A Simple Guide to the Bullet Journal

The bullet journal is a way to keep track of everything you need for your life. It’s the ideal system because it takes up so little room, but can accommodate any schedule or type of task. The versatility makes it popular among students and professionals alike who want an organized planner that doesn’t take up too much space in their bag.,

The “bullet journal ideas” is a simple guide to the Bullet Journal. It’s a great way to keep track of your thoughts and ideas, especially if you’re looking for ways to stay organized.

Do you want to start journaling more? I’m in the same boat. Are you dreaming of being more organized and completing more tasks on your to-do list? Ditto. 

While choosing the appropriate diary or method isn’t always the solution, it may occasionally help you get where you want to go. 

The Bullet Journal can help with this. If you spend any time on the internet, you’ve probably come across that word as a new kind of writing that mixes a classic diary with calendaring, to-do lists, collecting thoughts, and so on. While you may purchase an official Bullet Journal, you can also design your own template using any notebook. Many people prefer a dot grid style over a lined layout (for doodling and more artistic flair), although it’s not required. 

While a whole book could be written on how to “correctly” utilize the Bullet Journal technique, it’s a simple system to pick up with only a few recommendations.

You’ll find out why I like it and some basic ideas that make the Bullet Journal such a handy tool in the sections below. 

What Is a Bullet Journal and How Does It Work?

Here are a few elements that set the Bullet Journal apart from other journaling systems (more on each below): 

  • It all begins with an index. A thorough index with page numbers appears at the beginning of the diary, making it easy to locate anything in the book. 
  • Monthly/daily planning, productivity, note-taking, and journaling records are included. 
  • Uses multiple bullet points inside those logs to indicate tasks (and whether or not those activities have been completed, delegated, or remain unfinished), events, thoughts, and more. As a result, the title “Bullet Journal” was chosen.
  • Includes as many “Collections” as you like, which are pages that focus on different categories and can be used for anything from book lists to workout/food monitoring to idea capture and more.  

That’s a general notion of what a Bullet Journal is made out of. The following are some of the reasons why I and many others use this approach.

The Bullet Journal’s Advantages 

Compatible with various to-do/journaling systems. One of the reasons I like the Bullet Journal so much is that it can be used in conjunction with a variety of different writing and productivity tools. Would you want to participate in our 31-day Jumpstart Your Journaling Challenge? Make it a part of your Bullet Journal and you’ll be fine. Interested in putting the Rule of Three to the test? Ditto. 

Consolidates many lists and notes into a single “file.” I used to have a variety of notebooks for various reasons, such as a diary, to-do list, book log and notes, and so on. I like how the Bullet Journal organizes everything in one spot. 

Organizes your scribbles. The index of the diary helps you to retain all of the many logs and notes you store inside its pages well-organized and simple to manage. 

It’s completely customisable. I know a number of individuals who use a Bullet Notebook in some form or another, and each of them puts their own spin on it: some use an index and subject-based pages without using it as a productivity tool, while others use it only for productivity while keeping a regular journal elsewhere. It’s a system that really works for you. Read the advice below and consider my recommendations, but don’t take them too seriously. Experiment with it to make sure it’s a system you’ll like using. What’s the purpose if that’s not the case?

 

Making and Using a Bullet Journal 

Your Pages Should Be Numbered

The first step in making your Bullet Journal is to number the pages. This is critical since everything is indexed. This practice has grown in popularity to the point that many journals on the market now already have pages numbered (and some even have a couple pages preset for an index at the front). 

The Index

Pages of a Bullet Journal are given to an index.

An index takes up the first few pages of a Bullet Journal. Everything that ends up in the diary will be logged here, along with the topics and page numbers. From monthly/daily logs to diverse lists, thoughts, and classic diary-style entries, there’s something for everyone. 

The index serves as the journal’s route map. It’s how you rapidly figure out where everything is; as long as new pages are added to the index, you’ll be OK. 

While it won’t be filled in completely right away, you’ll continue to contribute to it on a regular basis, possibly even daily. 

So begin your index on page one. Subjects, or “Collections” in Bullet Journal lingo, will be listed first, followed by the page number (s). Some categories will be included on a single page, while others may be added to over time; for example, “Book Lists” may wind up on pages 10, 24, 32, and so on. 

A handful of pages should be set aside for your index.

