Bullet journal

Minimal bullet journal setup – Increase your productivity 10x

I’m gonna show you today how I bullet journal.  I’m going to disclaimer right now, because I mentioned it in that video as well that my design for it is incredibly minimal. I know there’s a lot of articles where you get most beautiful bullet journal spreads.

I envy their artistic abilities. But for me, I think bullet journaling is a bit more about pouring out and organizing my thoughts. So I can be as efficient as possible. But as with everything I’m gonna say today, do with it what you want.

This is just my method and the beautiful thing about bullet journaling is you can customize it. However you’d like. Now I genuinely don’t know how I functioned before learning the system. Because I was someone who had notes everywhere on my desk, the stickies of my computer, my phone.

I would jot things down on random scrap pieces of paper . Then it always felt like there was information coming at me from every Direction. But at the same time I couldn’t really find anything, when I was looking for it.

But now, with this system, I feel like I’ve got a little built-in secretary. Always reminding me of what I need to do So that’s nice. So the lowdown today I’m going to show you the start of my 2020 journal. And give you a skeletal structure of How I plan my year, month, week and so forth. Periodically, I’m also going to show you into the 2019 journal, just for reference.

What you’re gonna need to get started bullet journal ?

Two things are essential of course :

  • which is going to be the bullet journal
  • a pen or a pencil.
  • whiteout
  • a ruler
  • markers
  • washi tape

Two other things I highly recommend, they’re not necessary. But very handy is: whiteout and a ruler. I think one reason people don’t even start with bullet journaling is because of perfectionism. That I say- Whiteout is your best friend.

Then finally two items you might want to consider, but they’re just for fun.- That’s gonna be markers and washi tape.

How to start bullet journal

Okay, let’s get journaling. I’m starting this journal with a key, kind of like a legend. So to start off I like to indicate how many boxes there are both vertically and horizontally. Because it sucks one at the start of each month you forget and then you have to count them one by one all over again .

So one of my main methods is to split things up into columns of three. Here I’m also indicating how many boxes are needed in order to split a page up into three parts.

Some symbols to write bullet journal

Now I’m gonna go on to show you what some symbols mean. These are not my own. The system comes from Ryder Carol.  He is the creator of the whole bullet journal method. So a dot or a bullet indicates a task.

  • If you put an x over that dot it’s going to indicate that:  the task has been completed.
  • An arrow(->) to the right means:  the task is being moved to a following day
  •  A dash(-) is : When it’s something you just need to note like a birthday or an event  It’s not a task in itself
  • When you cross something out It means:  that it’s cancelled or no longer relevant
  • A star(*)or asterisk means:  that it’s something important

You’re welcome to create your own system. Of course Whatever works for you.

How to create bullet journal year at a glance

Next we’re moving on to creating a year at a glance. For this section I begin by splitting each page into three columns. At the top of each column goes a calendar. I like to put Monday through Sunday written along the top of each of those months from January through to December.

How to create bullet journal year at a glance

This part can definitely get a little bit repetitive with writing days of each month over and over again. But the plus side is you only have to do this once at the start of each year. The section is where, I put birthdays, appointments, anniversaries ,upcoming events, Holidays. Pretty much any time somebody tells you about something that’s happening in the future. Put it in here so that you don’t forget.

This way you can kind of see the first half of the year spread out over the first two pages. And the second half Of the year spread out over the second two pages. So that’s your bullet journal year at a glance.

Bullet journal month at a glance

We’re moving on to the month at a glance. So here we’re gonna create the first month’s calendar, which is of course January.  The first month is always the hardest, because you have to count and divide the squares properly.

Bullet journal month at a glance

Then in the next month’s it’s really easy. Because you just kind of copy and paste that template over again. I write Monday through Sunday along the top . Then I plop the days of the month into each square. And now is the part ,where you refer back to the year to glance and transfer over any relevant dates.

Then you’re done this year. I’m also going to do something different. Which is using a little bit of washi tape folding it over the edge of the paper. So that way in the future it’s really easy for me to just Flip back to that calendar really quickly. Instead of needing to flip through a whole bunch of pages first looking for it.

Start of month essentials

Next we’re going to do the start of month essentials Or at least what I find essential personally. The first thing I like to do at the start of each month is a quick check in with myself a place. Where I can Just write down where I’m at emotionally for this section. I try to write a lot of I feel statements like:  I feel happy or sad.

Because I also try to check in with myself Physically, which has actually come a lot in handy. Because about a year ago I fractured my tailbone in a snowboarding accident. And keeping track of how the progress has been is really handy, because I feel like otherwise the days and months just kind of Bleed together.

So you can put anything physical here. If you have aches or pains or make note of a skin condition or your bowel movements. Anything goes .

Another thing I also like to keep track of is where I’m at spiritually. Which sounds super hippy. But it’s essentially just a place to check in with, if I’m feeling aligned with what’s important to me. I write down how my relationships are going . Things like that .So that’s just me checking in.

Brain dump

Next section is Quite easily one of my favorite sections of the entire bullet journal. That is the brain dump. I know I’m somebody who is prone to anxiety. And sometimes I get even more tense, when I’m trying to keep track of everything that Needs to be done. Things I need to do if I need to keep track of ideas.

