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Ryder Carroll and the Origin of The Bullet Journal

Ryder Carroll and the Origin of The Bullet Journal

Ever feel that everyday life can be somewhat overwhelming? Wish there was an easy way to calm the internal chatter, organise your mind, and focus only on the things that really matter? Created by New York-based digital product designer and author, Ryder Carroll, the bullet journaling system has gone on to take the world by storm. But what exactly is it, and why has it proved so revolutionary to the millions of bujoers who now swear by the system for tracking the past, organising the present, and planning the future?

Ryder Carroll Bullet Journal Story Title Image

Bullet Journaling – The Method in a Minute:

Ryder Carroll:

Bullet journaling – the analogue method for the digital age – was created by New York-based digital product designer and author, Ryder Carroll, and introduced to the world via a small personal website in 2013.

Unbeknownst to Carroll, his innovative journaling system was about to irreversibly rock the world. The concept explained on his website quickly went viral and, just days after publish, the site was attracting thousands of visitors per day.

In response to the forums, blogs and pop-up online communities that were springing up around the globe to discuss this groundbreaking new concept, Carroll reached out to the people at Leuchtturm, and together they created a special limited edition bullet journal… which sold out in hours. Hence, an unlimited edition of Ryder Carroll’s revolutionary journal was born.

Ryder Carroll himself describes the bullet journal as the perfect place for reflection, ideation and dedication. Using your bullet journal system on a daily basis enables you to declutter your mind, by offloading your mental inventory onto the page in front of you. This means valuable ideas are not lost, and you are also able to clear your headspace of all the things that just don’t matter!

Ryder Carroll's black bullet journal

Regular journaling enables you to discover, and subsequently focus on, the things that really interest you, by designing small, actionable projects. As a result, you are able to dedicate the time required to the things that matter, and you don’t waste any more time on the things that simply don’t.

Say goodbye to overwhelm, and say hello to a whole new way of life.

Ryder Carroll Bullet Journal illustrated index page image

Four Key Concepts of Bullet Journaling:

A mindfulness practise disguised as a productivity system, the goal of the bullet journal system is not only to keep you on top of all your events, tasks and projects, but also to empower you to live a truly intentional life – one that is as meaningful as it is productive. After all, it’s incredibly easy to always be busy, whilst achieving very little.

But wouldn’t it be amazing to ensure that action was truly purposeful, productive, and powered you towards your goals?

Rapid Logging:

Taking notes, making lists, and explaining tasks takes time – which is why, so often, even the most well-intentioned journalers give up after a matter of days or weeks, because maintaining their journal becomes more of a chore than a joy to stay on top of. This is why rapid logging can be the difference between an abandoned journal, and a really useful one!

To utilise rapid logging, you need to condense your entries into short, concise bullet points, categorised as either a task, an event or a note.  Each of these can be easily identified within your daily log, by the pictorial bullet you use at the beginning of each one. A task is represented by a bullet point, an event by a circle, and a general note (this could be anything from a thought, an idea, an observation, a quote, etc.) is represented by a simple dash.

Bullet journal key page

There are plenty more signifiers you can use, and these are explained in detail in the back of the Bullet Journal.


Collections provide you with a one-stop shop system for organising your entries into sensible groups. Whether it’s meeting notes, personal projects, shopping lists, birthday trackers, or anything else that requires grouped organisation, adding a collection is your key to success.

Ryder Carroll's Bullet journal Collection page example

Three core collections you’ll absolutely want to include in your bullet journal, are the daily log, the monthly log, and the future log. Essentially, these will allow you to map out your tasks, events, ideas and notes for the month ahead; keep track of your daily to-do lists and ensure awesome ideas are logged and followed up; and enable you to store long-term goals and aspirations in a place that means they won’t get forgotten with the passage of time.

You can find lots more details on exactly how to set up and utilise these pages inside your Bullet Journal notebook, in the explanatory guide at the back of the book.


This is where the beauty of bullet journaling enables you to streamline your life, and pursue the important things, whilst weeding out the rest. Once you reach month two of using your bullet journal, take a moment to look back over month one’s entries, and take stock of your unresolved tasks. Have any of them become irrelevant to your life, your work, or goals? If so, cross that bullet right out! If not, migrate your task forward to this month’s monthly log. Seem like too much effort to keep re-writing the same task if it doesn’t get completed? That’s exactly the point. Worthwhile tasks are worth the effort – menial tasks are not. The process of migration enables you to truly get a feel for what is important to you and what isn’t, become more aware of your own habits and patterns of behaviour, and separate the magnificent from the mundane.

And who doesn’t want to live a magnificent life, every single day?

Stack of Ryder Carroll's Leuchtturm bullet journals


If, so far, you think this all sounds great but you’re wondering how on earth you’ll ever be able to find anything you’ve written more than a few days ago, ever again, then the index of your bullet journal is your new best friend. As you work your way through the book, creating collections, simply add these collections alongside their corresponding page numbers to the index, as you go. You’ll develop a go-to contents list that makes it super-simple to lay your hands on any project, list or plan you’ve ever noted down, in an instant.

Bullet journal product range

Keen to learn more? Here you’ll find lots more articles, tutorials, and inspirational how-tos on all things bullet journaling. And you can check out the world-renowned Leuchtturm range of bullet journaling books right here.

Lisa at Create & Craft
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