How To Create And Use Bullet Journal Key

bullet journal key


A bullet journal key can help to organize your thoughts and track progress. But how do you make and use a bullet journaling key? In this blog post, we’ll go over the basics of making and using a bullet journal key and explore some key symbols and their meaning


What is a bullet journal key?

A bullet journal key is like your personal legend. It’s a concise set of symbols and ideas that you create to track and categorize your tasks, events, and notes. The key is typically found on the bullet journal key page, and it simplifies your bullet journaling system. 


For example, a dot (•) might signify a task, a star (*) an important event, and a dash (-) a note. This bullet journal legend is an essential component of organizing your bullet journal spread efficiently.


bullet journal key
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Bullet journal key examples.

  1. Task Symbol (•): Used to represent tasks that need to be completed.
  2. Task Completed (✓): Indicates that a task has been completed.
  3. Event Circle (◦): Signifies an upcoming event or appointment.
  4. Event Square (□): Used for marking important events or deadlines.
  5. Note Star (★): Represents significant notes or ideas.
  6. Note Exclamation (!): Highlights urgent or critical information.
  7. Priority Arrow (→): Marks tasks or events with high priority.
  8. Migrated Task (>): Indicates that a task has been moved to another day.
  9. Canceled Task (X): Denotes a task that has been canceled or is no longer relevant.
  10. Idea Lightbulb (💡): Represents creative ideas or inspirations.


Bullet journal key codes and the meaning

These are a few simple Bullet journal key ideas to get you started

  1. 🗳 Poll – An area to track the results of a poll or survey
  2. ✏️ Creative – Used for creative tasks, like doodling or writing
  3. 🔦 Spotlight – Something that needs extra attention
  4. 🗃 Collection – A place to store related items
  5. 📆 Calendar – Used to track upcoming deadlines or events
  6. 🎉 Celebration – Used to track celebrations or special occasions
  7. 📅 Agenda – Used to plan meetings or events
  8. ⏰ Alarm Clock – Used to track time-sensitive tasks or deadlines
  9. 🎯 Goal – A place to track personal or professional goals
  10. ☑️ Checkmark – Used to indicate a task has been completed
  11. ❓ Question Mark – Used to indicate a task that needs clarification
  12. 🗂️ Folder – A place to store documents or resources related to tasks
  13. 👍 Thumbs Up – Used for marking successful tasks
  14. ✅ Tick – Used to denote a task is in progress
  15. ➕ Plus Sign – Used to denote related tasks
  16. ➖ Minus Sign – Used to denote tasks that are not related
  17. 🔎 Magnifying Glass – A place to store research or investigation-related items
  18. ♻️ Recycling Symbol – Used for task recycling, such as ideas that have been used over again ⏩ Fast-Forward – Used to signify an upcoming task that needs extra attention
  19. 🔑 Key – A place to store important resources or credentials
  20. 📝 Notes – Used to jot down additional details or information related to tasks
  21. 👀 Eye – Used for tasks that need extra monitoring or frequent checks
  22. 📚 Book – A place to store reference materials related to tasks.
  23. 🔒 Lock – Used for confidential tasks or items that need extra security.


How to use bullet journal key?

Using your bullet journal key is a breeze once you understand it. In your bullet journal, refer to your key symbols as you jot down tasks and events. As you record, apply the bullet journal key ideas you’ve defined. 


For instance, if you’ve decided that a forward arrow (→) means a task is postponed, you’ll use it in front of relevant tasks. This bullet key simplifies the process, making your bullet journal an effective tool for tracking your daily life.

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How to create a bullet journal key

To craft your bullet journal key, first, consider the bullet journal symbols you’ll use. Keep it simple with a minimalist bullet journal key or get creative with unique icons. Document your chosen symbols clearly on a dedicated bullet journal key page. 


Don’t forget to label them, explaining their meanings. The goal is to make your bullet journal key a practical and intuitive part of your bullet journaling routine.


What is the traditional bullet journal key?

In the world of bullet journaling, the bullet journal key serves as a legend that helps decipher your notes. It typically consists of a set of bullet journal key symbols or bullet key symbols used for rapid logging. 


