Have you heard of Bullet Journaling?
Chances are, you’ve come across it on Instagram or Pinterest, where creative people everywhere show off their pretty pages and journals bursting with artwork. And if you look at those journals you may think, “How can this possibly be productive? It looks like they must spend hours on these pages!” (And they often do.)
But here’s the thing. When you look past the pretty pages, there’s a structure to a Bullet Journal that is not only really appealing to creatives, it’s also super helpful. This is because a Bullet Journal is “structured” the way creatives tend to think. That and it’s flexible enough to handle anything you throw at it.
Below I’ve compiled a walkthrough of the basic Bullet Journal elements. (For more detailed information, I suggest going straight to the source).
Note: You can Bullet Journal in any notebook, but many bujo-ers prefer dotted journals to ones with lines.
Bullet Journal Basic Elements
Bullet Journals are built off of the concept of bulleted lists and spreads. A spread is a page or section of pages dedicated to a specific list, project, or theme. For example, you could have a spread for books you want to read or household chores you need to complete. There are certain spreads included in traditional Bullet Journals, but again, the best thing about a Bullet Journal is that you can take what works, and leave what doesn’t.
Ryder Carroll, the founder of the Bullet Journal system, suggests you start with a few standard spreads, like the Index, Future Log, and Monthly Log. Your Index is basically a table of contents. The Index will contain the page numbers of each of your spreads and their titles, so you can find them easily.
A Future Log will keep track of a few months worth of events, and a Monthly Log will be a more detailed calendar for each month. One of the spreads I use every day in my Bullet Journal is called a Weekly Spread. I make this spread across two pages so that when I lay my Bullet Journal open on my desk, I can see my entire week at a glance.
Every spread will contain bullets or lists.
Most people come up with a system of bullets that work for them. For example, I use empty circles to denote a task I need to complete (and then I fill it in when it’s complete), I use empty triangles to denote events or meetings (and then fill them in when they’re over), and I use dashes to denote a note or idea that I want to come back to later.
My favorite part about the bulleted lists is the migrating system. You’ll probably often wind up putting too many tasks on your lists. If you do, you’ll just put an arrow through that task’s bullet and transfer (migrate) it to the next day/week/month. This ensures that nothing slips through the cracks, and you don’t feel like you have to constantly rewrite your entire list–you’ll just migrate the tasks that need it.
If you find yourself migrating the same task over and over again…chances are it’s not that important in the first place and you can probably just get rid of it.
Pen & Paper Can Increase Your Productivity Level
Using a Bullet Journal has completely changed my productivity level. As a creative, I truly enjoy pen and paper, and using a Bullet Journal allows me to use pen and paper productively.
Over the years, I’ve tried hundreds of productivity systems, only a handful of which have stuck with me. Bullet Journaling is one of them. I’ve been using it for over 2 years now, and I don’t see an end in sight! I truly believe the flexibility, coupled with the fun and freedom of keeping a Bullet Journal has kept me coming back consistently.
And while I’ve described a few of the elements of Bullet Journaling that work for me, I encourage you to explore the world of the Bullet Journal to see what works for you! As creatives, we tend to like flexibility, and the Bullet Journal system can give us just that while allowing us to actually still be productive. A win-win!
Written by Jess Mason, the founder of The Yarnpreneur Society
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