Bullet Journal - Ryder Carrolls Video

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    There are certain words that you’ll hear as you begin digging into the bullet journal system. Here are a few important terms and what they mean!


    One of the core principles of the bullet journal is the ability to move tasks forward to new pages. This is called migration. If you find that a task didn’t get accomplished and you still want to keep it on your to-do list, you migrate it to your current daily page to keep it relevant.


    A spread is often said to describe the pages in a bullet journal. Most people tend to refer to two pages side by side as a spread. You often see monthlies and collections referred to as spreads because they sprawl across two pages.


    A tracker is a spread used to track certain information for a period of time. Trackers can span a week, a month, a year, or anything in between. There are unlimited types of trackers, but we’ll be covering some of the most popular ones below.

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    The first thing to create is the index. This super functional page is one of the elements that sets the bullet journal apart from the rest. Before an index, I used to flip around page by page looking for an old note or list. Now I can head to the index and see exactly where I put what with a fraction of the effort. As you add spreads to your bullet journal, you just need to update the index. That’s it!


    In a pre-printed planner, you can easily flip six months ahead and jot down an appointment. With a bullet journal, you don’t have that ability. So how do you plan far ahead without setting up spreads months in advance? The future log is the solution! Basically, this is just a page where you can write down any future appointments or dates for a month you haven’t set up yet. That way you can easily reference it to see if there’s a dentist appointment coming up or a deadline sneaking up on you.


    This is where you keep your month at a glance. While there are lots of things you can add to your monthlies, focus on the basics here. For a successful monthly spread, you just need the calendar, list, or whatever layout you decide to use.  In Ryder’s video, he suggests having a spot to write down your goals for the month.


    Weeklies aren’t discussed in the original bullet journal system, but they’re a natural step between monthlies and dailies. Basically, you can plan out the next seven days in detail with one spread. Weeklies cover your schedule, appointments, deadlines, goals you can pretty much add whatever you want!


    Dailies are the workhorse of the bullet journal. Essentially, the daily spread is a to-do list on steroids. You write down all the things you need to get done today, all the appointments you need to remember, and any notes you need to keep. You can add as much other information as you want! Many people use their dailies to track water intake, meals, steps walked each day, etc. This spread is totally customizable for your needs.

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    The future log is an easy spread to kick off your new bullet journal. All you need is space to write down any notes for future months. You get to decide how many months you want to set up — it can be as few as three months or as many as twelve! You certainly can go further, but I’d recommend that you simply include a space for “far future” if you want to keep the ability to plan beyond a year.

    Once you’ve decided how many months you want to prepare for, simply divide your page into equal sections for each month. Then simply label each section with the months coming up. As you get an appointment or note you want to remember, flip to your future log and jot it down. Then, when you’re setting up a new month, you can check your future log to ensure those notes get added to your calendar!

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    Collections are essentially a catch-all for everything else you’d add to a bullet journal that doesn’t fit one of the previously mentioned categories. Collections can be lists, logs, trackers, maps, info dumps, and much more. Basically, if you have a specific project you want to work on, a brainstorming session you want to explore, or a list you want to purge from your mind, then you’ll want to put those in a collection.

    To set up a collection, turn to the next blank page or spread available in your bullet journal. Then add a header to the page to explain what the collection is about and add the information you want to write down. When you’re done, remember to add it to your index!

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    One of the strengths of the bullet journal is the fact that it becomes a time capsule without any extra effort. You can flip back through page after page and remember moments of your life through your goals, notes, and deadlines. But you can really lean into this trait by creating a memories log helps cement it into your own personal history!


    For example, almost a year ago I was sitting at my desk at work when I saw the funniest thing: I witnessed a squirrel drag a full slice of pizza across a parking lot across the street. Some six months later, I was flipping through that bullet journal searching for something when I found the squirrel memory. In that amount of time, I had already forgotten it! Did it change my life? No.Does it still give me a chuckle years after it happened? You bet! I’m so glad I wrote it down so I can laugh about that damn squirrel for years to come. A memories page is a gift to your future self, and it costs so little energy and time. Why not do it?



