Take a glimpse into the bullet journal of a first-timer. This dyslexic law student generously shares his first pages of his brand new bullet journal and discusses his thoughts as he gets started and his struggles.

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  1. Hi Jon, I just stumbled across your post while googling “minimalist bujo”. How is it going?
    I just wanted to add a quick tip: for things I need to remember that dont have a real place to go in my journal yet, I have created a dashboard on the first 2 pages of my journal the awkward, scary first pages after the yearly calendar.)
    I use sticky notes and write the months on them as headers. That way, I can scribble down my next doctor’s appointment while still on the phone, and it wont get lost, even if it is three months from now. I would also write down project ideas or tasks for a certain month as they pop up on my brain.
    Then, when I start a new monthly setup, I take the post-it and stick it onto that new page, transferring into the journal what’s on it, specifying details etc.
    It helps me a lot to not get tangled up.
    Now that I have found my go-to method, I want to move on from ugly neon post-its to scraps of prettier paper or bujo cut-outs and stick them on with washi. We’ll see how that goes! 🌟

  2. I hadn’t touched my “sad act” (my description of it) of a journal in several weeks or maybe even a couple of mines ………….I truly don’t know anymore, but this mans bravery in speaking out and showing us that it is more than ok to not get suckered in with all the hype and newness and then get put off of this activity by all of the hyper-creative “true” artists with beautiful handwriting and on-point artistic drawings and lettering, with their hyper expensive journal books and extra special expensive pens etc. (even though he did get a posh book for himself he has made me realise that my my choice of journaling materials is in no way the wrong way!) These “True” bullet journals guru’s really do make us mere mortals feel utterly inadequate…… Thank you Jon for inspiring me to try again – but this time for me to be more true to myself and my life, goals, dreams and anything else I decide to use this tool for! Deepest respect and love for your inspiring post!

    1. It’s always worth remembering that your journal is YOURS and you get to decide how you want to use it. There isn’t a right way or wrong way, just your way! Good luck getting back into your journal 🙂 may it be everything you need it to be and more.

  3. I was worried my chicken scratch bullet journal was a problem. I do use a ruler for straight lines, but the minimalist approach is definitely better for me. I tried to be fancy and have colour but… I’m too much of a perfectionist. Now, I just need my MUJI pens and a ruler and I’m good to go.

  4. honestly as someone who is super intimidated by the beautiful artistic bullet journal my best friend has, and the meticulously organized one my (admittedly, clinically OCD) wife has, this was a godsend. Is it awful to say “oh mine doesn’t look so bad”? it’s not bc this is bad or anything just. it’s about the same as mine, more or less. a heading and a list and one color of pen and varying quality of handwriting and mistakes crossed out in pen.

    this is very encouraging. i also don’t know if it’ll help me be more organized but hopefully it’ll help me be a little more aware of how disorganized i am.

    (my journal is disc-bound so i can move pages around and frankly i’m psyched about that too – much like how i love taking notes on my tablet with a stylus where i can rearrange my handwritten notes on the fly, i like knowing i can organize pages after the fact)

    1. Little Coffee Fox Team says:

      Being able to make your journal your very own is one of the most beautiful benefits of bullet journaling. Enjoy yours for what it is Mags 😉

  5. I went to purchase a new journal to begin and decided against it. I knew I had 1/2 used Moleskine at home and decided to “practice” with it. By experimenting with a few different layouts, habit trackers, lists etc. I found this relieved much of my OCD anxiety about creating the perfect bullet journal. I began thinking that only women with art degrees used a bullet journal! I was just looking for something to help me keep on track with things that needed to be done, a place to write down my ideas – that I knew were so inspired I would not forget – but I do! I too have found my handwriting has become increasingly hard to read. I found a font I like – have forced my self to slow down and put some effort into it and I might say it is looking quite nice. Most of all as I start this new journey I have found that there are a lot of ideas out there – but each person’s journal needs to be their own, doing what works best for them. It was refreshing to read that someone else was experiencing much of what I had felt! Thanks!

    1. Little Coffee Fox Team says:

      Good for you for jumping in and getting started. It sounds like you’ve been able to overcome 2 of the biggest hurdles that cause people to not make progress: get started and it will get better, and each person’s journal has to be their own. Enjoy the journey Greg!

  6. Hello! Please tell Jon he is awesome for just “going for it”! My bullet journal is just as messy and has the same chicken scratch writing (and none of the fancy spreads). I noticed you mentioned in a comment that he isn’t using it every day (if he is even still using it so long after the original post). I had the same problem when I changed careers and was no longer at a desk all day. I have started using a pocket sized notebook that I literally keep in my pocket with a mini pencil. It is amazing, he should totally give it a shot! ?

    1. Little Coffee Fox Team says:

      That sounds like the perfect solution for you Shannon! I love it.

  7. Well done. I have just written up my first bujo after weeks of reading about it. I am following the basic layouts and have added a couple of entries. K.i.s.s is going to be my inspiration for the time being. I also use a daily tracker for things like Meds that lives on my table next to where I sit as this is easier.

    1. Little Coffee Fox Team says:

      Simple is a great way to start and then as you learn you can get more fancy if you want to. If not, that is totally OK too!

