I first heard about the Bullet Journal – or BuJo – as a concept earlier this year. Various bloggers I follow mentioned it in their posts around organisation and blog planning. I’m a sucker for that kind of thing. I had also spent the last 8 months trying to use solely digital tools to manage, well, my life. But after some early success they were starting to prove less effective. I began missing things or forgetting things. Whilst I am a self-confessed techie, I am still drawn back to paper management solutions. Or as the Bullet Journal website itself says: “The analog system for the digital age“. Invented by a Brooklyner named Ryder Carroll, over the space of a few years Bullet Journaling has become hugely popular across the world and after an hour of reading one quiet Friday evening I was sold. I bought my journal the very next day and I’ve not looked back!
What is a Bullet Journal?
There is so much to read out there on the topic so I’m not going to explain how it works in detail. But essentially it’s a set of simple ‘concepts’ which allow you to build a diary that works exactly how you need it to. Rather than following the linear and fixed structure of a conventional diary, a Bullet Journal grows as you need it to. It starts with an Index so you can find things easily – principle 1 is that you index everything. Then it breaks down by year, month and day. Okay so that sounds like a conventional diary but the biggest difference is that months are only added one at a time. Day lists are added on the day or the night before. Then notes are interspersed in between. For related notes, ‘Collections’ can be used to group things. But you can always find everything because of the index!
Anything else I need to know?
Yes, there is way of managing tasks so you make sure things are done. It’s this which is so simple yet so awesome. It’s this which finally sold it to me.
If you’re adding a task, put a dot before it: •
If you’re adding an event, put a circle before it: o
If you’re adding a note, put a dash before it: –
Then to manage the tasks:
When a task is completed, put a cross through the dot: X
When a task needs moving to next day, migrate it: >
When a task needs moving back to the future or month log, schedule it: <
So what notebook do I use?
This is the best part, you can use anything you like. Although you’ll end up wanting to take it with you everywhere; So it’s best to choose something robust and which fits in your bag. There is an ‘offical’ Bullet Journal notebook which is a slightly enhanced Leuchtturm pad. However, I didn’t feel it was really necessary. I browsed notebooks in my local John Lewis and after debating a Moleskin, I end-up choosing a Castelli. It had a soft cover, awesome vibrant edge and a pen loop.
Over the last month I have been really pleased with it. Although the stitching on one of the leaves of papers did break so I had to do a minor repair. I think it was just unfortunate but I’m monitoring. I suspect the notebook will last me a good 9 – 12 months unless I decide I want a change. Whenever I do change I will be tempted to try a normal Leuchtturm since I’ve discovered you can buy additional adhesive pen loops!
What have you learnt in the last month?
One: There are a lot of people out there who have really evolved the way they use Bullet Journal. It would be quite easy to overcomplicate your Bullet Journal before you’ve even understood how it does / doesn’t work for you in it’s simplest form. So give it a month or two without adding or change too much. After a month I realised I wanted to try adding some weekly planners. That is the only addition I have made though;
Two: My Bullet Journal has integrated easily into my life. In part it’s because I spent time setting it up so the layout, naming conventions etc are all exactly as I want them. But also it’s so easy to just add tasks and reminders in rather than trying to remember them or putting them in my phone, especially at bedtime or during a ‘phone free’ evening. I forget where I read it, but I saw a quotation which said it’s a way of “outsourcing your brain” and that is very true;
Three: I can use it as a ‘creative’ outlet by adding colour and design to some pages. I’ve seen some blogs where people decorate most pages – I’m not doing that. But for some of my collections I’ve added some interesting headers. I find a bit of evening colouring really therapeutic.
Four: I love it!
Where do I go to learn more?
There is a lot of information out there but I would direct you to just two places:
> The Bullet Journal website
> The Lazy Genius Collective’s post – How to Bullet Journal: The Absolute Ultimate Guide
Also, if you still not completely sure, watch this 4-minute Official Bullet Journal video: