What is a bullet journal… and why did I start one?
I believe it was my good friend Cait who first introduced me to the concept, or a version thereof, as we sat over lunch in a hotel in Carlow one of the days.
She had a plain black covered notebook that had some sort of system going on, seeming to involve categories and shading the page edges so you could easily flick back to the section you needed.
Given my 20-notebooks-for-different-things-on-the-go-at-the-same-time habit up to that point, which even I knew was vastly unmanageable and wasting time and energy, not to mention paper, I was intrigued by the key concept.
In which to keep ALL THE THINGS.
And organised so you could find the things when you needed the things.
However, at that point I wasn’t ready for learning a new system. So I muddled on.
I honestly don’t remember where or how I came across the bullet journal specifically after that. But by the time I’d seen it around a few places, and figured the Bujo (that’s what we call it dahling, because shortening it to BJ just wasn’t working out for anybody) was in a boom… I was ready to see what all the fuss was about.
PRO TIP: Don’t go on YouTube or Instagram and search for Bullet Journal to get yourself started. Overwhelm central. They’re all so… complicated. And artistic. And so many stickers and washi tape. Do you know what washi tape is? Oh, you will!
My first Bujo began in October 2016, with a notebook and pen. That’s literally all you need, I promise.
Any notebook, any pen.
OK Lora, but what the feck IS a Bullet Journal anyway, and why do we care?
From the official website at www.BulletJournal.com:
“Bullet Journal® (or BuJo® for short) was created by Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer living in Brooklyn, NY. Through many years of trial and error, the system has evolved into the ideas presented here [on his website]. He sees this as an evolving, adaptable practice meant to be self curated as you determine what works best for you.”
At its most basic, it’s a blank journal in which you keep a combo of foundational elements – you’ll hear terms like index, monthlies, weeklies, dailies, collections, future log, and more. Some of which are self explanatory, and some of which we’ll dive into in future posts.
To me, the really important things about a bullet journal are:
- Everything in one place – this keeps everything in context for your life overall; so you not only know what’s been going on, but also a general idea of why.
- Sticking to the system – you have a structure, an index, a way of managing tasks, and you know where things go each day/week/month… and how to find them again when you need to.
- Adapting and evolving – this doesn’t mean changing the system up all over the place, it means using the bujo on a regular basis, figuring out what works and what doesn’t FOR YOU, and adapting/evolving it to a practice that is perfect for your life.
- Having a safe place to put things – this is vital for my busy brain; having a system that I can dump EVERYTHING into, and the trust in that system that it won’t be lost or forgotten, so I can genuinely let it go once it’s in the Journal and my brain knows I don’t have to hold onto it any more right now. Freedom!
Setting Up A Bullet Journal
An example of a real quick set up would be to get a notebook and pen, leave a few pages for an index, then divide the next 2 pages into 6 sections, 3 per page. Write the names of the next 6 months at the top of each of these (1 per section, in case that’s not clear), and note in any upcoming events, plans, or big picture things to track for those months. Come back to it whenever you think of anything – you have a safe place to put stuff you need to remember now. And BOOM, there’s your future log.
Number your pages, then turn back to the index and write in: FUTURE LOG – PAGE 6 & 7, or whatever pages it’s on.
Now go to the next page, and title it with the month we’re in now. Don’t wait for a new month, or a new week – just do it from today. Stick a few boxes in to draw a calendar on the page, or simply just write the date number and day down in a list vertically along the side of the page. So:
- 1st – Sun
- 2nd – Mon
- 3rd – Tue
Or start with whatever day you’re on right now, and keep going all the way down to the end of the month. This is your monthly record. In here, I bring the stuff from my future log that I need to plan for, and any regular stuff I have to do, eg my Meditation Class I run each Monday, with the time and location if you need that. I’ll also put deadlines in here, and bills that are due, and other stuff like that I need to know is happening.
It may seem repetitive right now to transfer the date from your future log you just wrote in… but as things start spreading out you’ll need both. Or not, maybe monthlies will do grand for you, but I like the future log for far reaching stuff and to see my months laid out together with the big ticket items right there – mostly so I don’t over commit.
Repetition is ok too though, the act of writing things down helps us remember and store them, and it’s building the trust loop with your brain that reassures it that things are definitely secure and in an actionable system.
I’m going to leave it there for today, as there’s a lot to cover in the bullet journal and all that goes with that, because it’s so bloody useful.
Get started with that much sure, for now, and we’ll chat more next time.