‘quick as a wink’..and voila, you’re not stuck!

      Come join my FB group…Barefoot Journaling Chronicles and catch me on my blog, if you ever need help…just give me a shout out. Always lingering around on WA and my FB group. Thanks for checking me out! 🙂


  4. Evon, I love this!!! Having worked in education for 8 years before becoming a stay-at-home mom, I have a special place in my heart for “to do” lists and color coding! It never occurred to me to make a key for bullet journaling. I can’t believe that I didn’t know about this! A well organized notebook always makes me feel more organized in general. I am going to add a key to the notebook I am currently working on. It will be exciting to get everything in better order with the key. I’m going to start tonight! Thank you for your awesome tips!

    1. I’m so pleased you liked it Katie!! I started bullet journaling in January 2016 after doing a bit of research on the subject for my FB group, Barefoot Journaling Chronicles in mid-December 2015. I would never go back to the way I used to journal. Bullet journaling, by far, is the best thing I’ve seen since hot berry pie ala-mode!! Hee hee!

      I consider myself a Kindergarten teacher for adults. I love to help bullet journaling newbies to feel comfortable and confident in trying something new, esp when they feel they cannot do all the wonderful spreads they see on pinterest and instagram.

      I would love it if you joined us on my FB group…we have so many more ideas. I have 7 posts here…and am about to add another 32 posts shortly which are now on our FB group page. Lots more coming up in the future!!

      I’m honored…and would love you to join us further. If you need any help at all…I’m here and on BJC. Thank you for your kind comments! I look forward to serving you.

      ~Evon 🙂

  5. Absolutely loved this post! I have been wanting to make one of these notebooks for a while now but wasnt quite sure. This lays it out perfectly!

    1. Hello Cass,

      I’m so pleased you love it!! Thank you! I have 7 posts here, but 32 more waiting on my FB group, Barefoot journaling Chronicles. Feel free to join us for more treasures!! The bullet journal is always evolving as quickly as new people create new layouts and ways to keep track of their lives. It fits to each persons individual specifications. If something is not working for you in it…you can easily take it in another direction altogether. I would never go back to the way I used to journal.

      Please come back…and/or join my FB group. Consider yourself truly invited!! I look forward to seeing you again. I’m here and on BJC all the time, so if you get stuck, just let me know. Thank you again for your kind comments.

      ~Evon 🙂

  6. Hi Evon. This is certainly a fun and creative way to get organised. It gets me thinking about symbols I could design for my own particular needs. I will certainly borrow some ideas from from you, thank you for the great idea!

    1. Hello Eril,

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! If you’d like more ideas, come again…and you can also join my FB group, Barefoot Journaling Chronicles, for many more treasures! You can make it as minimalist or creative as you’d like…or somewhere in between. It fits each person’s life and can be changed in a snap, if it’s not working for you.

      Thank you for your kind review. I look forward to serving you further, if you’d like.

      ~Evon 🙂

  7. This looks like a great way for me to get organised. I have bits of scrap paper everywhere or notes on my phone. If it’s not on paper or the phone then it’s in my head. I just can’t find the time to actually get myself organized. I know though if I just take time out then I can get myself organized.

    I am impressed with bullet journalling from what I see here. Sounds good that it fits around you. I suppose the size of the journal is up to you as well. Also, I suppose you’d have to have plenty of pens as well, lol.

    1. Hello Owain,

      Yes…the bullet journal is great for getting all those post it notes, scribblings on envelopes, or in your head down in one place for retrieval or safe storage. The awesome part too is that it conforms to YOU!! If something is not working, you can change it just like that!! You can do it minimalist or creative… it’s all up to you. My examples are very creative, but not everyone wishes to do what I do. Ryder Carroll, a graphic designer, from NY created this analog system in a minimalist version, but it continues to evolve daily depending on the individual. Yes, there are many sizes to choose from. You don’t need a fancy journal to start. A composition notebook will work until you decide what’s right for you. Pens? Any of those you like will do as well. Start small and branch out. I’m on my 5th bullet journal…and will be starting my 6th in July. I fill my Leuchtturm 1917 A5 sized, square grid journals in about 5 months. Been bullet journaling since January 2016. Would never go back to the way I used to journal. My journal goes everywhere I do. It’s part of who I am.

      Stay tuned to my website here…I will be doing Review, comparison, and recommendation soon.

      Thanks for your kind review, Owain!

      ~Evon 🙂

  8. Hiya – just stopped by very quickly. I can’t wait to see what you have planned.
    Please, please add me to your mailing list.
    Andre (Homeworkers) at WA.

    1. Hello Andre!

      Thank you for your kind comments. What did you enjoy most?

      I look forward to detailing more, not only of the bullet journal, but many other coordinating topics that relate to bullet journaling in some way.

      Yes, please do stop by again. I will add you to my Mailing list very soon. Thank you!

      ~Evon 🙂

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