Question of the day: What Is Bullet Journal Day?

Before I answer that question, I should answer another one:

What IS Bullet Journal?

Simply put, it’s a process for getting thoughts out of your head and onto paper through a system called rapid logging. It was developed by Ryder Carroll back in 2013, has been the subject of 900,000+ Instagram tags and 680,000+ YouTube videos, and has a following of over 92,000 on Facebook.

And if that wasn’t enough:

  • the Quick Guide for this system has been translated into 25 languages
  • There is a dedicated app to help Bullet Journal users
  • and a journal format specifically designed for this system.

Oh, and the Bullet Journal website (www.bulletjournal.com) just turned four years old.

Rapid logging consists of four elements

  • Topics
  • Page numbers
  • Short sentences
  • Bullets & Signifiers

Topics allow you to utilize individual pages for particular uses. In my case, that’s my:

  • yearly/monthly/weekly planners
  • my daily to-do/notes lists
  • lists of websites I need to keep handy
  • event planning
  • reading lists
  • notes on things I’ve read/watched that I need to reference from time-to-time
  • blog/website planning
  • story writing/editing/promotion plans

Page numbers are used to index all of those topics, so you can find them easily.

Short sentences make it quicker and easier to get your thoughts on paper, and prevent the entire process from becoming a chore. They’re intended to act as a quick reminder, more than a detailed description. But if you need to provide more details, just start a new page, give it a topic header, and put a reference to that page alongside the short sentence, and  your index.

Bullets encourage you to keep sentences short, since that’s exactly what bullets are intended for, and it’s pretty instinctive to use. Different bullets represent tasks, events, appointments, and notes. Add a signifier alongside that bullet and you can mark it as urgent, a deadline, something you want to investigate more later, and so on…

Bullet Journal 101

In Conclusion:

Go check out the other resources out there, but if you’re easily distracted don’t spend too long looking. There is a vast number of Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, blog entries, and more waiting for the unwary.

I’ve been using this system since January, and my personal advice, is to stick to the basics while you learn the system. Then start customizing your bullet journals to fit your needs, as you discover them. I’ve developed a customer weekly layout that tracks my work hours, my household chores, writing/editing, blogging and book promotion tasks, which I’ve included in the pictures below.

Here’s how my Bullet Journal looks:

My Materials:

Links:

http://help.bulletjournal.com/category/5-bullet-journaling-101

http://bulletjournal.com/blog/

 

 

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Bullet Journal – The Solution To Your Planning Nightmares?

Okay, it’s confession time: This is going to be a very long post… But one worth reading to the very end, if you have trouble staying organized.

Way back in June 2014, and again in July 2014, I posted about an organizational system called Bullet Journal, created by Ryder Carroll And I gave it a very glowing review, after having used it for only a few weeks.

And then, just like with all organizational systems, I let it slide, and stopped using it.

There were a number of reasons for this, but mostly it came down to the fact that my adaptation of the master and travel journals was just taking up too much time to be efficient. The system was in it’s infancy, and I just wasn’t diligent enough to be using it daily. Things slipped my attention, because I hadn’t written them down. Or I hadn’t properly indexed and important piece of information, and missed out on doing some important stuff.

calendarThen 2016 was coming to an end, and I had huge plans for 2017

I am a regular reader of Popular Science, and get a lot of posts through their RSS feed. But just before the start of 2017 a particular post came to my attention: “HOW ONE NOTEBOOK COULD REPLACE ALL THE PRODUCTIVITY APPS THAT HAVE FAILED YOU : A Nerd’s Guide To Bullet Journaling” [by Amy Schullenbaum]

This article showed me just how much the Bullet Journal system had evolved from 2014, and why 2016 had been a year it’s number of users exploded.

I was intrigued, and I went hunting for more information, and found a wealth of resources, layouts for various sections, and video tutorials, FAQs, walk through and images galore. I’m not going to try to explain the system, because there are people out there who have done it much better, and more creatively, than I ever could.

Instead I’m going to let you read the resources I’ve already linked to, and explain what I did to personalize the system.

search-documentWhat did I do differently to most?

