Bullet Journal Update

Posted on Feb 7, 2014 in Blather | 22 comments

Remember back around New Year’s when I was all, Whoa, check out this genius bullet journal idea, and you were all, whoa, that looks amazing?

Well, I’ve been using mine daily for over a month, and an exchange with some folks on Twitter today reminded me that I’ve been meaning to blog about it for a while.

Bullet journal on desk

The most important thing I have to say about the bullet journal is that I use it. Unlike pretty much every other productivity system I’ve tried, and I’ve tried a lot.

Because I was fairly confident I wouldn’t stick with it, I decided not to go out and buy a new journal and fancy pen. Instead, I picked up one of several nearly empty journals I’ve collected over the years. I clipped off the handful of used pages, and got going. This book doesn’t have gridded pages, and though I think I’d like my next bullet journal to have that feature, I don’t mind using unlined pages. Also, around the time I started the journal I came across an old, cheap fountain pen and some ink, so I’ve been using that. It feels very special.

So, how do I use it?

Well, I use it pretty much as directed.

to-do lists

I manage my to-do lists in it, every single day, and I keep a master monthly list. You can see some little arrows that push an unfinished item to the following day. I do that all the time. It’s not like the bullet journal has made me do more stuff, after all, it just holds the lists of all the stuff I have to do.

travel planning in bullet journal

I’m using it to collect all the info and notes I have related to travel. For example, it’s going to be a pain in the ass to get to Craftcation. I’m super excited about that conference (are you going? you should go), but it involves a flight, a bus and a train to get to. I’ll have all my documents printed out and with me while I schlep Mighty Ugly materials from one vehicle to the next, but I’ve also listed all the info and connection times in my bullet journal as a backup, because I’ve come to know that this journal will always be with me. Also, I like occasionally using my red marker in it.

doodles

And I’ve been doodling in it. One of the things I’m really loving about #YearOfMaking (more on that in another post, soon) is that I’ve been doodling more (or, really, at all). The way a bullet journal is organized allows for all these different uses, which, to be perfectly honest, makes my heart sing. One book FOR ALL THE THINGS.

I know a fair number of you were as jacked up about this idea last month as I was. Have you made a bullet journal? Are you still using it?

If the idea is new to you, fire away with questions. This book has changed my life. For real.

  • Beverly Army

    I have had the same experience. The bullet journal WORKS for me. I adore it so, so much!

  • Lindsey

    This completely fascinates me. I write to do lists all the time, but end up with a desk like the one in the video.. covered in papers. This fascinates me so much I think I may go buy a new journal today and start it. Here’s hoping it helps me stay neater if not more productive! :)

  • Kimberly Hirsh

    I happened to have a mostly empty journal in exactly the right size for this, so I am trying it out. I tend to keep this kind of thing online but it’s not working for me. So it’s time to try analog.

  • http://www.ihanna.nu iHanna

    I love the idea and the bullet journal site! Not sure if I need another journal project though… :) but the task lists are great! Hmm…

  • Kimberly Hirsh

    I started doing “collections” wrong – I’ve got them mid-page rather than on their own spread. I think for now, I’m going to try just leaving them in the middle there, if they’re ones I’ve had on my mind for a while, and only move them to blank spreads when I start to notice several tasks in different places that together make a collection. Or if it’s a collection like Books to Read or something, of course.

  • Heather Ordover

    I have been blown away. If it hadn’t been for you and Beverly, I wouldn’t have seen this and I wouldn’t have tried it and I wouldn’t be the most productive and organized I’ve ever been in my life.
    I no longer feel guilt if I don’t finish a to-do list. It just moves on without pain or tsuris. Bless you guys for chatting it up. It’s almost embarrassing how simple it is and how nothing before it worked as well.
    Thank you!

  • http://www.kimwerker.com/ Kim Werker

    Collections is one aspect I’ve, for now, put aside. (Except I did start one, obviously, for books read and books I want to read.)

  • http://www.kimwerker.com/ Kim Werker

    Right. On. I, too, feel so much more on top of my life than I ever have. I hadn’t realized exactly how guilt-free the pushing of undone tasks is until you mentioned it just like that, and you’re right! It’s a judgment-free system, and I’m loving how much love there is for it!

  • Kimberly Hirsh

    I think I’m sort of conflating the notion of subtasks with the notion of collections.

  • http://www.kimwerker.com/ Kim Werker

    Whatever works for you, right?—
    Sent from Mailbox for iPhone

  • http://colorize.daisyw.net/ Daisy

    I love my bullet journal. It’s awesome. It’s the first time in my life I’ve had success at keeping myself organized. I think a good part of previous failed attempts was that besides the structure of the many systems/methods I tried not being a good fit, I also would have this reflexive surge of guilt/anxiety whenever I even thought about looking at my list/planner, and I’d avoid it, which kept me from using them even in a half-hearted, semi-effective way. This is completely not an issue with the bullet journal method. I just move the things I didn’t get done to the next day.

