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Bullet Journaling: A new way to organise the way we work

By Shannon Devy

With the rise of always-on culture and working from home, millions of people are leaving digital to-do lists behind in favour of a more analogue approach to organising their lives: the simplicity of pen and paper.

Over the last few years, bullet journaling has taken over the internet. Founded by designer Ryder Carroll, the bullet journal system has been hailed as the simplest, most effective way to mindfully manage day-to-day tasks, events, to-do lists and reminders in a single notebook. And by all accounts, it works!

What is bullet journalling?

Hailed as a mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system, bullet journaling is a fun and creative diary technique that allows you to keep track of your daily tasks and monthly goals in a way that is completely flexible and unique to your needs. Bullet journaling gets its name from the shorthand system of bullet points, dashes, stars and other symbols which are used to categorise tasks in to-do lists. The idea is that through the bullet journal system, you can track the past, the present and the future quickly and efficiently using a shorthand system that makes sense to you.

What do you need to bullet journal?

A notebook and a pen or pencil are all you need to start a bullet journal. While you can use any kind of notebook you like, most bullet journals use a notebook with dotted pages, as it makes it easy to divide the page into sections, and keep your notes looking neat and tidy.

How do you start a bullet journal?

While the bullet journal system is incredibly flexible, most bullet journals share the same basic set-up:

1. An index page. This is an easy way to organise the contents of your journal for ease of reference later. The index page includes the titles of each journal section, and a corresponding page number.

2. The future log. This is a list of all upcoming events, in the form of a list-style calendar. Open your notebook to a double page spread, title the page “Future Log”, number the pages and add them as an entry in your index.

3. The monthly log. Open your notebook to a two-page spread and write the numbers 1-30 down the page, one per line, for each day of the month. Number the pages and add this to your index. The monthly log helps you get an overview of your month as a whole.

4. The daily log. Every day gets a page, and this will be the backbone of your organisation system. In the daily log, you track your tasks, thoughts, events and to-do’s every day.

Here are some great layout ideas to get you started.

What are the signifiers?

Bullet journaling gets its name from the system of signifiers or ‘bullets’ which are used to organise your lists.

A box next to an entry means a task or to-do list item. When you’ve completed the task, fill in the box.

A triangle means a meeting or appointment. When this is done, fill in the triangle.

A dot is for things to remember.

A star or asterisk next to an entry marks it as urgent or important.

A right-facing arrow drawn through an item means it has been migrated to the next day.

Using these signifiers, you can quickly see what has been done, what needs to be done and what can be done later.

The benefits of bullet journaling

An analogue (that is, not digital) diary can help you slow down, think clearly and feel a sense of control over your day. Working with your BuJo, as they’re called, every day creates a calm routine that helps you keep on top of your day-to-day life. If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately, bullet journaling may be the answer you’ve been looking for!


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