Bullet Journaling: More Than Pretty Pages.

Oh, yeah! I know a lot of people stay away from Bullet Journaling because they think they need a craft store’s amount of art and stationary supplies. I am telling you to get that notion out of your head. The only thing you need is a pen and a notebook. It can be a $0.50 notebook and a Bic pen. Seriously, that’s it.

A Minimalistic Approach. Illustration by A. O’Dette.

What is this Bullet Journaling (BuJo for short)? How do you use a BuJo? Why is this useful? These are all great questions, and I am be happy to walk you through this process. There is a book by Ryder Carroll called “The Bullet Journal Method”. I strongly suggest reading this before you get started. I will do my best to explain his method.

BuJo is a system of organizing ideas, notes, agendas, and appointments in a cross-referencing notebook allowing such data to be fluid and customizable. How’s that for an introduction! A BuJo is comprised of a Key, Future Log, Monthly Log and a Weekly Log or Daily Log. You do see a lot of bullet journalists making Trackers, Mood Logs, Book Lists etc. These are fantastic add-ins to your journal, however I am going to use the K.I.S.S. method.

The Key is vastly important. This is where you decide what symbols you are using throughout your journal. Traditionally they are broken down as such: tasks, events, appointments, notes, etc. Fig. 1 Illustrates an example of a Key. You are not limited to the Key Icons used by Carroll. You can use symbols that will make sense to you for your needs. If you use an * to denote URGENT, than that symbol will be used throughout the entire journal. For the most part, Carroll’s Key is widely used. As you add in other pages for Trackers, Mood, Finance, Fitness etc… you will be adding symbols to your key.

Future Log Examples- Minimalist Style

The Future Log a.k.a “Yearly Spread” is set up at the beginning of the journal. It can be set up in many ways, but ultimately it will have the month and date (number/name) for all twelve months. This is your Year-At-A-Glance. For example, you make an appointment which is three months out, log it here as you are making the appointment and then you can migrate that appointment to you monthly and daily logs later. This is also a great place to add future events, birthdays and anniversaries.

The Monthly log is exactly what it means. A very minimalist layout would be writing the days of the week along the margin and next to the date you write the day of the week. For example, 1M, 2T, 3W, 4Th, 5F, 6S, 7 Su etc… Monthly spreads are where many BuJo enthusiasts go all out on their monthly themes. Check out YouTube for tutorials and Bullet Journalists share their ideas. If you are on Instagram, check out different layouts. If you want to jazz up your journal there’s no shortage of pens, markers and stationary to satisfy your creative needs. Although it is not necessary, especially if you want to keep it simple. Sometimes “Less is More”.

The weekly log breaks your week into days. A weekly log is almost synonymous as a daily log. Personally for me, I combine the two so I can see what the whole week looks like plus all of the tasks that must be completed. Using a BuJo allows for this fluidity of adjusting what your layout looks like according to your needs. In that respect, I wholeheartedly love this method.

I know this is a lot of information on setting up a bullet journal. Please note, because of the fluidity of this method, you can start anytime, any day. All you need to do, is start. Go look at examples of bullet journals; the structure is the same. Again, there is no right or wrong way to organize your bullet journal. One tip… trial and error is the only way to visually organize your thoughts, ideas, and plans so your bullet journal works for you. OK, one more tip: Don’t compare your layouts to others. Your creative efforts are what separates your journey from the rest of us.

Feel free to leave a message or if you have any questions about bullet journaling. Let’s keep the creative conversation going. I will be focusing a post to each of the parts of bullet journal. This is so exciting!

Artfully yours,


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