Have you ever heard of the bullet journal?
If you haven’t, you’re not alone. It’s a relatively new fad sweeping the internet and is a way for people to take regular A5 Notebooks and turn them into something both functional and stylish. One of the reasons that bullet journals took off is because they provide a way for people to get their thoughts down on paper without spending inordinate time doing so. Bullet journals center on brief bullets of information highlighting everything you need.
The point of bullet journals is not only to keep track of your day-to-day and month-to-month tasks but also to help you prioritize your tasks and center your focus on the things that really matter. So let’s get into how you create and use your bullet journal.
The Parts of a Bullet Journal
There are four main sections to every bullet journal: the index, the future log, the monthly log, and the daily log.
The Index is used to help you navigate your bullet journal. One of the key factors of the bullet journal is revisiting different sections of the journal. The index makes this easy by keeping your pages organized. It should consist of the first full (2-page) spread in your bullet journal, which you should label INDEX. Any time you add pages from now on, number them at the bottom and add them to your index.
The Future Log is a zoomed-out view of the months ahead. This should be the second 2-page spread in your bullet journal. You can do a 6-month future log by having three sections on each page, or a 12-month future log by having 6 sections on each page. Keep in mind that the more months you represent, the fewer items you’ll be able to represent within them.
However you choose to set up your future log, label each box in your log with the name of the month it represents. As you head into those months, you can prepare for the tasks and events associated with the months.
Once your future log is prepared, schedule any events you know you have coming up. Do this by drawing a tiny circle, representing an event, and then writing the name, such as “Jim’s Birthday.” You don’t need a lot of detail here—you’re just trying to give yourself an overview.
The Monthly Log is a detailed look at the month that you’re currently in and may include events or tasks that you need to get done during the month. This is another 2-page spread. The page on the left-hand side should be numbered for every day of the month, with the day of the week indicated next to it in parenthesis. This allows you to quickly go in and pencil in upcoming appointments, due dates, and events on the associated day.
The page on the right-hand side should simply be your monthly task list. This is where you can write down bullets of everything you need to get done this month. Simply put a small dot next to the item and write down a brief description of the task. If there are more specific things you need to remember about the task, you can use a dash underneath to indicate as much and write notes about the task before continuing on to the next task. As you move through your month, you can look through this monthly log to see if you’re on track for getting things done.
The Daily Log
After your monthly log, your next spread starts your daily logs. Label the date at the top of page one. You may fill the whole page with tasks for that day, or you may have little to accomplish that day and the second day of the month—and even third—may wind up on the same page. That’s okay.
This is your day-to-day task list. Once again, tasks are labeled by small dots (bullets), while events are labeled with small circles. You may also put signifiers, such as stars or exclamation points, to the left of your dots or circles to remind yourself which tasks are a priority.
When you go to put your daily logs in your index, you may simply write “April Daily Logs – P. 3-13”, for example. You do not need each day’s log to be individually labeled in the index unless you find that’s important to you.
Finishing Your Month & Staying On Task
At the end of each month, create the next 2-page Monthly Log Spread. Before continuing with your bullet journal, however, go through the previous month and re-evaluate your tasks. If you complete a task, you should put a little X over the bullet to signify that it’s done. If, when re-evaluating your tasks, you find that something listed is no longer valuable or meaningful to you, put a line through it. This takes it off your task list.
If something is still important but didn’t get done in the previous month, draw a little > to indicate that you’re bringing the task forward, and then put that on the next month’s task list. If, on the other hand, a task was listed but really doesn’t need to get done for a while, draw a < to indicate that you should go back to the future log to look for this task. Then, in the future log, write the task in during the month you actually need to start thinking about it.
This method keeps you organized from month to month and helps you evaluate your continuing and evolving priorities. It reduces the number of sticky notes you keep on your computer and allows you to have all of your tasks carefully organized in one easy-to-find location.