The most traditional key symbols include a dot for tasks, a circle for events, and a dash for notes. These elements are the backbone of the bullet journaling system and are found on the bullet journal key page.


Where does the key go in a bullet journal?

The bullet journal key usually finds its place at the front of your bullet journal, either on the first page or on a dedicated spread. 


This placement makes it easy to refer to the key while organizing your daily entries. The key page acts as a quick reference guide to understand the bullet journal symbols or bullet journal keys you use throughout your journal.


bullet journal keys
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Does bullet journaling work for ADHD?

For individuals with ADHD, bullet journaling can be a game-changer. The bullet journal system is highly adaptable and can be customized to suit your unique needs. 


You can design a minimalist bullet journal key or a simple bullet journal key that caters to your preferences, making it a helpful tool for managing tasks, appointments, and notes. 

This level of personalization and structure can provide the necessary support for those with ADHD to stay organized and focused.


Types of Bullet Journal Keys

In bullet journaling, various types of keys help organize your entries efficiently. The most common ones include task keys, event keys, and note keys.

A task key typically uses symbols like dots (•) to denote tasks and checkboxes to indicate completion.


Event keys use a small circle (◦) or a square (□) to represent events, and note keys might use asterisks (*) or exclamation points (!) for important notes.

These keys act as visual cues, helping you quickly identify and prioritize your entries, maintaining a professional tone of organization throughout your journal.


Difference Between Bullet Keys and an Ordinary Planner

Bullet journaling is more flexible and personal compared to using an ordinary planner. Bullet keys, such as the symbols I mentioned earlier, allow for a unique coding system that helps in quick content recognition. 


In contrast, an ordinary planner typically uses pre-printed formats, which can limit your creativity and might not cater to your specific needs. Bullet journal keys provide adaptability, making it possible to design your planner according to your lifestyle and preferences, giving it that first-person, relatable touch.


What is the key for bullet journals?

The bullet journal key is a fundamental component of bullet journals, serving as a set of key symbols to denote different types of entries. 

This journal key empowers you to distinguish between tasks, events, and notes with ease. You can create your own key by using symbols that resonate with your needs and preferences, making your bullet journaling experience truly unique.


Can you bullet journal on a computer?

While traditional bullet journaling is typically done on paper, it’s also possible to adapt this system for digital platforms. Various apps and software options allow you to create a bullet journal spread electronically. 

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This digital approach offers the convenience of portability and easy editing, but some enthusiasts argue that the tactile nature of pen and paper enhances the bullet journaling experience.



bullet journal legend
Image credit: Reddit


How do you index a bullet journal?

Indexing is an essential part of organizing your bullet journal. To create an index, designate a section of your journal as the index page and list keywords or topics along with their corresponding page numbers. 


This bullet journal legend makes it simple to locate specific information, and it complements your bullet journal key, helping you maintain an efficient and organized journal.


What is a bullet journal template?

A bullet journal template is a pre-designed layout that simplifies the process of setting up your journal. 


It provides structure and inspiration, often featuring sample bullet journal key ideas and bullet journal key symbols to get you started. Templates can save time and serve as a helpful guide, especially if you’re new to bullet journaling or seeking fresh design ideas.


What is junk journaling?

Junk journaling is a creative and bullet journaling-related practice that involves repurposing scraps, ephemera, and various materials to craft a unique journal. 


This style often deviates from the structured and minimalist approach of traditional bullet journals, embracing a more eclectic and artistic look. 

While not focused on efficiency like a standard bullet journal key, junk journaling prioritizes self-expression and memory-keeping, making it a delightful and personal form of journaling.


How do I make my own bullet journal?

Creating your own bullet journal is a fantastic way to stay organized and express your creativity. 


Start with the bullet journal key page on your first pages. Here, you’ll define key symbols like dots for tasks, circles for events, and dashes for notes. Incorporate a bullet journal legend for your bullet journal key symbols to serve as a reference guide.


Design your bullet journal spread on the next pages, keeping it as minimalist or as elaborate as you like. 

Add washi tape or little symbols for flair. The beauty of bullet journaling is the ability to make it your own, using color coding or exclamation marks to draw attention.


How do you do a bullet journal for ADHD?

