Bullet Journal

I tried Bullet Journaling for 2 years and here’s what I found

Bullet journaling has become my favorite way to keep my life organized and my mind clear. As a hybrid between a planner, diary, and to-do list, it’s a flexible system that I can tailor to my needs. This method boosts my productivity and allows me to practice mindfulness as I reflect on my daily activities and priorities.

What makes the Bullet Journal so effective for me is its adaptability. I use a simple notebook where I jot down tasks, events, and notes in a structured manner. Each page is a fresh start; the Bullet Journal accommodates it all, whether I’m tracking long-term goals or simply planning my week. I’ve found it particularly beneficial for managing my tasks, as I can migrate unfinished items to the next day without losing sight of them, helping me stay on top of my to-dos with a clear visual overview.

Embracing bullet journaling has helped me cultivate a personal sense of organization that feels fun and functional. Its simplicity means I spend more time doing and less time organizing, yet I still have a comprehensive record of my achievements and thoughts. I’d recommend bullet journaling for anyone looking to streamline their life and be more present. It has certainly been a game-changer for me.

What Is a Bullet Journal?

Bullet Journal with mood tracker
Photo Credit: Depositphotos

I’ve found that a Bullet Journal is a unique personal organization system that combines planning, journaling, and task management all in one place.

Defining a Bullet Journal

A Bullet Journal, or “BuJo” for short, is a journaling system developed by Ryder Carroll. It’s a customizable and forgiving way for me to record the past, organize the present, and plan for the future. Allowing a mix of flexibility and structure caters to my unique way of managing tasks and taking notes.

Core Components

The core components of a Bullet Journal include:

  • Index: This is where I list the contents of my Bullet Journal and the page numbers, making it easy to find information quickly.
  • Future Log: This space is for items coming down the pipeline; anything I know about will happen in the upcoming months.
  • Monthly Log: It gives me an overview of the month’s tasks and events, packed neatly in a calendar and task list format.
  • Daily Log: I jot down day-to-day tasks, experiences, and notes. It’s the most frequently updated part of my journal.
  • Collections: These are thematically linked items like lists, project plans, or trackers I group on dedicated pages.
  • Rapid Logging: The Bullet Journal’s notation system. I use symbols to categorize items as tasks, events, or notes for quick and simple organization.

The modules provide the structure of the Bullet Journal system and create a simple and effective framework. Each element works harmoniously to ensure my planning and organization are just right for my lifestyle.

How to Get Started with Bullet Journaling

Bullet Journal Ideas
Photo Credit: Jules Yap

BuJo is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It’s designed to help track past events, organize present tasks, and plan for future goals.

Bullet Journal Setup

Many BuJo enthusiasts recommend a dot grid notebook because it provides a subtle guide for writing and drawing without being intrusive. The Leuchtturm1917 is often suggested; it has pre-numbered pages plus an index at the front.

Personally, I grab whatever notebook I have at hand, especially free ones. They are not as fancy, but they work as well. And again, I remind myself it’s not the aesthetics but the practice that matters.

Once I have my notebook, I make my Index Pages. These pages act as a table of contents where I log the topics of my pages and their page numbers. This helps me keep everything organized and findable.

Then, I move on to creating a Key. I use this system of symbols and signifiers consistently throughout my Bullet Journal to denote different types of entries, such as tasks, events, notes, or important. A simple key might use a dot for tasks, an ‘X’ for completed tasks, an ‘O’ for events, and a dash for notes.

After setting up the key, I begin with my Future Log, which is used to jot down events or tasks that are several months away. It’s essentially a year-at-a-glance where I can plan long-term goals.

Choosing Your Tools

A good pen is where it all begins. I highly recommend investing in pens that don’t bleed through pages, like fine liners or gel pens. Some BuJo enthusiasts also use colored pens or markers to organize entries by color.

Washi tape and stickers are popular for decorating. I’m a minimalist Bullet Journaller and feel little need to make my journal more visually appealing to stay motivated to use it.

However, I admit the beautiful BuJo images I saw on social media first attracted me to Bullet Journaling. I did start that way, too. I even took a calligraphy class to learn how to draw fancy monthly headers and bought a marker set to fill the pages with the colors of the rainbow.

My enthusiasm for decorating didn’t last long.

Over time, I found decorating my journal a distraction and spent more time journaling than doing.

But that may not be the case for you. Many love decorating their journals, and it unlocks their creative, productive side. Do what works for you.

Ideas to Personalise Your Bullet Journal

Bullet Journal Ideas
Photo Credit: Jules Yap

Over the years of using the Bullet Journal, I’ve experimented with many ideas to make it as effective for me as possible. Besides the Index Page, Future Log, Weekly, and Daily Planning pages, here are some that I’ve used and liked.

