I started my unofficial bullet journal journey earlier this year, and officially in July. I wrote about it here. Since then I have been taking part in the bullet journal community online )Facebook groups, Instagram, blogs). and one comment I see over and over again is people saying they are afraid to start bullet journaling, mainly because they think they aren’t creative enough, so won;t be able to do all the beautiful doodling, sketching and drawing, or use washi tape, stickers and stamps in a creative way.
I think it’s time to get back to basics. Bullet journaling isn’t about any of those things. What it is is a simple system to help you log and plan things you’ve done, things to do, and things you want to do in the future. The system was designed by Ryder Carroll, and I highly recommend that before you start a bullet journal, you watch his video explaining how the system works. Then I’ll show you how I use this system in real life.
To start a bullet journal you need two things: a notebook and a pen.
I love using the Leuchtturm1917, but it’s not necessary. Any notebook will do. When I started I used a basic Moleskine notebook, the blue one shown above.
Let’s get started!
The system has four main parts; let’s call those the foundation.
My notebook came with a built in index, but if yous doesn’t, you just need to dedicate the first 2 to 4 pages as the Index, and label them.
If your notebook doesn’t have numbered pages, you’ll want to number them yourself, as you will need this for your index.
The Future Log
In Ryder’s video, you’ll see that he divided up his double page spread into six sections for his future log. I did the same, except I wrote out a small horizontal calendar in each section, because I like to see the months laid out that way. Start your future log from the next month – if you’re starting a bullet journal this month, then your future log will be the next six months starting in December.
Now go to your Index and write in which pages your future log is on. You can also start to write in appointments and tasks that are upcoming in the future.
On your next blank page write down all the date in the current month, as will as the initial of each day. This is where you will note down your appointments and tasks for the current month. You’ll see that I used my right side page for my goals for the month, and I also drew a mini horizontal calendar (this is not necessary though – my brain just works that way).
Now head to your index and add in the page numbers for your current month.
The Daily Log
This is the meat of the system. It’s called a log, and not a to-do list, because it’s for more than just your list of things to do. I start my day by writing in the day and date, then listing my tasks. As my day continues, I jot down, or log, other things like information from phone calls, notes to myself, and even things that I want to remember for memory keeping purposes. As you can see these two days were full of notes. but it’s not always like this.
This is why I love this system. If I need to use an entire page, or even two pages for one day I can. But if I only need to use half a page, then that works too!
And that’s it! That’s bullet journaling. Sure, if you search on Pinterest you will see lots of different ideas on how people use their bullet journals, and make various kinds of collections for all sorts of things. Those are great, and I even have some pages like that too. But I’ve found that the days when I am super busy and need to be focused that the basic foundation of the system is all I need.
My advice to you is to ignore all that pretty stuff when you start, and commit to using the system in its bare bones form for at least two weeks, (I recommend a month though). As you use it and get familiar with how it works, you’ll have a much better idea of the things you might want to add in to future versions.
Got any questions? Hit me up in the comments!