Bullet Journal 101

I’m going to be that annoying blogger who jumps on a concept bandwagon way too late and write about bullet journalling.

Seeing as the Blogosphere is saturated with posts about bullet journalling at present and has been for a good while, I’ll keep my description of the concept brief: It was first created by Ryder Carroll (you can go to his website here for a more thorough and in depth explanation of the system) to put it briefly, the idea of a bullet journal at it’s simplest is to use bullet points and signifiers to denote individual tasks, appointments and events in an organised way.

The system has become incredibly popular among people from all walks of life, from stay at home mums, to small business owners, to company CEO’s, and for as many different types of people who use the system, there are dozens more variations and individualised approaches to the journal.

I started using the bullet journal system in November of 2016 when I was participating in National Novel Writing Month and wanted to keep track of how I was progressing as well as have a convenient place to put all of my notes together for the novel I was attempting to write in 1 single month.

I used the traditional system devised by Ryder Carroll, having a monthly overview in list format, then a weekly layout, and then subsequent daily layouts to closely track my progress and collate “collections” of various things, such as major plot points, characters, and settings, which strayed from the more traditional system and incorporated more of the spreads that can be found on pinterest and all over the internet frankly.

After using the system for the entire month of November ’16, I realised that the system was perfect for me. i’ve never been a well organised person, I am a continual procrastinator, but at the same time, I love to check items off a To Do list and feel that sense of accomplishment. I began to use the journal every day and started to track important things such as tasks I needed to be certain I did every day, like taking important medications, which stopped me from wondering if I had really taken that day’s medications or whether I was thinking of how I took it yesterday.

This system is so simple it’s sort of crazy, you can divide your journal up into as many subsections as you like, and you only ever set up the page you’re using that day, so you’re not stuck with a rigid format that you can’t change after the fact, if you discover something isn’t working for you.

For example, a lot of people use a weekly layout where they put all 7 days of the week in a 2 page spread in their notebook and have all of their appointments, goals, and deadlines in that spread. My life isn’t that busy and I have been keeping my blog related deadlines in OneNote so I really wasn’t feeling the need for a weekly layout and it seemed like a waste of paper, and also it was a bit depressing to see how empty my calendar is of fun stuff to do! So in order to stay motivated I have daily layouts, and often the night before, when I’m also checking off the things in my habit tracker (I’ll get to that very soon) I think about 3 things I want to achieve the next day and write them down under a heading with the day and date, and sometimes if I’m feeling decorative, I’ll include a signifier to show what the weather is supposed to be like that day, but I often keep it really simple.

Now, back to habit trackers: these have been life changing for me, and I mean that literally. I now have a very specific set of things I do on a daily basis and I am a much happier and healthier person for it.

I am not going to show photos of my own bullet journal because frankly I’m ashamed of my messy handwriting (hopefully that is improving though, I’m doing a handwriting course and will have a review of that soon!) but basically a habit tracker is exactly what it sounds like. I have a list of eleven things I do every day, and that I check off every night. At first these were things that weren’t habits and I wanted to start incorporating them into my day, but now, months later, I do them automatically and get to pat myself on the back for it! Like I said before, I love checking things off on to-do lists, it gives me this weird sense of accomplishment, so this form of positive reinforcement works for me. It also helps to remind me to do important things like take life saving medications, which is a nice little bonus. In recent times I’ve started to switch up the things I include in each month’s habit tracker, just to see how that affects my day and how I feel, and I think I’ve finally settled on a good balance of “yeah, you should do that because it’s basic human stuff” like showering, and “you did extra well today, good job you!” like working on an extra blog post or figuring out how WordPress works above and beyond how I use it now (still definitely not there all the way on that one, it’s a learning curve.)

In simple terms, a bullet journal is one of the only organisational tools that I have stuck with for longer than 3 months and I truly think I am a better, more organised, more reliable person. Plus I don’t forget dentist appointments now…


Have you used a bullet journal? Do you want to know more about it? Let me know in the comments down below



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