by Katie Cardner
Today, our minds are moving a mile a minute, making the task of balancing our work lives, personal lives, social lives, and New Year’s resolutions (remember those?) almost impossible! Keeping track of everything going on can be a real complication for us. How can we possibly keep up with it all!? We try to set reminders, use calendars, take notes, but most of these efforts are independent of each other. For example, I use my phone for reminders, an agenda to keep track of events, and a notepad for my task list. Thanks to innovator Ryder Carroll, efficiency just got a heck of a lot easier! A few short years ago, he introduced a new apparatus into our lives that will be sure to make light work of not just setting goals but seeing them through. Enter the Bullet Journal.
After many years of trial and error, Ryder created an analog system to help keep track of all the things that need his attention. The Bullet Journal is a place for everything; it’s a to-do list, a notebook, a diary, a calendar, and whatever else you need it to be. This analog system prohibits any important information from slipping through the cracks and allows you to prioritize projects and see them to the end!
Why it Works
The Bullet Journal has been so successful because it is simple! For most of us, note-taking and journaling is time-consuming. The more time required to do something, the more it seems like a hassle. The bigger the hassle, the more we avoid it. This cycle hinders us from following through with our obligations. The Bullet Journal is all about rapid logging; simple, easy note-taking that gets right to the point. The simpler the task, the more likely we will stick with it!
Why Bullet Journaling is Essential for Achieving Goals Big and Small
Let’s explore some common long-term goals and see how Bullet Journaling can make a difference. For starters, let’s say you’d like to exercise more. You can put your workouts into your Bullet Journal as an event. When you “schedule” a workout, you are more likely to stick with it. From here, you can take notes on that workout; what you did, how you liked it, what you want to do differently next time, how long it took you, etc. Or, you can make an event for a class you want to take. For example, each Thursday night you want to go to the 7:00 pm Zumba class. Make it an event on every Thursday and stick with it!
Another common goal – or for some a general want that you can turn INTO a goal – is to enjoy life to the fullest. By using your Bullet Journal, you can make notes of the things that bring you great joy in life. For example, let’s say I went on a long walk around Tweed’s Park with a friend. The scenery, the companionship, and the physical exercise made the experience wonderful. I would make a note in my Bullet Journal for that day with a special signifier to indicate that this was a feel-good experience and I want to do it again. From there, I would “schedule” another event to do the same thing in the future with my friend. I could take notes of how I felt before the walk, during the walk, and after the walk. I could take notes on how it impacted the rest of my day and why it was so important to make the time for it.
Lastly, maybe you’re looking to spend more time with family and friends. You could “schedule” events to get together with loved ones in your Future Log or Monthly Log. You can make notes on how it made you feel, what you did, what you want to do next time, etc. Also, you can look back over previous months to see just how much time you spent with family and friends. Has it been enough to fulfill your self-promise? Do you need to make more time for loved ones? Or, are you happy with your progress? The Bullet Journal system makes it easy to check-in with the progress of your goals over time.
Where do I start?
All you need is a blank journal and a pen – talk about simplicity! From there, we start with the index.
Dedicate the first couple of pages to represent your index. Here, you will add topics of the Bullet Journal and indicate which pages the topics are on. This allows you to find what you are looking for in seconds.
From there, use the next few pages to set up your Future Log. This is where you can keep track of big events or goals you want to reach in the coming months. Ryder suggests giving each month a third of a page. You’ll have plenty of room to add events as they come up and you can always reference the Future Log when planning.
Next, set up your Monthly Log. To do so, dedicate a spread (two pages together) to each month. At the top, write the name of the month. On the left page, dedicate each line to the date of the month. Next to the date, write the first initial of the day of the week for each date. On the right page, you can make a general list of tasks, events, and notes that pertain to this month. This allows you to see a complete snapshot of what is to come in each month.
Up next, we set up our Daily Log. As each day comes about, we dedicate a portion of the next available page to our Daily Log. We keep track of each day in real time, so avoid setting up Daily Logs in advance (things can get messy that way; you never know how much space you’ll need for those busy days!). Throughout the day, add in your tasks, events, notes, etc. as they come to you.
Once you have your journal set up, you need to find a system to keep it organized! After all, there’s no point in setting up a system for organizing your schedule, tasks, and goals that won’t stay organized! In order to keep track of what each bullet is, use different signifiers for each. Here are some examples:
- An empty square indicates a task
- A square with a diagonal slash indicates a task in progress
- A filled square indicates a completed task
- A square with a horizontal slash indicates a cancelled task
- A triangle indicates an appointment
- A circle indicates an event
- A star indicates importance/urgency
- A dash indicates a note
- A drawing of an eye indicates something that needs further research
Remember, this journal is yours. Make special indications that you will remember. Get creative here!
For more information on Bullet Journaling, visit bulletjournal.com.