What Is A Bullet Journal
Bullet Journaling is a hot trend in the planner and getting organized communities. If you haven’t heard of it yet you’re in for a treat. If you love to-do lists and checklists, this is something you don’t want to miss. I am truly a list maker! My last job was actually that… how to make customized lists! seriously!
Let’s face it there is way too many things that we need to remember on a daily basis why not use a strategy to make it easier? We all need a simple system to help us keep track, bullet journaling is a great option. We all have a lot of different daily tasks, appointments, and various things we need to remember. Trying to keep track of everything in your head becomes exhausting. And if you manage a team at work or a family at home, it becomes near impossible. Just think of how much more productive and less stressed you’ll be if you can stop trying to remember all this “stuff”.
A bullet journal is a way of keeping track of everything you need to do in one notebook. It usually consists of three different parts.
The first part includes the index and key. They will occupy the first two pages of your journal and help you stay on track with what’s where and how the journal works.
The second part consists of a monthly log or calendar and then running daily entries. More on how these work in a minute.
The last part of a bullet journal is something called collections or lists. They are just that, lists of related things you want to keep track of. For example, you may have a list of books you want to read or a list of clients you need to contact this month.
The idea with a bullet journal is that you set aside two pages for your index and then record things as they come up throughout your day, week, or month. At the beginning of the month, you set up a monthly page. This is your space to record appointments, anniversaries and the likes. Some bullet journalers will simply make a list of 1-30 (or 31) and then leave space to note appointments as they come up. Others prefer to draw a more traditional monthly calendar grid over two pages. Try both and see what works better for you. As you draw each monthly grid or list at the beginning of the month, make a note of what page it is on in your index.
On the next blank page, enter today’s date and start recording things you need to take care of, appointments to keep today, and anything else you need to keep track of including quick notes and ideas. Appointments and notes are used as before.
Any task on your list can be crossed out if it is no longer applicable or needed.
Pick the key system that seems most intuitive for you and start recording the things you need to keep track of and remember in your Bullet Journal. One way to think of it is as the ultimate ongoing to-do list.
At the end of the day, review your list. Things that have not been completed need to either be crossed out because they are no longer relevant and important, or they should be moved to a tomorrow. If you don’t want to, or can’t tackle an item or two the next day, leave it open and make sure you review and work it in at a later date.
Who Can Benefit from Bullet Journaling
Anyone can benefit from bullet journaling. But let’s face it not everyone is a “list” person. This particular system of staying organized has some unique properties that make it particularly helpful for people who thrive on lists and appreciate a non-digital system. Yes, I actually mean no computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone… and yes people really do that with paper and pencil still!
Here’s a quick rundown to help you decide if bullet journaling is right for you.
Lists anyone? Bullet Journaling May Be For You
If you’re a fan of to-do lists and have one sitting on your desk or your kitchen counter, then a bullet journal may work very well for you. Think of it as a large, ongoing to-do list that also helps you keep track of appointments, grocery lists, and the likes. And since it’s all in one journal, no more frantic searches for that little list that held everything you needed to do today.
Paper anyone? Bullet Journaling May Be For You
Our electronic devices are great, but sometimes you want to go back to pen and paper. If you want an organized, easy to deal with a system that requires no batteries or Wi-Fi, then this will be a good fit for you.
Even if you think your Google Calendar handles everything for you, I would like to encourage you to give this a try. There’s just something about writing things down by hand that helps us process them differently. There is a fair bit of science that I won’t bore you with that says, when we put pen/cil to paper it engages a different part of the brain.
Are you Creative? Bullet Journaling May Be For You
If you are looking for a creative outlet but you just don’t have the time to sit down and sketch, paint, or create, then bullet journaling may be a good fit for you. As you plan your day, you can let out your creative side as you doodle and decorate your daily pages. Of course, this is completely optional.
Tell the truth? how many coloured pens do you have? 🙂
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Do you feel like your head is going to explode? Bullet Journaling May Be For You
Do you have a constant running tally in your head of everything you need to do and remember today? That takes up a lot of brain space. A bullet journal may be the perfect solution because it helps you jot down all those appointments, to-dos, meetings, and ideas you don’t want to forget as they come up.
