Bullet Journals

First off, I haven’t even really started to think more than a little bit on this, but I want to get a few of those ideas down.

The “official site” (apparently this is something which warrants an official site, and I guess it makes sense, though it kind of flies in the face of “open” stuff) presents the information you need to know about how a bullet journal works, and how to set things up.  But even though “really brief” I think a lot of this is done backwards from how people who would best work with such a system will want that information.

So, I will try to present the information in a way that would be how I would want to see it myself, and I think that a lot of people would like to see it:

  • What is a bullet journal
    • Keep things short
    • Flexible
    • Basic ideas around organization
  • How do you set it up
    • Journal Key
    • Index
    • Future Log
    • Monthly Log
    • Daily Log
    • Other (you can put other stuff in too)
  • Journal Key
    • Purpose
    • Basic Keys
      • “dot” – Tasks
      • Strike – irrelevant
      • X – Completed
      • > – Rescheduled
      • < – Future Log
      • o – Events
      • “hyphen” – Notes
    • Signifiers
      • * – Priority
      • ! – Inspiration
      • “eye” – look further
  • Index
    • “First Few Pages”
    • References to where things are
    • Page numbers
  • Future Log
    • 12 month view
    • 3 months per page
    • 4 pages
    • Very brief overview of the year
  • Monthly Log
    • 2 pages
    • 1 Page month overview (28-31 days)
    • 1 Page List of todos for month.
  • Daily Log
    • Very short
    • Only what gets done that day
    • Possibly multiple days on a page
  • Other pages
    • Other stuff is pretty open
    • Try to keep one “thing” on a page
  • Summation
    • Keep it how you want it
    • Format is flexible
    • Make your format work
    • Play with it

That’s my brief “bullet journal” style writing about what I really want to do with this.  Of course, this is way longer (already) in terms of scope than I really would like to go with this.  But who knows, maybe I will go with this much longer form than I would like.

The above would be a way to make notes within the bullet journal for the most part.  It’s “personal” way of noting this stuff, and what is in my notes about this is similar to that, but organized differently as the source was organized differently.

What is a bullet journal?

I can’t really say because I have mostly found mentions of it and some people who have talked about it, but until today haven’t really looked too much at it.

My inspiration for writing this up (and looking at what I’m going to do to set this up) is this video from “How to ADHD”:

This was something that I found with just following a few of her videos (I subscribe, and I saw a new video today, and ended up finding this from watching that).

I think the idea, is that this really to provide something nice, flexible, and can really work for people.  It is designed by (and for) a person with ADHD, or is it an ADHD person, I don’t know that.

I have asked about that…

Keep things short

The Bullet Journal is about keeping things short.  It’s a bit of “bullet points” idea for all this stuff.

Flexible

The next point is that this is intended to be flexible, and part of that seems to be coming from the idea that existing systems just are not flexible.

Which really means that while there is some format designed around it, the whole point is that it actually be flexible for a person.

The idea (though there are dedicated forms of it) is that you actually work with a “blank notebook” for your planning tool.

EEK, blank notebook, and planning?  And I’m supposed to keep this all together.

Well, that’s why there is some format which is presented (as I’ll tell you in a good degree of detail down below).

Basic ideas around organization

It really essentially just presents some basic ideas around how to organize the journal, which to me actually seem pretty sound.  So, for me I’m going to look at what I want to know first.

That being the basics of “how do I get started”.  I know a lot of times people want to present a “good foundation” and then build on it.  I tend to fall in that direction myself.

But, with that in mind.  That is more how I want to teach things, not so much how I tend to learn things (in the end).

So, I am going to start with how to get started.  And to be perfectly hands on…  I’m going to actually do it while I’m writing it.

How do you set it up?

Remember, none of this is set in stone (hey, I need to remember that, which is why I am ending up going with actually setting some stuff up, because despite not finding a “nice clean journal” to work with, I think I just need to dive in…).

I am starting with a journal I have which has already been used.  It’s 192 pages of 9¼” by 7¼” so I’m not quite sure how well it will end up working out.

