Beginner’s Guide to Bullet Journaling

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Bullet Journal
Bullet Journal

Let’s face it – who doesn’t want to be organized? Bullet Journals are so popular right now because they HELP you with organization – whether it’s your day’s activities, your kid’s activities, business ideas or just your thoughts – Bullet Journals are “da bomb” (yes – I grew up in the nineties) for organization and clarity (plus they look really cool)! 🙂

When this happens it is very easy to become discouraged, demotivated and frustrated. But it is never too late to get your act together and start again. And one of the easiest ways to get your organisation resolution back on track is to start a bullet journal.

WHAT IS A BULLET JOURNAL?

A bullet journal, also known as BuJo is a system devised by Ryder Carroll- a New York-based digital product designer, that combines note-taking, planning, scheduling and  journaling into one. It acts as an analog system for the digital world. This form of journaling is extremely versatile and customizable. It can be used to track everything specific to your life—from your daily to-do tasks to long-term goals, monthly calendars, and so much more.

Another amazing feature of a BuJo is that you can even customize its looks according to your needs and requirements. You can create artistic pages, doodles, drawings, as well as fancy lettering and calligraphy.

DO BULLET JOURNALS ACTUALLY WORK?

One of the main reasons why a bullet journal works is that it gives you complete control over everything that goes in it. It offers you a level of freedom and flexibility that other pre-printed planners don’t. The best bullet journals are the ones that feel, look and work according to your specific needs. All you need is a notebook and a pen to start off!

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BULLET JOURNALING?

  • Prioritizes Tasks: It enables you to note down all of your tasks and assign a time to finish all each of them, that is, in a daily log, or in a monthly log. You can also list long-term goals or any significant events in your future log. This allows you to break down all of your tasks per day or month, instead of writing all of your tasks in a single confusing to-do list.
  • Drives Productivity: A BuJo allows you to keep track of your to-do list, which leaves you with little room for idleness, thus, increasing your productivity.
  • Allows Self Reflection: Bullet journaling gives you the ability to check in with yourself. It allows you to focus better on the task at hand and externalize your thoughts.
  • Increases Creativity: Your BuJo can also help you exercise your creativity. You can do anything in the BuJo ranging from sketching, doodling, or experimenting to lettering and calligraphy.
  • Improves Memory: When you use a BuJo, you write by hand, which engages multiple senses, such as visual, kinesthetic, and tactile. This, in turn, increases brain capacity and memory retention.

HOW TO GET STARTED WITH BULLET JOURNALING?

  1. Gather your supplies: The only main items you need for getting started with bullet journaling are a notebook and a writing tool. You can pick any spare notebook or get one specially made for bullet journaling. Other than that, according to the looks and features of your BuJo, you can use other supplies too, such as washi tapes, stamps, highlighters and stickers.
  2. Create your own Bujo: There is no right or wrong way to bullet journal. You may stick to the original BuJo method or create your own version. It may take a bit of trial-and-error before you can find a system that works best for you and actually helps you stay organized. Always remember that BuJo is not about perfection. It’s okay to make a mess and focus on function more than form.
  3. Learn the basics: Before you start journaling, there are some basic terms you need to know about BuJo:
  • Rapid logging – Rapid Logging is the language in which the Bullet Journal is written. It advocates simplicity, which entails— using bullets, shorter sentences, page numbers, and topics instead of writing long sentences to record important information.
  • Index – An index serves as your journal’s table of contents. Typically, it should contain a list of all your entries and their corresponding page numbers. This means that your index needs to be constantly updated, so that you can easily find what you need.
  • Future Log – This refers to the list of tasks that need to be done months in advance, or goals that you hope to accomplish someday.
  • Monthly Log – This includes a categorized list of goals or plans for a whole month.
  • Daily Log – It allows you to be specific about a single day and write down to-dos, meetings, and reminders for a particular day only.
  • Collections – Collections are anything and everything you want to remember or note for later, which may not fit any of the previously mentioned categories. These may include books or movies you want to read, music you want to listen to, self-care ideas, things you’re grateful for, recipes to try, habit tracker, and much more.
  • Bullets – These are symbols you use to categorize your entries. Typically, dots (•) can be used to indicate tasks, X for tasks completed, > for task migrated, < for task scheduled, circles (O) for events and dashes (–) for notes, ideas, and thoughts.
    However, you can come up with your own set of bullets/ symbols to denote any of the given meaning.
  • Signifiers – Signifiers are additional symbols that you can use to categorize your entries and give them more context. Some common signifiers include: asterisk (*) to mark priority tasks, exclamation point (!) to highlight ideas or inspiration to indicate further research or exploration.
  • Migration – Migration is the filtering system of every BuJo. It offers you the chance to check your previous entries and look at undone tasks and events at the end of every month. It gives you the option to migrate them to the new month using the symbol “>”.
  1. Setting up your bullet journal: After knowing the basics of bullet journaling, you need to piece all of them together to create a functional BuJo.
  • Create an index: Set aside 2-3 pages to serve as your index. Your index can be as basic or as fancy as you want it to be. The important thing is that it should give you a space where you can list all of your entries and track their corresponding page numbers.
  • Create a future log: The Future Log section is similar to a yearly calendar. It is a section where you write down all the important dates for the entire year, including your goals, appointments, holidays, and other important occasions and dates – indexed with page numbers.
  • Create your monthly spread: This section acts like a monthly calendar. You can list all of the tasks you need to accomplish within a month, along with the dates you want to get them done by. You can even divide your month into a bullet journal weekly spread.
  • Create your daily log: This section acts as a daily to-do list. You can write down all the things you need to get done for the day, making sure that it is both realistic and doable. You can also add other information, such as notes, observations, and the like.
  • Create your collection pages: The collections section is where you can add anything and everything – ranging from a list of books that you want to read, shows to watch, recipes to try to party plans, cleaning lists, meal plans, blog post ideas, and much more.In fact, the Collections section is your most creative section of the BuJo. When setting up a collection, add a header to the page to highlight what the collection is all about and then add all the information you need.
  1. Maintaining The BuJo: Now that the setting up your BuJo is done, you need to start maintaining it. Always remember that no productivity system will work, unless you make it a point to sit down and complete your tasks on a daily basis. In fact, you can even do a monthly or quarterly review of your BuJo to help give you a sense of accomplishment

