If you’re someone who has no time in life to set up a bullet journal, then you DEFINITELY need one!!!
I would assume by now, most of you are aware of what a ‘Bullet Journal‘ is and have read several random articles online about why it’s super awesome. I could write 10 blog posts to go over why it’s the best productivity tool invented so far! Since I already know it’s awesome, let’s jump straight into the practical Do’s and Dont’s. This post shall be a simple rundown on how to set it up and get started on being your most productive self ever!!! With the holidays around the corner, there’s always a lot of lists lying around of things-to-do, things-to-buy, work to get done, etc etc. I hope this post helps you kick start on bullet journaling and alleviate some of the pre-holiday (and future life) stress. Grab that cup of coffee because this post ain’t gonna be short, my dear!
WHAT DO YOU NEED:
The simplest answer would be a book (which has dots of some sort) and a pen. I went with a Leuchtturm 1917 dotted (Emerald color) journal and a set of colored pens. #OCDalert
PAGES TO SET UP (BEGINNING):
There are certain main components to be set up at the start and a little planning might be needed.
- Index: The Leuchtturm 1917 comes with an index and numbered pages. If not, create at least 4-5 pages for it up front and number all your pages.
- Symbols and Signifiers: You could use the ones on the original website or create ones that make more sense to you. Whatever you do, keep it as simple as you can.
- Future Log: Also called an Annual Log, use as many or as little pages as you want and write down all the 12 months of the year. The month you are currently in becomes the first month (Huge advantage: You don’t need to start a BuJo on January 1). My template has 4 pages – 3 months on each page.
- Monthly Log: Exactly one page at the start of each month. List all dates and days in abbreviated form.
PAGES TO SET UP (ON-THE-GO):
Once the above components have been set up, you are all good to go. The remaining sections are filled up in real time.
- Weekly Log: The number of pages you use up is all up to your schedule for the week. If it’s a rough week ahead, more pages. By the start of the week, we would get a good estimate of how many pages we need for it.
- Daily Log: It can be part of your weekly log, unless you are a super busy person who needs a separate page for every single day to list appointments. I typically use two pages for a weekly log divided into 7 individual boxes for each day of the week.
WHAT CONTENT GOES IN:
Every single aspect of your life. At the start, it might seem daunting to have everything in one place, but that’s what bullet journaling aims at – to make your life easier. My bullet journal is roughly divided into these sections that I allocate a weekly log for. Depending on the week, I allocate two pages for each section or one page per section. The flexibility in space to meet your weekly needs is what makes a bullet journal unique in comparison to regular planners.
This is typically broad spectrum and you can amend it to suit your lifestyle. Some of the sections I include are:
- Those dreaded tasks: We all have those typical things-to-do (meal planning, laundry, groceries, paying off bills) and appointments to keep up with (PCP, dentist, eye).
- Health: To take note of the ‘food’ and ‘workout’ aspects of my health which keeps me in check.
- Non-work related work: Voluntary work that is different from professional work, but does come with deadlines to meet.
- Self improvement (skills): Tips and tricks I read online or from various resources to help me be better at certain tasks – like home improvement (Spoilet alert: the Konmari method review coming up on the blog soon), or being a better cook, etc etc.
- Self improvement (person): I am constantly trying to improve on myself as a person with respect to qualities I portray like trying to be kinder, have more gratitude for life, being the person that would make even a smallest difference in someone’s life, etc.
SometimesMany a times we forget that we were rude to someone, or yelled at someone for no reason.
- Things that satiate my soul: This is one area where I have personally experienced the most benefits from bullet journaling. In life, we always get caught up with deadlines and tasks that have to be done. And they always get done!!! But, we tend to put things in the back burner that really don’t have any deadline to meet or any immediate need. But, we need to allocate some ‘me’ time in life so that we are ‘sane’ the remaining times of the day. Stuff like reading a book or picking up a paint brush or sitting down to write a blog post are some of the stuff I have begun allocating time for. Haven’t you noticed I am sweeter and haven’t killed anyone coz of all that ‘me’ time I actually give myself?? Haha!
