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Why to start a bullet journal: a simple setup for absolute beginners

Updated: Oct 3

Declutter your life and add value to your time.

Bullet Journaling is more than just a planning system; it can be path to intentional thriving. If you've not yet heard of bullet journaling, today is a very prosperous day! If you've heard of bullet journaling but think it's not for you because you've seen the washi tape and complicated layouts, we're here to today to talk about the simple route. Bullet journaling started as a very basic self refreshing to-do list system, and has evolved into as many different systems as there are journalers! In today's post, I'm issuing an invitation to begin a bullet journal in the simplest way possible, for the reasons it may change your life.

By pulling the details of life into orbit, new paths of freedom open. A precious commodity appears: time to pursue the things and people we love. Bullet journaling can help organize your life, waken your heart, and help you become centered.

Do What Is In Your Heart

Life's highest gifts sometimes get pushed to the bottom of a list of the mundane tasks of survival. If busyness has choked out the thirsting curiosity in your heart, now is the day to reset. Ryder Carroll, the creator of the bullet journal, has created this system to simplify and enrich your life. It's not for the purpose of packing in more mindless productivity. Mindful intentionality is yours for the taking. By processing the pieces of your life by hand and on paper, you'll feel more connected and in command of how you live your life.

Our purpose is clearing clutter and deciding what is worth your time. An "analog system for the digital age," bullet journaling there for you to connect hand to paper and to visibly lay out a path of discovery and clarity. If you watch inventor Ryder Carroll's intro to setting up a bullet journal, you will see how not only your projects, but also your ideas and ambitions remain refreshed and at the forefront. If you're not already keeping a bullet journal, the breakdown of the basic journal setup involves setting up a future log that feeds into a list of monthly goals, breaking them out into daily tasks, and then migrating any unfinished tasks to a future time period. You have a place for tasks, events, and notes, and plenty of room for the customization of list making and free writing. It will be helpful to watch his four minute YouTube video when setting up your own journal. This short introduction makes it sound like this system is for maximizing efficiency. What I discovered later is that during his Ted Talk , he goes into more depth about the purpose of his system-harnessing the details of life so you can be an intentional person about what is truly vital. He says, "Natural curiosity is incredibly important." How do we move from task list for the survival of humankind to an organization of the center of human thriving? Chances are, your deep curiosities have been resurfacing through the years, and have been put aside for the sake of daily tasks or by good responsibilities. Here is the chance to get everything running smoothly so you can direct your attention where it matters

Do it simply

The simplest starter journal you can find is at Michael's craft store. They have a treasure hoard of dot grid Artist's Loft journals with many delicious colors to choose from.

The best part is... they are $5. That's it. They are hardcover, 80gsm paper that comes in lined, dot grid, or graph paper and contain 149 pages. My preference is the dot grid, or fancy unlined ones over here.

I will spare you from the lengthy discussions of pen and paper compatibility, and tell you that this is the pen you need for the Artist's Loft book:

Artist's Loft journals are perfect for simple setups with black fine line ink. The paper is not thick enough to handle highlighters and markers and watercolors.

To start a bullet journal, start simply with the basic CORE MODULES.

Firstly, we'll be keeping good track of things in the index. Keep after it, and it will run your life smoothly.

Step 1: Create an index.


​​​​Step 2: On the facing page of the index in the upper right corner, create this key for yourself. This will help you establish the code of task management as you process your to do list.


Step 3: Future Log: On the next spread, count the dots on your grid and divide your page into 6 equal parts, labeling one month per box. Any major events can go into these months, which we'll draw from when setting up a monthly spread. Major events, broad seasonal things, and larger goals can be written here. Note this page number and title in your index.

Step 4: On the next page, make a monthly spread. In Ryder Carroll's style, this involves writing down the number and letter of the day of the week, writing the day's events on those lines. On the opposite page you are writing the month's task list. This gives you a "bird's eye view of the things you have to do and the amount of time you have to do it in." Refer to your specific month from the previously mentioned Future Log as well. Add the page numbers to the index.

Step 4: Every Day: or the eve before each day (or a week at a time), make a Daily page. Review the month's tasks and make a list of your tasks, events, and notes for today. You may involve a note to "see page 5 for grocery collections page" or "see page 14- blog post ideas". Every day at this time when you are making out the day's list, refer to your current month's goal list, and include things from that list for today. At the end of each day, mark tasks as completed, or migrate any unfinished tasks to a future day and mark an arrow next to that task.

Lastly: Collections. Each page is a blank canvas of potential for catching things you don't want to miss: groceries needed, date night ideas, important things your boss said, gift ideas, packing lists. It's really a catch all for things you need a running list of. Just make it a title and add the page title and number to your index!

This is a system that requires a little maintenance, but it is such a brilliant organizational tool, and endlessly customizeable to the user. With a boost of intentional inspiration and self possessed organization, we may further grow into wholehearted people, who are alive, human, courageous, and loving!


This post may contain affiliate links, and I may recieve compensation for any purchases made. All opinions are my own.


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