    I’m sure at some point you’ve heard that you should start keeping a gratitude journal. It’s one of those pieces of advice that we hear again and again, right alongside “drink more water” and “start meditating”. The reason this advice is repeated so often is that it really is true! Practicing gratitude through a journal or log is backed by research to be healthy for your mental health. Adding a gratitude log to your bullet journal is a fantastic way to start counting your blessings every day.


    Where gratitude logs help you be positive in the face of your environment and circumstances, an affirmation log does something a little different. Affirmations help you change the way you talk about (and therefore think about) yourself. This exercise encourages you to say strong, positive, and happy phrases about yourself. With an affirmation log, you can practice this positive self-talk on a daily basis.


    For the longest time, I relied on other people to set consequences and rewards for my goals. Teachers, parents, bosses… all of them created quite the incentive to get things done. But once I got out of school and started working for myself, there was no one else to hold me accountable. I struggled for a long time to motivate myself and get stuff done. But then everything changed when I discovered this powerful trick.


    Instead of trying to beat myself to working with the proverbial stick, I realized that I could tempt myself with the carrot instead. Basically, I set a goal for myself. Then I decide a small reward that I can give myself when that goal is achieved. These little rewards are quite powerful incentives! A small change in how I approach my goals goes a long way toward helping me get my butt in gear.

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    You’ve read up on the basics of the bullet journal. You bought your supplies. Now you’re sitting in front of your new journal and you open to the first page only to hesitate. You think to yourself, “What if I mess it up?

    This is what I like to call First Page Fear. Something about the blank first page of a virgin journal can strike crippling anxiety into your heart. You suddenly doubt yourself and fear that you’re going to ruin the whole journal. You feel immense pressure to get this bullet journal just right.


    First Page Fear is simply perfectionism in disguise. Perfectionism is often touted as a positive attribute, something that shows that you have attention to detail. But that simply isn’t true. Perfectionism is an incredibly toxic attitude that is based entirely in fear of failure. This fear will not only stop you from finishing projects — it will stop you from ever trying. Because perfect isn’t possible. You are human and no one expects you to be perfect. So don’t put that pressure on yourself!


    When you find yourself terrified of making a mistake, say, “Done Not Perfect” and push through anyway. The only way for you to get better at this whole bullet journaling thing is to actually DO it. Try, fail, tweak, and try again. My bullet journals over the years are absolutely packed with mistakes. I have misspelled month names, drawn something funky, misaligned a header, smudged ink… if you can imagine a mess up, I’ve done it. Despite all of those imperfect pages, I got stuff done. No matter how many imperfections I saw in my own journal, people still seemed to love the pages when I shared online. I’ve grown so much thanks to all my mistakes, and you will, too. So take a deep breath, put that pen to paper, and don’t overthink it. You’ll do fine. I promise.

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    If you start with a half-used notebook or you’re just a fast worker, you’ll run out of pages in your bullet journal before too long. So what do you do when you get to that point? Many bullet journalists have been stumped by this issue because they are unsure what to migrate to the new journal. I’ve moved journals multiple times, and it’s not as hard as it seems once you begin working on the bullet journal move. You just have to think about what you liked the best and how it can serve you in a new journal.

    Think about systems that worked for you. If you loved how weeklies helped you take charge of your to-do list, then keep that system rolling into the next journal. Did the calendar monthly layout fizzle for you? Consider trying a new design in the future. Some elements to consider switching up in your new journal are things like the index and future log, which can impact the whole journal’s function. This is a good opportunity to experiment with a new style to see if it works better for you.


    As many people move to a new journal, they have to think about what to do with old collections. Do you rewrite them all in the new journal? Do you leave them behind? For everyone, this answer will be different. However, there are some things to consider. Is the collection a one-time list or something that you use again and again?

    For example, I use my Master Grocery List for every grocery trip. Because I use it so often, it only makes sense to rewrite it in my new journal (perhaps with a few updates). But a different collection, such as a packing list for a work trip, is something I don’t need all the time. If I need to refer to it later, I can check the index and easily find it in my retired bullet journal. Then I may decide to rewrite it in my new journal for easy reference.