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Bullet Journaling came on the scene a few years ago and took off. I personally love this system and it has dramatically changed how I live and plan. In fact, I call myself a Bullet Journal Junkie. Currently, there are so many variations it could be a little overwhelming to begin however it doesn’t have to be. That’s why I decided to write this post Bullet Journal 101 – The Basics to help you get started. In a world of digital overload, this analog system speaks to so many of us who still love making lists and feeling the drag of pen on paper.
Here’s a quote from the inventor, Ryder Carroll.
“For the list-makers, the note-takers, the post-it pilots, the track-keepers and the dabbling doodlers, it’s an analog system for the digital age that will help you track the past, organize, the present and plan for the future.”
Go To The Source
In order to understand Bullet Journaling, you need to start at the source. Begin by watching this video from the creator/inventor, Ryder Carroll. Watched it already? It’s worth another look as this is an updated video and you’re sure to pick up something new.
This system spoke to me for so many reasons:
I love writing lists and taking notes by hand.
Post its notes are used as reminders all over my house.
I’ve not found a planner or calendar that has everything I want.
I had pages in my planner I never used and thought were wasted.
What if I lose a reminder, then what?
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Can you believe there are only two supplies you need to get started? Yes, you heard right. That’s why I called this Bullet Journaling 101 – The Basics. All you need is a pen and a notebook. Will any pen or notebook do? YES! My suggestion is to use any notebook you have lying around the house (bigger is not always better – I take mine everywhere) and try it.
If you like it and it works well for your level and style of planning then purchase a notebook designed for bullet journaling. Therefore you won’t be upset you wasted money on something you won’t stick with.
If you want some good basics here are my recommendations.
Micro-Line Pen I bought this kit which is fantastic as it has 16 pens (5 are black with a variety of points the rest are colored in .03mm size)
Pilot G-2 07 – you can buy these at Walmart in a 2pk.
Leuchtturm1917 So far this is my all time favorite for bullet journaling.
Exceed Journal – You can buy this at Walmart too for under $10. Mine is the A5 size.
The Official Bullet Journal Notebook (not pictured) I’m not an affiliate which means I earn nothing to share this notebook, nor do I own one myself, however, it’s a great product and I want you to know about it.
The Bullet Journal Language
Rapid Logging is what I consider a brain dump. It’s a list of all the things that are on your mind and taking up space. I don’t function well when my brain is full. Basically, I’m juggling all the things I need to remember in my head. It’s just a matter of time before I drop the ball. Instead, write them in a bullet list form and ta-da you have rapid logging.
Bullets & Signifiers are really the structure that helps you categorize each entry. This will make more sense as you use the system The symbol I use next to the task helps me understand what needs to be done. A bullet is a to-do item and the three symbols below show what has been done. The event bullet is for anything date related for example a birthday or an appointment. The note symbol is a fact, an idea or a thought as in information you don’t want to forget. Use the signifiers sparingly, consequently, if everything is important then nothing is, right?
An Index – is what pulls everything together. The index houses all the important titles and page numbers so you can easily find what you need. Hint: You’ll want this at the beginning of your notebook. Leave at least 3 pages.
Future Log – is where you list all your future plans. The future log is a list of the next 6 months events and activities. Therefore, it allows you to see at a glance what is coming up in the near future so you can plan and prepare. Hint: You’ll want to check this page and see what can be moved to the current month.
Monthly Log – is your monthly calendar at a glance. Personally, I love seeing my whole month at one time, a big picture if you will. Ryder suggests a list, on the other hand, I like to print a monthly calendar page and paste it in my journal. Hint: There is no wrong way to Bullet Journal.
Tasks List -If you keep the Monthly log to one page you can easily create a Task list for the month on the other page. On the task list write down anything that needs to happen, notes, events, reminders, and to-dos.
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker
Daily Log – here’s where the rubber meets the road. It’s called daily log because this is used daily. First, put the date at the top and then in rapid-fire, write down everything you need to do. If you don’t fill the space it’s okay because the next date will start where you left off. Hint: Some days you’ll need more space and other less so don’t plan too far ahead.
All of the above logs are really known as collections. Where the collections take on a life of its own is when you get specific. Are you planning meals each week? Need a workout tracker? How about a list of books you’ve read this year? A list of Christmas presents purchased for the family? Answered prayers or a gratitude list? Design your own collections and use your index to help you find them.
“Inevitably we find ourselves tackling too many things at the same time, spreading our focus so thin that nothing gets the attention it deserves. This is commonly referred to as “being busy.” Being busy, however, is not the same thing as being productive.”
― Ryder Carroll, The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future
Migration is a way to review and access what is important. My life is busy however I’m not always productive. At the end of the month check out your monthly log and task list. Is there anything that wasn’t completed? Should it be? If yes, then move it to the next monthly log and us an exclamation point to mark its importance. If no, cross it off altogether and move on. I want to spend time on Intentional pieces that will help me create and live an abundant life.
Ok, but now what? How do you actually use it?
Step 1 – Create a collection and add it to your index
Step 2 – Rapid log all the thoughts taking up space in your head using bullets and signifiers to categorize.
Step 3 – Migrate your tasks as needed to a new month or your future log.