Intro to bullet journaling

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3 minute read

Intro to bullet journaling 📄

Bullet journaling is a productivity method developed by Ryder Carroll that combines calendars, to-do lists, scheduling, daily diary, note-taking, and so much more

This method has been referred to as “the mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system”, “a hyper-organized note-taking system”, and “a to-do list on steroids”.

Using one helps me to organise my daily, monthly, quarterly and yearly schedule and decide which tasks are vital, and which can be put off or removed from my list. It combines my many to-do lists and calendars into one succinct journal.

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A journal consists of

The crux of bullet journaling is having (some of) these pages:

  • index/table of contents
  • future task/events log
  • monthly task/events log
  • daily task list
  • daily prompt

and (some of) these processes:

  • daily/weekly/monthly review
  • migration
  • reflection
  • habit tracking

As you can see, the method is very flexible - use whichever parts of it that work for you.

Pages

The index or table of contents points to where your plans, schedules, and trackers are in your book.

Logs and lists are done on a daily and monthly basis with task/event lists, and a longer-term 6-month or yearly basis with the future log. Logs use a system of symbols to organise information, shown below.

I use the daily prompt section of my journal to record one line per day. It could be your thought of the day, daily gratitudes, how much money you’ve spent that dayanything you want.

Processes

The Review, Reflection and Migration processes generally occur monthly and involve going through the tasks for the month just gone, assessing which got done and which still need to be done. It’s an opportunity to reschedule them for the coming month or get rid of them if it’s transpired that they’re no longer needed. It helps prioritise what really needs doing, which helps us stay productive and do what matters.

I particularly like getting rid of tasks - it can be cleansing and refreshing.

Habit Tracking we’ve covered 😉.

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Bullets

The name “bullet journal” comes from the different types of bullet points used when writing your task lists and scheduling. These are pretty standard, and this is the set that I use:

  •   •   to-do - an item on your daily/monthly task list
  •   ˣ   done - a completed item gets its bullet crossed out
  •  <  scheduled - you’ve put back this item, on to a longer-term task list
  •  >  migrated - you didn’t get this item done, and have migrated it to the next list
  •   –  notes - a supplementary note on your planner
  •  ⊙  events - a reminder for an event that will take place
  •   !   important - I use this to draw attention to the most important task of the day

At the front of your journal, it’s useful to have a key/legend with these symbols on and any others than you introduce.

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My bullet journal

In my experience, bullet journals tend to be best hand-written in a notebook. I’m a notebook nerd - I write mine in my beautiful habit tracker notebook.

Here it is with examples of my monthly and daily logs:

Bullet Journal monthly log

Bullet Journal monthly log - a summary of the month‘s upcoming events.

Bullet Journal weekly log

Bullet Journal weekly log - a summary of the month‘s upcoming events.

This week you can see that I’ve marked the HMRC phone call as ❗️ important after attempting it and rescheduling > it, had to push back < chasing my phone contract to a later date, and had a couple of ⊙ events this week.

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Bullet journaling apps

I don’t use one.

I find that having a handwritten bullet journal means more to me, physically updating and writing in it mentally reinforces the tasks that I need to remember to do and their priorities.

Taking the time to manually migrate tasks with a pen and my book drills in the need to re-prioritise important tasks and drop ones that aren’t getting done, and don’t need to be done any more.

That being said - for completeness, here’s the Bullet Journal app that the official Bullet Journal website provides.

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When I use the bullet journal

I go through phases of using mine. I use parts of it daily - the habit tracker for example.

When I’ve got a busy month ahead I’ll plan it all out, then I may not need to be so organised for the next couple of months. At the start of a year, I tend to get my schedule organised, only to not need it daily as much as I’d thought.

Dip in and out of this method as you need. Perhaps you only need it for your daily tasks, perhaps for your quarterly. See how a bullet journal works for you.

I hope it makes you more productive!

Thanks for reading! 👋
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