When it comes to boosting productivity, you probably know there are a wide range of great productivity systems to choose from. One of the more increasingly popular methods these days, however, is the Bullet Journal.
The Bullet Journal is an analog organization system for people who still love using pen-and-paper planners. But don’t think of the Bullet Journal as a glorified to-do list, because it’s so much more than that. It’s more like a comprehensive organization system that helps you keep track of your projects, goals, tasks–and pretty much anything else that you want to stay on top of.
So how can you use the Bullet Journal to help you achieve better productivity? Let’s find out.
What is the Bullet Journal?
Here’s how it works: All you need to have on hand to set up a Bullet Journal is a pen and a notebook that you’ll use as your journal. The Bullet Journal consists of five major components:
The index: The table of contents that lists your plans, thoughts, and ideas. It’s best to use the first couple of pages in the journal as the index, as you’ll be constantly updating it with entries
- The key: A glossary at the front or back of your journal that defines your various bullet symbols. We’ll talk more about that later
- Future log: Where you record priorities, events, and tasks you intend on completing in the future months to come
- Monthly log: A record of all your priorities, events, and tasks you have assigned for the current month
- Daily log: All the things you want to accomplish today
You can learn more about the Bullet Journal and how you can create one of your own by reading this tutorial on the official website.
Using the Bullet Journal
One of the reasons the Bullet Journal is so effective is because of the “Rapid Logging” feature, which is a simplified “language” that allows you to take brief notes without losing any of the important context. You’re probably thinking that learning a language for note taking is too much work, but don’t worry. It’s really simple.
Bullet Journal creator Ryder Carroll lists three types of bullets in this index:
- Tasks (Represented by a standard bullet point “•”)
- Events (Represented by an open circle “o”)
- Notes you don’t want to forget (Represented by a dash “-“)
You then add brief bulleted sentences into your daily log using the symbols above. A daily log might look something like this:
• Finish marketing presentation
• Call Tony
○ Department meeting at 3:00
– Raining this afternoon
There are also a few other symbols used, like “*” for high-priority tasks and “!” for anything that’s inspirational.
The basics of the Bullet Journal are pretty straightforward from there. You record your daily, weekly, and monthly tasks then put those tasks on your index page based on their respective categories. You mark off the tasks you’ve completed over the course of your day, and the tasks you don’t complete get rescheduled or canceled if you decide the task isn’t important or worthwhile anymore.
Want to see a Bullet Journal in action? Take a look at the video below.
Why would I want to use the Bullet Journal?
As you probably already guessed, people use the Bullet Journal as a way to boost productivity and keep track of important information like tasks and appointments.
While there are a lot of productivity systems out there that can help you achieve the same objective, few systems are as flexible as the Bullet Journal. That’s because the Bullet Journal is more than a glorified to-do list. You can use it to record any and every important thought that crosses your mind–such as plans, goals, and important facts you don’t want to forget.
Where most productivity systems simply act as daily planners, Bullet Journaling helps drive personal innovation and creativity by allowing you to brainstorm ideas and quickly record those special insights you get randomly throughout the day.
What else do I need to keep in mind?
Don’t fail to write information in the journal because you’re afraid of cluttering up your logs. Bullet Journals are designed to make it easier for you to track all of your important information thanks to the index pages, which you can use to quickly look up your recorded information whenever you want (regardless of how organized they are or how nice your handwriting is.)
Bullet Journals are also great for people who prefer keeping track of information the old-fashioned way. If you’ve already embraced modern technology and have gone completely digital, consider this: researchers discovered that we’re 42% more likely to achieve our goals when we write them down.
Perhaps that’s why a whopping 77% of project managers and a jaw-dropping 93% of educators admitted that using a Bullet Journal has made work significantly easier.
Coincidence? Cognitive psychology research suggests that handwriting information is more effective than typing because it’s easier to remember and recall handwritten note and handwriting something requires more conscious thought than typing, meaning you’re actively processing your thoughts, ideas, and tasks as you write them on paper
Because the Bullet Journal makes it easier for you to write down quick blurbs without losing important context, hand-writing your notes doesn’t have to be a time-consuming process. It’s a win-win situation.
The simplistic nature of the Bullet Journal makes it one of the easiest productivity systems to use. There aren’t any real start-up challenges, and the biggest obstacle is creating your initial logs, index, and page numbers, but even that only takes a few minutes to complete.
Just be sure to give yourself some time to get used to the Bullet Journal system. The longer you stick with it, the more you’ll become accustomed to using it as a productivity tool and a creativity enhancer.