What is a bullet journal? Is it a diary where you write your observations? Is it an agenda where you plan out your week? Is it a to-do list that you cross off?
Actually, it’s all of the above.
According to the creator of the bullet journal, it’s a system that allows you to “track the past, organize the present and plan for the future.” If you’re looking to get more organized this year, whether that means decluttering your home or decluttering your whole darn life, a bullet journal might be a game changer.
If you’ve already checked out the bullet journal website and are confused by terms like “migrating” and “rapid logging,” here’s a no-nonsense guide to figuring out the bullet journal trend and determining whether it’s the secret to making your year your most organized one yet.
Choosing a Journal
You can certainly buy the original bullet journal, but any notebook will do. You can also find journals designed with bullet journaling in mind on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble. But again, any notebook is fine; just try to choose one with dots instead of lines.
Depending on how serious you plan on getting—and some people get pretty serious—you can also purchase colorful pens, stencils, stickers and washi tape to make your pages look beautiful.
Setting Up Your Bullet Journal
Before you begin using your bullet journal, do the following:
Open to the first two pages and label them as your index.
Number the rest of the pages (obviously skip this step if you bought a numbered journal).
Create a yearly calendar (aka “the future log”).
Create a monthly calendar and a monthly list of tasks to get done that month.
Using Your Bullet Journal
Each day, you’ll create a daily log of short sentences filled with tasks, events and notes. This will be things like “pick up dry cleaning,” “office Christmas party” and “The California state flower is the poppy.” It’ll be part to-do list, part schedule and part brain dump for those thoughts you’d like to remember.
The tasks are indicated by a dot bullet (•). The events are indicated by a circle bullet (○) and notes are indicated by a dash bullet (—). When a task is completed, you’ll draw an X through the bullet.
Continue this process every day, and at the end of the month, assess the uncompleted tasks and ask yourself if they’re still relevant. Are you definitely not going to do them ever or do you no longer need to? Cross them out.
Move the ones that still need to get done to the next month (this is called “migrating”). A greater-than sign (>) will be used to indicate this. If you’re moving a task to the distant future, use a lesser-than sign (<).
Once you’ve figured out the basics, add in other pages to chronicle your goals and observations. You might use blank pages for a reoccuring shopping list, to keep track of the books you’ve read this year, to list the places you’ve traveled or for one of these ideas.
Remember, it’s your bullet journal. Once you’ve gotten down the meat and potatoes of the idea (aka the yearly log, monthly log, daily logs and symbols), you’re free to improvise as much or as little as you’d like.