How To Setup A Simple Minimalist Bullet Journal For Beginners

Pen and Notebook On a Table, How To Setup A Minimalist Bullet Journal For Beginners Title

Chances are you’re looking for a planner system to organize your life, that’s why you’re here. Good news is, the bullet journal is probably one of the best systems out there. Another thing you might want to hear: it’s simple to make one.

How Do You Make A Simple or Minimalist Bullet Journal?

All a simple or minimalist bullet journal needs is a pen and notebook. It can be a cheap pen or notebook, or you may choose to invest in supplies. The main purpose of a minimalist bullet journal is to keep you organized and on track using the system developed by Ryder Carroll.

The bullet journal is a great planner system for anyone wanting to become more productive and those on a journey of self-improvement. It also happens that the bullet journal is a great way to develop more self-awareness and mindfulness.

If you find yourself going around the internet looking for productivity hacks, this is probably the best one out there.

If you’ve done some research before this on Instagram or Pinterest, you have undoubtedly seen the many artistic and maximalist bullet journal spreads.

While these are nice to look at – I for one love seeing them – for some, it’s just not possible to make designs like those. Whether it’s time constraints, artistic inclinations(or lack thereof), or maybe just preference, these spreads can be daunting to look at. While beautifully made, sometimes these spreads also give out the wrong impression of the bullet journal.

At the core of the bullet journal is a simple and minimalist system that aims to keeps you organized, productive, and mindful. While more artsy bullet journalists design their notebook that way, you may opt for simpler spreads, checklists, and just plain to do lists.

This isn’t to say that more artsy bullet journalists are wrong, far from it. Artsy bullet journalists make these spreads because it serves as an outlet for them to disconnect from technology or maybe it’s a medium for artistic expression for them.

That’s the thing with bullet journals. As long as you follow the system, you can shape it to however suits you.

The bullet journal system is the LEGO of planner systems and methods. You can make a photo realistic building or structure, or maybe something that was constructed purely from your imagination, and it’ll be the right way of using it.

That’s basically what the bullet journal system is.

If you need a good notebook to get started with your bullet journal, check out our recommended supplies for minimalist notebooks!

What Is A Minimalist Bullet Journal?

A minimalist bullet journal is a bullet journal that approaches the system through the most basic design and method. While artsy or maximalist bullet journalists invest time in the aesthetics of the notebook, simple or minimalist bullet journalists choose to use basic or simple layouts for their journal.

There are two ways to make a bullet journal. The first is the minimalist setup, which is the one Ryder Carroll developed, and the second is the maximalist or artsy bullet journal.

The artsy bullet journals are often what you would see on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest. And, while still functional, it requires more time to design the spread and layout of the page or spread.

Minimalist bullet journals, on the other hand, utilize the bare basics of the system. They use the standard formats of the bullet journaling methods and for the most part, do not focus on artsy designs.

Both are valid.

If you want to learn more about the 3 main bullet journal methods, you can learn more about here:

Bullet Journal Methods

Why Is It Called Bullet Journal & Who Invented It?

The bullet journal is referred to as such because the symbols or marks at the beginning of each line are often considered bullets, much like the standard definition of “bullet” in typography. It was invented by Ryder Carroll to help him with his ADD( Attention Deficit Disorder).

The bullet journal system mainly uses lists to keep you on track. To make better sense of these lists, they use symbols as a short cut to explain the purpose of the listed item.

With this you can easily express the intent or aim of each item without having to explain or write it in detail. This is a significant time saving technique and one of the main benefits of the bullet journal.

It was invented by Ryder Carroll who was diagnosed with ADD when he was attending High School. It was during that time that he started developing the system to help him catch up with his peers.

He often sites the main benefit of it was that it allowed him to keep everything in one notebook, and allowed him to analyze which items or activities were really worth doing.

He credits this system for letting him perform in school, as such, it has been a common method for students to help them with their studies.

Perhaps the best way to explain it is through Ryder Carroll himself. Here is a video of him explaining what a bullet journal is for his Kickstarter campaign a few years back:

While the bullet journal is a simple system, there is a bit of a learning curve, especially with the vocabulary. If you want to dive deeper into it, check out this glossary of terms that I compiled.

Bullet Journal Glossary

Bullet Journal Benefits: Why Is Bullet Journaling Good For You?

