I am a bit of a stationery geek and am always on the lookout for new ways to get organised (or pretend to be organised). I’ve tried a few online organisers, such as Cozi, but am rather old fashioned and think nothing beats pen and paper.
So how delighted was I to come across the concept of bullet journaling earlier this year. Bullet Journals are a very simple, yet effective, way of organising your diary, ‘to do’ list and other notes. It was created by American designer, Ryder Carroll, who calls it ‘the analog system for the digital age.’ The joy of bullet journaling is that you don’t need fancy notebooks or pens. It is how you use the notebook that is important. This video is a good starting point:
I’ve just started a new bullet journal for the end of the year. I picked up this blank French exercise book from a charity shop for 50p:
I’ve gone to town a little decorating the front page (okay so I’m not a great artist, but I had fun):
Inside the bullet journal I have an index, listing all the topics (diary, weekly tasks, notes etc) and their page numbers. That way if I’ve written notes on something, or have a ‘to do’ list for a particular week I can find it as I number every page of the journal. I then have a three monthly view, called a ‘Future Log’. I can list any important dates and any particular tasks or aims I have for the next three months. At present it’s looking quite blank but I’m sure there will be some jobs, writing opportunities, Christmas planning etc to add to it:
I also have a monthly view, which acts as my diary. At the beginning of the month I add dates, meetings etc to it. If other things get booked in, I add them to the month (if something is booked in for another month I add it to the ‘Future Log’). I also add any important tasks to this month, and anything left over from the previous month that still needs to be done.
Finally, I have a week log. Each day of that week I write down the tasks, meetings, appointments for that day. With bullet journaling, the idea is that you don’t overload yourself with tasks you know you won’t achieve. BUT if they’re written down you can simply carry them forward to the next day. Hence some of my tasks don’t have an X by them as they haven’t been completed yet.
At the end of the week I can carry some of these tasks on to the next week; or I can leave them. At the end of the month I go through all the uncompleted tasks and ask myself these questions:
- does it still need to be done? ->If not, strike it out
- does it need to be completed next month? ->If yes, then ‘migrate’ it to the next month’s ‘Month Log’
- does it need to be completed at some point in the future (but not next month)? -> If yes, then ‘schedule’ it to the three month ‘Future Log’
(‘migrate’ and ‘schedule’ are two terms Ryder Carroll uses to signify that tasks will be dealt with at a later date)
What I like about bullet journaling is that you can adapt the system to meet your needs. I know I don’t follow the established format to the T. I have added a few things that help me out, ie writing a brief ‘Week Log’: a list of main tasks to be done that week. I also don’t go overboard by recording the exercise I do, amount of water I drink etc. But everyone adapts the bullet journal to their own purposes.
Having bullet journaled this year I really believe I have got more things done, and also let go of those tasks that aren’t so important (if a job keeps on getting carried on to every month it probably isn’t going to get done). Because I record dates, appointments, tasks etc I can also go back to previous weeks and months if I need to refer to them. This has already proved invaluable on a number of occasions. I also have only one book that I keep all my dates, tasks, notes etc in – rather than carrying lots of scraps of paper, notebook, diary etc.
If you do get into bullet journaling you will find there is a whole world of beautifully designed, illustrated and formulated journals. Try this pinterest board for starters. Heaven help you if you’re on Instagram (like me: @secondhandtales) because you will become addicted to the beautiful pics of bullet journals!