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The Dotted Journal: Getting Started

Updated: Jun 11, 2023

The Bullet Journal is one of the few best things to ever happen to me. I struggled for years trying to use normal planners, while also keep a journal/diary, and maybe another notebook for that and another notebook for this. I needed a way to keep everything in one place. No muss. No fuss. And the bullet journal gave that to me.

Journal opened to a monthly spread.

I won’t go over what a bullet journal (or bujo) is, or how it works. But I will link you to the creator himself, Ryder Carroll, to give you an overview of what I’m talking about.

To sum up, the bujo has five main parts:

  • The index

  • The future log

  • The monthly log

  • The weekly or daily log

  • Collections

But that’s not the focus here today.



The focus is how a bujo functions on a day-to-day basis, or in other words, how I use it on a day-to-day basis to keep track of all my thoughts, ideas, and to-do’s.


Grid Guides


I started my current journal in January of 2021, as it was a Christmas gift. For the first time ever, I made a grid guide. I never saw the use of it before, but honestly, I’ve looked back at it more than once. And it’s saved me a lot of time I would have otherwise spent counting out the spaces on each page.


I’ll definitely keep this up with my next journal.



Yearly Overview


Also, for the first time, I set up a yearly overview of each month. Again, never saw the point in it, but when moving from month to month it’s come in handy that I don’t have to open my phone and keep the screen on so I don’t miss any dates and instead can flip back to this spread right at the beginning of the journal.


Future Log/Monthly/Weekly/Daily Spreads


First off, I can’t stand monthly spreads and the Future Log. And I’ve tried, for years, but they just don’t work for me. I never look back on them, they don’t serve me any purpose, its useless.


So, I stick with weekly spreads.


Personally, I like to have a set space for each day so I can plan for the week ahead. This is especially useful during the school year with several classes to remember, a work schedule, and other daily tasks. A monthly spread or future log just doesn’t offer the practical space I

need.


As for daily spreads, I use them rarely. It’s more when I have a lot to do in a day, or I’m having a self-care day that use this type of spread. Sometimes I just like lists and keeping track of everything I accomplished in a day can help boost my mood.


Long Form Journaling


The way I use my journal, for long form journaling, or any creative writing I do, is in the form of a collection. I start with a heading and a date, but instead of one spread each time, I leave a space or two to then carry on when I go to journal again.


This way I don’t waste any space. And the index stays organized. I can simply add in the title: Journal, and index as many pages as I end up using.


The difference here, between this system and collections, is that I don’t transfer anything over to a new journal. Collections are typically time-consuming and are meant to be transferred over. Saying that, I have found there is typically nothing I want to transfer over as I can always go back and look at that journal again.


In Conclusion


The bujo, for me, is about practicality, efficiency, and functionality. Can I plan out my tasks for the week (without feeling like I’m running out of room)? Can I always have a space to journal, to free write, or just rant something out quickly? Can I create any spreads that will save me time in the future? The answer to all of these is yes. I can.


The Bujo Method is simple in nature. It is customizable, but more than that its an easy-to-understand system to keep track of your day-to-day and your future in one place. One designated journal.


It saves time, space (metal and physical), and remains a flexible, personal method for pretty much anyone that cares to try one out. It’s like being given a pen and told to write. Except handwriting is unique to the individual. The Bujo acts the same way. We are all given the same thing, a journal, along with some basic guidelines for the method – and then we get to set off and make it unique, adapt it to suit our needs.

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