How To Set Up A Minimal Bullet Journal for Beginners

A green Leuchtturm 1917 bullet journal and pens

I’m now on my third bullet journal (or BuJo) and I can’t imagine life running smoothly without one. Here’s how to get started…

Over the last 4 years, I’ve mastered the art of a simple, minimal bullet journal and believe me, it really works. 

I know some people feel daunted at the thought of starting a bullet journal, but trust me, it’s really simple. It certainly doesn’t have to be an overwhelming experience. Let me share with you how the bullet journal method works, and how easy it is to set up a simple and minimal bullet journal. 

woman looking through her bullet Journa

What Is The Bullet Journal Method?

The brainchild of Ryder Carroll, the bullet journal method is a system designed to promote productivity and mindfulness. Intention is at the heart of a bullet journal. The bullet journal system makes life easier, organised and more meaningful. 

A simple and minimal bullet journal logs information, tasks, appointments, aid memoirs etc into bullets. These can be organised into calendar form, like a planner, so you can keep on top of what you want to do, what you have to do, and when you need to do it by. 

The beauty of a bullet journal is that it can be whatever you want it to be. You can track anything you want, from your finances to what you watched on Netflix. Personally, I like to keep mine simple and use it only for life’s essentials.

Bullet Journal on the table with pens, laptop and mug
Woman sitting at the table with pen and book

When Can I Start a BuJo?

You can start anytime! You could start midweek, mid year, whenever you want. It doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t have to be at the beginning of the year.  

I started my first bullet journal around Easter time, about 4 or 5 years ago, and I’ve not looked back since. If you want to start, just bite the bullet and give it a go!

If you’re wondering what having a bullet journal can do for you, you may want to check out this post on 5 Reasons to Start a Bullet Journal.

What Do I Need To Get Started?

If you’ve searched “bullet journals” on Pinterest, you would’ve seen beautiful notebooks, lots of colourful, expensive pens and incredibly artistic layouts. The reality is, you don’t need any of these and you don’t need to be arty or have flowing, swirly handwriting.

Lots of bullet journal advocates like a dotted notebook. I do too, and always treat myself to a Leuchttrum 1917 notebook. I only use a basic black biro too. There’s no fancy pens here.

You can use whatever you want though. It might be a good idea to set up a bullet journal with a cheap notebook to start with, just to see if you like it.

A green bullet journal with a cup of tea on top
a minimal bullet journal being flicked through

How to Set Up A Bullet Journal

Bullet journals have the same key components, and these make up the bullet journal system. 

These are:

  • Index
  • Key
  • Adding page numbers
Minimal Bullet Journal Index page layout
Open MInimal Bullet Journal Key for tasks and notes

The Index is an overview of where things are in your bullet journal. It’s like a contents page.

The key is the coding system used to keep things simple and organised. These are written next to the items in your daily log (see below).

Numbering pages are essential if you want to find things. The Leuchttrum 1917 notebook comes with page numbers, saving a little job. 

In terms of the bullet journal layout, there’s a few essentials. It’s good to have a Future Log. This is a brief monthly snapshot, outlining dates, deadlines etc. for the year.

Minimal Bullet Journal calendar layout
Minimal bullet journal spread for week to view

After this comes your Calendar Page. This is a simple layout offering a birds eye view of the month. Here, I note my monthly priorities, and anything that remains undone from the last month. 

Following the calendar page, I have a week to view, or what the bullet journal system calls a Daily Log. Here, I put all things to do and use the key to tell me if I’ve done them all, what needs to be migrated, etc. 

Woman at a table with a notebook and laptop

What To Include In Your Minimal Bullet Journal

This is entirely up to you. I tend to keep in mind what I want by bullet journal to do for me and what’s important. 

Consider your lifestyle and what you want to organise and keep track of. For example, some people find them really useful to track their mental health, tracking certain symptoms and experiences. Other devout bullet journal users like a cleaning log, giving them order and structure to the upkeep of their home.

There’s lots of bullet journal ideas and inspiration out there. Personally, I like to keep my bullet journal simple, clean and minimal, in both layout and usage. I only plan my daily, weekly and monthly tasks, events and appointments, and have a monthly budget planner. 

Open bullet journal spread
woman sat at the table looking at a notebook

I’ve tried tracking other things, like a running calendar and race plan for example, but never routinely filled them in. I think it’s good to start though, and see how it works for you. 

For me, the bullet journal system is also good for Christmas gift planning and my monthly blog post schedule. It helps me think a few weeks ahead, remain mindful about my content, and means I can plan extra tasks, like photos and running route planning. 

Whatever you use a bullet journal for, it’s meant to simplify your life, aid productivity and help intentionality. Believe me, something has to be good and work for me to commit to it. I remember having more free time and less stress day to day once I started my bullet journal.

My advice is just start, see what works and tweak your bullet journal layouts to suit you. That way, it’s more likely to make your life easier.

For more productivity tips, head over to my post, 6 Habits to Elevate Your Productivity.

You can find out more about the bullet journal system, associated products and layouts at the bullet journal website.

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Author: plbedford

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