Bullet Journal

Nothing changed my life so drastically in the last couple of years like the Bullet Journal Method.

Fumbling with to-do lists, habit tracking apps, a Kanban board in the kitchen, a google docs spreadsheet for goals and a mood journal I grew tired of not having one single source of truth regarding my life planning.

The Bullet Journal Method filled that hole in my heart.

The cool thing about the concept is that it is not a “one size fits all” approach or a “my way or the highway” thing.

It is flexible and adaptable. For me personally it evolved with every month I’ve used it since the beginning of 2019.

The Method

Ryder Carrol wrote the book The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future”

And that’s pretty much it, the title says it all. It’s a nice read but not necessary to start with your own journal.

That distinguishes it from methods like GTD – Getting Things Done where you need the book to understand the overly complicated system.

The Journal – Key Concepts

Bullets

As the name Bullet Journal might suggest there are of course bullets.

A simple dot or “bullet” likestands for a task.

 Save the planet

And here comes the biggest difference to normal to do lists.

When you finish a task you don’t cross out the task description but just the bullet. So x means a completed task.

x Save the planet

Why is that useful? Well, it is less visual clutter and you are still able to see all the completed tasks (for future references) See for yourself:

Save the planet

Abstraction Layers

Now comes the fun part.

A typical bullet journal has some abstraction layers e.g.

  • Future log
  • Yearly log
  • Monthly log
  • Daily log

Future log

The future log can be best described as a bucket list. everything you want to do / achieve / experience in your life should end up here. You can refer to this as top down planning. These are the most important items.

2022
⋅ Cruise in the Caribbean
 Save the planet
 Plant a tree
 Build a house

Yearly log

Let’s say a “Cruise in the Caribbean” is on your bucket list. So when you want to set up your yearly log you have to decide if this year is the year.

If you are able to do it, put it onto the 2022 yearly log.

2022
⋅ Cruise in the Caribbean

Monthly log

The “Cruise in the Caribbean” task is nothing which can be accomplished in one go. it is more like a project. You have to book the cruise, book a flight, apply for a new passport, buy a bigger suitcase, etc.

This work breakdown can be done in the monthly log. Note down whatever comes to your mind.

January 2022
⋅ book the cruise
 book a flight 
 apply for a new passport
 buy a bigger suitcase

Daily log

Until now everything was planning. Now onto the action

January, 10th 2022
⋅ book the cruise

But wait, further breakdown needed. Before you book a cruise you have to look for a cruise first, find something that suits you. so we add a new item to the list.

January, 10th 2022
⋅ look for a cruise
 book the cruise

But before looking for a cruise we should define a budget for the whole trip first.

January, 10th 2022
⋅ define budget
 look for a cruise
 book the cruise

Migration & Scheduling

Phew, so much work breakdown makes us tired and we can only settle on the budget but don’t have time to look for cruises. So, time to migrate

January, 10th 2022
x define budget
> look for a cruise
> book the cruise

Migration to the next day is done via the greater sign “>” The goal is to have a completed daily log at the end, so we migrate look and book to the next day.

January, 11th 2022 
 look for a cruise 
 book the cruise

but pondering on your budget you consider doing your taxes first, because it could increase your budget significantly:

January, 11th 2022 
 look for a cruise 
 book the cruise
 do tax declaration

Doing your taxes might take a while (and is a little project in itself) so you schedule all three tasks to the monthly log. It is done by using the less sign “<”

January, 11th 2022 
< look for a cruise 
< book the cruise
< do tax declaration
January 2022 
⋅ look for a cruise 
 book the cruise 
 book a flight 
 apply for a new passport 
 buy a bigger suitcase
 do tax declaration

As you can see migration and scheduling are an essential part of the Bullet Journal Method.

Other useful markers

o Events
- Information
/ Delegated Task @Someone
 I won't do it

My Bullet Journal

I chose the Leuchtturm1917 BuJo.

It already has an index page, page numbers and three tail bands

Habit Tracker

As a replacement for my coach.me app I’ve created a monthly view in landscape orientation. I helps me tracking my habits like

  • Drink more water
  • Talk a walk
  • Use dental floss
  • Reading
  • Yoga
  • Exercise
  • Money

I also put in the songs I’m currently practicing.

Mood Tracker

When you suffer from mood swings you can try out a mood tracker as well.

It will give you a more objective view how you feel over time.

My personal lists

Books to read

I’ve put all unread books on a separate list to keep track of my reading habit as well

Movies to watch

Do you have those “What shall I watch now?” moments?

I have and now every time a friend or colleague mentions a movie I haven’t watched yet I put it on the list. When I have the aforementioned situation I consult this list.

Songs to learn

The same goes for learning songs. Sometimes I hear a nice piece of music on the radio and think to myself: “I’d like to learn that so bad”. So I put it on list.

Repairs

Stuff breaks. Or kids break stuff 🙂 So I collect items I want to repair on a list.

Further Reading