  • Instead of using a regular notebook or journal, I decided to stick with something I had a lot of sitting around my apartment – 3-ring binders.
    • A mixture of lined and grid-lined paper gives me a huge amount of flexibility in how my pages are formatted.
    • Lined pages are really just for note taking, lists, and things that don’t require a special page layout.
    • The grid pages make up the bulk of my organizational structure, the calendex, future log, weekly log, and my trackers.
    • Using three-hole-punched pages makes it easy to assemble my bullet journal on the fly. As I find I need a new page, I add it to the binder under the relevant section, write a header at the top and a page number at the bottom. (Each page number has a letter preceding it to indicate which section it’s in). Then that page number and header (where needed) are added to the indexes/calendars, and cross-referenced from an existing page (where needed).
  • I have multiple dividers in place to separate particular sections:
    • Index & Future Log – The index is still my primary source for finding things quickly, and my future log really isn’t used very much, because of the next section.
    • Calendex & Weekly Logs – The index has no concept of date/time. So I added a Calendex to list upcoming events, and then a weekly calendar to organize each week in more detail. The Calendex lists page references for events, reminders, etc but my weekly calendar doesn’t, since it’s basically a way to setup the tasks on my daily log.
    • Daily Logs – This is the core of my journal. Each day is setup  the night before, unless  have to add a task at short notice. This section is complicated, and simple at the same time. The front pages are a list of ongoing tasks for the year, and then the month. This is followed by pages dedicated to just the daily log of tasks, work hours appointments , etc. I’m finding I often reschedule things until later dates, because I booked too much on a given day, something unexpected happened, or I find myself waiting on important information. However, it allows me to copy relevant tasks from other areas of the journal to the daily list with ease, and my weekly planner and calendex allow me to track the tasks I rescheduled.
    • Events & Appointments – This is where I keep my list of upcoming guest blog slots, important dates, and planning for  vacations and big events . This has become an important section for me, because it’s allowing me to track multiple related projects through cross-referencing page numbers.
    • Habit Trackers – this section is where I’ll hold myself accountable for the various things I know I should be doing every day/week/month, without fail. Right now, it’s just a mini-calendar where I can write in how many words I wrote/edited, cross off days I didn’t do either, and then tally up the total at the end of the week.

awardMy thoughts so far…

  • This system has been extremely fast to pickup and use.
  • In it’s basic form, it’s great for day-to-day stuff, but I needed a lot more than that.
  • There are some great people out there, creating some very innovative page layouts, and additions to the basic system.
  • I would be lost without the various indexes, and my tracker.
  • I’m thinking I need a section dedicated to lists of things I’m gathering, like quotes for my “Someone Else’s Words” posts, and the various posts I’m working on for other authors.

So, that’s my experience of the system at the end of the first month, and I have to say it’s been working much better than my first outing with it. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at this system, and trying to find the best resources to get you started.

Keep one thing in mind – once you leave the Bullet Journal website, all bets are off as to what you’ll discover. You might end up like I did, watching hours of YouTube videos trying to learn more, and then only adopting what I really needed. However, if I hadn’t I might never have adopted the calendex, weekly planner, or tracker that I find so integral to my use of the system.

writingdrinking

So, where can I find out more?

Even a quick search online will show you that there are quite a few people not only using Bullet Journal, but making it work for them in very unique ways.

  • There’s the official Bullet Journal Website @ BulletJournal.Com, and even a glance there will show you just how flexible the system can be. This site will teach you the bare bones of the system, and give you some ideas of what others have done to adapt it to their needs.
  • Eddy Hope, over at Discover Analog, has created something he calls the Calendex, which is a very interesting way to merge a calendar with an index. The Calendex is broken down into months and days, just like a regular calendar. But instead of logging actual actions, appointments, etc you log the page reference of items that are relevant to that date.
  • Kim Alvarez, at Tiny Ray of Sunshine, regularly posts experimental page formats, and updates to how she uses the Bullet Journal system. Kim is also a regular contributor to the official Bullet Journal Blog.
  • Kim (not the same one), at BulletJournalJoy provides some free printable pages for who, like me, assemble their journals as they go.
  • Then there’s Kara Benz, over at BohoBerry, who has a very prolific YouTube channel, which often features her thoughts, experiments and experiences with various page layouts. Kara produces what I consider some of the most beautiful page layouts for her Bullet Journal, and is always trying something new. Check out her “Bullet Journal 101” videos for a great introduction to her process.

Bullet Journals – A Follow-up

This is a follow-up post to my Bullet Journals introduction.