Writing them down allows you to forget about them and stop running that constant long list of stuff in your head that you need to remember. Just think of what you can do with all that extra brain capacity and how much less stressed you’ll feel when you stop to worry about forgetting something.
Portable? Bullet Journaling May Be For You
A big advantage of the bullet journal is that it’s nothing more than a notebook and a pen. You can sit down anytime, anywhere to plan, check on your progress through the day, or add a new line item. There’s no need to hunt down a power outlet and it works just fine in bright sunlight.
Frankly, it’s nice sometimes to unplug and get some thinking done away from your computer or smartphone.
Even if you don’t count yourself in all or even most of these groups, I encourage you to give it a try. You may not think of yourself as a list or “pen and paper” type person but may find that this is just what you needed to stay on top of everything that’s thrown at you on a daily basis.
Select your First Bullet Journal
Are you ready to give bullet journaling a try? Before you start your first bullet journal, you need to decide on the type of journal you want to use. Here is a quick overview of the three main styles of bullet journals in use. This should make your decision easier. Most importantly just start, get your feet wet and if needed switch to a different type of journal until you find the one that’s right for you.
A Plain Notebook
The easiest way to get started is with any notebook that you have lying around. Of course, you can also pick up an inexpensive one at the store. If you just want to give this a try, it doesn’t matter if it’s ruled, lined, or has blank pages. Any type of notebook will work. ***I hear the dollar store calling my name!!
It’s easy and inexpensive to find something to play around with.
A Moleskin or Leuchtturm Notebook
When you’re ready to upgrade to a journal you’ll enjoy writing in and are proud to display, consider spending a few dollars on a Moleskin or Leuchtturm notebook. You’ll end up with a nice sturdy book that you can carry around with you or keep by your desk.
In addition to making your bullet journaling a nicer experience, a quality notebook has some added benefits. The paper will be nicer to write on, it usually has quite a few pages, so you may be able to fit an entire year’s worth of notes and journaling in one notebook.
A Travel Journal or Midori
A third option is a travel journal or Midori. This consists of a piece of leather used as a cover and a series of replaceable inserts held in place by elastic bands. The big advantage of using a Midori style journal for your bullet journaling is that it’s highly customizable. Instead of using an index and having your collections or lists randomly spread throughout your journal, you can keep a dedicated insert for collections.
Last but not least, by having the essential parts of your bullet journal (monthly spreads, daily sections, and collections) separated, you can replace only the parts you need to replace. That means when your daily journaling notebook is full, you simply start a new one, and there’s no need to go back and copy over any essential collections in a new journal. You keep your collections until you’re ready to replace it and start a new journal for those.
No matter what format you chose, I hope you give bullet journaling a try.
Make Bullet Journaling Work For You
One of the best ideas behind the bullet journal is that it’s so deceptively simple, with only a few rules or guidelines to follow to make it work. This gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to making your bullet journal work for you.
Take It For A Test Drive
Yes, you can read all about using a bullet journal and watch a ton of YouTube videos to get ideas. But you won’t get a feel for what will work for you until you start to give it a try. Hard stop! There is no try there is only do!
Start with an inexpensive notebook and just try it out. Follow the basic bullet journal layout with an index, a key and a monthly spread. Track your daily tasks and see how it feels. Add in a few lists or collections and get a feel for what type of information is useful and what isn’t. Try trackers and various other “hacks” you come across and determine what works for you.
Start Small and Simple
When you first start out bullet journaling, you may be tempted to write down and track every single thing. You have lots and lots of ideas for collections. The enthusiasm is wonderful, and while it’s perfectly fine to try a bunch of different stuff, you may over-commit and start tracking too much. You don’t want your bullet journal to become a dreaded chore. It’s a tool. Start small and figure out what works and what’s sustainable for you to write down and track. Always keep in mind that this is supposed to be helpful, not add to your workload. My preferred method is one journal for daily stuff and one for collections.
Don’t Be Afraid To Rip Things Out And Start Over
If you find that something isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to rip it out. Did you think the weekly reading collection was a good idea, but now it is a dreaded task? Rip out that page. And if your overall layout for your bullet journal isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to toss it and start over. This is exactly why you start out with a small and inexpensive notebook. Grab another one and start over. You’ll find the setup and system that’s right for you.
