Why Bullet Journaling Is Becoming My New Best Friend

illustration of journal with clock aboveI’m typically not a hop-on-the-trend-train person. I’m far more likely to hang back and wait to see how things go for a bit before trying something new.

But I ran across something called bullet journaling lately, and it’s fast becoming the best habit I’ve adopted in a long time. Right up there with regular mammograms and drinking more water.

What’s a bullet journal?

Well, the inventor of the concept has a whole website with explanations about the goals of a bullet journal, how to use it, and tips for customizing it to your life. But I couldn’t find a straightforward definition there, nor really anywhere else. So I’m making up my own. A bullet journal is an analog planner, journal, and idea holder all in one.

Using any journal, notebook, or spiral, you create monthly, weekly, and/or daily planners that work best for you. You keep track of activities, goals, to-dos, and whatever else you wish with bullets, which you can vary to mean different things. You can decorate your journal with stickers, doodles, or any other visuals that help you generate ideas or stay motivated. Each bullet journal can be as unique as the individual who uses it.

And that’s what I’m loving it.

I’ve tried day planners, apps, to-do lists, wall calendars, and all manner of This Will Get You Organized suggestions. The only thing that has consistently worked for me is lined post-it notes where I write down my to-dos for the day. But that never helped me see the overall picture. Now I can keep track of my calendar obligations, my weekly goals (separated into home and work tracks), and have a place to take notes on ideas and research. And I still use my post-it notes; I just tack them into the journal.

One of the best additions is a Serendipity page for each week, where I jot down anything I learned that week about my focus, my work process, or future goals. This wonderful idea came from author Jaye Wells, who talked about how she uses a bullet journal:

The beauty of a bullet journal is:

  • You can use any size or style notebook you want — as cheap or fancy as you desire.
  • You create your own calendars, using whatever format, time periods, or scheduling blocks mesh with the way you work.
  • You can keep track of your calendar, to-dos, and notes all in one place.
  • You can easily see what you’ve done (and celebrate that) and see what you have left to do.
  • You don’t feel penalized for not having accomplished something, because you just move it to the next day’s or week’s list. (Because good intentions gone awry are often not personal failure, but simply Life.)

I’m still exploring how to use my bullet journal, but it’s the first organizational plan that seems to be working for me. It’s taken a bit of time to adapt to this new approach, but I really do think I’m getting more done.

If you want to know more, here’s a video from the designer of bullet journaling:


6 thoughts on “Why Bullet Journaling Is Becoming My New Best Friend

  1. I’ve never heard of this, but it sounds an awful lot like what I’ve been doing for a very long time. I already keep paper calendars of events; one for the inn stuff; one for my personal stuff; one with all stuff combined, so perhaps I’m already a bullet journalist. I also make daily to do lists on fun cute little post-it notes. I’m going to throw in some fancy glitter gel pens and stickers and I’m all set. Bam – I’m a bullet journalist. (Note to self: make trip to office supply store for fun new supplies.)

    Thanks for sharing. I hope this new approach works well for you.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  2. You guys should look into the Pilot Frixion pens. They’re so much fun!! Gel pens that ERASE! But be careful. If you leave your journal in a hot car you might loose your work… until you throw it into a freezer for a while. 😜

  3. I love my bullet journal. I finally decided that I was spending too much time drawing & decoratig so I bought a beautiful tooled leather, 3 ring notebook. I created a simple template on the computer and had the office supply store cut a ream of paper in half. Now I print out a month or two at a time and put them in the notebook. I carry it almost everywhere. It helps keep me organized, track work progress, and remember appointments. I love it!

    I’m stealing your idea of a Serendipity page! Great idea!

  4. All right, I’m gonna admit it…if it doesn’t hit my Google or work calendar, it might not get done. I’ve tried planners…I lose them. They make me tired. The closest thing I’ve found to happy is ACT!, which will show me a day/week/month at a glance. I bow to you planner-keepers!

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