  8. Thank you for sharing this as those of us who get overwhelmed by all the crazy beautiful bullet journals out there this brings it home that it doesnt have to be fancy.
    It can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.
    Thank you again for sharing!

    1. Little Coffee Fox Team says:

      YES! That’s the beauty of it, you can make it your own!

  9. I love your honesty. I too use erasable pens. They have changed my life. Some days are planned to the nearest 15minutes – others are entirely random. Today I wrote nothing at all! I’ve started using a pristine set of coloured pencils I have been saving – but saving for what? Some pages have worked – some haven’t. Others I can’t imagine how I lived without them 🙂 One thought – have you tried using a blue felt tip. Or even a green one?

    1. I don’t believe Jon has tried different colored felt tips, but I’ll sure pass that along! And I love that: “Saving for what?”. That’s a question I need to ask myself every time I start shying away from using any of my supplies because honestly, this is what it’s all for! Thanks so much for your thoughts, and I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, Mandy!

  10. I love this post because it’s exactly what I recently did, starting from scratch with a black Leuchtturm. After 2 (orange and emerald) notebooks in 2016 that I filled out with fear and trying to be perfect day after day, I came back to a planner for 2017 because I didn’t want to stress myself. But then I found a great deal on Amazon and I decided to give it another chance obliging myself to not try to be artsy (since I’m not comfortable with it) and just scribble what I need on paper. It works much better now! This post encouraged me even more to just be myself and not try to copy what others do, thanks for sharing!

    1. That’s fantastic to hear, Alice! Sometimes it takes a few tries to really figure out the best solution to a problem, but when you find it – boy it is satisfying 🙂

  11. Hey Husband-Person,

    I love the minimalist setup. Even if it was done for fear of “ruining” something more ambitious, it has a simple beauty that I enjoy. Since this comment is nearly a year later, I hope you stuck with it! I tried to do a journal as part of the new year, but couldn’t decide on a color scheme, a lettering style, weather or not to do pictures, this page layout or that one yada-yada-yada.

    So, in short, I never started. I never used it.

    I’m going to grab a new fountain pen from Office Depot tonight because spending money always makes me put more effort into a thing. Then I’m going to go home make lines on paper and add words. <3

    1. Anastasia,

      I will make sure to pass along your comments, he still uses it, but is still struggling to use it daily. It’s a process and he is sticking with it. I’m so glad you are jumping in and getting started! You can’t succeed until you start! 🙂

  12. Thank you for sharing your minimalist journal. The point is not that it’s a work of art, but that it fits your needs and makes your life easier. In my journal, I’ve found that using erasable pens—Frixion is the brand I’ve tried—is magic. They come in fun colours and I can just rub out mistakes, which helps me concentrate on using the journal instead of second-guessing myself.

  13. I stumbled on your site from pinterest and have enjoyed wandering around it. Seeing your husbands take on the bullet journal really helped me to overcome the roadblock I hit everytime I tried to start of making something that looked nice rather than simply functional. I do a little doodling and add in some washi tape dividers for a little color, but seeing a bare bones, made to get a job done set up was really nice.

    1. I’m so happy that it helped! I’ll be sure to pass that along to Jon. Sometimes it is intimidating to begin when you feel like your bullet journal won’t stack up to someone else’s. I totally get it. It’s nice to get a reminder that it is a productivity tool above all else 🙂

  14. Another minimalist! I write mine in pencil because it makes my writing a bit easier for me to read! And you can rub out mistakes.

  15. I would love to see future updates and how he is adapting the bullet journal as he grows more comfortable with the system. I am finishing up my first month bullet journaling and it’s been really great; glad to see others taking a bare bones approach too.

  16. Minimalist female bullet journaller here. I don’t doodle or make fancy graphs or anything. Just write lists and notes. Glad to see I’m not the only one. The only color in my journal is blue from my frixion exrra fune point erasable pen. I am left handed so most pens leave ink on my hand and smudges on my page. I also don’t like scribbles so this pen, because it actually erases really well, is , my perfect solution. I’ve started with a dollar store spiral bound notebook and figure this is my “practice” book. Maybe I’ll get a fancier book down the road but, for now, I’m experimenting in my cheapie 🙂

    1. Nice! That’s how I started, too. I was so intimidated by fancy hardcover notebooks! I bought something cheap and abused it so thoroughly. Being a minimalist is freakin’ awesome, and there are definitely times I wish I could create such clean lines. I’m glad you found a system that works great for you and I hope you have a grand time finishing out your experimentation journal!

  17. Elizabeth says:

    I am almost finished with my first bullet journal. It is messy and I made a lot of “mistakes”. I hate my handwriting but when I started this bullet journaling my one goal was to finish one full notebook. It did not matter what I put in there only that I finish my 1st ever journal. I loved your article because it confirmed what I have been doing simple undecorated basic journaling. I look forward to more of your thoughts and pictures.

    1. Jon and I both appreciate you commenting and sharing your thoughts! Getting through the first journal is a huge accomplishment, so congrats 😀 It felt so monumental when I overcame my first one and I learned so much, and I bet you feel likewise. I hope you enjoy starting your second journal and beginning a whole new journey!