    I’ve made a couple of modifications that make it easier for me. One is that my index page has two columns, one for months and one for collections. Also, if I know I have a lot going on in a particular week, I’ll make my daily list pages into two columns and use the second one to have a running list of tasks to make it easier to transfer them into the correct days without flipping pages. Since I’m using a composition book (something like 7.5″ x 9.5″, maybe?) it’s no big deal to split the page that way, though it would probably be a nuisance if I were using a smaller book.

    i was leery about spend anything, too. I did buy the notebook because I’ve become completely enamored with graph paper lately, but I figured that for a buck and a quarter it was a pretty safe bet — if it didn’t work out I’d just use it for sketching and whatnot. I was thrilled to find out that graph-ruled composition books exist since I wasn’t keen on spending a bunch of money on one of the higher-end brands.

  • http://www.kimwerker.com/ Kim Werker

    I love the modifications you’re using, Daisy! I think both would suit me very well, and I’m going to start experimenting with a weekly spread with a master running list – what a fabulous way to keep track of tasks that aren’t day-specific but that must get done. Thanks for laying these out!

  • Amy

    Do you guys mostly use your bullet journal as an agenda book or also like a diary/life logger too?

  • http://www.kimwerker.com/ Kim Werker

    I use it for all sorts of things. Daily to-dos, daily events (like dinner parties, visiting guests, milestones, etc.), sketching, doodling, note-making, travel-planning. I keep it all in the one book, and it’s – no exaggeration – changed everything for me.

  • EAlmquist

    I started using the Bullet Journal in February, and it has been awesome! I’m planning two events for non-profits, as well as planning my wedding, doing projects on a new home, and keeping up with my 9-5 job and regular being a human being chores. It is AMAZING. People keep asking me how I juggle so many things and it’s just so easy with this system. There are three changes I’ve made to suit my needs. 1. A lot of people have complained about a lack of a place for future dates, so I added space at the end of my monthly calendar for “future dates”, AND I’ve added an annual calendar to the back pages in my book (Just wrote them backwards, with Dec. 31st on the last line, etc. I added more spaces around the dates closer to my wedding since I figure I’ll have more things to do then.). 2. I added a pen holder for a Sharpie Pen, and I also bought a set of Staedler fineliners that I keep in a pencil pouch for doodles. 3. I bought a small stencil for the squares and circles next to tasks and events, and straight lines when I need them, because I’m a little obsessive about that. The only thing I would change about my next book is that I didn’t leave enough space for the table of contents in the front. I only left one page and I will obviously need more like 3 or 4 when it’s through.

  • Satina

    Mine just arrived. It’s an Ecosystem watermelon colored notebook with blank pages, just like an unruled Moleskine but prettier and with all recycled paper. I just started with it. I’m excited to have to do lists, a log of what happens, AND a place to keep every idea that flits across my mind, all in one place. One book to rule them all and in the watermelon-goodness bind them. :)

  • http://www.kimwerker.com/ Kim Werker

    Whoa. Just thinking about what my experience would have been if I’d been keeping one of these when we were planning our wedding. I love your idea of keeping a yearly calendar at the back!

  • http://www.kimwerker.com/ Kim Werker

    “One book to rule them all.” I love it!

  • Timothy Mundorff

    I’ve taken up the bullet journal concept since I started in a new position as a project manager in January. I’m now on my 3rd journal finding my way to the form of the actual blank book that works for me, customizing bullet journalling to suit my own unique needs, etc…it’s wonderful. The whole thing is working great for me. My current work bullet journal covers March and April. Including all regularly scheduled meetings, projects, and other usage of spreads I have pre-formatted it out to page 162. When the con-call starts 3 weeks from now, I have page or spread I can flip to right away. Someone wants to talk about a current project, I already have a place for it. I have “Inbox” and “Scratch” and other spreads for capturing new info.

    It has changed the way I characterize our information also. I have found that all of our info at work is either a task, a fact, or an event anyway.

    Also, bulleting in general is a great we to be succinct and crisp in communicating what you are doing, especially in our case with complex technical procedures. It is helping to shorten and improve efficiency of meetings where techs tend to talk endlessly in excessive detail. I’m getting them to think and communicate and preface what they are about to say with bullets: Headlines then details. Everything you’re talking about should have a metadata tag bullet.

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  • monnibo

    I know some people who use an online style of this method. The app is called Workflowy. Lists within lists within lists.

  • lovesyarn

    i started the Bullet Journal so far so good. I believe I love it because I will get rid of all those post-it notes and envelopes with lists. I have so many envelopes it is not funny.

  • http://www.kimwerker.com/ Kim Werker

    Envelopes! I hadn’t heard of this. I hope your bullet journal works out for you. It’s certainly saved me from loads of notes strewn around!