What Is A Bullet Journal & Why Do YOU Need One?

bullet journalingThere are a lot of reasons to create and use a bullet journal, from wanting to become more organized, to looking for a more interactive planner.

Bullet journaling, created by a New York-based designer named Ryder Carroll, is a new twist on journal writing.

The intended goal was to plan future events, keep track of things that happened in the past and organize things in the present.

This type of journal combines the best of planning, journal writing, creating to-do lists, and tracking important events in your calendar.

It is a fully customizable type of planner that provides benefits like:

  • Giving you multiple views for your daily, weekly and monthly calendars
  • Providing a quick and easy way to keep your life organized
  • Allowing you plenty of space for to-do and tasks lists
  • Simplifies your life for optimal success
  • Gives you an overview of your priorities
  • Makes it easy to customize it to fit your needs

Bullet jounaling is ideal not just for someone who loves using a planner, but also someone who wants the benefits of a journal, but doesn’t enjoy writing.

Everything is done in a rapid logging method, reducing how much writing is actually done in the journal.

You may have searched the Internet to understand more about bullet journaling. In this series, you will learn what bullet journaling is, how to effectively use it, and learn how to make the most out of the technique.

Bullet journaling is a lifestyle change because it changes your behavior about writing, organizing, and priorities. However, the changes for the better are worth it and much more.

Intro to Bullet Journaling

You are probably excited to get started with your bullet journal, but it helps to first understand a little more about what it is, how it works, and how it can be useful for you.

The more information you have to start with, the better your bullet journal will be.

One thing to remember as you go through this series is that the bullet journal is customized for YOUR needs. Every decision you make it based on what will work best for you.

Get inspiration from others, and use printables of layouts that work for different sections, but don’t feel pressured to make it look or feel just like someone else’s!

Let’s get started!

What Is A Bullet Journal?

A bullet journal is a calendar, planner, and journal all rolled into one. It becomes whatever you make of it, allowing you to keep track of your past events, help you organize the current events and activities, and to make plans for the future.

It gives you a number of ways to create your journal and offers an easy way to make all of your ideas and plans work in harmony.

In the posts coming up, you will learn everything there is to know about a bullet journal, why it is beneficial, and how best to use it.

As you will see, there is a lot to learn about bullet journals, from how it is set up, to the types of collections and pages you want to include.

All you need to begin is a blank journal or notebook and a pen!

The Main Parts Of A Bullet Journal

As you will soon see – a bullet journal has a lot to it, but every single page and collection included is customizable for your needs. However, it does help to understand the basics first.

Here are some of the main pages that will be included in the bullet journal:

Index

The first page you will have in your bullet journal is the index. This works similar to an index in a book you are reading, providing a list of pages and sections in the bullet journal, and letting you know what page number each section is located on.

It works in conjunction with your bullet journal sections, collections, and pages, making it easier to locate something instantly.

The index is more efficient when it is located on the first two or three open pages in your bullet journal, so it is easy to find and has adequate space within your journal to keep track of all pages and sections.

You will return to these pages often, as you list the pages you create. More importantly, you will use your Index in the future to easily find the page of any number of journal entries that you need by adding the page numbers at the bottom of the page and entering them into the Index.

Future Log

The next part of the bullet journal is going to be your future log. The future log is a great way to plan for both the near and distant future.

It is meant to give you insight into the month coming up, including events or birthdays, weekend plans, work or school tasks, household errands, and everything else going on in your life.

To create this page, turn to the next two blank pages after the index, and write Future Log at the top of each. Divide both pages into three even horizontal sections.

Use these as a six-month Future Log and enter the name of six consecutive months at the top of each of the six divisions. Add the page numbers at the bottom of the page and enter them into the Index.

Monthly Log

The calendar spreads are a big part of the bullet journal, starting with the monthly spread. There are many ways to customize the monthly spread, starting with a monthly log.

Many people choose to place this after the Future Log in the bullet journal. Take a look at different templates to see how these spreads are set up.

Monthly Task List

For the monthly calendar spread, you can also have a task list, which may be on the right side of the calendar spread, or on a completely separate page.