Tweak It And Change It Until It Works For You
Expect some testing and tweaking, and changing stuff around until you come up with something that works well for you. We all lead different lives and our brains work differently. Our bullet journals should reflect that. Keep working on it until you come up with a system that feels natural. You’ll know it when you get there. The end goal is to have a bullet journal setup that makes your life easier and helps you stay organized without feeling that writing in it is a chore.
3 Benefits Of Bullet Journaling
Bullet Journaling is a great way to track what you’re doing throughout the day. It’s also a wonderful record keeper. You can look back and see how far you’ve come in any given week and month.
It’s Easy And Customizable
You don’t need to go out and buy a big planning system or download a fancy app to your smartphone. Instead, all it takes is a notebook and a pen or pencil. Chances are you have an old notebook lying around. Grab it and give it a try. Because it is such a simple system, it’s easy to customize it for your needs. If you need ideas, head on over to YouTube or follow a few bullet journal enthusiasts on social media. You’ll get plenty of ideas to help you customize your bullet journal for your needs. Because it’s an analog system (just pen and paper), your bullet journal will work anytime anywhere, no power or Wi-Fi required.
It Helps You Stay Organized
Once you get in the habit of recording and checking off anything important, your bullet journal will help you stay organized in all areas of your life. Keep track of work tasks, dentist appointments, and your grocery list in one convenient place. The key and index make it easy to keep track of everything.
Since it’s nothing more than a notebook and pen, you can carry it around with you everywhere. Throw it in your purse, keep it next to you on your desk, and review your day before you head to bed at night. Once you get in the habit of using your journal throughout the day, it will become second nature to carry it around with you, the way you keep your phone on you.
It Frees Up Brain Space
By far the biggest benefit to using a bullet journal is that it frees up a lot of brain space. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much of a difference this will make. Most of us don’t realize how many appointments, tasks, and random pieces of information we keep track of. Writing them down allows you to use those brain cells for more creative and productive endeavors. You may even find that you sleep better because you’re no longer worried about forgetting an important task or appointment the next day.
The Bullet Journal As A Creative Outlet
The original bullet journal was a super simplistic system for keeping track of tasks, appointments, and random thoughts. It was an organizational tool and for most of us, it is still just that. But because the basic idea is so simple and beautiful, it can also become a creative outlet for you.
Quite a few creative bullet journalers use their notebooks as an art journal in addition to keeping track of their daily tasks. They look forward to creating beautiful weekly or monthly spreads to track appointments and play with pretty hand has drawn fonts for their daily headers.
If you enjoy drawing or practicing handwriting, consider using your bullet journal as a daily creative outlet. In addition to keeping track of your day, you can spend a few minutes here and there to add a little drawing or try out a pretty new font.
Get out your water colors on the weekend and create pretty backgrounds for the pages you will fill up throughout your work week. Collect ticket stubs and other mementos, print out some pictures, or use stickers and washi tape to create pages that are as useful as they are beautiful.
You can even turn your bullet journal into a scrapbook of sorts that not only captures what you need to get done but also provides a stunning record of what you’ve done for posterity. Keep it for yourself or share it with your loved ones down the road. No matter what you decide to do, your bullet journal will become a way to capture memories for years to come.
How creative you get with your journal is entirely up to you and the mediums you use are almost endless. If you find it fun and helpful, go for it. Don’t be afraid to experiment or mess up. It’s a journal after all and there’s beauty in imperfection.
For inspiration for your creative journal pages look no further than the internet. You’ll find a thriving community of fellow artsy bullet journalers on YouTube and Instagram. Get new ideas and try new techniques by joining in the fun.
Don’t forget about the creative opportunities the cover pages of your journals offer. Try out some decoupage, sew a custom cover, or get out those leather tooling tools to give your bullet journal a personal touch. In other words, let out your creative side and have fun with your journal.
« No pain. No gain. Shut up and train. » Hellooooo~ sorry for my lack of posts! Here’s last week’s spread. I completely messed up on the “don’t quit” lmao. And I found the photos online and just printed them out 😅 beginner struggles . . . #bujo #bulletjournallove #bulletjournal #bujojunkies #bujocommunity #studygram #bulletjournaling #handwriting #calligraphy #weeklyspread #orange #sunflowers
Your Bullet Journal As Memory Keeper
Time flies when you’re having fun, or are just plain busy, and who isn’t. Sometimes it seems like life is passing us by and it’s hard to look back and remember all the amazing little things that have happened to us even just a few months ago. With a few little tweaks, your bullet journal can also become a memory keeper. You’ll love thumbing through the pages in years to come and having the pages take you back in time. Here are three ways to do just that.
