My First Bullet Journal Setup + Initial Thoughts

Recently I mentioned that I was planning on starting a bullet journal, and guys, I actually did it! I started it a few days before the new year, and it’s coming along really nicely.

I’m using the standard notebook that I’ve seen a lot of bullet journalists use: a size A5 dotted Leuchtturm1917. I chose the color black because of its sleekness and simplicity. It’s a color I know I won’t get tired of as the year goes on.

So far I’m loving the bullet journal system, and today I’m going to be showing you my first setup. However, I do want to preface this by saying that I’m no artist. The core purpose of my bullet journal is functionality, so my spreads aren’t super aesthetically pleasing.


First up is my 2018 overview. This is one of those staple spreads that everyone seems to have in their bullet journal. It was honestly super repetitive to make, but it will definitely come in handy as a reference for drawing out future spreads.


In 2018 I really want to focus on making growth a priority, so I decided to dedicate a page entirely to my word of the year – create. I also have my goals for 2018 on the right page. I have them split into two categories: personal and blogging.

I think having your goals written down is an important part of achieving them. I have already flipped back to this page so many times since starting my journal and I know it will continue to be useful.


The next spread is a reading log. I wanted a somewhat nice-looking place to track the books I read this year so I can reach my goal of 20 books. I stuck to a pretty minimalist design, but I think once I start reading more and filling it up it’ll look really cool.

On the right page I’m planning on tracking my savings, but I’m not exactly sure how I want to set it up so I just left it blank for now.


This next spread is my class schedule for this semester. I haven’t actually filled it out yet because I want to wait and make sure none of my classes get changed, but I figured I would go ahead and set it up.

The right spread is my very minimal January cover page. I didn’t do a traditional 2-page monthly spread, but I still needed something to look at to reference the days. I decided to keep this as simple as possible and just draw out a small calendar.


On the next page, I just drew a simple box for my January goals. I kept this page pretty empty because I want to really focus on my plans and goals for the month.

One of my goals this month is to complete the minimalism challenge, so I decided to dedicate a space specifically for tracking my progress. As you can see, I have only completed a few days, but so far the game is going well!


This next spread is for tracking my moods and spending. My moods can be a little crazy at times, so I’m excited to see if any patterns show up by the end of the month. I also included a spending log so I can track where my money is going.

One of my goals for January is to update all my old blog posts to my new writing style, so I created a list on the right to keep track of what I need to do to each post.

The last thing on this page is my January review. Obviously it’s not filled out yet, but I plan on jotting down several things here at the end of the month, including my average mood, the amount of money I spent, and how many zero days I had.


The last thing I have set up are my weekly spreads. I spent a lot of time trying to decide what layout would work best for me, and eventually I settled on this. It’s a pretty basic layout, but I honestly really like how it turned out.

I have boxes for weekly tasks as well as my daily to-do lists. I also included a gratitude box below each day. This is something I was super excited to include because one of my goals for 2018 is to practice gratitude daily.


My thoughts so far

Even though I’ve only had my journal for about a week, I’m already really enjoying this system. I can’t say for sure whether I’ll stick with it, but I’ve had a lot of fun with it so far.

I thought drawing the spreads was going to feel like a chore, but honestly, it’s been awesome to be able to express my creativity in this way. I know I’m not an artist, but so far I’ve discovered that I actually prefer my spreads to be pretty minimal.

Another thing I was concerned about when starting my journal was how time-consuming it would be. It can take up a lot of time if you let it, but the awesome thing is that YOU are in control of how much time and work you want to put into your journal.

There are no rules when it comes to this system, which is part of the reason I’m loving it so much. It’s flexible and fits my needs no matter what they are. If a spread I’ve done stops working for me, I know I’m free to change things up as I please.

Probably my favorite thing about this system is that it forces me to be mindful of my days. When I’m putting so much time into setting things up and tracking different aspects of my life, I don’t really have much choice than to evaluate how I’m spending my time.

Overall, I’m really enjoying Ryder Carroll’s bullet journal system. I’m actually kind of surprised at how much I’m loving it. It’s such a flexible system and can be useful no matter what your needs are. I think everyone should give it a try!

Let’s chat! I’d love to hear your thoughts. 🙂