Journal Key

This is a small guide to your own journal.  There are a few different things, but briefly there are “types” of entries, and “signifiers” to those entries.  The main types are pretty simple, “to-dos,” “events,” and “notes”.  Signifiers can be simple too.  The initial list is “priority,” “inspiration,” and “look more”.

Index

The index is a guide to pretty much everything in your journal.  It’s all done manually, so you need to keep it up to date.

Future Log

This is a 12 month (usually) summary of the plan for the next (at the time of creating) 12 months.  You probably could set things up differently, but this is where I’m going with it…

Monthly Log

This is the “current month”.  Of course, with writing things down on paper in a book, you probably will have past months down too.  Pretty simple setup, it is supposed to be two pages, and that seems pretty good.

Daily Log

This is what you do in the day.  Or new stuff, or whatever.

Other (you can put other stuff in too)

You can put whatever else you want.  Each one should be on a single page, or maybe a few pages, or whatever, depending on how you work with that…

So, right here is where I start to go into details.  I hope that what I have written to this point will be enough for people to get a rough idea, and if super ambitious, and super willing to do things “wrong” can just dive in from there.  If not.  Follow me through my own process.

Journal Key

I’m putting this right at the beginning of my journal, so even though the official site doesn’t really talk about this as a section, I’m saying it needs to be somewhere that is really easy to find.  So mine is going right at the beginning of the “bullet journal” portion of this.

Text and notation: Journal Key

This is the journal key that I am using right now.

Purpose

This is helpful so that you will have a quick reference to what you want to use for symbols.

The use of different symbols is a big part of how the bullet journal helps keep your organized.

I will keep things pretty simple for now, and when you are starting, I think this is a good way to start.

Basic Keys

These are the different types.  This looks more complicated than it first sounds, but I’m diving in a bit beyond just starting, so I don’t have to revisit this.

“·” – Tasks

Tasks are started as a dot with how they show up.  So a new task gets entered with a dot, and the task.

Strike – irrelevant

When you decide a task is no longer relevant, you can strike it out.  This is when you have decide that you simply are not going to do this.

Your reasons for striking a task aren’t noted (unless you want to) you just end up indicating that you have decided to not do it.

X – Completed

When you complete a task, you change the · to a x.  I’m not quite sure that I would feel that is as satisfying as my previous “crossing things off a list” but I think in terms of the visual, this makes more sense.

> – Rescheduled

If for some reason you are rescheduling (to next month, or if for some reason you added something for the day but didn’t complete it, or something like that).  This isn’t for “down the road” but rather when you are giving it a specific timeframe to do it.

< – Future Log

This is for when you want to keep the item somewhere, but really aren’t sure when, so you add (or add back if it came from there) an event to the future log (which if you’re organizing as I will be, just putting things in one page at a time, one after the other, should be to the “left” as the arrow points).

o – Events

These are things which “happen”.  It can be something like a birthday, or something that happens that day “fell out of a tree” (please someone have this event, because I will want to know that story (maybe I will, because I still try to climb trees)), but something which is connected to the time.

“-” – Notes

This is probably the “everything else” (at least to start with) of these things.  If it’s not a “to do” or an “event” it probably is a note.  And if it’s not, then maybe you need to figure out what it will be, but for me I’ll have this as what I’m doing.

Signifiers

Signifiers are things which indicate more specifically what that event, to-do, or note is.  This is where a lot of people go wild with different things.  But I’m keeping it simple for now.

* – Priority

This is for something that is important, to try to address soon.  Or whatever.

! – Inspiration

This is something which you want to use for inspiration for whatever it is that you seek inspiration for.

“👁” – look further

This is something where you take a quick note, about something that you want to look at further down the road.  👁 is the character which we will be using.  Though it’s hard to enter here (this is just my keyboard, what would work for you would probably be something different) ctrl-shift-u1f441 There may be a simpler way.

Index

This is really an important part.  We already have our key, and I have given myself 2 pages for that (I doubt that I will use two pages, but I’ve already used more than I expected at about ⅜ of a page.  I didn’t expect that.

