Reading, writing, arithmetic. Three (3) fundamentals taught to every child in grade school and also things I like to call the basics of life. Today I’m starting a series on these fundamentals – with a twist of course – in which I will share tips on how we can use these simple concepts in our daily lives, to help us all be better at “adulting”.
Today’s topic, bullet journaling, is tied to the 2nd fundamental, writing. Here’s a brief history before we talk about the what and how:
- Developed by Ryder Carroll, diagnosed with learning disabilities early in life.
- Best described as a mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system.
- Designed to help you organize your what while you remain aware of your why.
- Truly about: the art of intentional living.
In essence, bullet journaling is writing down what you need to do and getting organized. If you want to go deeper on the topic, you can read a book on bullet journaling, watch a TED talk about living intentionally, view a YouTube video on how bullet journaling works from Ryder himself (highly recommended) or even see how others are setting up their bullet journals on Instagram/Pinterest (Some of these are seriously next level… I can’t draw so I just keep my bullet journal super basic). There’s even a bullet journal app (iOS, Android)!
Not interested in all that? Ok! Let’s get right to the question of, “How do I get started?”
All you need is a notebook and a pen (or pencil). Any notebook will do! My suggestion? (because I’m super anal about good quality paper and pens) Get a notebook you love and a pen you like.
Start by creating a mental inventory (bulleted list). Simply write down all the things you need to do, the things you should be doing and the things you want to do.
For each thing you wrote down, ask yourself:
Why am I doing this thing? Does it matter? Is it a vital activity for me (pay taxes) or for someone else? How will this enhance my life?
This is where intentionality comes into the picture. If you determine the thing you wrote down doesn’t matter or that it isn’t vital, remove if from your list by
scratching it off and move on to something else! When you complete a task, mark it as complete (by putting an x on the bullet next to the task).
OPTIONAL: Sure, you can get fancy and organize your tasks or to do items by month, week, monthly calendar, create themes (called collections in the bullet journal system – i.e. books to read, restaurants to try), color code your tasks, assign due dates/priorities and even create an index (yes, like in a book where you number each page and have a quick reference on the first page of your notebook). You can decide if your bujo is just for your personal stuff or it if will also include work as well. This, in essence, is how to bullet journal. You can organize your bullet journal however you like or choose not to organize it at all. The choice is yours!
Notes about my system/approach
- I do not use daily views/logs/tasks. I personally think they are too cumbersome. I prefer to only use monthly and weekly views – this allows for flexibility.
- If there’s a task you assigned to today, this week or this month and you were not able to get to it for whatever reason (i.e. clean the baseboards), just simply move it to the next day/week/month by putting an -> (arrow) on the bullet. This is called migrating in the bullet journaling world.
- As you learn more about the system and which approach works best for you, know that you can change your format/setup at any time! This month’s spread/task list may look totally different than next months and that’s ok.
Keep your bullet journal with you at all times and review your bulleted lists/collections daily.
When something comes to mind that you want to do or explore, write it down immediately! This called reflection – you should constantly re-evaluate your to do lists and update them as needed.
2019 is almost upon us so get yourself a pen and a notebook and get started! Start by writing down your goals for the new year or figuring out what collections you want to include. At the end of the year, you will have something of a master piece.
Happy Bullet Journaling!