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Why bullet journaling keeps you organized

Last updated on april 18, 2020

Time to read 4 minutes

Long have I searched for a tool to help me order my tasks, events and notes. Looking for something nice to read during the Covid-19 self isolation, I luckily stumbled upon The bullet journaling method. I’m hooked and here’s why.

bulletin board

What is bullet journaling?

In short, a bullet journal is a tool to aid in living an intentional life. It gets its name from the type of journal that is used. A bullet journal, or ‘bujo’, helps you track the past, organize the present and plan the future (very apt subtitle of the book mentioned before). Although it’s still relatively new, it’s so simple you automatically think – why wasn’t this here before? Maybe it’s because the digital age wasn’t here before, I’m not sure.

A gentleman by the name of Ryder Carroll developed it for himself. Bullet journalig really took the world by storm once he started telling his friends about it. You can find anything about the man and the system, as it’s referred to, on BulletJournal.com. Also around the web: tons of youtube-video’s by experienced bullet journalists to help you get started. Indexes and collections make up the structure of your journal and rapid logging, migration and reflection are the activities in the system.

Indexes and collections

A bullet journal is a very analog journal, which has:

  • Index – a table of contents for all the things you keep in your journal
  • Collections – a collection is a set of data that is similar. Must-have collections are the:
    • Future log – which holds all future events, things you want to migrate into other collections.
    • Monthly log – a way to keep track of the current month and what you want to have happen in the next 30 days.
    • Daily log – to jot down anything that comes up during the day.

Collections can be anything. I use a few other collections in my journal. I’ll explain them in the ‘My Layout’ section of this post.

Log, reflect, migrate

The beauty of this system comes from it’s activities: rapid logging, migration and reflection. These two activities make sure you’re keeping track of your intentions. Rapid logging is a daily activity, making use of handy symbols (‘keys’ they’re called) to log anything that surfaces.

Reflection is a ‘catch-all’ activity, but important. Take 5 minutes in the morning and in the afternoon/evening to congratulate yourself on everything you’ve done on that day and to write anything down that you’ve missed. This is so you can sleep better :).

Migration you typically do once a month: you sit down and (re-)consider open tasks based on relevance. Strike off what’s done or has become void, migrate anything that contributes to your (near) future.

The master himself explains best (5 minute watch):

Why would you like bullet journaling?

A few reasons why you might like bullet journaling. It’s:

  • Simple! It’s just you and your brilliant mind, a notebook and a pen. Ok. And maybe a ruler. And OK, it has some conventions. But they’re easy enough to master within a week.
  • Intentional. Migration as well as daily reflections are mindful exercises; the ‘why’ behind what you’re working on will surface more and more as you go.
  • Creative. For some more than most. If you Google ‘bullet journal’ you’ll see millions of very illustrative journal pages. Don’t be alarmed if that’s not your thing. You can develop your own (minimalist) style, which is still very creative. Because, in essence, all writing is. You have to make up the words and they are yours, if you catch my drift.
  • Productive. The system Carroll cleverly developed helps you to stay on top of things that are important and need to get done.

Extra bonuses: you’ll be less forgetful and your handwriting improves a lot. On top of that, a bullet journal is a record of your life. Something for your future self to look back at with glee. Or horror, of course. Isn’t that fun?

What others say

A few people around the web have tried it, and wrote a blogpost about their experiences with bullet journaling. Minda Zetlin found unexpected benefits. Reporter Lilah Raptopoulos wrote a nice piece on why she started bullet journaling in the Financial Times. Filipa Amado explains why it is important to stay away from ‘the trend’ and do what works for you.

Why bullet journaling keeps you organized

Now you know what it is and why it might be appealing, the real question is: why should one choose bullet journaling – meaning pen and paper – over other methods and apps like Evernote, Google Keep, OneNote or that one habit tracker app? What’s the organizational benefit of bujo? It sounds like a lot of work. I hear you.

Declutter

The biggest organizational benefit of bullet journaling is that it frees your mind from all kinds of clutter. The act of writing takes the stress out of remembering what you needed to do. Doing this digitally is not the same. You think better on paper.¬†Next,¬†bad habits or tendencies will become apparent and they can be dealt with accordingly. Then rapid logging, migration and reflection – you can take them anywhere you want. There’s no explicit structure or rules on how to go about these things. You just need to stick to doing them. Even apps have rules and structures you are bound by. Besides, you are truly creating something with your own hands. You are Chief Organizer and you format your journal the way you like it. Oh, the freedom!

Clarity through a bit of work and time

And yes, it’s a bit more work, so it costs time. You have to sit down, pause for a moment and ponder. Then you create your monthly log and migrate tasks that make sense. Once you do, you’ll be very clear about what needs to happen for your benefit. That saves you quite some time later in that month. And quite possibly also in your future life.

You’ll find your goals and tasks are more alive in your head – in the good way – because of your dedicated time. You’re giving yourself direction. Word of warning: it’s really easy to do the opposite – making your journal a distraction. Don’t overdo it, do what works for you.

Who doesn’t want clarity, direction and less clutter? Go forth, google anything on ‘bullet journaling’ and prosper.

Helpful resources

To get you started quickly, I’d like to share a few more resources which helped me get into gear fast.

 

 

Published inOrganizing Home & Work

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