Bullet Journaling: 101

by Michael Bakker 0 Comments

Bullet Journaling: 101

Bullet journaling, or BuJo for short, is an analogue system for organising that was designed by Ryder Carrol a digital designer from Brooklyn, NY. BuJo has a growing and creative community which has lead to an ever evolving way to organise and plan your life.

The content and video below is the product of Ryder Carroll and is the perfect place to start your BuJo journey. You can head to bulletjournal.com for more information.

Rapid Logging - 

Note-taking and traditional journaling take time; the more complex the entry, the more effort is expended. The more effort expended, the more of a chore it becomes, the more likely you’ll under utilize or abandon your journal. Rapid Logging is the solution. Rapid Logging is the language in which the Bullet Journal® is written. It consists of four components: topics, page numbers, short sentences and bullets.

Topics and Page Numbers

The first step of Rapid Logging is to add a topic on the top outer corner of the page. A topic is simply a short descriptive title. Give it a little thought, as that can help you clarify your entry. Once that’s done, be sure to number the page. As you start filling your Bullet Journal, get into the habit of titling and numbering your pages before you add content.


Bullets - 

Rapid Logging

Rapid Logging relies on the use of short-form notation paired with Bullets. Every bulleted item should be entered as short objective sentences. The Bullets will help organize your entries into three categories: Tasks, Events and Notes.

Tasks

Tasks are represented by a simple dot “•” and include any kind of actionable items like “Pick up dry cleaning”. The task bullet does a lot of heavy lifting in the Bullet Journal® so it has three additional states:

  • X = Task Complete
  • > = Task Migrated (A task that's been moved forward into the next Monthly Log or a Collection)
  • < = Task Scheduled (A task that's been moved backward into the Future Log)

Events - 

Events are represented by an “O” Bullet. Events are date-related entries that can either be scheduled (e.g. “Charlie’s birthday”) or logged after they occur (e.g. “signed the lease”).

Event entries, no matter how personal or emotionally taxing, should be as objective and brief as possible when Rapid Logging. The Event “movie night” bears no more or less weight than “best friend moves away.” That being said, once you’ve rapid logged an Event, feel free to write about it at length on the next available page.

Notes

Notes are represented with a dash “–”. Notes include: facts, ideas, thoughts, and observations. Notes are entries that you want to remember, but aren’t immediately or necessarily actionable. This Bullet works well for meeting, lecture, or classroom notes.


Signifiers - 

Signifiers are symbols that give your entries additional context. A handful of useful examples are listed here; feel free to come up with your own as you get more comfortable using the core Bullets.

Priority

Represented by “*”; used to give a Task priority. Placed to the left of a Bullet so that you can quickly scan your pages to find most important entries.

Inspiration

Represented by an exclamation point; most commonly paired with a Note. Great ideas, personal mantras, and genius insights will never be misplaced again!

Explore

Represented by an eye; used when there is something that requires further research, information, or discovery.


Modules -

A good way to look at the Bullet Journal is as a framework. This framework consists of modules. Modules are methods designed to help collect and organize specific kinds of entries. The power of the Bullet Journal is that you can mix and match these modules to best suit your needs. The four core modules of the Bullet Journal are: The Index, Future Log, Monthly Log and Daily Log.

The Index

The Index serves to help you easily find your entries. It’s the master collection module if you will, “the ring that binds them.”

Setting up your Index is easy. Simply leave the first couple pages of your notebook blank and give them the topic of “Index.” As you start to use your book, add the topics of your entries and their page numbers to the Index, so you can quickly find them later.

Collections that span a series of consecutive spreads are indexed as: “New Zealand Trip: 5-10.”

Some Collections are recurring and can be spread throughout your Bullet Journal®. These topics can be indexed as such: “New Zealand Trip: 5–10, 23, 34–39, …”

The Index can also be used to group other types of entries. For example, if you use your notebook to draw, create an entry called “drawings” in your Index, followed by the corresponding page numbers.

Tips:

  1. Indexing also provides a great visual timeline. Some people like to put a marker around their indexed Monthly Logs to provide a better birds-eye view.
  2. If you work on multiple complex or long-term projects, you can create a dedicated Index for each.
  3. Dedicated Indexes can also be a great way to help organize notes for different classes.