There are many benefits for bullet journaling. A few of them are listed here:

  • All-in-one notebook
  • Allows you to disconnect from technology
  • You can use Rapid Logging
  • You can track almost anything
  • Increases accountability

All-in-one Notebook

One of the biggest benefits of the bullet journal is that you can make use of Collections. These are what you call the different sections of the bullet journal, and you can use them however you want.

You can use the collection to plan your vacation, you can use a collection to write down your notes for school, you can even use the collection to make a section for your daily sketches.

These are basically the different topics or sections you can take notes on.

These collections allow you to keep everything in one notebook, and keep everything organized. You won’t have to sift through pieces of paper you scribbled some notes on, you won’t have to go through your long list of notes in your memo app inside your phone, and you won’t have to think about where to place them all.

It a good way to improve your quality of life when it comes to organizing notes, in general.

Allows You To Disconnect From Technology

I’m pretty sure that most of you reading this has a screen plastered in front of their faces for the larger portion of the day. It’s modern life. We work with screens in front of us. We learn with screens in front of us. We entertain ourselves with screens in front of us.

With all that light and information bombarding us at almost every waking moment, having a portion of your day where you just sit back and disconnect is refreshing.

It lets you take a good look at your day, internalize what happened, and just make better sense of it. It separates you from all the bad news, from all the information that fills up your brain, and from all the negativity of social media.

In other words, it lets you recharge your emotional energy.

There are a number of studies where it shows that benefits of disconnecting for even a short time. Here’s a good article on it.

Needless to say, it can improve your mental health.

Does bullet journaling help with anxiety?

It varies from person to person, but generally, any form of journaling can help with it.

Bullet journaling lets you get your thoughts out on the paper, makes sense of it, and even play things out. It helps you process everything with a different perspective than what you experienced certain events with.

Here’s a good article for it.

You Can Use Rapid Logging

What is rapid logging?

Rapid logging is the act of recording the events through out a period of time. It is the act of recording things you want to take note of in your bullet journal as it happens so that you can revisit the event at a later time. You can rapid log about ideas, notes, events, and anything you want to write down.

This is basically writing things down as they happen.

It can be something that suddenly comes into mind you want to take note of. It could be something that happened to you that affected you deeply that you want to revisit. It can be some notes your boss wants you to remember.

Anything you want to write down, you can rapid log it into your bullet journal so you don’t forget it.

Once written down and you find that you have failed to complete a task, you write it again the next day, effectively “Migrating” the said task.

The practice of rapid logging and migrating also allows you to take a deeper look at the activities that you have listed down. If you find yourself asking the question: “are these worth the time and effort you put into it?”, then chances are they are not.

This has many benefits and can help you develop good habits, as well.

You Can Track Almost Anything

You can do this by using a bullet journal tracker.

What is a bullet journal tracker exactly?

One of the collections you can have on your bullet journal is the Tracker. This is one of the defining components of the bullet journal and it further emphasizes the lengths at which people can customize it to fit their lifestyle.

Want to track your exercise habits? Make an exercise tracker.

Want to track your reading habits? Make a book tracker.

Want to track your mood? Make a mood tracker.

Want better sleep? There’s a thing called the sleep tracker!

If you’re interested in any of these, click the links to learn how to make one!

Increases Accountability

The driving force of the bullet journal, and how it helps you develop good habits is that you record the events taking place.

This allows you to be able to revisit anything you did and study that moment to better understand what you should be doing instead.

After making an exercise tracker, did you notice that you always fail to go to the gym on a certain day? You can revisit the very day on the bullet journal and analyze what may have happened on that day, or maybe the one before, to better understand the cause and do something about it.

On the flip side, if you do a great job and you look back on the things you did, you will be able to see your progress and the method you did. This can be very rewarding and will in turn improve motivation and morale.

Simple Bullet Journal Essentials: What is the best bullet journal notebook and supplies for beginners?

The essential supplies to make a simple or minimalist bullet journal is a notebook and a pen. These can be any notebook or pen. Cheap or expensive, it is up to the user which to use. The important factor is that these are functional and will serve the purposes of the user.

There are many types of notebooks out there. There blank notebooks, ruled notebooks, and dotted or graph notebooks. You can choose any of these as long as they are functional and will serve your purpose.

If you are going for a simple or minimalist bullet journal, a simple pen or pencil will suffice. You can also choose to use a fountain pen, which is a common go-to for bullet journalists.

The price does not matter. What matters is that you stick to the process and let it impact your life.

This article touches more on the matter of supplies.

If you want to learn more on what you can do with each notebook you can visit these articles to learn more:

Alternatively, if you want to learn more about fountain pens, this is a great article to start you off.