Look Back And Reflect
Even without any special entries, your bullet journal will be a great tool to walk back in time. Seeing your past entry about ordering a raised garden bed will remind you of the early days of growing your first few vegetables in the garden, or the “Take down and wash the curtains” task may remind you that this was the day your washing machine broke and you ended up taking six loads of laundry over to your parent’s house. Without paying any special attention to recording memorable events, your journal will already act as a memory keeper for you.
Make Note Of Daily Little Events You Want To Remember
Before you head to bed at night, add a little note, or even just a bullet or two about memorable things that happened today that you want to remember down the road. If you have little kids, you may want to record their accomplishments or funny things they said. It’s up to you what you want to record and in what format. If you’re so inclined, add a picture, draw something, or stick a something in your page that reminds you of the day’s event. For example, you could include the ticket stub for the movie you want to see on tonight’s date. It will be fun to look back and read about these memorable events of days past.
Add A Monthly Memory Page
Last but not least, you can decide to add dedicated memory pages to your journal. Think of them as little scrapbook pages. How you design them is entirely up to you. Do what’s fun. It could mean making a traditional scrapbook page with photos and washi tape, it could mean writing a short essay, or it could be a page of doodles and words that represent things you want to remember from the month.
Remember this is your journal and there’s no right or wrong way to use it as a memory keeper. Figure out a way that makes sense for you. As an added bonus this focus on recording little memories will make you live in the moment and help you appreciate the fun and interesting little things that happen every day.
Finally finished filling in my #london #memories #spread in my #bujo – What a fantastic city it is, I can’t wait to go back soon! #bujolife #bujospread #bujo2017 #bujolove #bujojunkies #bujoinspire #bujolondon #bujoaddict #bujoinspo #bulletjournal #bulletjournals #bulletjournaling #bulletjournalist #bulletjournallove #bulletjournalnewbie #bulletjournalinspiration #bulletjournaljunkies #bulletjournalcommunity #bulletjournalcollection #bulletjournalmemories #bulletjournallondon
Different Styles Of Bullet Journaling Explained
There are lots of different styles of bullet journaling. In fact, it’s a very personal and personalizable way to journal, plan, and keep track of your busy life. Use these styles as a starting point and feel free to mix and match to come up with a system that works for you.
The Daily Planner and Organizer
One of the most popular uses for the bullet journal is as a daily planner and a way to organize your busy life. It will keep track of your appointments, tasks and anything else that comes up. It’s the ultimate daily planner that can be customized to work for you, your work and personal life, and keep track of just about anything and everything for you. Color coding or adding different sections makes it easy to keep track of different aspects of your life.
The Ultimate To-Do List
If you love making and working from daily to-do lists, you’ll love the bullet journal. It’s the ultimate to-do list system since each daily section is nothing more than a list. The same goes for collections which are nothing more than thematic lists that you use in addition to your daily to-do lists. Since everything is collected in the journal, you don’t have to go hunt down random scraps of paper.
The Creative Outlet And Memory Keeper
If you’ve been thinking of keeping a traditional journal, art journal, or scrapbook, but you don’t want to commit to a dedicated book, consider using your bullet journal as a creative outlet to explore your artistic side. You can make it as simple or involved as you’d like and still use the journal to keep track of the things you need to get done as well.
The Personal Improvement Tool
A bullet journal is also a great way to keep track of goals and make sure you’re doing something every single day to help you move forward. Trackers help you track your progress and you can add monthly and daily reminders to help you create positive habits. Use trackers, mind maps, and dedicated lists for books you want to read courses you want to take or new things you want to try. The bullet journal makes a great personal improvement tool.
How you use your bullet journal is up to you. Use the list above to inspire you to come up with your very own style of bullet journaling. Remember, it is a tool that’s supposed to make your life easier, more enjoyable, and more inspired. Make it work for you.