On this page, write a list of all the things you need to accomplish in this month. In front of each task, add a task bullet or a simple dot.

As with the other pages, when you have finished with these two pages, add the page numbers at the bottom and log them into the Index.

Weekly Calendar Spread

Don’t forget about the weekly calendar spread! This is going to provide larger spaces for you to write appointments, events, and tasks for each day of the week.

It is great for work, school, and personal commitments. Just like in a planner, the order usually goes monthly calendar, weekly calendar, then daily calendar.

Daily Log

If you want even more space to write what you are doing each day of the month, include a daily spread or daily log as well.

Begin the next blank page by writing a date at the top, then begin to write down all of the things you need to get done on that day.

Each one of these items will go into one of three groups: tasks, events, and notes. These groups will have their own unique bullet style.

For example, Tasks will be bulleted by a single dot; Events by an open circle and Notes with a dash. Obviously, you are free to use any type of bullet that helps you keep your journal in order.

If a task is very important, you should add an asterisk next to the bullet to indicate that it needs to be given special attention at some point in that day.

These special bullets, like the asterisk, are known as ‘signifiers’, as they add priority to the bullet.

Here are two examples of Bullet Journal “Keys” that are used most often – the “original” key first used by bullet journalers and a more recent “updated” key style.

Bullet Journaling Key

Collections

If you have notes that you may need for a bigger project and other tasks related to it, you can create a Collection on the next blank page.

Collections are a good way to keep certain pieces of information together, or on-going projects or class information.

As always, jot the page number at the bottom and Index your Collection.

How They All Work Together

As a new month is approaching, create the pages for the next monthly log just like before, remembering to enter the new pages into the Index.

Go through the ending month’s daily log and review the tasks. If you haven’t done so already, cross out the items that you’ve completed.

For those tasks that remain, decide if they still need to be done. If not, you can cross through them.

If they can be done in the upcoming month, turn the bullet into a Right-Arrow, then copy the sentence into the new monthly log.

If the task or project isn’t due for several months, turn the bullet point into a Left-Arrow and log the information into the month that the work should be done in the future log. This is called Migration.

That’s all you need to do to set up your Bullet Journal!

The bullet journal is there to help you plan and organize your life and activities. It will keep the to-do list for next week or next month in the same location as your schedule for tomorrow.

All of your plans are located in one place, easy to find and use whenever you need it!

Benefits of Bullet Journals

Now that you know the basics of what is included in your bullet journal, it helps to understand what the benefits are.

There are many different styles of journals, from a daily journal to a gratitude journal, and many other specific topics.

With a bullet journal, you can write in it like a regular journal, but the main concept is about organizing and planning your life with it.

As you know, the bullet journal works as a valuable analog asset in a digital world. It’s a way of briefly noting your thoughts, plans, events and other items of importance.

It’s different than the traditional idea of a journal in that your thoughts can be jotted down on paper quickly. You’ll use just a few words and bullets (hence the name) and other symbols. No long paragraphs or flowery thoughts.

Some people use their bullet journals as to-do lists, planners, diaries — or a bit of all of those forms of helpful self-communication. No matter how you choose to use yours, here’s what you might gain from the experience.

Clarity

Do you have an ongoing low-level suspicion that you’ve got things to do and you’re falling farther and farther behind? We all do. We’re constantly assailed with the need to get stuff done.

But what? And when? And how?

Your first step, with a bullet journal, is to simply get it all down in writing. See what you’re up against.

Organization

Your actions are constrained by the time you have to do them. But your life won’t seem so challenging if you know how to react efficiently to the hours and days and months ahead of you.

What you hope to accomplish might be something physical, emotional, or financial. It might be as simple as a daily to-do or shopping list or as ambitious and esoteric as a long-term dream. It’s up to you.

But once you can set your tasks or goals or dreams in front of you and start to construct a realistic approach to getting where you need to be, you’ll waste less time and get more done.

Stress Relief

Think about how good you’ll feel when you have a realistic plan of attack in front of you and it all looks doable. That’s what you get with a bullet journal entry — the sense that you’re moving logically forward.

