Life can be crazy, life can be busy and a consequence of this constant hustle and bustle is that it is easy to forget things or track everything that you need to do on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
One system to help you manage your life is Bullet Journaling.
The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.
What that essentially means is that bullet journaling is a process or recording everything that matters or may matter to you now or in the future. A bullet journal can be a written journal or you can use an online to do list application or tool.
Before we break down how to get started with bullet journaling lets look at the advantages and disadvantages of this approach.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Bullet Journaling
Just like most systems of task management or productivity Bullet journaling won’t be for everyone. If you are looking for a system to stay organised however you really don’t have much to lose by giving it a try and seeing how it works for you.
- Bullet journaling forces you to create a habit of writing things down and keeping track of whats on your mind.
- Bullet journaling uses a symbol system so that you can easily skim a page to pick out specific times.
- The key concept involves creates a new page for each specific topic which helps centralise key information.
- Bullet journaling offers flexibility around how you can plan and track your daily, weekly or monthly activities.
- With a physical journal it also allows you to be creative.
- Bullet journaling makes it seem like everything should be planned or have structure but our lives rarely work that way.
- It can be time consuming to collate and manage all of this information and bullet points.
- Finding information in a paper based record keeping system is not always easy/straight forward, especially if you maintain a journal for a long period of time.
- You need to be fully committed to the system because it is only as effective as you make it.
Key Bullet Journaling Concepts
Before you move forward and leap at the chance to start a bullet journal its important to understand the key concepts that govern how it works. Bullet Journaling, while flexible does have a number of common rules that are designed to make it easy to track information.
Topics & Page Numbering
Each page should start with a topic in the top corner. For example “European Holiday Planning”. At the bottom the same page you should add a number. You will need to do this for each subsequent topic/page.
The idea is that you have the title and page numbers in place before you write any content.
Under each of the topics you need to put bullet points that are short term objectives for that particular topic. These bullet points are designed to help you organise your activities as tasks, events and notes.
To indicate something is a task, so you can use the “•” symbol. These kinds of activities equate to “To Dos” that you need to accomplish. As you go along with each of these activities, you should update them. There are three possible status updates you can use:
- “>” means Task Migrated
- “<” means Task Scheduled
- “X” means Task Completed
These are date related activities, so you need to enter them as “◦”. These events should ideally be logged in your page before they happen. However, you can also log them afterwards as well.
These relate to your thoughts, observations, and ideas, and should be marked with a “-“. You can choose when to write these down in your journal. For example you can take notes during a meeting or use notes to reflect on things that happened during the day (i.e. after the fact).
Some of your bullets may require priority or further follow-up from your side. Alternatively, an idea may inspire you and spur an innovative streak from you. You can document all three types of these reactions in your bullet journal:
- “*” means a task is priority
- “!” means inspiration, so definitely follow-up on this one
- “®” means exploration meaning more investigation and research from you to get more information about it
Structuring Your Journal
The use of page topics, numbers and symbols help you provide structure to your journal. It is however important that you plan ahead as well. For example you should allow for an index at the front of your journal that can be updates with new pages as and when they are added.
You should also carefully think about and plan out the pages that take priority at the front of your journal and leave sufficient pages between topics in you plan on filling something out over time.
As you reach the end of your journal you should also plan for the future. You can create a reference page for information or points that you need to recall or be able to refer to easily in your new journal.
If you are someone who likes to maintain detail records and lists then bullet journaling is probably something that is right up your alley. Where it falls short is for people who are unorganised or chop and change what they have to do regularly. Given bullet journaling is open a paper based system, being someone who needs to make constant changes can create unnecessary confusion or mess.
The strength of bullet journaling also goes beyond creating to do lists. If important things happen in your day or week it is easy to forget them. Bullet journaling acts as a simple way of recording these thoughts and memories over time and gives you a way of looking back at what you were thinking about/working on at a particular point in time.
Also published on Medium.