Brain dump
Brain dump

So when something pops up in my mind. Instead of letting it occupy prime real estate in there. I just open up this section of the journal and plop it down. It frees up so much mental capacity. It’s amazing so most of the things that do pop up in my head are related to pickup lines. So I gave that the most Space here.

But I also have a little personal section the bottom. But you can break this up in whatever way is relevant to you. I’m going to show you an example here of how these two pages end up looking when it’s all filled out.

Trackers and Gratitude

We’re going to move on to the next section. These are kind of optional start of the month pages.

Tracker or the habit tracker

So first up is the tracker or the habit tracker. I don’t do the tracker every month. I do it maybe every three to six months, I think that one reason people don’t keep up with journaling, when they’ve started . It is because they give themselves Too many things to do. At least that’s what I did when I first started

This part might be one of those things that makes it feel like bullet journaling is just a bit too much. So use it at your discretion, or maybe just try to track a few things as opposed to several. I do think it’s really helpful for mindfulness purposes. To see how often things are happening in your life.

Like how often you’re practicing mindfulness through yoga or meditation? Or in my case how often I’m uploading a YouTube video or a blog post.

If there is one thing I can say about the habit tracker though. It’s to use it as a tool to build awareness. Not as a tool that’s gonna let you kind of criticize self  ,the judge yourself for not doing enough.  That is definitely not the point of this thing. It is just to build awareness.

Maybe that’s another reason I don’t do it every month. Just to kind of take it easy, you know.


So the page next to that we are going to write a list of gratitudes. This is probably the most cliche but also the most underrated section . I feel like when I’m writing a list of gratitudes. It can sometimes feel like you know a waste of time.

But I think the effects of writing these lists they take hold slowly. You don’t really realize it right away. I think it’s helped me to change my outlook to kind of just generally day to day appreciate. The little things a bit more.

I think we also live in a bit of a toxic complaining culture. I complain pretty often and I think, when I take a moment to write down some gratitudes, It shifts things. It Humbles. It brings you back down to earth. So I try to write down three gratitudes a day.

I also try to squeeze it all onto one line. If I can so that way. I can see a whole month’s overview on one page. Which is always nice if you’re having day. It’s a nice thing to refer to. And I don’t always keep up with the tracker  and the gratitudes. Use law of attracting and manifestation techniques to practice gratitude.

Sometimes I miss it and that’s ok. Just pick it back up whenever you can. It’s not a big deal, right?

Bullet journal week at a glance

So now we’re going to move on to the next section. Which is the week at a glance. For this section, We’re again gonna split each page into thirds . And at the top of each column. We’re gonna put little boxes, where we can fill in the days of the week.

In this layout Saturday and Sunday are together in the rightmost column. Just because I generally have fewer tasks on the weekend. So once I’ve filled that all in I’m gonna go and try to find my washi tape. So that I can Flip back to the month overview.

Then I transfer over any relevant notes for that week. I feel like that repetitive motion of carrying things over from year to month and then months to week. That  Really helps to cement it in my mind. So that I don’t forget.

I try always the night before to plan my next day. And I always start by writing out the numbers 1 through 3 at the top of each column. And this is where I write down the three most important high-priority things. I want to get done that day. And I think this is key.

I think sometimes we X things off of our list these menial tasks. That we got done and we Falsely feel accomplished. When in reality and we didn’t get any of the critical things done, you know.

So I think three important things need to go first . And then you can jot note any other tasks that need to be done underneath that. I also like to take a moment to just go back to my brain dump section. See if there’s anything I might be able to carry over to that day.

No pressure, if not Just take a look . Some days I like to also Get an overview of what my hours are gonna look like in that day. And I want to block my tasks into sections .So that’s where I use the bottom of that column. If I need to so I put in the times from about 7 a.m To 8 or 10 p.m.

Then I block my tasks accordingly remember you want to schedule those high-priority items first. I Personally really like this method because I like to be able to see the whole week at a glance on these two open pages. But if you think you need more room. You can spread it out over four pages just using the same structure.

So three top priority items come first. Smaller tasks go under that and then you can block your time. If maybe. Now as you go through the day remember that you want to X things off .When you finished it and if you didn’t get it Done in that day, just put a little arrow to indicate. That you’re gonna carry it over to the next day or one of the following days as For the following blank pages.

I just like to leave those blank for now. You never know when you want to take notes from a meeting. Or if you have certain ideas that you want to write down or an accomplishments list. Honestly anything goes it’s nice to just have it kind of sandwiched between two separate weeks. And it’s only when a new week is over.

That I’ll go ahead and create another week at a glance spread in my journal.

Summarize of whole process of bullet journal

So if I can summarize, I started off with a key or a legend . Then I went on to making a Year at a glance, which is spread over four pages. I then moved on to a month at a glance. So this first month being January. And then we moved on to the start of month essentials, which for me is a monthly check-in. As well as my favorite the brain dump. And then we’re following this up with the Optional habit tracker . The highly recommended gratitudes list .

Then finally I move on to the week at a glance, again customized this one. However, you’d like 2022s coming up so with the new year. Some of you might be interested in creating a goals or a vision page. If there’s only one thing I Can recommend it would be in the beginning and keep it really simple keep it minimal. So that way you keep up with a bullet journaling.

I’ve seen so many people just stop because they give themselves too many things to do. But that’s just my two cents and a brief .

5 thoughts on “Minimal bullet journal setup – Increase your productivity 10x

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