MORE TIPS AND TRICKS

Bullet journals not only offer tons of benefits in terms of organization, but also allows your creativity to flow. If you truly want to enjoy keeping a BuJo, there are a few tips and tricks you need to keep in mind:

  • Go slow – When starting a BuJo, you may be tempted to try out all the formats, designs, and collections that you can think of. But doing everything altogether could have an adverse effect and you might just end up scrapping the whole thing! So, it is always better to start simple first – stick to the basics and then slowly build up on them. Eventually, you will learn what works best for you and what doesn’t.
  • Borrow ideas, but don’t compare – There are tons of blogs, videos and pictures of bullet journal ideas, from where you can find inspiration and borrow ideas. However, be careful about comparing your work to others. At the end of the day, you must remember that your BuJo is just for you and is not meant to impress people.
  • Invest in good supplies – It is always advised to invest in good supplies while bullet journaling as it encourages and motivates you to update it regularly.

BEYOND THE BASICS

Other than the basics, there are quite a lot of systems and techniques that you can add to your bullet journal to get your system humming more efficiently. If you look online, you will find several bullet journal ideas that include certain things that you can add to your bullet journal in the form of collections, logs, or trackers:

  • Habit Tracker: A habit tracker is a space, where you write down the habits you want to build or get rid of. There needs to be a space for it every day of the month, wherein, you indicate if that habit was present that day.
  • Memories Log: You can also use your bullet journal to keep track of and remember any notable events to look back on. You can use it to remember all the little things that brought you joy.
  • Gratitude Log: You can even start a gratitude log in your BuJo to count your blessings and look at on days that you’re feeling blue.
  • Affirmation Log: An affirmation log is for you if you want to be more positive about yourself. It’s always very easy to think negative things about yourself, to beat yourself up and to think you aren’t good enough, but writing or saying affirmations is a way to treat yourself more kindly. An affirmation log is a great opportunity to remind yourself of all your positive points.
  • Meal Planning Log: Another section you can add to your bullet journal is that of meal planning. This is especially important for all those who want to maintain a healthy diet. In the meal planning log, you can keep a track of what you eat throughout a week or month. This makes you aware of what you are eating and motivates you to be healthy.
  • Master Grocery List: You can also create a categorised Master Grocery list, wherein, you can write down all the commonly used grocery items as well as add on more items to it according to your needs and requirements. This can make your Grocery shopping much more smoother and efficient.
  • Goals And Rewards: For those of you who want to increase their productivity or time management, this is a very handy section of a bullet journal. Herein, you can set a goal and decide a small reward or incentive for yourself if you achieve the goal.
  • Financial Planning: This particular section is useful for almost everyone. You can plan your yearly, monthly and weekly spending and manage your money wisely. This method allows us to save and be more conscious of what we do spend on.

CONCLUSION

A bullet journal is a great way to not only organize yourself, but also increase your creativity and productivity. In fact, all the important pieces of your life can be handled smoothly, if you plan properly using a bullet journal weekly spread, monthly spread or a yearly spread.

Furthermore, various bullet journal ideas have been mentioned above that can be used to customize your BuJo to cater to all your specific needs and requirements. So, don’t wait to begin your journey towards a more organized life. Start now by bullet journaling!

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