Bullet journaling is a great way to organize and track the thousands of to do’s that are probably running throughout your mind during the day. It can also serve as a way to track pain symptoms, medications, as a food and fitness tracker…just about anything you can think of. It can even work as a memory keeper.
Any time you need to review what you’ve been doing over the past few days, weeks or months, you can just pick up your bullet journal for a quick update.
First things first…a bullet journal is is an analog system. Many of us are so used to using apps to stay organized on our smart phones now so it may seem strange to use something as old school as a notebook and pen. But that’s the beauty of it…there’s something very peaceful and grounding about writing things down this way.
Getting Started With Simple Bullet Journals
Here’s the traditional setup for a bullet journal with credit to Ryder Carroll from BulletJournal. Think of it as starting point, get comfortable with the basic system and then change it from there.
You’ll need a notebook, a pen, and a little bit of time to get started. The type of notebook you use is up to you. The traditional style is grid or dotted paper, but I find even ruled or blank pages work just fine.
The first page of your bullet journal will include your key. This will record the shorthand you use for your bullet entries. Here’s the traditional codes used. Feel free to add to it, or leave out things that don’t work for you. Make it yours.
Your next two to four pages will be set aside for indexing. This will allow you to quickly find any collection, or get to a particular month. Title each page as an index page and move on to the next section.
The Future Log
With the original bullet journal setup this is a two page spread that records the coming 6 months. Many bullet journalers find it helpful to use a more traditional yearly calendar instead. This is a great place to record birthdays, anniversaries, or block out vacation time. Add or note the page number and record your future log in your index.
Start each month with a monthly log. Here you’ll record appointments and due dates. You can use a grid layout, or use one line for each day of the month. While this isn’t where you’ll track most of your tasks, the monthly log will come in handy for those times when you have a full schedule of chauffeuring the kids, tracking doctor and therapy appointments.
The daily log is where you’ll spend most of your time in your bullet journal. Start a new section each day and record anything important for the day. Make your list of tasks and cross them off as you get them finished. Make notes of anything important you need to remember throughout the day as well as appointments as they pop up. Everything gets logged in the daily log for speed and ease. From there you can move it as needed to the monthly or future log, or migrate it to a different day.
There are a multitude of ways to do this. Look up the #bulletjournal and #bujo tags to find a layout that works best for you.
At the end of the day, or even first thing the next morning make some time to review your tasks and then cross out and migrate anything that isn’t checked off. For example, if you didn’t get around to doing (or finishing!) laundry today, draw an arrow through it and add the task to today’s daily task list.
If you noted an appointment that came up yesterday, move it to your monthly list and draw an arrow through it in yesterday’s list. If something no longer applies then cross it out. Your goal is to deal with each entry from your daily list by completing it, migrating it, or crossing it out.
Now let’s talk about collections. Collections are simply thematical lists you make that aren’t date related. Some examples are lists of books you want to read, movies you want to watch on Netflix, specialty grocery ingredients..just about anything.
Just start the list on the next blank page. Title it and start jotting down the books you want to read. Make a note of the page you’re on and add this collection to your index page. Now when you want to add a new book title to this list, or reference it to see what you want to read, you can easily find it via the index.
I hope this inspires you to find a journaling system that works for you! Since I wrote this I wound up going with a Happy Planner because my life is too crazy for traditional bullet journaling, but I do “practice the principles.” Again, there’s no right way to do this. Just find what works and stick with it!
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