I’m so happy that for the next few journaling posts, I get to share my favorite journal system with you. Bullet journaling has been a hot trend for a little while in the planner and getting organized communities online, but it may not be something that you’ve heard of. If not, you’re in for a treat. If you love to-do lists and check-lists, this just might be what you’ve been looking for.
If you have too many things to remember and think about on a daily basis and you need a simple system to help you keep track, bullet journaling was made for you. 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. You can find the official explanation and instructions at http://bulletjournal.com/get-started/ That site goes page by page showing you how to set up a basic bullet journal.
But since this is my blog, here’s my take on it…
3 main parts to a bullet journal
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. I don’t really write down my key anymore, but I do use the first two pages for an index.
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. Or a list of blog posts to write.
The image below is a snapshot of one of the pages of my 100 posts in 100 days collection. (fyi...this is post 92 of the 100)
Working with your bullet journal
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. This is where your key comes in handy. You can create a key that works for you. The key below is the basic one outlined on the official bullet journal site.
ᐧ (Dot) Task
X Completed Task
> Migrated Task
You can also have icons for appointments, events, ideas, inspiration. It really is your system to create to your own style.
Any item on your list can be crossed out if it is no longer applicable or needed.
Pick (or create) 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.
The thing I love most about the bullet journal system is that you can make it your own very easily. It can be as simple or as complicated as you like. It can be as utilitarian and minimalist or as creative and artistic as you like. You get to choose how you interact with your bullet journal, and that’s what I like best about it. It works for me because it gives me the freedom to create the pages I need, and doesn’t try to force me to fit into someone else’s notions of what I might need.
Have you ever used a bullet journal? Would you try it if you haven’t? Share your thoughts in the comments.