How To Get Started
Here is a walk through the setup for a traditional bullet journal as first introduced by Ryder Carroll from BulletJournal.com. Use it as a starting point, get comfortable with the basic system and then change it from there.
You’ll need a notebook, a pen, and a little bit of time to get started. The type of notebook you use is up to you. The traditional style is a grid or dotted paper, but I find even ruled or blank pages work just fine.
The first page of your bullet journal will include your key. This will record the shorthand you use for your bullet entries. Here are the traditional codes used. Feel free to add to it, or modify it as needed.
ᐧ (Dot) Task
X Completed Task
> Migrated Task
⬤ Completed Appointment
⟴ Migrated Appointment
Your next two to four pages will be set aside for indexing. This will allow you to quickly find any collection, or get to a particular month. Title each page as an index page and move on to the next section.
The Future Log
With the original bullet journal setup, this is a two-page spread that records the coming 6 months. Many bullet journalers find it helpful to use a more traditional yearly calendar instead. This is a great place to record birthdays, anniversaries, or block out vacation time. Add or note the page number and record your future log in your index.
Start each month with a monthly log. Here you’ll record appointments and due dates. You can use a grid layout, or use one line for each day of the month. While this isn’t where you’ll track most of your tasks, the monthly log will come in handy for those times when you have a dentist appointment or your daughter is invited to a friend’s birthday party.
The daily log is where you’ll spend most of your time in the journal. Start a new section each day and record anything important for the day. Make your list of tasks and cross them off as you get them finished. Make notes of anything important you need to remember throughout the day as well as appointments as they pop up. Everything gets logged in the daily log for speed and ease. From there you can move it as needed to the monthly or future log, or migrate it to a different day.
At the end of your day, or first thing the next morning it’s time to review your tasks and cross out and migrate anything that isn’t checked off. For example, if you didn’t get around to doing laundry today, draw an arrow through it and add the task to today’s daily task list. If you noted an appointment that came up yesterday, move it to your monthly list and draw an arrow through it in yesterday’s list. If something no longer applies then cross it out. Your goal is to deal with each entry from your daily list by completing it, migrating it, or crossing it out.
The final part of the puzzle is collections. These are basically thematical lists you make that aren’t date related. A perfect example is a list of books you want to read. Start the list on the next blank page. Title it and start jotting down the books you want to read. Make a note of the page you’re on and add this collection to your index page. Now when you want to add a new book title to this list or reference it to see what you want to read, you can easily find it via the index.
Boost Your Productivity
A bullet journal is a great way to stay productive use a bullet journal to help you plan and prioritize.
The Bullet Journal Makes You Plan Ahead
As you make out your daily tasks lists, you have to think about what you should be working on. This makes you plan ahead and thinks things through instead of sitting at your desk doing busy work. A little bit of planning can help you make progress that much faster and it will boost your overall productivity. If you find daily to-do lists helpful, give bullet journaling a try as a way to get even more productive faster.
Some people find it helpful to make out their next day’s task list at the end of the day. Others prefer to make out their list first thing in the morning, while they are drinking coffee and getting ready for the day. Both are valid approaches. Give both a try and see what works for you.
The Bullet Journal Motivates You To Get Stuff Done
Once you have your daily tasks recorded, you’ll be motivated to work on checking them off. This will greatly increase your productivity in several different ways. The first is that you know exactly what you should be working on. You won’t waste time figuring out what your next step is, or sit there and watch cat videos instead of doing something productive. I love crossing items off the list!! the favourite part of the day!
The daily list of tasks will also make you push just a little harder to make sure everything gets done before you call it a day. Try it and see how much more you can get done in a day with a daily list in your bullet journal.
The Bullet Journal Is A Great Record To Help You Reflect
Last but not least, the bullet journal is a great record of what you’ve been doing on a daily basis. Set aside a little time to look through your notes at the end of the week or the month. Reflect on what’s working and what isn’t. Where do you need to work harder, what can you stop doing. Use the record your bullet journal gives you to improve your processes and tasks. It will make you better at your job, in school, and at home.
Use it as a personal and professional improvement tool. I bet your head is popping with ideas on how to implement this journal now. I thought of some new collections I want to create!
It is very true that this is simple, easy and will add to your productivity but don’t forget to have a little fun! Find your favourite pen and notebook, then enjoy the adventure!