If you’re ready to setup up your own bullet journal, you might want to drop by our shop and check out our notebooks.

You can check out Scribbler Planet Shop here!

How To Setup A Simple or Minimalist Bullet Journal: What should be in the bullet journal?

A simple minimalist bullet journal will often go with the standard collections and methods of the basics system. The main collections or components of the bullet journal system are the:

  • Bullet journal key
  • Bullet journal index
  • Bullet journal future log
  • Bullet journal monthly
  • Bullet journal weekly
  • Bullet journal daily
  • Bullet journal trackers

What Is A Bullet Journal Key?

A bullet journal key or signifier key are the symbols by which the bullet points of the bullet journal revolve around. The main goal of this collection is that you won’t forget what the purpose or goal of each symbol means, allowing you to better read and decipher your bullet journal.

You are free to put the Bullet Journal Signifier Key anywhere in your journal, however, the common practice is placing it at the beginning or end of the notebook.

In the bullet journal system, you use symbols to mark what you need to do for each log or entry. A few examples for the basic symbols of the original system is as follows:

• = Tasks

– = Notes

○ = Events

> = Migrate to next day or period of time

< = Migrate to future log

 ̶t̶a̶s̶k̶ ̶c̶a̶n̶c̶e̶l̶l̶e̶d̶

* = Priority

! = Inspiration

You would put these on the left side of an entry to better organize each entry and avoid confusion.

You can mix and match these, but you don’t have to stick to the standard key. You can make your own, making it easier to remember.

If you need more samples for your journal, you’ll find them at the bottom of the article.

What Is A Bullet Journal Index?

The bullet journal index acts as the table of contents for your notebook. It allows you to record what page a certain collection or section is located, providing you an easier time to keep track of your bullet journal.

Much like the signifier key, you are free to place this anywhere, but the common practice is that you place it at the beginning of the notebook, after the Signifier Key, or at the end.

It’s simple enough to make. All you need to do is to take a few blank pages at the beginning of your notebook, depending on how much you think you’ll be using and label them “Index”.

That’s it!

Once you log something into your index, you might find that certain collection are longer than what you thought and you had to continue it at another page. To keep track of this, just write the name of the collection and the page number after it. For the subsequent pages that continue the collection, put in a comma and write the page number of where it is.

It should look like this:

Worldbuilding p34, p56 -60

You’ll also want to learn “Threading” and take advantage of it as much as you can, as well. Threading is basically a technique you use for keeping track of pages to make it easier to navigate through your notebook.

If you want to use it based on the example above, just turn to page 34 and write a ~ symbol. After the ~ write page 56.

It’ll look like this:

P34 ~ p56

This will mean that after page 34, the continuation is on page 56. This makes it so you don’t have to go back to the index to find the next page.

If you need more samples for your journal, you’ll find them at the bottom of the article.

What Is A Bullet Journal Future Log?

The bullet journal future log is where you’ll be putting everything you have to keep track of during the year. You can place birthdays, events, and holidays, here so you won’t forget any prior engagement.

Making a future log is as simple as splitting a blank page into three equal parts by drawing a horizontal line and labeling it with the corresponding month.

The best way to look at the bullet journal system is that it is a collection of to do lists. They divided by a set period of time or purpose, and are collated into one notebook.

So, basically, each collection is just a to-do list for a given period.

This is valuable to anyone who uses the bullet journal because it gives them the ability to get a clear overview of their year and be able to plan accordingly.

There are many methods to the future log that you might want to check out. It might help, so you can check it out here.

If you need more samples for your journal, you’ll find them at the bottom of the article.

What Is A Bullet Journal Monthly?

The bullet journal monthly log is where you’ll be putting everything you have to keep track of during the month. You can place birthdays, events, and holidays here so you won’t forget any prior engagement.

Put simply, it’s a future log that focuses mainly on a specific month.

To make this, simply take two blank pages and label the first page at the top the monthly log.

On the first page, number the rows the same amount of days for the corresponding month and write the first letter of each day that it falls on beside it. The space beside it is where you’ll log anything important that happened during the day.

The second page will simply be where you’ll place all the tasks that need to be done for the month.

If you need more samples for your journal, you’ll find them at the bottom of the article.

What Is A Bullet Journal Weekly?

The bullet journal weekly log or weekly/weeklies is where you’ll be putting everything you have to keep track of for the week. More focused activities are usually listed here like things needed for school or work.