Monthly Journals 

Monthly log on the page.

Monthly log to-dos.

On the first level of the monthly log to-dos, I retain everything as simply a dash, then break it down further.

From cruising altitude, you’ll keep a 2-page journal of activities and to-dos each month. On the left side of the first page of the log, write down the date. (I also drew a line to indicate new weeks.) You may use this to highlight important impending events and deadlines. Later, you may use this section to jot down events you’d want to remember (a great date night, bumping into an old buddy, a promotion); it’s a mix of looking forward and documenting back. 

Make a list of your important to-dos and even objectives on the second page of your monthly journal (broken down into smaller steps, or with a page number for where those smaller steps reside). You may add to the list over time, and you can even add tasks to it after the fact to keep track of your productivity. 

While you may set aside pages for each month of the year at the start of the diary, I like to do it as I go since you never know how long a fresh Bullet Journal will last you until you need to replace it. So, although Month One (or whatever month you’re starting in!) will be in the beginning, Month Two (or whatever month you’re starting in!) may be on page 20 or 50 or whatever. 

Of course, make a note of them in the index! “January Log — pg 5” is the title of the fifth page of the January Log. 

Daily Journals 

Daily logs.

In my Bullet Journal, I prefer to give each day its own full page. You are under no need to do so, but I do. You’ll write down important to-dos (perhaps the Rule of Three), events (lunch meeting/date, calls, parties, etc. ), and any notes you want to remember from that day; these can be short diary-like entries — a random note about the crazy snowstorm, the Vikings big playoff win — or business/project notes and ideas. There truly isn’t any limit. Use the daily journal to keep track of everything that happened that day.  

 

I don’t put aside a number of pages for daily records at the start, just as I don’t set aside a number of pages for monthly logs. I just proceed to the next available page; often daily records take up many pages in a row, and other pages in between serve other functions. 

Because daily logs are so common, they don’t need to be included in the index. Anything valuable or worth remembering for the future may be moved to other collections. However, if there is a section that is very relevant (such as meeting notes), feel free to include it in the index. 

Other Collections/Categories 

Monthly and daily logs to-dos.

While the monthly and daily entries may be enough to fill your Bullet Journal (and for some people, they are), you’ll probably want extra pages to collect other important or creative information. 

Here are a few examples of ideas: 

  • Book lists – books you’ve read (with ratings! ), novels you want to read, and quotations from books you like.
  • Travel planning – as seen in the image above, the Bullet approach is ideal for trip planning. 
  • Ideas – If you have any artistic endeavors or hobbies, keep track of them in one place. 
  • Hobbies – here, in my view, is where the Bullet Journal shines. I keep note of the recipes I’ve tried in a baking journal (and another list with recipes I want to try out). I keep track of my coffee roasting and make comments on the tastes in a coffee journal. Adapt to your own interests! 
  • Track your activity, whether you’re a runner, a lifter, or a casual basketball player, to observe how your performance is increasing or plateauing (it’s also sort of fun). 
  • Never be without a wonderful present idea again. Make a page for each family member. 
  • Food Logs – make recipes (with star ratings! ), eat food (monitor your macros analog-style! ), drink water, and so on. 
  • Track your badge work, Agon completions, and other achievements if you’re a TSL member. It can all be done online, but it’s also interesting to keep track of some of it on paper, particularly when making action plans for badge completion and other things. 
  • You can integrate it with your daily log if you want a more traditional journal entry, but you don’t have to; you may easily make sections solely for recording thoughts/feelings and writing prompts. 

Baking logs.

These collection pages are tossed in with the monthly/daily logs on the next available open page. Even when I know something will take more than one page, I only ever provide one page to begin with. I don’t mind whether themes are constantly grouped together as long as they’re searchable; my baking journal may start on page 9 and end on page 50 a few months later. 

 

Bullets 

Bullets logs.

Various bullet points are used creatively in the Bullet Journal approach. 

While they’re most often used in monthly and daily records, they may also be utilized elsewhere, depending on your journal’s aims and objectives. 

Bullet points.