  18. I would like to give Jon a big-sister type hug. First, I can identify with forgetting things. I forget everything too. I have ADD something bad and it’s a challenge. I wish I had taken my ADD more seriously when I was in law school. Second, I too have had ‘planner paralysis.’ There is simply *so much* out there – Filofaxes! Erin Condren! Hobonichi! Stickers! Washi! Color coding! – that I start thinking about it but feel I’m stuck in cement.

    I do own a red Filofax in A5 size that is beautiful but I think I am going to give up on traditional daily inserts, get some grid paper and just bullet journal. Why not? The acquisition of paper is cheap, and what can be more freeing than a blank page?

    One ruler, some colored pens, and I can slap in one of my motivational stickers if I really want to. It sounds like a plan.

    Good luck with your studies and career.

    1. It’s so cool to meet another person in the law profession who uses the bullet journal! I’m glad you figured out a plan of action to help get over your planner paralysis – sometimes it can be super overwhelming! Jon and I both appreciate your comment and hope you enjoy building and growing your planning method. Thanks!

  19. Ada Jones says:

    This was awesome to read because when I started I though ‘Well let’s begin with a quote!’
    Then I made a mistake…


    And I have made many more since then. Sometimes I put something on it but most of the time I can’t be bothered.
    To me a bullet journal is an inside in how I/my brain works, and I/my brain make lots of mistakes.

    A lot.

    On every page.

    1. Ouch, that’s rough! But that’s the bullet journal for you 🙂 it’s beautiful when you learn to just let it go and move on to the next page. That’s a fantastic mentality to have, especially when dealing with the fickle brain!

  20. Catherine from Cork says:

    Jon, thank you so much for this post and sharing your pages with us. I just started by bujo a couple of weeks ago after much stalling and am still getting stuck between wanting to work with it as I go and wanting it to look like the other lovely journals I see online. You are so right that our journals are about what works for us – it does not have to be beautiful to be productive!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed Jon’s post, and I know he’ll love your comment! Stick with it and I’m sure you’ll find the balance between pretty pages and a wicked productive planner.

  21. Alexandra Wright says:

    I was in the same “afraid to start because I’ll just screw it up” boat. I did a few test runs of spread ideas on scrap paper till I found what I liked. Then when I was ready to start the actual bullet journal part I went about 2/3 of the way down the page and wrote the words “I give you permission” then signed my name. It was very freeing. The first 20 pages or so are messy, scratched out, smudged, but they are mine. I’ve also found what really helped me was leaving room on those pages for me to write out what I want to do differently the next time. That way I’m motivated to do an actual “next time”. My biggest obstacle was looking at all these very beautiful and artistic spreads online and on blogs and telling myself that I’d never be good enough to do things like that in my journal. But once I realized that my journal is just for me anyway, then I started to not care what it looked like or how many pages I took up because no one was going to see it anyway! Good for you, keep it up, and Cheers!!

    1. Giving yourself formal permission is a fantastic idea! It’s like a ribbon cutting ceremony for your delightfully messy bullet journal. That’s a really lovely mentality to hold about your journal, and leaving room to make notes for the next time is a smart way to tackle self doubt and mistakes. Thank you for sharing and I will be sure to read this to Jon! 🙂

  22. Thank you so much for sharing your journal. We all say that mistakes don’matter but when we see the artistic Pinterest ready bujos, it is very intimidating. Yours is much closer to Ryder Carroll’s original version, and it is great to see you step out of your comfort zone too. You encourage all of us. And I bet it helps with law school organization as well,

  23. I was scared the first time I started my bullet journal too. That’s a good reminder about it being “productive” not just beautiful. I tend to get hung up in my perfectionism instead of the usefulness of my layout. I feel like I have also had to learn to just to keep on moving forward, despite mistakes. Nicely done and nicely written!

    1. It is intimidating staring at that blank page! Why on earth do we put such pressure on ourselves? It is definitely a ongoing struggle, for Jon and for me. I’m glad that you enjoyed the post and I will pass that along to Jon! Thanks 🙂

      1. Renae Schuyler says:

        Hi, I LOVE your blog and even started my own Habit Tracker because of your blog! But one thing is, I’m not sure where to start on a bullet journal. I’d love to start one but I want it to be perfect, and I’m not sure where to start. If you could help me, that would be awesome! Thanks!

  24. Very awesome!! I wish I could get MY husband to jump on the bandwagon.
    There are so many personality types…every bujo gets to be different…isn’t it magical?

  25. Jon – your honesty is awesome and you’re doing great! I’m so proud of you for stepping past your fears! I jsut started a bullet journal recently too. Know that you’re not alone in those fears. Because every journal before the bullet journal, I’d torn out all the pages I’d written on! Your minimalism looks super effective and you’re adapting the system quickly to meet your needs. You go!

  26. Tammy Cornwell says:

    I am so encouraged by this post. The most intimidating thing I face is that there are so many beautiful pages. Ive tried to “force” some creativity but I have just decided that I need to stick to what works for me. Thank you for baring your soul to those of us who feel the same way.

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