Future Log -

This Collection is used to store items that either need to be scheduled months in advance… or things that you want to get around to someday. Set up your Future Log by graphing the pages by the amount of months you’ll need. Two equally-spaced horizontal lines across facing pages creates a six-month calendar, for example. Once your Bullet Journal is caught up to your first month in the Future Log - in this case April - simply move any items that you're not going to do into the next month. 


Monthly Log -

The Monthly Log: helps you organize—you guessed it—your month. It consists of a calendar and a task list.

To set up your first Monthly Log, go to the next available spread of facing pages. The left page will be your Calendar Page; the right will be your Task Page.

The Calendar gives you a birds-eye view of the month. To set it up: title the page with the current month’s name. Now list all the dates of that month down the left margin, followed by the first letter of the corresponding day. Monday the 14th would be “14M.” Leave some room in the left margin of the page to add Signifiers.

You can use the Calendar Page to record and/or schedule Events and Tasks. Just keep the entries as short as possible, as this page is designed to provide a quick birds-eye view. Be sure to keep the entries as brief as possible as this page functions as an overview.

The Task Page on the right is a list of both Tasks that you want to tend to that month, and unfinished Tasks that you’ve migrated from the previous month or the Future Log.

Tips:

  1. Set up the next Monthly Log at the end of the current month, and not way ahead of time. You never know how many pages you may use in any given month.
  2. Use a timeframe that works best for you. Some Bullet Journalists also create a Weekly Log, where they migrate items from the previous week to keep it fresh in their minds.


Daily Log -

The Daily Log is designed for day-to-day use. At the top of the page, record the date as your topic. Throughout the course of the day, simply Rapid Log your Tasks, Events, and Notes as they occur. If you don’t fill a page, add the next date wherever you left off and you’re ready to continue.

Tips:

Don’t set up Daily Logs way ahead of time. Create them as you go or the night before. You never know how much space you may need any given day.


Migration -

Migrating content is a cornerstone of Bullet Journaling. Once you’ve hit your second month of journaling, take a glance at your previous entries. See any unresolved Tasks? “X” out your completed Tasks and assess whether the remaining open Tasks are still relevant.

If a Task has become irrelevant, strike out the whole line, including the task Bullet. If the Task still needs your attention, migrate it: turn the “•” into “>” to signify that you’ve migrated that Task, then add it to the Task Page of your new Monthly Log.

Task-states

You also have the option of migrating scheduled Tasks and Events. When you’re setting up a new month, migrate any entries scheduled for that month from your Future Log into your new Monthly Log. Scheduled items are placed on the Monthly Log’s Calendar Page.

It may seem like a lot of effort to have to rewrite items over and over, but that’s intentional. This process makes you pause and consider each item. If an entry isn’t even worth the effort to rewrite it, then it’s probably not that important. Get rid of it.

The purpose of migration is to distill the things that are truly worth the effort, to become aware of our own patterns and habits, and to separate the signal from the noise.


Collections -

Sometimes you’ll have notes and tasks that are related by a common theme or purpose. Rather than having all these related entries scattered across your Bullet Journal, simply create a Collection Module. Collection Modules, or Collections, are great for organizing specific lists (shopping list, reading lists etc), classes, and projects.

To create a Collection, simply flip to your next blank spread and give it a topic. Now find and migrate all your related tasks, notes, and events into this Collection. Finally, add the topic and page number of this collection to your index. That’s it!

Don’t worry about saving pages. If your collection runs out of room, simply flip to the next available spread and continue it there with the same topic. By adding the new page numbers to the index, you will be able to easily locate each instance of the collection within your Bullet Journal. Now you have a dedicated place to collect your thoughts and an easy way to find it again later.

Tips:

  1. A great time to create and update your collections is during the monthly migration.
  2. Collections are an excellent tool for projects, classes, or research notes.
  3. Be sure to check out threading to supercharge your collections.

Threading -

Using Collections in the Bullet Journal is a great way to organize ongoing projects. Some longer-lived projects will spread throughout your book. Though indexing helps you keep track of where your collections occur within the book, it can be a hassle to keep referring to your Index, that’s where Threading comes in.

Let’s say you have a collection that lives on pages 2-6 then reappears on page 14-21, and then again on pages 45-62. To “thread” this collection, simply add the page number of the previous or next instance of that collection next to the current page number. That way, when you’re working on this collection, you don’t have to refer to Index anymore.

Michael Bakker
Michael Bakker



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