A month ago, I posted about a new organizational tool called the Bullet Journal, and admitted that since I hadn’t tried it out, I couldn’t give it a proper review. Well, several weeks have now passed, and I feel able to provide a few comments on how I ended up adapting it for my use.

The Master Journal

I purchased a regular single subject, college ruled, 80 sheet notepad. This has become my Master Journal, and is the primary source of all my information, and notes. Keeping this journal at my desk allows me to write things down at any time I am home, since inspiration will often hit while I am at my laptop.

The Traveling Journals

These are pocket-sized, spiral-bound notepads, with tear off pages. I have two of them at the moment, and they are effectively backup bullet journals for use during the day. Since they are much smaller, they cannot contain anywhere near the level of detail that the Master Journal does. These have effectively become my day-to-day, working journals.

Bringing the journals together

Since the entire Bullet Journal principle operates on being able to copy notes from day to day, month to month, year to year, I figured there was no reason not to extend that between multiple journals. Here is how I did it:

  • Keeping travel journals means I don’t worry about losing all the information in my master journal, while I am out and about
  • Before I leave the house, I copy any relevant notes from the master journal into my travel journal
  • I use the travel journal throughout the day, and add/remove notes as needed
  • Notes I have added are marked with an asterisk to indicate they are not in the master journal
  • Because the notes are one tear-off pages, I physically remove the page from the travel journal, and put them in an envelope when completed
  • When I get home, I check through the removed notes, and if they were in the master journal, I mark them as completed
  • Any new notes in the travel journal, unless completed, are added to the master journal

The reason behind physically removing completed notes from the travel journal is simple. Most of these notes are work-related, and not relevant outside work. They are usually notes to get certain tasks completed before the end of my shift. Because of my position at work, most of the tasks I enter in the travel journal can be delegated to others, and crossed off when completed. The remaining tasks are almost always accomplished at some point during the day. In both cases, the tasks and notes no longer hold any relevance, and can be forgotten.

If the work tasks are not completed on a given day, then they remain in the travel journal for the next day. The process of copying them to the master journal lets me remove the task from my mind, and not worry about it until the following work day.

If there is something about a given day that I feel needs a long-term note, then it ends up in my travel journal, in under a relevant topic.

Final thoughts

This is a method of organization that I have found to be very flexible. Admittedly, I have adapted it a little, but I don’t think there is anyone who adheres strictly to every methodology they use.

  • The use of the travel journal means I am not toting around a large notepad, which I could put down, and forget to pickup.
  • The traveling journals allow me to slip my notes into my pocket, where I also keep a small envelope for the completed notes.
  • The master copy remains safely at home, and remains relevant to everything that still needs doing.
  • The traveling journal allows me to make notes quickly, encourages brevity, and allows me to write notes about my writing work anywhere, and then back it up in more detail into the master journal at the end of the day.

I would give this system a huge 9/10.

Bullet Journals – A Toolkit For Organizing Your Writing

How many times have you started working on a project, only to find yourself missing a very important note, letter, or phone number? Worse still, have you ever found yourself working on a number of projects at a time, and being unable to keep track of all the important facts, times, meetings, or thoughts scribbled on the back of a napkin?

Okay, so I might be one of the few people I know that has a problem staying organized, because I have an aversion to keeping tons of information in various filing systems. I’m one of those people who operates on unstable piles of paperwork, and a rough idea of where I left things. This is probably due to how little space I have to operate in, given the small size of my apartment. So what solutions are there?

I’ve looked into a number of systems for keeping my notes and projects organized, but systems like GTD rely on doing things either immediately, or within the context of the tools and time available. Then today, I came across the concept of the Bullet Journal, and thought about how flexible it could be.

I’m one of those people who has a hard drive filled with pictures, notes, character profiles, plot outlines, failed story projects, and more. Some of these are project specific, while others are valid over a number of projects. The problem is that it’s so hard finding all those notes, and providing a context for them in terms of when they came into existence. This is particularly important, because I have several characters who’s backgrounds have changed since their creation, due to events in my short stories, or new insights into how they think.

Bullet Journal comes to the rescue by creating notes, events, and tasks in chronological order. Individual pages are created for topics, characters, or even plots. Then the whole thing is indexed, at the start of the notebook, so you can track where topics, or notes go over several pages.

I really can’t do the whole process the justice that I think it’s going to deserve, because I haven’t personally tried it. But I will be buying a suitable notebook tomorrow, so that I can start . Stay posted for my experiments.