I discovered bullet journalling on Pinterest in my never ending search for organisational tips and tricks. I had never heard of this technique before but after a little bit of research I was sold enough that I went out and bought myself a notebook to start my own bullet journal the very next day.
So, what is bullet journalling? Bullet journalling was created by Ryder Caroll, who has described his technique as ‘The Analogue System for the Digital Age’. (I am not going to attempt to explain bullet journalling in as much depth as he does, but rather give a brief overview, so if you find yourself wanting more info then move on over to Ryder Carroll’s official site – bulletjournal.com.) Basically, a bullet journal is the end to endless scrap paper lists, diaries, post-it notes and note books. A bullet journal is your whole life in one place, your day-to-day planner, to-do list and notebook all in one. For an organisation freak like myself it is basically the Holy Grail.
At its heart, the bullet journal is an extensive to-do list of your life, all kept in one place. Lists galore can be kept alongside meal plans, budget trackers and day-to-day note taking. It may sound a little nuts but really it is organised chaos that you can mold to suit your life. Based on the idea of ‘rapid logging’, each of the ‘bullets’ that are used in your daily lists represent a different kind of task or activity. There are solid points for activities, open squares for tasks to do, open circles for events to attend…the list is endless. These bullets are the used to rapidly log your day, whether it is a task to complete or just a random thought that pops into your head, everything is added to the day’s list. Having a bullet index at the beginning of your journal, along with an index page for all of your entries is essential to keeping track of your notebook of organised chaos.
Alongside your indexes, a bullet journal needs a ‘future planner’ and ‘monthly planners’, essentially diaries so that you can keep track of upcoming events, meetings and special occasions. As soon as you have these set up then you are good to start bulleting! Each day comprises of a new list that everything is included in, notes, tasks, events, deadlines and ideas all go into that day’s list, categorised by their bullets so that you can easily tell them apart. Tasks that don’t get finished or become irrelevant are either crossed out or moved to the next day’s list. Depending on what you are doing or how many tasks you have to complete, the length of each day’s list can vary greatly, from 2 bullets to 2 pages. The beauty of the bullet journal is that you don’t have to worry about filling up your space for the day, you can carry on building your list for as many, or as little, pages as you want to. At first I found it hard to grasp how this technique would also allow for all of the other random lists that I am constantly making, or help me to get rid of the many, many post-it notes that had ruled my life. The concept is simple, small lists such as grocery shopping or daily errands can be incorporated into your day-to-day rapid logging while larger lists or pages of notes just begin on a completely new page while your daily rapid logging continues on around it. This is why your index is essential-it helps you to find all of the randomly placed lists so that you can refer back and edit them in the future.
Your bullet journal can be as stripped back or as full to bursting as you would like it to be. Personally, I love to decorate away as the mood takes me as bullet journalling allows you that personal touch that you just don’t get with a regular diary or organisational app. My bullet journal has become an extension of my day, full of notes and to-do lists but also full of events i have attended and loose ticket stubs and doodles. I found plenty of free printables on Pinterest that can be used to decorate your pages along with the help of some colourful washi tape and stickers of course. (all kept in a handy envelope taped into the back of the journal!). As well as my decorations pocket in the back (made just using a normal envelope and washi tape) I also followed a tutorial from Lucy-Wonderland that shows how to make a multipocket for use in notebooks such as the bullet journal. This multipocket now lives in the front of my bullet journal and holds any loose notes, items or tickets that I have.
The freedom of bullet journalling allows you to tweak and change content so that it suits you. I found that I did not have much use for the ‘goals’ section at the start of the month and hated wasting the page so I condensed this page into notes and found that it worked much better for me alongside the monthly calendar. Likewise, I wanted to be able to see my week ahead of me so I like to add in a ‘this week’ section just to map out the next few days and plan my activities. It took me a couple of experiments to get the format just right but I did find a layout that worked for me in the end. I also added a wish list and budget pages to the back of my journal as these were things that I always had in separate notebooks alongside my daily diary, they can now all be kept in the same place!
I have been bullet journalling now for 3-4 months and it has been the only organisational ‘trend’ that I have really latched onto. I can see this technique really having some longevity, at least in my daily life! I have found that a bullet journal becomes more than a daily diary, it is a space that can contain all of my thoughts as well as my daily and future plans. The freedom to decorate and change the content really resonated with me as I constantly found myself frustrated if a planner didn’t include sections that I wanted or incorporated things that I didn’t need or weren’t relevant to me. A bullet journal can be a very personal item and being able to personalise it with my own decorations and drawings also makes it an item that I am likely to keep for the foreseeable future.
Goodbye diaries, post-it notes, to-do lists and productivity apps, bullet journalling is the future!