What if I told you that there’s a way you can simplify, organize and streamline your life by starting a bullet journal?
If you’re anything like me, your days are filled with total chaos. Between two kids in diapers, full-time work, a side business and everything else going on, it’s easy for me to lose focus on the critical things that need to get done.
As a matter of fact, just last week, cops came to my work to let me know that my car registration had expired over 6 months ago! I would have never let that happen if I had a better grasp on things. It just slipped right through the cracks.
Because of all my frustrations, I recently dove into the world of bullet journaling as a way to help me stay on track and so far, I’m lovin’ it.
I’ll be honest with you… I’m not a great artist, and I don’t know fancy calligraphy. I’m sure I could try to make an extravagant bullet journal if I really wanted to, but I’m really just interested in organizing my days and boosting my productivity.
If you want to learn how starting a bullet journal can help organize your daily chaos, keep reading. I promise it’ll be worth your while.
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So What Is Bullet Journaling?
First things first, let’s talk about what a bullet journal even is. Well, it’s really kinda like a to-do list on steroids.
According to Ryder Carroll, the creator of The Bullet Journal System, it’s designed to “help you track the past, organize the present and plan for the future.”
In other words, it’s really just a simple way to utilize a notebook/journal to keep track of everything you need to. The great thing is that you can mold it to be whatever you need it to be.
Here’s What You’ll Need:
There are a few different levels of bullet journaling, and it’s not a “one size fits all” type of thing. You need to decide what works best for you and go from there.
If you’re basic:
If you’re just looking to try it out or don’t need anything fancy, you can literally start with a $2 notebook from Target and a pen. That’s really all you need.
If you’re minimalistic, yet artistic:
Dotted journals are a popular choice for bullet journaling as they make it easy to fill your pages with pretty artwork, grids, and calendars.
If your goal is to add artwork and pretty lettering, markers or colored pencils are a good thing to have handy. If you like the art but aren’t so good at it (like me), there are stencil packs and calligraphy books to help you along the way.
I, personally, have a pretty basic journal. I mostly just use the daily planner without additional artwork. However, I did use some stencils and fun lettering to spruce up my index, future log and monthly planner. Just because.
If you’re lazy AF:
I just found out about this other option and I’ll probably give it a try next time around. If you don’t want to set it up yourself, you can just get a binder and fill it up with pre-beautified printables.
The Bullet Journal Method
I do recommend that each person at each level read The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll to learn the ins and outs of how to use your journal. Like I said earlier, Carroll is the mastermind behind the movement and created it to cope with his lifelong ADD struggles.
In fact, he originally designed this method with no intention of selling it or teaching it to others. Only when his friends urged him to spread the word, did he do so.
His book starts with him sharing personal things like what led him to create the system and how it’s helped, along with some serious mental benefits to using it. Things like him talking about how getting thoughts out of your subconscious mind and onto paper helps relieve stress are what got me interested.
He talks about how you can use this process to reflect on your life and streamline your everyday processes to be more organized and productive. You can even audit your days to find where you can make time to work on your goals or do more fun things.
He also breaks down the step-by-step process of setting up your index, future, monthly and daily logs, along with how to utilize “rapid-logging” for efficiency. You’ll also learn how to categorize your tasks, events, and notes with the use of bullets and signifiers and how you can migrate daily tasks to future logs if needed.
The thing most people like about bullet journaling is that you can add in “collections,” which can be used for whatever you need them for, whether it’s to budget, track ideas or even keep a shopping list. The best part of all is that you’ll always know where to find them with the use of your index.
This process is ingenious, I tell you. I can’t believe someone didn’t think of it earlier.
Bullet Journal Basics
The main components of your bullet journal are:
• Future Log
• Monthly Logs
• Daily Logs
The index is just a place to keep track of where all your logs are. Since the daily logs, monthly logs and collections will be intermixed between each other, it’s a nice way to quickly find everything.
Carroll also teaches you how to “thread” index pages to other journals so you can know where everything is with just a quick glance.
The future log is a place to map out the main events happening for the next year or so. It sets you up with a month-by-month planner that you can use to see the overall summaries of events happening each month.
When things need to be moved to the future, they can be migrated here.
This is where you can plan out an entire month, day-by-day, but in a super simple format. You can also use this space to jot down your monthly goals, plans, expenses… whatever you want.
This is where the magic happens.
Daily logs are where I really like to utilize my journal. It’s basically where you can plan out what you need to accomplish each day, which helps keep you on schedule. You can also use it to take notes, jot down ideas, or whatever else you want.
You keep track of everything with “rapid-logging,” which we’ll cover in a few.
I remember Brandon Gaille (aka The Blog Millionaire) talking about rich people habits on one of his podcast episodes, and making a to-do list was one of those habits. He states that “81% of rich maintain a to-do list compared to 9% of poor doing the same.”
When you have a lot going on in life, it really helps to write things down.
The cool thing about the bullet journal system is that you can take a minute each day to see what you accomplished, what you want to migrate to the next day or even if you want to move something to the future. This allows you to eventually see what’s essential to your daily routine and what you can cut out.
Even though monthly logs and daily logs are considered to be “collections,” you can add more collections to fit whatever needs you have.
I’ve seen people add in things like budget trackers, weight loss goals, brainstorm sessions, notes, sketches, goal planners, etc. The sky is the limit.
So why bullets?
Do you wonder why it’s called a “bullet journal”? I totally did too in the beginning. The reason is that you use a variety of bullets to classify your journal entries with the use of rapid-logging.
Let me explain…
Rapid-logging is really just a way of quickly, yet efficiently keeping track of your notes, tasks, events, etc.
• A dot bullet is meant to be a task.
-- A dash bullet indicates a note.
◦ A circle bullet means the entry is an event.
Some more important things to know about the bullets:
- When you finish a task, you’ll mark it with an “X”.
- If you migrate the task to a different day or collection, you’ll use a “>” symbol.
- Similarly, use a “<” one to schedule it in the future.
You can also use signifiers (like * or !) to prioritize of further classify your entries. Just be careful not to use too many, or they’ll quickly lose their significance.
Although I just recently started using a bullet journal, it has really helped me keep track of my daily tasks and events.
It’s a great way to help you plan and organize your life, which I think most of us need these days. I know I need all the help I can get! Furthermore, many people favor the art of hand-writing their tasks to using an app since it can be more personal and keeps you in the moment.
If organization is something you need more of it, check it out. If you want to learn the whole system, Ryder Carrol’s book, The Bullet Journal Method is a place to get started.
I really couldn’t recommend it more.
YOUR TURN: Did you learn something cool about starting a bullet journal? Are you going to start one? Is there anything I left out? Drop your comments below! 👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