You can see on a single page how realistic it is (or isn’t) to proceed according to plan within the period of time you’ve designated. How does your day or your life look now? Don’t you feel better?

Household Management

You’re the president (or co-president) of your own small operation — your family. Your “employees” don’t always pitch it and can be occasionally disgruntled.

Sometimes there’s even disagreement within the management team. The operating budget is never sufficient, and your forecasts of future earnings are often off.

A bullet journal will help you plan your days, schedule play dates, school activities and away games, consider a job change and even plan and budget vacations or a new home purchase and move.

Setting and Meeting Goals

It’s easy to say that you’re going to build a garage, generate new streams of revenue for your business or plan your community’s party.

But those are just big blocks of dreams. With a bullet journal, you can slice that block into manageable actions.

Take garage-building, for instance. Think of all that’s involved. For starters, you have to plan the size and design, estimate the costs involved and figure out where the money will come from. You need building permits and to interview and select contractors, find and price building materials and schedule time.

A bullet journal lets you calmly and dispassionately figure out all that’s involved, who will do what and the steps you must chronologically take to follow your timeline.

You’ll proceed with confidence, constantly updating the job in your bullet journal to correct your plans for new realities.

Who Can Benefit from Bullet Journaling

In today’s busy world, where we have to keep track of lots and lots of information, almost anyone can benefit from bullet journaling.

This particular system of staying organized has some unique properties that make it particularly helpful for people who thrive on lists and appreciate a non-digital system.

Here’s a quick rundown to help you decide if bullet journaling is right for you.

If You Use To-Do Lists Bullet Journaling May Be For You

If you’re a fan of to-do lists and have one sitting at your desk or your kitchen counter, then a bullet journal may work very well for you.

Think of it as a large, ongoing to-do list that also helps you keep track of appointments, grocery lists and the like.

And since it’s all in one journal, no more frantic searches for that little list that held everything you needed to do today.

(That is unless you misplace your journal – but that will be a bit easier to find than a piece of scrap paper).

If You Are Looking For An Analog System Bullet Journaling May Be For You

Our electronic devices are great, but sometimes you want to go back to pen and paper. If you want an organized, easy-to-deal-with system that requires no batteries or Wi-Fi, then this will be a good fit for you.

Even if you think your Google Calendar handles everything for you, I would like to encourage you to give this a try. There’s just something about writing things down by hand that helps us process them differently.

If You’re Looking For a Creative Outlet Bullet Journaling May Be For You

If you are looking for a creative outlet but you just don’t have the time to sit down and sketch, paint, or create, then bullet journaling may be a good fit for you.

As you plan your day, you can let out your creative side as you doodle and decorate your daily pages. Of course, this is completely optional.

If You Feel Like You’re Keeping Track Of Too Much “Stuff” In Your Head Bullet Journaling May Be For You

Do you have a constant running tally in your head of everything you need to do and remember today? That takes up a lot of brain space.

A bullet journal may be the perfect solution because it helps you jot down all those appointments, to-dos, meetings, and ideas you don’t want to forget as they come up.

Writing them down allows you to forget about them and stop running that constant long list of stuff in your head that you need to remember.

Just think of what you can do with all that extra brain capacity and how much less stressed you’ll feel when you stop to worry about forgetting something.

If You Need Something Mobile Bullet Journaling May Be For You

A big advantage of the bullet journal is that it’s nothing more than a notebook and a pen.

You can sit down anytime, anywhere to plan, check on your progress through the day, or add a new line item.

There’s no need to hunt down a power outlet and it works just fine in bright sunlight.

Frankly, it’s nice sometimes to unplug and get some thinking done away from your computer or smartphone.

Give It A Try!

Even if you don’t count yourself in all or even most of these groups, I encourage you to give it a try.

You may not think of yourself as a list or “pen and paper” type person but may find that this is just what you needed to stay on top of everything that’s thrown at you on a daily basis.

Now It’s Your Turn

What questions or comments can you share with us about bullet journaling? Have you started your own bullet journal yet? If not, why not? If so – what are some of the ways you’ve customized your own bullet journal?


Next Post: What You Need To Start Your Bullet Journal Right Now!


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