Have you heard about how and why to use a bullet journal? No, I’m not trying to sell you something: it’s not actually a product for sale. All you need is a blank notebook and a pen to create your very own journal. Still not convinced? Before you stop reading, let me tell you one more thing. I’m even going to put it in all caps so it catches your attention before you click on to the next post! A BULLET JOURNAL IS BETTER THAN YOUR ONLINE SYSTEM.
Yes, it’s true! Your app-based organization system that syncs from platform to platform can’t hold a candle to this pen-and-paper technique. The system uses something called Rapid Logging and you can use it for everything. It’s helpful for your to-do and grocery list as well as tracking your daily habits. You can record your daily food intake in it, keep track of your workouts, create a bucket list, plan a vacation, or simply collect your thoughts about life, the universe, and everything. It’s the most useful tool you’ll ever have and it will soon become your constant companion.
Interested yet? Good, because I’m about to explain everything you ever wanted to know about how and why to use a bullet journal.
What Makes the Bullet Journal Special?
Part of what makes the bullet journal so special is that it’s an analog device. Studies have found that we actually learn better (and recall more information) from print sources as opposed to tablets and e-readers. There’s something about holding onto the paper and putting the pen to something physical that engages our brain more than clicking on a tablet.
Now, you can walk into a book store and you’ll find an entire shelf filled with analog planners and organizers. Incidentally, the app store on your phone has just as many options (but we’ve already learned that analog is better). But, you can forget about all of those high-priced items. Once you learn how and why to use a bullet journal, it’s absolutely going to change your life.
A bullet journal is uniquely yours. It’s not fancy and it’s not complicated: it just starts with a blank notebook. You can use a ruled notebook if you like, or choose a book with square boxes or dots. Personally, we like this one, but a journal of any size, shape, and color will work. It just needs to be blank.
How the Bullet Journal Works
The bullet journal has a few components, so we’ll walk through them one-by-one. First, you must number every page. You don’t have to do it in advance, but as you create pages, you must give them a number. This is the backbone of the organization system.
Next up, you’ll start with an Index page. This is the page that helps you find everything in the book. The first entry on your Index page will list the page numbers of the Index page. Simple, right? So you’ll write “Index…1-2.” As you add entries, you’ll write the title and page numbers of every other entry in your bullet journal. You’ll want to save yourself at least two pages for the index, because it can get long over time.
The entries are called Topics. In addition to writing them on the Index page, you’ll write the Topic at the top of the first entry page. This can be “Food Log” or “Dream Journal” or “Grocery List.” Whatever the pages is about, that’s your Topic.
Then, the system uses Bullets to keep yourself organized. Bullets can be Tasks, which are represented by a dot. These dotted Tasks are the things that you need to get done. Bullets can also be Events, which would be represented by an “O.” Finally, a Bullet that is a Note is indicated by a “-“. Your Notes represent things that aren’t actionable, but you want to remember.
You can also use “>” to migrate a Task to a later date, or “<” to indicate that it’s been scheduled. Don’t worry, we’ll talk more about this in a minute.
Creating a Bullet Journal
Now that you know how and why to use a bullet journal, let’s talk about how to set one up. We’ll start with the Index page – we already talked about that in the last section, so we’ll move on to your Topics. Most people start their journal with a few common Topics.
After the Index, you’ll want to create an entry called the “Future Log.” This entry lists the next six months and leaves space for you to record important events or things you want to remember about the next few months. This could include your weight-loss or fitness goals, along with weddings, birthdays, and important deadlines.
Next up comes the “Monthly Log.” On the left side of the page, the log will list every day of the month. It can be a list of all the numbers, or you can actually create boxes like a real calendar. Make it look as beautiful or simple as you wish – after all, it’s your journal! On the right side of the page, leave yourself an open page to write down the tasks for the month. You can choose to use the Monthly Log in one of two ways – as a scheduling piece, or as a journal to write down what happened each day.
After that, you’ll create a “Daily Log.” This is designed for day-to-day use, either as a way to schedule tasks or record daily actions. It’s best not to set up these pages ahead of time. After all, you never know what the day will bring and how many pages you’ll need!
Remember those migration symbols we talked about earlier? These will helpful on the log pages! For example, let’s say you had an entry on your Daily Log that listed:
- Call Mom
- Go grocery shopping
- Plan upcoming trip
If all of these had dots next to them, you’d know that nothing has happened for any of them. An “X” next to one would indicate that it’s done – congratulations! When you see the symbol “<“, that would mean you’ve scheduled that for a specific time. On the other hand, the symbol “>” would mean that you’ve “migrated” it – or moved it – to a later date or time.
Migrating tasks gives you a quick and easy way to glance at your to-do list and know what still needs to be addressed.
Customizing your Bullet Journal
You’ve grasped the bare-bones of how and why to use a bullet journal, so now you can start to customize. In between each of these logs, you can create your own pages. That might be “Books I’d Like to Read” or “Fun Recipes To Try.” The beauty of the Index page is that you can pepper these things in-between entries and you’ll always be able to find them.
From here, you can get as fancy or as simple as you like. Use colored pencils or stickers to give yourself a visual indication of how things are going, or use the same pen or pencil for everything. Learn as you go, and know that there’s no such thing as a “wrong” entry in your bullet journal. After all, it belongs to you and you can do whatever you want with it!
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