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Bullet journaling gained a lot of attention during 2017 and has been a favorite topic among bloggers, YouTubers and beyond. A quick Google or Pinterest search leads you to beautiful images of all kinds, which can be very motivating. However, there’s a lot of confusion on what exactly bullet journaling is, how to use one and the benefits. We review those answers and more and follow up with some resources that can help you get started today!
What is bullet journaling?
In essence, a bullet journal is a method of efficient organization with pen and paper versus relying on our smart phones for, yet, one more task. From my experience, there are three purposes under the umbrella of bullet journaling: note taking, task planning and goal-oriented.
In the New York Times best-selling book The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll, the author inspires you to put yourself back in control of your life by being intentional with bullet journaling. He outlines how bullet journaling can track the past, order the present and design the future. Those three goals sold me. I love the idea of balancing the past, present, and future, while being aware of the time that is ticking away.
However, I will say, you either love Carroll’s method or you’ll hate it. I have done enough self-assessments to know my strengths and weaknesses. With Carroll’s method, I know I may lack discipline to stay perfectly on course. However, with some mild personalization, on my part, bullet journaling is completely sustainable for me. Here is a short clip he posted on his site to give an overview of his method if you’re interested in watching.
There’s a lot more than just the method to his book. There is a lot of coverage around why bullet journaling works for the human brain and review of studies that support it. If you’re interested in giving this a read, do that here to gain more acumen around the topic.
Who is bullet journaling for?
This is far from an inclusive list but gives a few examples of who would benefit from bullet journaling. People who:
- Want to be more organized with their day and be more productive
- Get lost in the shuffle of life’s million tasks, events, and sticky notes
- Want to track progression towards a goal
- Like to journal but have writer’s block
- Are obtaining a degree or students of life who love learning and note taking
Types of bullet journaling
NOTE TAKING. The main idea of bullet journaling is to condensed context, pulling out only the most effective and prudent pieces of information and leaving the rest. Carroll claims 60% reduction in content! Think of the efficiency in note taking during a class or while reading your latest book. Studies continue to prove the effectiveness in taking notes by hand over any other method. When you fully comprehend something, you are able to condense and later recall the full understanding.
TASK SCHEDULING. In Carroll’s method, he outlines specific symbols that you would use for different categories of items. For example, an action item is a simple dot bullet, an event is a circle, and a completed task is a ‘X’. This method allows time margin to move tasks forward, if not completed, remove tasks that are no longer needed, etc. The symbols are easy to remember and easily incorporated into your current practices.
GOAL ORIENTED (my favorite!). This is the fun section. If you get on Pinterest and look up bullet journaling, this is what you’ll see first. Beautiful and creative images that hone in on a goal and the steps to achieve it. Usually, there will be some form of markers to indicate quick wins along the path to success. This is part of what makes bullet journaling so fun!
How to use a bullet journal.
I really like Carroll’s concept of track the past, order the present and design the future. These are great principals when starting your journal.
For example, let’s say you have a goal of reading more self-development books during 2019. You could log the number of books you’re wanting to read for the year and then break it down to quarter, month, etc. You could log one book at a time and log the chapters or pages read each day. This is a simple example but it shows you how bullet journaling can be so motivating. It makes you evaluate your goal, plan a strategy in how to achieve it and then provides motivation because you get a sense of ‘quick wins’ by shading in the incremental boxes associated with your goal.
The list of bullet journal ideas is endless. Bullet journaling is a very engaged and hands on approach to achieving your goals and tasks. Here are some topics that you could start bullet journaling on today:
- Habit tracker
- Weight loss
- Books read
- Basic note taking
- Household management
- Chore list
- Mood tracker
- Sports schedule
- Planning a garden
Resources to start your bullet journal today.
The essential tools needed are a journal and a pen. Anything beyond that gets more detailed but can make this process colorful, engaging and inspiring. For example, a bullet journal should have some sort of background grid on each page. This can be squares or dots. I’ve attached some resources below. These all come with free shipping!
This is a fantastic way to get started. This author provides PRE-MADE bullet journal pages to help jumpstart you on this journey. They are already colorful and well-organized. Check out one review on this book, “I cannot say enough good things about this book. I LOVE it!! There’s so much to fill in…lists for movies, books, goals, and so much more. The illustrations are so adorable. I am in love with this book. If you enjoy journaling, listing, writing, being creative, buy this book. You will not be disappointed!!”
I love this and it will probably be my next journal. Plus, I’ve thought about doing the add-ons with the colored markers and the stencil set. These quick outlines can really dress up your journal. You’ll get the ‘fancy’ with way less effort!
If you’re a little simpler or want something more discrete that can travel to work with you, try this Essential Dot Matrix Notebook. It’s small, plain and ready for your notes. Partner with a simple black ink pen and you’re ready to start.
Bullet journaling can be as extensive or simple as you would like it to be. It can also evolve over time with experience. The end goal is the same, as with anything else on this site: stay organized, invest in yourself and your dreams and stay motivated and disciplined until you succeed. Remember, YOU are a lady well-loved.
Photo credit to: https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/eustoma-flowers-with-blank-spiral-notebook-with-purple-pencil-against-pink-background_3317967.htm