This was a hard one to decide upon, if I wanted work to be included in my bullet journal. I did do a lot of research online before deciding. Some of the arguments were that having it helps achieve better work-life balance, some recommended having a separate bullet journal, some were against that idea due to a split brain situation, etc etc. I think it all depends on the kind of work you do. You would be the best judge to assess the confidentiality and privacy policies of your employer. My work log includes no specifics, but is more of a to-do list broken into various components: Things to setup, writing tasks, documentation to complete, things to report, follow up actions, deadlines to meet, etc. It helps me plan better and I feel less stressed out to get it all done.
HOW TO WORK THROUGH IT:
Now that you have all your components setup, how do you work through your journal. Do you put your best friend’s birthday party in your future log or monthly log or weekly log or all of them.
- When something is being planned that is not the current month:
Taking a vacation in February, or signed up for a race in March, or your lease expires in July 2017 – write down the specific dates and times in your future log. This vastly helps in avoiding digging up information from your Gmail inbox.
- When something is being planned that is the current month:
On the first of each month, allocate a separate page for the month. Look into your future log and move information from the future log to the monthly log. Additionally, plans happen at the last minute that may never have made its mark in the future log. Write them down in the monthly log.
- When something is being planned that is the current week:
Make your weekly log spreads. Then look into the specific dates for that week in your monthly log and move that information from the monthly log to your weekly log.
Note: I go uni-directionally only. If some event popped up in the last minute for this week, it goes directly into my weekly log for this week. I don’t go back to my monthly log and future log and fill it up since it seems redundant and wouldn’t help me much in planning.
When something changes:
Plans always change! Coffee date with a friend moved from this Thursday to next Monday – if anyone knows me at all, you’ll know I hate scratching off what I have written. With bullet journaling, I don’t need to. I have allocated a specific symbol. All I got to do is add that symbol near what I have written for this week, to indicate that the event has moved and ensure that I have actually moved that information to next week. If I already have my weekly log set up for next week, I directly write it there. If it isn’t set up, it goes to the current monthly log.
How about stuff that has no deadline:
The ‘satiate my soul’ stuff like doesn’t come with deadlines. At the same time, I want to make sure that I make it happen more often than not. In such instances, I use my habit tracker that I have set up for each month. List all such activities and keep crossing it off as it gets done.
- Always remember that the bullet journal is your thing: amend it to suit your needs, in order that you may be your most productive self. There are no set rules on how many pages you need, how big each of your box should be, etc. No two people have the same lifestyle – even if they live in the same house.
- Content is primary, design is secondary: Being OCD and artsy, it can get really tempting to beautify each week’s spread with fancy calligraphy fonts and drawings all over. It’s completely alright to do it, if you have the time. If not, remember productivity is the main aim. Don’t let anything take that away from you. Instagram tags and buzzfeed articles have some beautiful designs that you can always take a look at and use for your journal.
So, what makes a BuJo so special if it’s all about writing down the various stuff in your life from all sources in one place. We as humans or at least me, haven’t figured out this thing called prioritizing. We live in a day and age where we want to do it all. Anything we read online or hear about, we want to do it. The downfall is that there is always more to do than time and energy. It’s a wonderful thing to have big goals and aims in life and we need them to add spice to our life. Many a times, we get caught up in the nitty gritty stuff that does nothing to help us achieve our big goals. All our time and energy is spent on something that we may not even really want to do. With bullet journaling, you get an overview from above as to what you really want in life and it helps you better allocate your vital resources (aka time and energy and money) to them, rather than doing frivolous stuff that in hindsight, isn’t even worth your resources.
A very special shout out to Ryder Carroll for designing this wonderful system!
Would love to hear all your thoughts and views once you give BuJo a try!