Each item you write will be recognized with a unique bullet point in your monthly and daily logs (but especially in the latter). I utilize the following five major types: 

  • Bullets that are standard – a to-do item; a job to do. You can then add a variety of “signifiers” to these bullets to indicate different degrees of completion:  
    • The assignment is marked as completed with a “X.”
    • Half-completed activities are marked with a single diagonal line (half a “X”); these chores are usually pushed to the following day. 
    • An arrow indicates that the job has been assigned to another person (which may be indicated), or that it has been moved to a different day; this signifier simply depends on how you wish to utilize the diary. 
    • A job that has been struck out is no longer required. 
  • Dash — a note that isn’t associated with a to-do item; anything unrelated to a to-do item; diary-style entries; thoughts; observations.
  • Open circle — occurrences; notable times in time you’d want to remember, either forthcoming or in the past; used largely to record experiences, but I often attach them to notes and tasks when appropriate.  
  • Come up with your own! A triangle is used to indicate a workout, and a filled-in square is used to record the day’s reading. I’m not an artist, but you may use more creative bullets to keep track of or signify a variety of different things. 

The use of nesting is one of the secrets to these bullets’ efficiency. Many activities, particularly those in project form, need sub-tasks; forthcoming events often have notes/tasks attached to them; previous events (such as a meeting you just concluded) frequently end with to-dos and notes. 

These different bullet indicators are stacked and mixed and matched throughout your logs, making combining to-do lists, calendaring, and journaling a snap. This is why I like the Bullet Journal so much. I want to transform my daily scribbles, thoughts, and even book notes into actionable actions. I don’t want them to wind up as a half-filled diary stowed away in my closet, never to be seen again – I have enough of those.   

The Ten-Fifth-Fifth-Fifth-Fifth-Fifth-Fif

The “10/15 concept” was introduced to me by Charlie Gilkey in his book Start Finishing (and also in his discussion with Brett).

Give yourself ten minutes at the end of each day to go through your monthly and daily records and see if there are any stray notes that should be moved into a collection. For example, a colleague offered you a book suggestion, which you noted down in your daily log and then transferred to the Books Recs list you’d previously created at the end of the day. Of course, you could simply scribble it down in that book list right away, but one of the things I appreciate about the Bullet Journal technique is that it allows me to put everything from a day in one place without having to worry about arranging it at the time. Keep a bookmark on the day’s log and arrange at the end of the day to avoid switching pages or being sidetracked by your numerous lists and thoughts. 

 

If you scribbled down some ideas for a freelancing job or a pastime, move them to the appropriate category. 

Start the following day’s journal and add any unfinished to-dos, as well as any events that need to be recorded. Of course, this isn’t a replacement for a calendar, but it does give your day a more visual flow that includes both activities and to-dos. 

Then, at the start of the following day, set aside 15 minutes to plan, check your goal lists, examine your monthly record, maybe establish your Rule of 3, and go to work. 

Do the same thing at the end of each month, but on a bigger scale and with somewhat more time allocated to the work. 

The review is crucial since it guarantees that items don’t go misplaced in your notebook. As I’ve said, that’s usually my issue with traditional journaling – I’ll scribble down thoughts and stuff I don’t want to forget, then swiftly flip the pages and have no idea where said idea went. Things are written down, indexed, and, if done properly, acted upon using the Bullet Journal. 

A Quick Recap of How It All Fits Together

I understand that this may seem like a lot of organizing concepts all at once, so here’s a brief rundown: 

  • Create an index at the beginning of your notebook or diary to keep track of page numbers for anything you’re writing down. 
  • Create a monthly record to receive a general perspective of the month’s major events, to-dos, and objectives. 
  • To perform the same thing on a smaller scale, keep a daily journal. 
  • To-dos, events, notes, and other items may be written down using the different bullets and signifiers. 
  • To avoid becoming lost in the jungle of a well-filled notebook, use brief daily planning and review sessions to move notes, to-dos, and ideas. 

 

 

The “bullet journal cheat sheet” is a helpful guide to the Bullet Journal. It includes tips, tricks and ideas for the new users.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you do a bullet journal for beginners?

A: What is a bullet journal? How do you make one and what are the benefits of it?

What are the basics of bullet journaling?

A: Bullet journaling is a way of organizing your life using pen and paper. Its designed to help you stay focused on what matters most, while keeping track of everything else in an efficient manner.

How do you keep a simple bullet journal?

A: It is a great idea to have a simple bullet journal! The best way Ive found so far is just doing free hand with an ink pen.

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