While it seems like the productivity craze of the 2010s has calmed down (thank goodness, because we should all stop captivating the hustle and bustle culture), some “life hacks”
This planning method involves organizing notes, events, tasks, and plans in neat collections and logs – and it may be just what you need in 2021 after a turbulent year when everyone’s plans and goals were squashed.
What is the Bullet Journal Method?
According to the Bullet Journal Method website, bullet journaling is “best described as a mindfulness exercise disguised as a productivity system.”
Ryder Carroll, an author and product designer who was diagnosed with learning disabilities as a child, developed the Bullet Journal method as a way to organize, plan and focus after realizing that none of the existing systems really worked for him.
Now affectionately known as BuJo by dedicated followers, the Bullet Journal Method may be just what you need to organize your life, your thoughts, and your to-do list after a fleeting 2020.
Advantages of bullet journaling
For some, the bullet journal method is easier to manage than other types of scheduling because of its emphasis on visual organization, says Dr. Rebecca Mannis, a learning specialist at Ivy Prep Learning Center.
“This, in turn, can reduce the amount of detail you need to keep in working memory, the part of the brain responsible for mentally juggling lots of details,” she says. “It can also make it easier to arrange details so you can ‘straighten’ the ship when your original plan needs to be changed.”
In general, bullet journaling can make your to-do list feel less stressful and, therefore, helps you tackle procrastination. So if you’re struggling to be effective and efficient, the bullet journal method can work well for you, says Mannis.
How is bullet journaling different from regular journaling?
The main difference between bullet journaling and regular journaling is that bullet journals tend to be “more concise and visually streamlined,” explains Mannis.
Rather than an “anything goes” approach, the bullet journal method uses a system designed to keep notes, thoughts, tasks, events, and goals organized.
It’s more like taking very detailed and organized notes, as opposed to the streams of thoughts you could write in a regular journal – a life planner versus a journal.
How to start bullet journaling
Buy a bullet notebook and get started!
All jokes aside, bullet journaling is pretty easy – largely because your bullet journal is unique to you and you can make whatever you want from it. Despite the templates (which you’ll learn about in detail below), bullet journaling is far from cut-and-dry. It’s a creative yet guided exercise that can help you organize all the details of your life in one simple space.
Here are some tips for starting your bullet journal.
Buy a notebook
Any notebook will do. Although the Bullet Journal method sells “bullet notebooks,” you can buy anything you want. Find one you love with lined paper, dotted paper, or graph paper. If you plan to take it with you, make sure it is durable.
Here are a few popular options to get you started:
Important! Leave the first few pages of your notebook blank. You will need these pages to create your index, which will be explained later.
Determine what your bullet journal is for
Do you need a general life planner? A wedding planner, fertility tracker, food diary or a way to keep up to date with all your friends and family? Many people use bullet journals for everything – instead of having multiple notebooks or planners for different things – but you can choose to create a bullet journal for just one topic, goal, or event.
Become familiar with the key
Whatever you write about, you will have the most success if you take the official Bullet Journal Method test. It all starts with tasks, which are indicated by dots. When you complete a task, change the period to an X. If you move the task to a collection (more about collections below), change it to a “greater than” sign. If you move the task to your future log, change the period to a “less than” sign.
A dash indicates a note, while an open circle indicates an event. You can use asterisks to prioritize tasks, notes, and events, and you can use exclamation points to indicate inspiration.
Fill in your future log
Your future log should include any goals, events, or tasks outside of the current month. When you start bullet journaling, your future log should start with the next month. For example, if you start bullet journaling in January, start your future logbook with February. Keep track of travel plans, work events, goals, and other important things you don’t want to forget. View your future log every month to see if you can move something to your current monthly log.
Set up monthly logs
Your monthly log keeps track of everything important in a given month. You can include weekend plans, deadlines and birthdays to remember. For each monthly log, create a minimalist list-style calendar to record important dates, as well as a task page for things to do or catch up from the previous month.
Create daily logs
Your daily log serves as your daily to-do list. The important thing here is that you don’t make your daily logs too far in advance. The Bullet Journal method recommends making daily logs the night before or the morning, because you never know how much space you need for a particular daily log. Log your completed tasks throughout the day, plus thoughts and notes that come to you.
You don’t have to make your daily logs as pretty as the ones you see all over Instagram – how much design and creativity you put into it is entirely up to you.
Create your index
Once you’ve dedicated pages to your daily, monthly, and future logs, you can go back to the first few pages (which you should have left blank) and create your index. Indexing your bullet journal is easy. Just count the page ranges for your different sections and write them down so you can easily scroll through your notebook later.
For example, if your future log runs from pages 10 through 14, write “Future Log: Pages 10-14” in your index. Another option is to use adhesive strips or paperclips so that you can easily locate each section.
For anything that isn’t a task, event, or comment, make “collections” on the back pages of your bullet journal. Collections are common goals you want to achieve over the course of a year or more, and they can be anything like “books to read,” “recipes to try,” or “places to visit.” Have your bullet journal handy so you can write down these items as they arrive.
Tick off and migrate tasks
Now comes the fun part: ticking things off your to-do list. Every day, check off tasks that you have completed and organize tasks that you have not completed. For tasks that are left incomplete, you can migrate them to another day, to your future log, or to a collection.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care practitioner if you have any questions about a medical condition or health goals.