By using a key in your bullet journal, you can save time, space and keep track of all of your life ‘stuff’!
Put simply, a bullet journal key contains a set of symbols you can use instead of words. A kind of shorthand if you like.
A key can be really useful for differentiating between events, tasks and notes. Just at a glance, you will know exactly which category each item falls into. See the basic example below:
If you’re starting a new bullet journal then you might like to have a look at my post ‘How to start a Bullet Journal (A Foolproof Guide)’.
Although it might take a little time to set up your key initially, once it’s in place and you know how to use the symbols – you can save loads of time!
Where should I put my key?
Your key is usually one of the first pages in your journal, next to your index.
Does it have to be complicated?
Of course not! It can be as basic or as detailed as you like. If you find that you are logging a recurring item, then it may be a good idea to create a symbol for it. This will save you time writing it out in longhand each time.
If you can, leave a little blank space just in case you need to add extra categories or icons later on.
As in the example above, you can use a key to:
Record an event
A birthday party, a meeting, a catchup with friends or a medical appointment – these can all be classed as ‘events’.
Record a task
Tasks could include anything from assignments, making an appointment, meal planning or household chores. If it’s something that needs to get done then it can be categorised as a task.
Record a note
A note is any other detail that you need to remember. For example ‘no meeting next week’ or ‘library closes at 5pm tomorrow’.
Notes can be anything that don’t fit into the event or task category.
Tools I used for these ideas:
Here are some simple key ideas which you might like to try out in your bullet journal:
The basic key from Ryder Carroll’s original bullet journal only includes tasks, events and notes. Each task can then be actioned depending on its progress.
This key is perfect if you’re just looking for something minimalist, you’re short on time or you don’t want to doodle/use colour.
Colour Coded Key
If you want to divide up areas of your life into different categories, a colour coded key may work best for you!
Use the corresponding colour to represent a different category. Whether it’s days of the week, months or different members of the family – colours can make things stand out.
Plus, colours can make it quicker to find information if you’re in a hurry.
A colour coded key is also great to use in a monthly spread when you don’t have the space to write lots of information down.
I have come up with four different sets of colour code key ideas in the picture below. You could easily mix and match the categories to develop your own style key. Or come up with your own, it’s totally up to you!
I love recording the weather in my bullet journal. Using a picture key is a really fun way to show the weather for that particular day.
Plus, weather doodles are a good place to start if you’re looking to express your creativity in your journal!
Additional key icons
Doodle icons can save you lots of time (and you don’t have to be an artist either!). Keep them simple and small. If you’re using them often then you’ll get quicker at drawing them!
They are so cute and are a really fun way to add some creativity to your bullet journal!
See the icons below for some ideas. Pick a few or use them all!
Dutch Door / flap key
A Dutch door / flap key in your bullet journal can come in really handy for quick reference.
Stick it to one of the front pages with a strip of washi tape so you can fold it out when you need it. Just make sure it’s facing toward you so that it’s easy to see when you flip it out.
Although this isn’t specifically a key, it can come in really useful for creating a spread.
I always add these details to my main key page. It’s great for when I’m creating a weekly or monthly spread and I want to know what size to make boxes or columns.
I hope that you’ve found some of these ideas useful for creating your key.
You don’t have to use everything, just pick and choose the elements that will work best for you. Start really basic and build up your key from there.
You might find that in a few weeks or months, some of the ideas will need to be adjusted or added to. That’s what I love about the bullet journal method – it’s so easy to change it to suit your lifestyle