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How to Start a Bullet Journal, According to the Creator of Bullet Journaling

How to Start a Bullet Journal, According to the Creator of Bullet Journaling

All you need is a pen, a journal and your imagination

Neuhaus 

Designer Ryder Carroll created the bullet journal method to help manage his attention deficit disorder (ADD), then later shared his method online in 2013. In the past seven years, bullet journaling, BuJo for short, has skyrocketed in popularity, joining Marie Kondo’s Konmari Method, feng shui and other popular techniques for organizing one’s life. But could it be the best method for you to get your life in order in the new year? Here are a few tips and things to know from Carroll himself before you become a bullet journalist.

It’s not just for people with learning disabilities

Photo courtesy of Ryder Carroll 

Though Carroll developed the method to manage his ADD, the bullet journal can be for anyone. “Bullet journaling allows people to quickly declutter their mind and organize their thoughts in a simple, uncomplicated way. I think that's beneficial to most people,” Carroll says. 

Focus on what’s most meaningful

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One of the best things about bullet journaling is versatility. A bullet journal can be a planner, a chronicle of your day or a way to track new and old habits. But the secret to maximizing the benefits of a bullet journal is to find out what is truly most necessary for you. “Take the time to clarify your ‘why.’ In this age obsessed with productivity, we forget that just because something could be done, does not mean it should be done. Figure out what is meaningful to you and focus on those things,” Carroll says.  

Be flexible

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Though you may start out using your bullet journal for one purpose, your needs may change. “Our interests and beliefs change as we learn and grow. That's why it's important to check in with ourselves and make sure that our actions remain aligned with our beliefs. If you don't believe in what you're doing anymore, then it may be time to walk away. We have an incredibly limited time here, and we should be investing in the things that add value to our lives or those we care for,” Carroll says. 

Don’t get swept in by trends

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Many bloggers and influencers have put their own spin on bullet journaling, but Carroll cautions beginners against leaning too hard on these examples right out of the gate. “Start simple and be patient with yourself. We celebrate small steps. If you're interested, avoid searching online for examples. They're often misleading and overwhelming,” Carroll says. He instead recommends going to his website Bulletjournal.com for help getting started. 

Make sure you have the necessary pages

Photo courtesy of Ryder Carroll

While you can create a page for anything from the books you’ve read to the amount of water you drank, there are four main pages and page structures Carroll says a bullet journal should have: the index, future log, monthly log and daily log. 

Index: explained

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The index is one of the first pages in your bullet journal and serves as a table of contents where you can locate all of the other pages in your journal. 

Future log: explained

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The future log is meant to map out the full year for a bullet journalist. “Everything we task ourselves with is a potential experience. The future log serves as your time machine, allowing you to glimpse the outlines of the future you're actively working towards,” according to the Bullet Journal website. 

Monthly log: explained

Photo courtesy of Ryder Carroll

The monthly log helps you to lay out major events, dates and tasks for a particular month. 

Daily log: explained

Photo courtesy of Ryder Carroll

The daily log, as the name suggests, is a record of all of your daily activities and tasks in your bullet journal. However, these logs shouldn’t be set up too far in advance. The Bullet Journal website advises to set them as you go or the night before each particular day because some daily logs will require more space than others.

Combine it with other organization methods

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The bullet journal method is not an all-or-nothing method. It is adaptable and can be combined with other organization methods like pomodoro, gratitude practice or the “Getting Things Done” (GTD) method, Carroll says.

Don't get caught up in appearances

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If you value ornately decorated pages, that’s fine, but if not, that’s also fine, Carroll says. “It’s not about how your bullet journal looks, it’s about how effective it is at helping you accomplish your goals. I have no issue with how people express their practice as long as it's not performative or interfering with their goals.” 

Remember, it's about you

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At the end of the day, bullet journaling is all about what works for you. “The Bullet Journal is the result of a lifetime of trying to figure out ways to overcome my own challenges,” Carroll said, adding “... BuJo as practice is self-directed. In other words, you choose the tools that are right for your circumstances. This is what allows the methodology to remain relevant over time.”