Having too many things to juggle and very little time can be extremely frustrating, and I have tried various planners, organizational apps, and whiteboard methods to avoid the spiraling organizational crisis that can often occur. I spent a lot of time switching back and forth between digital and analog, wondering if I would ever find something that works. It wasn’t until I discovered bullet journaling – a customizable organization method using a physical notebook – that I realized how important it is to match your work style with how you organize yourself.
The purpose of this bullet journaling series is to share my experiences, frustrations, and accomplishments with transitioning into a more organized life. Since my bullet journaling format is continuing to evolve into something completely different than where I started, I also want to post some updates as to what I am doing with my journal and how it is helping me. I hope to help spark some good organizational habits that can be applied to anyone’s individual style.
First things first: What is this journaling craft about? Bullet journaling is an analog system that helps you record and manage tasks and information very easily and quickly. It is completely open to customization and tweaks to make it work for you, and can make use of a cheap, lined journal or the prefered dotted notebook. To start, you number every page so that you can create an index, which allows you to keep track of which sections start on which page and track vital information. Next come your future logs, which help track tasks and appointments far down the road on a month-to-month basis.
Each month is then broken down into a monthly spread, with the future log serving as a starting point to remember what needs to be done that month. Your monthly spreads help you plan a bird’s eye view of your tasks and goals for the month. These tasks and goals can be broken down further into weekly spreads that follow their corresponding monthly spreads. The weekly spreads allow you to plan your week with your schedule and more immediate tasks and goals. Each time you make a new monthly or weekly spread, you are looking back at your higher-level lists.
The last element is task notation. Every task will start off with a simple bullet mark. Any time you complete something, you add an X on top of the bullet. If you could not finish something but still want to take care of it shortly, you add a right arrow (>) on top of the bullet signifying that you are adding that you added it to the next day (or pushing it a few days out). If you did not do something and you realize this is a task for further in the future, add a left arrow (<) on top of the bullet to signify that you added that task to the corresponding month in the future logs. The brilliance of this simple system is that, when followed, it is very difficult to lose track of tasks and it is very easy to figure out how to schedule your time.
If you would like a visual of how the original version is formatted, watch the video below. The next installment of this series will show how my first attempt at journaling looked and how it worked for me. Stay tuned!