This can be treated as a list, with each activity for each day of the week listed on it.

If you need more samples for your journal, you’ll find them at the bottom of the article.

What Is A Bullet Journal Daily?

The bullet journal daily log or daily/dailies is where you’ll be putting everything you have to keep track of for the day. More focused activities are usually listed here like things needed for school or work.

This is where the most specific events are placed, and where rapid logging shines. While it’s not exactly a diary or journal, you can place each event of the day here to better keep track of the significant moments happening.

If you want to find out the difference between the bullet journal and journal, you can find out here.

The caveat between the weekly and the daily is that they are often combined into one collection. This lets you track both the events of a day and through out the week.

It’s more efficient, but as always there your needs may vary.

If you need more samples for your journal, you’ll find them at the bottom of the article.

What Is A Bullet Journal Tracker?

The bullet journal tracker is a collection that keeps track of certain activities. The user can customize and shape it to keep track of metrics important to a certain activity or habit they want to record. They can use it to record:

  • Exercising
  • Weight Loss
  • Reading
  • Grocery Lists
  • Medicines
  • Symptoms
  • Moods
  • Playlists
  • Sleep Patterns
  • Cleaning
  • Work
  • Almost anything you can think of

The list isn’t limited to those listed above, and the tracker takes many form and delves into many areas.

The most important goal of the tracker is to track your progress in certain activities and keep your accountable.

This is also where rapid logging and the daily/weekly come into play.

A good example is for workout trackers.

If you find a day in your workout tracker where you weren’t able to complete it, you can take note of what day that is and turn to your weekly or daily spread. You can check on what happened that day and figure out why you weren’t able to keep up with your training.

Say you notice that while you are able to exercise regularly, you tend to skip your session altogether on Saturday. What you do is you go back to your daily spread, check on what your did on that day or maybe the one before and try to find a pattern.

Let’s say every Friday you go out with friends for a drink, or maybe you binged on a show that day and found yourself going to sleep at 12 am. Chances are you are too exhausted the next day to actually go to the gym, so you skip it completely.

Now, knowing this you can use that information to change your schedule in a way that will let you maintain your gym routine regularly.

I know. It won’t be easy, but nothing worth it is.

If you need more samples for your journal, you’ll find them at the bottom of the article.


Can I start bullet Journal in the middle of the year?

One of the benefits of the bullet journal is that you can start it at any time of the year. Given that it tracks almost any period of time, you can easily adjust the date of each collection to the month when you started it.

You don’t need to worry about having to start in the middle of the if you have just discovered this planner system.

The goal of the planner isn’t perfection, but self improvement – and that’s a good time to start at any point in the year! So don’t worry about not having a notebook where it starts with January. Focus on improving yourself. If you’ve read this on December but you still want to try it out?

Go for it!

It will give you ample time to build the habit for the next year.

How do you stick to a bullet Journal?

Sticking to a bullet journal is a habit, and like any other habit it is best to start simple. Give it time, ease into the routine and build it up everyday. Don’t pressure yourself too much when you don’t, but reward yourself when you do.

Take it slow. Building the bullet journal habit isn’t a race, but a marathon. You might pressure yourself too much and end up negatively reinforcing this into yourself. As a long term habit, it’s not a very effective method to so.

Printables & Stickers

If you really want to save time, then do yourself a favor and purchase printables and stickers online.

They are pre-designed layouts from professional artists that let’s you use a tracker or collection instantly.

For example, if you want an exercise tracker, all you have to do is to buy a exercise tracker printable. You will either be able to print it out, or it may be shipped to you.

If you are looking for a clean looking aesthetic for a minimalist bullet journal, this can be an option.

Minimalist Bullet Journal Ideas

Minimalist Bullet Journey Key Ideas

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Minimalist Bullet Journal Future Log Ideas

Minimalist Bullet Journal Monthly Ideas

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Minimalist Bullet Journal Weekly Ideas

Minimalist Bullet Journal Daily Ideas

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Minimalist Bullet Journal Tracker Ideas

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Do you want to setup your own minimalist bullet journal?

You’ll be needing a good notebook, then. Check out the Scribbler Planet Shop to find notebook perfect for bullet journaling!


Jm here! I run the Scribbler Planet website. If you're new to bullet journals and journaling, I think I can help you out. I've always had problems with keeping on track with what I'm doing, so when I heard bullet journaling could help I tried my hand at it. Here we are about a year later and I'm glad to say it significantly helped. Here's hoping I can help you do the same!

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