When bullet journaling for ADHD, simplicity is key. Use a simple bullet journal key with basic symbols to represent tasks, events, and notes. 

Employ rapid logging to jot down information quickly. Include a toggle menu for easy reference on the right page, avoiding too many signifiers.


The bullet key can help prioritize tasks, highlighting the most important ones. The little arrow can indicate the migration of tasks if they’re not completed. Customize your own signifiers to cater to your specific ADHD needs, promoting focus and organization.


Is there an app like a bullet journal?

Yes, there are digital alternatives for bullet journaling if you prefer a digital approach. While not the same as the analog bullet journal system, there are apps that replicate its features. 


These apps offer electronic versions of the bujo key and provide tools for creating your own bullet journal keys, digital spreads, and more.

Popular apps like Notion, Evernote, or OneNote can be used to combine the flexibility of bullet journaling with the convenience of digital platforms. However, it’s important to decide whether analog or digital best suits your needs.


Can you mix bullet journaling with real journaling?

Certainly, you can mix bullet journaling with traditional journaling to create a hybrid approach. 

Your journal key can help differentiate between the two. Use specific key ideas to mark entries that are part of your real journal, such as personal reflections and experiences.

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This combination allows you to have a structured system for tasks and events through your bullet journal symbols, while also capturing your thoughts and emotions in a more free-form journaling style. It’s all about finding a balance that suits your needs.


How do I stop ghosting in bullet journal?

Ghosting, or the faint impression of ink on the next page, can be reduced by using a minimalist bullet journal key. 

Opt for fine-point pens and avoid heavy-handed writing. Choose high-quality bullet journals with thicker pages to minimize ink bleed-through.


Consider placing a blank page or a right page between heavily inked pages to prevent ghosting. 

If ghosting still occurs, embrace it as part of your journal’s character or cover it with creative elements like drawings or stickers.


Does a bullet journal have to have dots?

No, a bullet journal doesn’t have to have dots. While the original system often uses dotted grids, you can use ruled or blank pages if you prefer. 

Dots, however, offer more flexibility than lines and are great for creating various layouts and designs.


Is Dot journaling the same as bullet journaling?

Dot journaling and bullet journaling are similar but not identical. Dot journaling typically refers to using dot grid paper, while bullet journaling encompasses the whole system, including bullet journal keys, symbols, and the methodology of rapid logging. 

The dots in a dot journal are helpful for creating neat, organized layouts within the broader context of bullet journaling.


How far apart are bullet journal dots?

The spacing between dots in a bullet journal depends on the journal’s brand and model. Most commonly, you’ll find dot grids with a 5mm spacing, but there are variations, including 4.5mm or 6mm spacing. 


The 5mm spacing is often considered standard and provides a good balance for both writing and drawing, making it a popular choice among bullet journal users.


Is bullet journaling analog or digital?

Bullet journaling is typically associated with analog methods using physical notebooks and pens. It involves the creation of spreads, the use of bullet journal symbols, and manual rapid logging. 


However, some people choose to adapt the system to digital platforms or use digital tools to supplement their analog bullet journal, combining the best of both worlds to suit their needs.


Why are bullet journals dotted?

Bullet journals are often designed with dotted grids because they offer a balance between structure and flexibility. The dots serve as guides for creating organized layouts while allowing for freeform creativity. 


They’re particularly useful for drawing straight lines, creating tables, and ensuring consistent spacing, making them a preferred choice for bullet journal spreads.


Final words.

Bullet journaling is a great tool for organizing and managing your day-to-day tasks. It provides an organized structure that can be tailored to each person’s individual needs, while also providing an aesthetically pleasing way to stay on top of important tasks and deadlines.

Additionally, the key spread can provide quick access to symbols and icons used throughout the journal, helping to keep things organized and visually interesting.

For those with ADHD, bullet journaling can be an excellent way to stay on top of tasks and commitments while having a beautiful and creative outlet.



  • Ben

    I'm Ben, a data engineer who adores journaling. My passion for recording life experiences inspired me to develop Otto's Journal, an online diary app. Join me as I blend data and storytelling in the ever-changing tech world, making journaling more accessible and exciting.

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