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First, I want to thank everyone for their good wishes on our anniversary! We had a lovely time.
Of all the journaling methods around, the bullet journal is the easiest but has the most confusion surrounding it. You may have seen bullet journals before and thought that you could do it, only to find they require more work than you thought. The truth is, once you know how to make your own bullet journal, and how to use it properly, this form of journaling can help you with your organization.
Here are some simple steps to making and using a bullet journal effectively.
What is a Bullet Journal?
This is a common question that doesn’t have a simple answer. The definition of a bullet journal varies based on who you ask, but it is essentially a customizable journal that you set up to track every aspect of your life. You pick and choose what you want to include, like household chores and to-do lists, weekly or monthly calendars, and places you want to visit. It really does run the gamut of everything, but only has to include what you want to include.
With a bullet journal, you aren’t just using it as a typical journal or dairy – though you can definitely save pages for standard journal entries. It’s a single book that holds your entire life. It helps you with special events and parties, plans you want to make with friends or family, to-do lists for your personal or professional life, important appointments, shopping lists, and a lot more.
The great thing about organizing your life with the help of a bullet journal is that there aren’t any rules. You can take inspiration from other people and use some of their ideas, but at the end of the day, you set it up however you want. By bringing the journal everywhere with you, you always have a way to keep up with everything
Creating Your Bullet Journal
A bullet journal is different than most kinds of journals.
The initial set-up is to determine what symbols you will use in the journal. A bullet, for example, may simply be to mark something that you need to do. You may then want to use an asterisk to mark something that’s a long-term goal. Continue to assign symbols until you have one for each thing you want to track — your daily to-do list, long-term goals, short-term goals, and even financial goals. You’ll need to put these symbols in an index to keep track.
What Are the Benefits?
As you know, the bullet journal works as a valuable analog asset in a digital world. It’s a way of briefly noting your thoughts, plans, events and other items of importance. It’s different than the traditional idea of a journal in that your thoughts can be jotted down on paper quickly. You’ll use just a few words and bullets (hence the name) and other symbols. No long paragraphs or flowery thoughts.
Here’s what you might gain from the experience.
Do you have an ongoing low-level suspicion that you’ve got things to do and you’re falling farther and farther behind? We all do. We’re constantly assailed with the need to get stuff done. But what? And when? And how? Your first step, with a bullet journal, is to simply get it all down in writing. See what you’re up against.
Your actions are constrained by the time you have to do them. But your life won’t seem so challenging if you know how to efficiently utilize the hours and days and months ahead of you.
What you hope to accomplish might be something physical, emotional, or financial. It might be as simple as a daily to-do or shopping list or as ambitious and esoteric as a long-term dream. It’s up to you. But once you can set your tasks or goals or dreams in front of you and start to construct a realistic approach to getting where you need to be, you’ll waste less time and get more done.
Having a more orderly, well-organized life isn’t about perfection, it’s about effort. When you move from month to month in your bullet journal, you begin understanding what your own personal strengths and weaknesses are and can use it to motivate yourself to do better.
Think about how good you’ll feel when you have a realistic plan of attack in front of you and it all looks doable. That’s what you get with a bullet journal entry — the sense that you’re moving logically forward.
You can see on a single page how realistic it is (or isn’t) to proceed according to plan within the amount of time you’ve designated. How does your day or your life look now? Hopefully, more manageable.
You’re the president (or co-president) of your own small operation — your family. Your “employees” don’t always pitch in and can be occasionally disgruntled. Sometimes there’s even disagreement within the management team. The operating budget is never sufficient, and your forecasts of future earnings are often off.
A bullet journal will help you plan your days, schedule play dates, school activities and away games, consider a job change and even plan and budget vacations or a new home purchase and move.
Setting and Meeting Goals
It’s easy to say that you’re going to build a garage, generate new streams of revenue for your business or plan your community’s party. But those are just big blocks of dreams. With a bullet journal, you can slice that block into manageable actions.
Take garage-building, for instance. Think of all that’s involved. For starters, you have to plan the size and design, estimate the costs involved. and figure out where the money will come from. You need building permits and to interview and select contractors, find and price building materials, and schedule time.
A bullet journal lets you calmly figure out all that’s involved, who will do what. and the steps you must chronologically take to follow your timeline. You’ll proceed with confidence, constantly updating the job in your bullet journal to correct your plans for new realities.
Who Should Use a Bullet Journal?
This type of journal truly is good for everyone. However, there are some people that have special criteria to make the bullet journal even more effective. If any of the following apply to you, it can help you organize your life tremendously:
- You have multiple notebooks with to-do lists, tasks, goals, and reminders.
- You prefer using pen and paper to jot things down.
- You still use a regular calendar planner instead of a digital one.
- You enjoy making things pretty with different labels and colored pans.
- You have a lot of goals but struggle nailing down tasks to achieve them.
- You find your life to be stressful due to missed appointments and frantic schedules.
- You like having a journal but find full pages of writing to be tedious.
When to Use a Bullet Journal
You can use your bullet journal on a daily basis just as you would an agenda book or planner. When you make your index and start the journal, don’t forget to add a date at the top of the page. Mark off what you have accomplished each day. At the end of the day, start the new day by moving the uncompleted tasks over to the next day.
Keep in mind, bullet journaling is ideally for someone that needs assistance with organizing and getting things done. It can be useful for other things, but primarily it’s a tool used for organizing goals and meeting those goals.
I don’t keep a pretty bullet journal – I use a notebook and make lists of what I need to do. It does help with organization although I sometimes have to reassess my plans. Sometimes once I get them on paper, they appear absolutely impossible as written! So that helps me avoid the absolute frustration that would be there if I didn’t change something.
For more information about starting journaling, I have a free ebook and workbook to help you get started. To grab it, click here.
More to come!
‘TIl next time!
Loving Life—The Reboot