A Guide to Bullet Journalling:
I get lots of asks about bullet journalling, how to get started, what it is, what it involves, etc. so I’ve decided to make a guide in some down time from revision.
Bullet journalling allows you to quickly log and parse all the different types of events/ideas/etc. that people have to plan and remember every day. Bullet journalling helps you identify what’s important and weed out anything else.
Anything that you add to your journal is referred to as an “entry”. To add an entry turn to the first empty pair of pages. On the top left page give the pages a title or topic. If the page is just for general entries you can use the date as the title. If the topic is complex then you can add subtitles or use more than two pages. Make sure that you add your topics to the index (come to that later).
Using bullet points means that your writing is simple, and quick. You can organise your entries by sorting them into tasks, notes, and events.
Tasks are represented by empty checkboxes, and include any items like “study for the biology test” or “do the laundry”. Once completely, check the box. Some tasks can be complex; in this case you can use subtasks. When using subtasks, the mastertask can only be marked once all of the subtasks are complete.
Notes are represented with a solid bullet point. Notes are anything that you want to jot down that’s not actionable or not of great importance at the time of noting.
Events are represented by an empty circle. This is anything that happens on a specific date. They can be premeditated, like someone’s birthday or they can be logged as they occur. Try to keep these as objective and brief as possible.
These give your bullets additional context. Here are some examples that I’ve come across but you can add your own or customise how much you want to.
Priority is marked by a star.
Explore is marked by an eye, and signifies something that you want to look up.
Inspiration is marked by a heart.
Deadlines are marked with an exclamation point.
Quotes are marked by quotation marks.
Migrations are marked by arrows.
Irrelevance is marked by striking through an entry; this happens when an entry is no long er relevant and is not needed.
Adding page numbers is really useful for finding pages quickly, especially if you’re including an index. Your entries might not always be in chronological order so it’s useful for locating entries.
The index should be on the first blank page of the journal. As you fill in the journal, add your topics and their page numbers. Some topics are recurring and can ave multiple pages, (e.g. Topic A, 5-15, 24, 45-47).
A monthly calendar provides a quick look at the upcoming month. These should be created at the beginning of each month. They should take up two pages, with the left page as a calendar page and the right page as the task page.
For the calendar page, list all the days of the month down the left margin, leaving room for signifies. You can also add the first character of the weekday after the date (e.g. 15 M for Monday 15th). Events are entered like a normal calendar.
The task page is a list of bullets; everything that needs to be achieved or completed during the specified month.
At the top of the page enter the date. Through the course of the day add bullet as they happen. Ideally, you will have your bullet journal with you all the time so that you can add entries as needed. If not try to sit with your bullet journal for a bit everyday to reflect and add entries.
I’ve seen some journals with a small rectangle marked at the top of the page for the time that they wake up. This might be useful for tracking sleeping habits. I’ve also seen other people draw circles, or glasses to track the amount of water that they’ve drunk on a particular day. Some poeple add little pictures to signify the weather on a particular day too.
Once you hit your second month, look through the previous pages. There are probably some tasks that you didn’t complete. Assess whether the task is still relevant. If it is irrelevant, strike it through and check it if you completed it. It you still need to do it, then move it to your new monthly calendar page. This helps you be mindful of everything that you have to do.
You will start to notice that some bullet have a common theme. Once there are enough you can create a collection. Turn to a blank page and give your collection a name. Add the topic to your index, and find all of the bullets that are relevant and move them to the next page. Then mark the old points with a sign for “migrated”.
Get the right notebook. The popular choices are Moleskin, Midori Traveller Notebooks or Piccadilly Essential Notebooks.
Use the write stationery. Pencils will fade but you’ll be able to rub out any errors you make. Personally I would recommend using a pen, though.
Explore. The above are just guidelines. Make your bullet journal your own. There are people who use drawings, some use chronodexes, some add stickers or washi tape. Make your journal your own and adapt it to your needs. I’ve seen people make small habit trackers to track their exercise. Some add quotes, and motivational images.