Bullet…what? What sounds complicated at first will turn out as super simple, analogue method to make your everyday life more systematic and to help you sort your thoughts. This way, you will become more efficient, focused and you will be able to realize your dreams many times faster. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
All you need for the ingeniously simple method of bullet journaling is a nice notebook with blank pages, dotted lines if you wish, a pen and a ruler. The idea stems from New York-based Ryder Carroll. The common calendar with loads of space for appointments and data and little space for creative margin is outdated. What is so wrong with that? Since the human brain doesn’t work linearly but rather with links and interconnections, and since also life itself goes anything but linearly, but rather in zigzag lines and short- and long-term goals, a bullet journal is a way better solution.
Well, then let’s get started. Get your book and pen ready, steady, go! You create your bullet journal manually – not least, because handwriting comes with many advantages. Scientific studies show that we will remember the written better when actually writing it down. What we write down on paper, as in opposition typing it down mechanically, we literally get into our heads! The name “bullet” derives from the bullet point-system that was designed just for this purpose: simple dots are used for tasks, if you later change the dot into a cross, the task is done. Crossed out means “has become superfluous”. Transformed into an arrow, the task can be postponed and re-noted somewhere else. Small circles symbolize happenings (e.g. running in the forest for half an hour), dashes symbolize notes, meaning facts (e.g. in meetings), ideas, thoughts and observations. Keep it simple and short, because this increases chances that you will actually note things down, remember, and learn from them. Additional symbols in front of your bullets like stars or exclamation marks symbolize the priority and importance.
Open the first blank double page of your note book. Everyone creates their bullet journal according to their own needs, but as a start, a base frame might be a good idea. First, you create an index. It contains: an overview over the (remaining) months of the year, the overview over the current month, as well as the week and day planners. Also, other categories that you find for yourself – a reading list, a double page for memories or sketches. Just try it out what you use and complement your journal as you wish. Other #bulletjournal ideas on Instagram or Pinterest can inspire.
On the following double page you can out the „yearly overview“, meaning the months with the respective numbers for the individual days and letters for the days of the week (of course, you have design freedom here as well). On the side, you draw a few empty lines or boxes which you can use for long-term plans and events like vacation, Birthdays or company events, the half marathon, as well as concerts or happenings in the near future.
Now, we have the „future log“: again, creativity isn’t restrained, minimalists simply dedicate a third of a page for each month. Here, you note down in “rapid logging” procedure everything that has to do with personal goals and plans for the year, including wishes and dreams. Important: don’t hesitate but dare to write down everything, even the things that might sound unrealistic at the moment (finally finding the dream partner, having a six pack – doesn’t sound so unlikely once it’s written down, doesn’t it?). Advice: check your future log every month to find out whether some point can move into the “monthly log”, your overview for the upcoming month.
This double page consists of only two parts: on the left side you have the complete monthly overview with all days that is intended only for very brief remarks. Either you simply write the days of the month under each other with the respective letter of the day – for a better overview you can draw a line after each week. Or you go all the way and create a table with boxes. On the right side, you have the task list – here, you note down the upcoming tasks of the month. The list works like a mental stock take: what will have priority during the upcoming four weeks? Was has remained undone last month? What is important now? Get it down on paper, then it’s out of your head!
Now we get to the core: in the weekly overview you write as a header the day with the date – below, you have the colored list with the different signs (dots, circles, lines, signifier), the everyday to-dos, tasks, appointments, events, experiences, thoughts or comments. Also, you can have extra boxes for topics that are dear to you. For example, below the heading “gratefulness”: good moments, success stories, things that worked out well or were simply funny. As a reminder: do it again!
Advice: create the daily overview right in the moment when you note things down or the evening before. You never know before, how much space a day will take, if it needs a whole page or if you can fit three days onto the same page. Since the bullet journal is constant work in progress, you will also vary here. Important: don’t forget to put page numbers and note them in the index.
Last but not least: with your bullet journal, you break up with planning-apps and calendars, which demand a structure you have to follow without it being adaptable to you and your (planning) needs. From now on, everything will be under one roof: appointments and daily tasks, wishes, plans and quick ideas. Also, you will be able to move forward quicker, exactly the way you want. Along the lines of: have it your own way!