Of all the organisational systems available, the one I love the most is the flexible and easily customised bullet journal. I’m not certain at what point it became trendy, but I can certainly relate to its enduring and more recent popularity.
I’ve been using its key system for some time in my ringed planners without realising. More recently I’ve jumped in the deep end, and been using a full bullet journal (or BuJo) system in a bound journal. I thought I’d share what I’ve learned to date, and you can decide whether bullet journaling is for you.
What you Need for a bullet journal
A notebook and a pen. That’s it.
In fact, bullet journal devotees may suggest you have a Leuchtturm 1917 notebook. It comes in a dot grid version, which makes drawing lines and objects easier. Its page numbers also help in organising the BuJo. But you can manage without these refinements.
My BuJo is currently in a plain Moleskine hard cover notebook. I’m beginning to see that for people like me who struggle to draw a straight line even with a ruler, a grid or dots might be useful.
Bullet Journal Basics
The great thing about a bullet journal is that it is everything in one place. It’s your
- to do list
- memory keeper
In fact, it’s anything you want it to be.
When you start up your notebook, be sure to leave some pages at the start. This is for your indexing. This is how you’ll find the important things you need later. So leave maybe four or six pages, depending on the thickness of your notebook.
In these pages, you’ll note what you’ve added to each page. So mine might say:
17: Books to read
20: Monthly budget
32: Holiday Packing Lists
You can see where my priorities lie. Yours will, of course, suit your life.
There are a set of standard bullet symbols which are used in a BuJo. The system I evolved without knowing I had a Bullet Journal is a little bit different. But that’s fine. It’s all about what works for you. The Bullet Journal police are not going to check your journal and find it non-compliant.
Here are the standard BuJo symbols:
Bullet Journal Symbols: Tasks, Events, Notes
We’ve talked about indexing. We did that early, because if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to leap in and get cracking. But this is your BuJo, and if your index wants to live at the back of the book (and actually that makes a lot of sense), go to it.
There are some terms that cover what goes in your BuJo. The first to get your head around is collections. Collections are topics, and may cover a group of pages. As an example, my collections include:
- Planner Con Europe
- July holiday
- House renovation: back bedroom
- Books to read
You get the idea. Some topics could be recurring and cover several groups of pages.
Then there’s the Future Log, which in my mind is kept by Captain Kirk. Your future log makes space for items that need to be scheduled months in advance or which you’l get around to at some stage. So depending on how many future events you might have, set aside a number of pages to cover this.
My July future log created in May has the following:
- 3 days volunteering
- Godson’s birthday
- hospital appointment
- house renovation: library
Clearly a bit busy, so I’m going to need to crack on with some of that.
I work on half a day a month for the future log, and that seems sufficient for me. If you have a working pattern that involved a lot of irregular meetings, you might need more space. I keep a separate space to record what my husband is doing, as his work commitments are very unpredictable.
This is where things get a bit more detailed. Again this can be tailored to suit your life. I’ve tried experimenting, and have found that this works best for me combining work and non-work in the same space.
Normally the monthly log will have the dates on the left hand side of the page, with space for detail alongside. Tasks go on the right hand page of the spread.
June Monthly Log in my BuJo
Weekly and Daily Log
For me, in essence these are the same thing. Every week I draw up space for a weekly log, and populate it with everything that needs to happen during that week. You’ll find people on YouTube and Instragram with massive arty skills who make these logs a beautiful thing. I, on the other hand, was asked to give up art at school, and my style’s a bit more pedestrian. Plenty of colour and some washi seems to help though.
Weekly Log beginning 12 June 2017
This is the cornerstone of bullet journaling, and is basically your brought forward system. At the end of every week or month, look at the tasks that are not completed. Decide if they are still needed, and if so, bring them forward. I find it very useful to have those little arrows nagging me in my BuJo, reminding me what I haven’t done.
Although it’s extra work to write things again, reviewing the things you haven’t done and considering why is helpful. It forces you to consider what needs doing, and when you are going to make that happen.
So…are You ready?
Grab a notebook and a pen and you’re hot to trot. Don’t forget that you can BuJo in a ringed planner too – I have done for years – and even in a bound planner if it has a fair number of extra pages (I can just about BuJo successfully in a Ban.do planner).
If you have the skill, then there are lots of arty options for making your BuJo a beautiful thing. But don’t forget that there is beauty in function too, and a bullet journal that serves your needs has its own beauty.
http://bulletjournal.com/ Ryder Carroll’s original descriptors and tutorials
http://www.wikihow.com/Bullet-Journal The wikihow guide