THE BULLET JOURNAL METHOD

In this week’s blog, I want to talk about the Bullet Journal Method or BuJo for short.

The bullet journal method is an analogue productivity method where people keep track of their tasks, appointments, reading lists, thoughts and feelings in a simple notebook, often a grided or blank one:

‘A bullet journal (sometimes known as a BuJo) is a method of personal organization developed by designer Ryder Carroll. The system organizes scheduling, reminders, to-do lists, brainstorming, and other organizational tasks into a single notebook.’ (Wikipedia)

Vienna-born Ryder Carroll was diagnosed with ADHD at a young age and struggled to complete tasks. After graduating from college in the US he got a job as a Digital product designer in New York. While working he devised the bullet journal method to help him focus on multiple tasks simultaneously. Carroll describes his journey toward creating the bullet journal in more detail in his book The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future published in 2018.

The Bullet Journal is one of the best-known productivity methods and Ryder Carroll and his work on the bullet journal has been featured in the New York Times, Fast Company, Bloomberg and many other well-known publications.

Let’s delve a bit deeper into the various elements of the bullet journal and what its purpose is. The main reason why it has become so become popular is its customizability and the fact that you can design it in many ways. Some people create very elaborate bullet journals such as these on Instagram and others such as Matt Ragland have very functional ones.

While there are very few rules when it comes to bullet journaling, there are still some concepts integral to the Bullet Journal that we need to understand. I will outline them below:

INDEX

Let’s start with the Index which sits at the front of your notebook and serves the same function as a traditional index in a book. Its purpose is for you to easily locate content in your journal, as, unlike a digital to-do app, the BuJo does not have a search function. So, every time you write something important in your bullet journal that you may wish to reference make a note in the index. Some bullet journals come with page numbers, but many journals need pages added. Diary Of a Journal Planner on their website defines a bullet journal index as:

‘An index of the notebook is just a list of items and their respective pages. It’s very similar to a list of contents only it doesn’t have to be in chronological order necessarily.’

An example of an index could be something like this:

Date Night – 8, 20, 25, 40

Period Tracker – 7, 10, 50

You get the gist.

Diary Of Journal Planner things you should devote about three pages to the index. The exact number is difficult to determine and depends on numerous factors, including handwriting, size of the BuJo, how many items you need to index etc. So as with anything BuJo, there is no right or wrong way, there is your way.

COLLECTIONS

The main part of the bullet journal consists of collections where you group together like-minded items and thoughts, such as recipe lists, books to read or your cleaning rota:

‘A bullet journal collection is typically a page or several pages which contain related tasks or items. Effectively, you can think of a collection as a themed list or log.’ (Archer and Olive)

Ryder Carroll refers to collections as A place for everything and everything in its place’

The type of collections to create or include in your BuJo depends entirely on you and your preferences in life and can vary from one journal to the next. If you enjoy cooking, create a recipe list. If you read books create books to read list. If you want to track your mood do this.

To create a collection, go to the next set of empty pages in your Bullet Journal and start creating one. A collection can be in a table, list or any other format chosen by you. If you run out of space, just start continuation pages at a different place in your journal. As long as you reference both it doesn’t matter where they are.

There are four core collections that I will now introduce you to. They are Index (already discussed above), Future Log, Monthly Log, and the Daily Log.

THE FUTURE LOG

The Future Log is a collection that stores events that are happening in the future and are not part of your current Bullet journal. This could be birthdays, events happening next year etc. Ryder Carroll defines it as follows:

‘The Future Log is a great way to log all the important and fun events you have going on in your life. It keeps all of your future events in one place. Anything that occurs in future months such as birthdays, holidays, trips, meetings, and more would go in the Future Log. It’s a simple and easy place to flip to when you need to check when a specific event is happening.’

For examples of what a Future Log might look like look here or here.

THE MONTHLY LOG

The next collection we have is the monthly log. The monthly log, simply put is both a calendar spread that gives you an overview of what events are coming up over a specific month as well as a list of the main tasks that you wish to accomplish during that period:

‘The Monthly Log: helps you organize—you guessed it—your month. It consists of a calendar and a task list.’ (Carroll Ryder)

THE DAILY LOG

The Daily Log is a daily spread of one page or less where you log all your days’ activities, tasks and things you need to track. It also allows you to put down random thoughts or create more traditional journal entries.

‘The Daily Log is designed for day-to-day use. At the top of the page, record the date as your topic. Throughout the course of the day, simply Rapid Log your Tasks, Events, and Notes as they occur. If you don’t fill a page, add the next date wherever you left off and you’re ready to continue. ‘ (Carroll Ryder).

For examples of daily logs look here.

Now that we have looked at collections, let us further delve into more terminology that you need to know about.

RAPID LOGGING

Rapid Logging is the term for the language in which the Bullet Journal is written. It is a way of capturing information as bullets.

In an article on Journaling Diaries entitled: ‘BuJo 101: What’s the Bullet Journal Rapid Logging System? Defines rapid logging as follows:

‘It’s a productivity technique by Ryder Carroll, the creator of bullet journaling. The technique relies on writing “bullets”, which are concise phrases paired with symbols that classify them as tasks, events, or noteworthy thoughts. Rapid logs are the whole premise of Carroll’s super-popular system.’

BULLETS

Bullets are often seen as the syntax of Rapid Logging. They are short sentences paired with symbols that visually organise your entries into tasks, events, notes etc. In order not to get confused and to easily find things Carroll Ryder has developed symbols that are put in front of information to easily know whether something is a task, a note etc. On the website Diary of a journal Planner, you get a more detailed list of journal keys than I can list in this article. Check them out.

TASKS

Tasks are represented by a dot •. Dots are used because they are fast and easy to write. A task is anything that needs to be done but is not an event.

Put an X next to a task to denote that it is completed.

> next to a task means it’s been moved forward to the next day or the next week.

< next to a task means it’s been set back to an undefined future date.

EVENTS

Events in the Bullet Journal are represented by the open circle. Events are date-related entries that are scheduled for a certain day.

NOTES

Notes are represented with a dash -. Notes can be anything, thoughts, ideas, observations.

SIGNIFIERS

Signifiers are the next concept that we need to get our head around if we want to understand bullet journals. Signifiers are symbols used for additional context. They are placed to the left of bullets to make them stick out.

The most important are:

= Priority

! = Inspiration

CONCLUSION

Above I have explained what a Bullet Journal is and how to set one up. Is a Bullet Journal right for me? What are its pros and cons? You have to wait till next week to find out.

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