What is a Bullet Journal?
The traditional bullet journal, or dot journal, was first introduced by Ryder Carroll from BulletJournal.com. It is a simple way to keep your planner, diary and to-do list all in one place.
I’ve been using a Bujo (shorthand for Bullet Journal) for a while now. Sometimes I switch back to a planner, sometimes I only use it for business purposes but it’s been pretty constant in my life for the last year. I’ve built up a lot of bullet journal tips in that time, but it really is a simple art form.
My bujo is pretty simple. I like to throw in a little washi tape and use colorful markers or pens to write with but there are people who make beautiful spreads that are works of art. When you are getting started it can seem completely overwhelming to copy the beautiful spreads that are on Instagram or Pinterest.
That is why I was so excited when I was recently sent a copy of Dot Journaling—A Practical Guide, How to Start and Keep the Planner, To-Do List, and Diary That’ll Actually Help You Get Your Life Together from the publisher. If I liked it I promised to review it. Well, I LOVED IT!
The author, Rachel Wilkerson Miller, has written a simple, easy to use guide full of Dot or Bullet Journal tips. Her spreads are beautiful but easy to create yourself. The best part is the variety of spreads she covers. There are spreads for:
- daily, weekly and yearly calendars
- habit tracking
- exercise tracking
- to-do lists
- journaling or diary entries
- and more!
If your ready to get started you will need to know some phrases and what they mean, so keep reading!
Parts of the Bullet Journal
The first page of your bullet journal will include your key. This will record the shorthand you use for your bullet entries. You can see some of the symbols in the photo. A dot or bullet point for a task, an X for completing it, a > to migrate the task to a later day and a – for notes.
Your next two to four pages will be set aside for indexing. This will allow you to quickly find any collection, or get to a particular month.
Rachel encourages you to use an index even if you think you won’t use it. You can include it at the beginning or the end of your book, but choose a few pages and label them Index.
The Future Log
With the original bullet journal setup this is a two page spread that records the coming 6 months. Many bullet journalers find it helpful to use a more traditional yearly calendar instead.
This is a great place to record birthdays, anniversaries, or block out vacation time. Add or note the page number and record your future log in your index.
Start each month with a monthly log. Here you’ll record appointments and due dates. You can use a grid layout, or use one line for each day of the month.
While this isn’t where you’ll track most of your tasks, the monthly log will come in handy for those times when you have a dentist appointment or your daughter is invited to a friend’s birthday party.
The daily log is where you’ll spend most of your time in the journal. Start a new section each day and record anything important for the day.
Make your list of tasks and cross them off as you get them finished.
Make notes of anything important you need to remember throughout the day as well as appointments as they pop up.
Everything gets logged in the daily log for speed and ease. From there you can move it as needed to the monthly or future log, or migrate it to a different day.
The Daily Log is also a nice place to record a few lines about your day. Think of it as a mini diary entry. You could also write down a few things you are grateful for each day.
RELATED POST: How I Use My Bullet Journal
At the end of your day, or first thing the next morning it’s time to review your tasks and cross out and migrate anything that isn’t checked off.
For example, if you didn’t get around to doing laundry today, draw an arrow through it and add the task to today’s daily task list.
If you noted an appointment that came up yesterday, move it to your monthly list and draw an arrow through it in yesterday’s list. If something no longer applies then cross it out.
Your goal is to deal with each entry from your daily list by completing it, migrating it, or crossing it out.
The final piece of the puzzle is collections. These are basically trackers or lists you make that aren’t date related.
A perfect example is a list of books you want to read. Start the list on the next blank page. Title it and start jotting down the books you want to read. Make a note of the page you’re on and add this collection to your index page.
Now when you want to add a new book title to this list, or reference it to see what you want to read, you can easily find it via the index.
Another collection that many people use is a Habit Tracker. This is a way to track or change habits. You can mark off each day you do a certain task, or each day you don’t do a task.
For example, you can track when you go to the gym, drink 8 glasses of water, or mark off each day you don’t eat sweets, or don’t watch TV.
I’ve never used my bujo for tracking my budget but Rachel has some great spreads in the book that I might have to try out. You can track daily spending on your Daily Spread. Use a Month long budget tracker or just track certain spending like grocery money or bills.
This can look similar to the Habit Tracker or it can be more descriptive. You can use it to record what type of workout you do in a list format. Or create a calendar to just mark off days you complete a workout.
You could also create a spread to record a measurement you are trying to improve such as speed, weight lifted or length of run.
What you need to get started
The system is simple and easy to learn, but the genius of it is how adaptable it is. Use it as a starting point, get comfortable with the basic system and then change it to fit your life.
All you need is a notebook, a pen, and a little bit of time to get started.
The type of notebook you use is up to you. The traditional style is grid or dotted paper, but I find blank pages work fine in a pinch. There are some cool notebooks mentioned in this post.
I got a cheap notebook when I first started so I wouldn’t feel bad if I ruined a page. Now I use a more expensive book that I won’t destroy carrying around with me.
I like a good gel pen and some felt tip markers for color. You can also use highlighters, washi tape, stickers, and post it notes if you want to get fancy.
If you need a little hand holding to get you started you can’t go wrong with Dot Journaling—A Practical Guide, How to Start and Keep the Planner, To-Do List, and Diary That’ll Actually Help You Get Your Life Together. Rachel’s simple pages and variety of spreads will have you up and running in no time.
She is also releasing a special edition of the book with a dotted notebook included!
I love the light blue and gold color scheme!
Let me know in the comments if you get started with your own Bullet Journal!
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