  • Theme: I like to start the first page with a theme for the year. Looking back at my past journal, I wrote “BUILD” on the front page and then listed down areas of my life and business I wanted to focus on building.
  • Goals: A list of goals for the year.
  • Memories: As the year unfolds, I note down memorable events. For example, Dec 3 was demo day for my house and the start of my renovation journey.
  • Lists: I have a page to list all the books, movies, and dramas I plan to read and watch in the year. I tick the ones that I complete as the year goes by. It’s an interesting record to review at the end of the year.
  • Perfect Day Ideas: This page is where I dream of how my perfect day should be. I list all the possible “ingredients” that make for an excellent day for me – Bible reading, prayer, exercise, creating or making something, having a good conversation and a great cup of coffee, etc. Then, I craft a perfect week plan on my Google Calendar, scheduling my morning routines, time to work, rest, play, and work out, generously sprinkling in some of these perfect day ingredients.
  • Happiness is …: At one point in my life, I struggled with being joyful. I made a list of things that make me happy. When I spiral into one of my darker moments, I look at the list and do one or more of the things on it. It also serves as a check and balance – when I’m in the doldrums, it’s usually because I’ve gone off the bend working too many hours, isolating myself, or watching too much TV – things that suck my joy.
  • His Word for Me: God speaks. I listen. And I write them down. I review this section regularly to remind myself of what He said. It renews and strengthens my faith and keeps me focused on the bigger, eternal picture.
  • Ideas: I also have pages of content ideas for blog posts and ideas for DIY projects and renovations I want to do in my house.

Pros and Cons of Bullet Journal

Bullet Journal offers a unique approach to productivity and mindfulness, but like any system, it has its trade-offs.


  • Customization and Flexibility: The system is incredibly customizable, allowing me to tailor my experience to fit my needs precisely. Whether I’m tracking daily tasks, managing projects, or noting appointments, the flexibility of a Bullet Journal lets me adjust my methods over time.
  • Boost in Productivity: By consolidating all of my tasks, goals, and appointments into one place, my productivity levels often increase. The act of writing down tasks helps commit them to memory, and checking off completed items provides a sense of accomplishment.
  • Mindfulness and Mental Health: Using BuJo can double as a mindfulness practice. It encourages me to slow down and focus on the present, recording my thoughts and activities, which benefits my mental health.
  • Creativity and Expression: The journal can be a creative outlet for you to decorate, stimulate your imagination with colors, and experiment with layouts. For some, it can make the journaling process enjoyable and a daily routine that sets them up to create.


  • Time-Consuming: One downside is that setting up and maintaining a Bullet Journal can be time-consuming. Drawing out each page by hand requires significant time, especially when starting a new month or trying more elaborate layouts.
  • Learning Curve: There is a learning curve. Figuring out the best system for my needs took a bit of trial and error, and understanding various BuJo methods can be daunting for newcomers.
  • Requires Discipline: I need to use and update my BuJo consistently to be effective. If I’m not disciplined, it can become just another forgotten notebook.

Bullet Journal Alternatives

Bullet journal alternatives
Photo Credit: Depositphotos

While I love the Bullet Journal system for its simplicity and analog charm, sometimes I explore alternatives that might better suit my changing needs or digital preferences.

Digital Tools

Apps: Whether on my smartphone or computer, I use several apps to help me stay organized. Evernote allows me to create a digital system that’s remarkably flexible and feels somewhat similar to the Bullet Journal. I can make to-do lists, manage a digital calendar, and clip useful web articles or images.

Online Tools: I also use online tools like Google Calendar to keep track of all my appointments and events. It’s the tool I use for content scheduling and keeping track of workflow. It’s super convenient because it syncs across all my devices, ensuring I never miss a deadline. I can also share my schedule with other writers and editors when needed.

Other Analog Systems

Planners: Another planner I like is the Self-Journal, which I have written about before. It’s my go-to planner when I want to hold myself accountable for my time and focus on a goal. The 13-week roadmap is gold and the one I used to help me chart my progress when I was writing my book

Diaries: If I don’t need the organizational features of a Bullet Journal, opting for a simple diary sometimes serves my purposes for reflection and jotting down thoughts.

Templates: I like the simplicity of using a printed template. Print them out and fill in the blanks. The aim is to pause and plan your day and tasks, which is halfway to winning.

Remember, while the Bullet Journal system is unique in its approach, these alternatives can help you stay organized and plan your days effectively. Whether you prefer digital tools or other analog systems, there’s a planner out there that can match your style and meet your needs.

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