Maybe you’ve heard about this popular trend in productivity planners and wondered: “What is a bullet journal, anyhow?” Well, it’s a new twist on journal writing and it was created by Brooklyn-based designer Ryder Carroll. He wanted a notebook to plan future events, keep track of past ones, and organize what was happening in the present. Other people took the basic concept of a “bujo” and ran with it!
This type of journal combines the best of planning, journal writing, creating to-do lists, and tracking important events and activities. It may also include some creative aspects, similar to scrapbooking or art journaling. It’s 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
– Lets you do you, with no frustration or wasted pages
The bullet journal is ideal not just for someone who loves using a planner, but also people who want the benefits but who don’t enjoy writing. Everything’s done in a rapid logging method (kind of a shorthand) reducing the need for words.
The bullet journaling method can make a big difference in your life, transforming your overall behavior, organization style, and priorities. I think you’ll find the benefits are worth the time and effort you put into it.
Introduction to Bullet Journaling
You’re 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 info you have to start with, the better your bullet journal will be.
One thing to remember as you go through this process is that a bullet journal is customized for YOUR needs, not the other way around. 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 just like someone else’s.
Let’s get started!
What is a Bullet Journal?
A bullet journal is a calendar, planner, and diary 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. All you need to begin is a blank journal or notebook and a pen.
A picture is worth a thousand words, so first, here’s my favorite visual (via Pretty, Practical by Emory):
Intro to the Main Parts of a Bujo
A bullet journal has a lot to it, but every single page and aspect is customizable for your needs. But, it does help to understand the basics first so let’s review each feature. Here are some of the main pages that you’ll probably want to include in your first bullet journal:
The first page you will have in your bullet journal is the index. This works similar to an index in a book you’re 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 open pages in your bullet journal, so it’s easy to find and has adequate space within your journal to keep track of all pages and sections.
You will return to these two pages often, as you list the pages you create. More importantly, you’ll 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.
The next part of the bullet journal is the future log, which is a great way to plan for near and distant timeframes. It’s meant to give you insight into the months 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.
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.
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.
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.
There! 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.