J. R. Swab

How To Unlock Potential Through Journaling

Categories: [How To]
Tags: [journaling]

Effective DIY journaling can be overwhelming starting from scratch. Those of us that gravitate towards this style don't want to be restricted by the traditional journals with preformatted days. However, the number of choices we have in creating a custom journal is infinite and can leave a person paralyzed when getting started.

In an earlier blog, I talked about why I need a journal, so check that out if you want the reason behind why I don't only use apps in this technologically advanced world. I want to talk about how I journal, my experience, and what works best for me. All with the hope of getting you started and avoiding any pitfalls.

The Journal Base:

The base of the journal that I build off of is the Bullet Journal system, created by Ryder Carroll. I'm not talking about all the fancy art you see when you search Instagram for bullet journal or bujo either. I mean the exact system Ryder lays out on his site.

No frills

All the extra fancy stuff will just get in your way and add to the paralyzing effect of creating a custom journal. The goal is to get in and get out for everything task or event related.

Daily Log:

Logging each event, task, or quick note is done in what is called the "daily log." The name here is not important, but the system is indeed. Write the date on the page and below the day write that days tasks.

For me, this task logging is not meant to replace my daily schedule that I have set up in my online calendar. To use this effectively, all you need to do is look at your schedule (you'll have it memorized soon enough) and whatever the current chunk of time is set for you to complete the task you wrote in your journal for today.

Nothing else gets done yet

Future Log:

The future log consists of four pages divided into thirds to allow enough space to place events or tasks due for the months ahead. I find myself not using this as often, but at the end of the year, I think I'll go back and add in events that happened, so there is one place to look back on for what happened in any given year.

Monthly Log:

At the start of a new month, it is advised to move to a new two-page spread. On the left write the days of the month. Having this granular calendar allows us to write down events for the month as they come up.


Collections, as the creator of the bullet journal describes, are sections of the book used to keep data about a specific topic organized and easy to find. He also goes to mention that once notes in your daily log get too long that we are to move these to a collection. I use this concept a bit differently.

For me, collections are what he says, but I have them defined as I need. What I mean is, I don't start learning a topic and write down the notes into my daily log, but when I dig into a subject there has to be a collection from the start. The only time I add notes within the daily log is when I hear a one-off idea or read a quote I want to remember. When sitting down to study a subject, there needs to be a fresh page for me to jot down whatever needs to be remembered.


Without an index, we will never know where anything is located. I did this my own way in my past two journals but now am using the way Ryder lays out with the Bullet Journal. It's much easy to add to an index his way than what I did prior. The difference is all in where the numbers fall. Most indexes have the page number before the content, but this makes it very hard to add new pages as add to our collections. We also have no idea how many pages we will use in our daily log and setting a predetermined amount of pages at the start will either restrict us, or we'll be too generous.


When creating your journal change whatever you need to get the most out of your day. Journaling is about being productive with the time we have each day to progress along life's' journey. One thing I do that is not from the official Bullet Journal method is to write down my goals for the year on the back cover.

I divide the very last page (right before the back cover actually) into thirds. One is for business and content creation which holds milestones like the number of blogs to write or monetary compensation. Another section called play is for fun stuff like traveling or making time to go out with friends and family. The third section is money goals, and here I add items such as remove "x amount" of debt or "save for y."

Again this is your journal, do whatever makes you one percent better every day.

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