20 September 2020

Guest Post - A Minimalist’s Filofax Notebook Bullet Journal

Thank you to Leslie for this guest post

As a minimalist, I’m passionate about eliminating distractions so I can focus on high priorities. I first discovered Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal system when it began making waves in the minimalist community. Since 2018, I’ve used BuJo to track and plan everything important to me. 

Analog planning has been a major relief from tech overload. Relying on smartphone apps for time management used to lead me down a rabbit hole of checking social media and news updates. Bullet Journaling is an alternative that keeps me away from my phone when I need to be productive.

My favorite practice inspired by the ‘The Bullet Journal Method’ book was swapping handwriting for typing. I’ve found that taking a little extra time to handwrite tasks, events, and notes forces me to pause and decide if they’re relevant. The tasks I hesitate to spend a few seconds jotting down are rarely worth doing at all.

I used the classic BuJo process for a year before experimenting with customizations. My simple modified layouts work seamlessly with my current routine. I enjoy seeing artistic Bullet Journals and appreciate the creative outlet of decorating them, but I prefer to keep my journal very basic. Here’s my setup:

Since my Bullet Journal often substitutes for my phone, I decided they should be equally lightweight and portable. The products I use for Bullet Journaling are a pocket size Filofax Notebook, a pen loop insert, dividers, a ruler page-marker, and dot grid filler paper. From a sustainability standpoint, I like how I can refill and recycle the paper while reusing the cover, dividers, and page-marker.

Each collection has its own divider and the notebook pages are easy to rearrange. My collections are: Monthly Log, Daily Log, Home, Online, Errands, and Notes. The final divider is for blank paper.

My Home collection has lists of home maintenance projects and dates that I completed seasonal chores.

Because I time-block unessential technology use, my Online collection includes a list of topics to research and websites to visit during scheduled tech time.

My errand list and grocery list are in my Errands collection.

Important notes from my Daily Log are copied into the Notes collection and events are copied into the Monthly Log collection since I save Notes and Monthly Logs but recycle old Daily Logs.

My Monthly Log layout is a simple 2 page horizontal spread. To easily find the current date, I check off dates as they pass. The chores column uses abbreviations for interval tasks like laundry. I underline Sundays to divide the weeks.

I designed a 2 page horizontal layout for my Daily Logs as well. I make my Daily Logs the night before; it usually takes about 5 minutes.

For each Daily Log, I start by checking my Monthly Log, collections, and shared Google calendars from my husband and workplace. Then I copy scheduled and time-blocked events into the schedule column. Notes are recorded throughout the day in the notes column.

The “Quick @ home” column is where I add tasks like unloading the dishwasher and reading a Bible passage. “Longer @ home” includes vacuuming and riding my exercise bike. Separating tasks by duration makes it easier for me to choose one based on how much time I have available. The errands column allows me to group away-from-home tasks efficiently.

Limiting my daily tasks and errands to these columns encourages me to maintain boundaries with my workload.

If you’ve already practiced the basics of Bullet Journaling, I recommend exploring modifications for a tailored fit. BuJo’s flexibility is what makes it such an effective tool for mindful organization.

Leslie Watson is an eco-minimalist from the West Coast, USA where she works as an elementary school teaching assistant. She shares her articles on Linktree. You can also find her on Instagram as @LessHasteAndLessWaste.


  1. Hi Leslie, Wonderful post! Thank you for sharing..May I ask where you found dotted paper with holes punched?

    1. Thank you Michele :). I use the Filofax Notebook Pocket Dotted Journal Refill paper from https://us.filofax.com/us/notebooks/notebook-refills/filofax-notebook-dotted-journal-refill-filofax.html

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  3. You are right, being minimalist cuts distractions. Like you, I use shorthand letter codes in my VDS ring binder, but sometimes get caught out and think what do those initials mean? Especially if it is a rarity!! Only this morning I had to solve the riddle of an ABs shorthand......antibiotics of course silly me.... Doh!!! Not yet got a bullet journal, only because I keep going down new planner set up rabbit holes recenty!!! Thanks for the post, enjoyed it. xx

  4. Butanben,
    I’m glad you enjoyed the post. That makes sense about the ABs shorthand :). I’ve been thinking about adding a key if I start using more abbreviations.

  5. Leslie,

    Thanks for sharing your setup and approach. Very interesting to see and really like the simplicity of it.

    Like you, I try to keep my BuJo very simple.



  6. Thank you Mark. Simple BuJos deserve some time in the planner spotlight as well! :)

  7. Currently BUJOing in a Lockwood Personal slim, using Filofax’s own dot grid paper, and loving it.

  8. This was very helpful! I am just starting a bullet journal, but I know I will prefer being able to punch the pages and put them in my filofax.