Have you jumped on the Bullet Journal train? Up until 3 months ago I didn’t even know what Bullet Journaling was, and then BOOM! This beautiful, creative method of organizing my days and ideas landed in my lap. I was lost in a sea of beautiful and inspiring images on Instagram, Pinterest and and Facebook groups I joined that are just for Bullet Journaling.
What is Bullet Journaling?
According to the Bullet Journal official website it’s “the Analog System for the digital age”. Ryder Carroll created it as a system for himself to be a to-do list, diary, notebook and sketchbook. He designed it as a simple flexible framework that would allow you to customize for your needs. The basic elements include:
- The Index
- Future Log
- Monthly Log
- Daily Log
- Bullets: Symbols used to signify Tasks, Appointments, Events, Notes and Ideas.
- Lists: Anything and Everything you can think of.
The premise is that you can use any notebook you’d like and not be limited to the structure of a traditional planner.
Here’s how to BuJo (that’s the nickname for it) straight from Ryder.
After doing a little research I went out and bought some supplies to get started. True BuJo aficionados use the Leuchtturm1917 notebook. But…since I wasn’t sure how this would work for me my stationary perfectionism stopped me from buying a beautiful new notebook and possibly ruining it. I went to Office Depot and picked up a similar graphed notebook, colored Flair Pens (my fav), washi tape and a tiny ruler.
Next I started thinking about the pages I wanted to create and put post it notes on them to label. Again my perfectionism holding me back. I couldn’t commit to pages and start using them until I had planned out all the pages I wanted. What if I decided I didn’t want that list? Then the page would be ruined. Ugh! Plus, I’m not an artist. I can doodle but I can’t draw so I was a bit intimidated by the spreads (that’s a Bullet Journal term for a page layout – I told you it was an obsession) other people were creating.
I started simple with a weekly spread, a Habit Tracker and a few lists. I decided I didn’t need to create a Monthly Log because my calendars are in Google Calendar (work and family) and synced across everything. From there I dove in and started using it as my to-do list. When I had a thought about a book I wanted to read or thought of blog post ideas I would start a list and write them down. I also was checking off my habits as the days went. Sounds ideal right?
Why It Didn’t Work For Me
You may be thinking this sounds like the perfect solution, it captures everything in one place. Except…it didn’t work for me. I get my best ideas when I’m driving in the car, taking a shower, sitting at Jacob’s soccer games etc. Is my BuJo with me and available during those times? No, or at least not safely. But, my phone is nearby at all times and I can quickly grab it, open the notes app and dictate my ideas. This also helps for me because I’m a super slow hand writer and it takes me forever to get ideas down (perfectionism again). I can thumb type or dictate to like a pro though.
As for my daily to-do list. Between my 9-5 job, the blog, and home I already had systems to track my to-do’s that I’ve been using for years, and it works. Trying to make the shift to a new method proved less productive and confusing than continuing to use what I have. There’s a reason for the saying If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It. Since I use Evernote for almost EVERYTHING the notes sections didn’t work for me either.
Final Take Aways
All in all, I think the modules that Ryder created for the BuJo are critical elements in any systems you use. We all need a calendar for daily and future planning, a way to capture ideas and a way to organize those ideas for the future. However I found myself not using the Bullet Journal and instead coming back to it at the end of the day and filling in the gaps. Not productive. Here’s proof positive of the analog Habit Tracker not getting used.
The “collections” or lists were the biggest positive takeaway for me. I’ve always kept lists but they were boring like Books To Read. The Bullet Journal community introduced me to ideas like A Book For Every Year I’ve Been Alive, A Movie For Every Year I’ve Been Alive or Things That Make Me Happy. I love these ideas because they expand our thinking. I’m working to implement them into my Evernote system as we speak.
As I’ve always said, you have to find a system that works for you and then stick with it. If you’re an analog person or a digital person looking for a new analog system, the Bullet Journal could be your solution. No more chasing random slips of paper or lost ideas. But be sure to let go of perfectionism, keep it simple when starting out and make it yours. Because hey, that’s the original philosophy behind the Bullet Journal.
Have you tried Bullet Journaling? I’d love to hear how it’s working for you and any tips/ideas you may have.