The index will list the things which you put (a word or two I think, maybe three) the index item, and a page number (yep, you need page numbers).

So, page numbers, I have started, and for the first bit I’m doing the “traditional” roman numerals, that will be the Journal Key, and the Index.

I probably will put the Future Log in the place which starts at the Arabic numeral 1.

Index, with list of "keys" and locations

Index for Bullet Journal

“First Few Pages”

It is the first few pages, I think I’m giving it 4 pages.  The Journal Key I have put at the beginning, before the Index, but that’s only 2 pages, and right at the beginning.

So, I will put them as the first 4 pages (this gives a tonne of space I hope).

One thing I’ll note here.  I usually tend to start “new” stuff on the right hand page.  But I am going to look at using the left hand page as the start of things, as this gives me starting with a page spread to work with.  Though, I may be just as likely to start things just on the left page if it’s something where that page spread is less important.

Here is where I’m going to start with the page numbering.  Or more continue with it.

For me, I will probably be doing page numbering either in blocks, or I may just use it as a stim and do the book as it stands.  But as I’m setting things up, I’m numbering pages as I am labeling them.

OK, I messed up my numbering, so I have got 8 pages of Index, but hey, that’s OK, play, and don’t be afraid of making mistakes.

OK, I just have been trying to take pictures of this as I have been working, but right as I was about to take some pictures I discovered that my camera battery has reached “zero” charge.  So, pictures will be taken later, probably as I have more done.

References to where things are

This notes where you have various parts of it.  Right now (as I’m setting this up, and writing along) I have two entries, which are “largely irrelevant” I think, but I also think they can in the future prove to be useful, as I can see that rather than giving myself loads of room for the journal key, or the index, I can enter new ones, or whatever in a later location in the book.

Page numbers

Page numbers are how the index works.  I am using a lined journal, with nothing other than the lines, and a left margin marked on the pages.  So, I’m going to have to enter the page numbers by myself.  I’m going to start right now, and decide when I’m “too bored” which I suspect will be “about when I’m done”.

OK, I ended up numbering the whole thing.

Future Log

The future log is where things that will be done “later” end up getting put at the point that they come up.  These are things which won’t be done in the current month, but as it is setup, they get listed as coming up in a given month down the road.

I guess how I am setting things up, I probably will start with the month which I am starting on (March 2018, which I’m more than half way through) and as I’m setting things up, stuff for March will end up getting added.

2 Page spread of Bullet Journal. Future Log

Future Log Spread for Bullet Journal. 6 months listed.

One Month in Future Log of Bullet Journal

Bullet Journal – Single Month in the Future Log

12 month view

As I am setting this up, the Future Log, will be a 12 month view.  This probably could be done in a rather different way, but this is how it is setup.

I have considered some things like splitting my year not into calendar months, and possibly not having my weeks always aligning with what other people use.

Of course, this sounds great when I’m thinking about it, in terms of a personal way of breaking things up, but I quickly realize that if I use a system which doesn’t closely approximate the common, or one of the most common ways of looking at things, this is going to break down.

Pretty much everyone has some connection to the “standard” calendar.  The current (Gregorian calendar) is used in some form by just about everyone, and other calendars usually end up being overlaid on it.

So I am using a 12 month view (still wondering if it fully works, but let’s start with what is proposed).  I think the thing is, stuff which might make some more sense to me in terms of that would still have to be overlaid on the Gregorian calendar.  So, yes, it makes sense.

3 months per page

The first step is to divide the page into three sections, giving 6 sections for each page spread.  That means 2 page spreads, or 4 pages will cover our 12 months.

With my pages divided like this (I am having a little trouble figuring out exactly where I want to go in terms of how to divide my pages, so each spread is a little different) I then label my months.

4 pages

The idea of keeping it really small like this is so that people don’t go overboard and plan the whole month, but only put items in it that have to be noted in advance.

Very brief overview of the year

With the size that I like to work with (somewhere around 5½ by 8½ on each page) this gives each month about 5½ by 2⅚ for each month.  This isn’t a lot of space, so keep it simple.  In the one I am working with it is around 7 lines, so maybe 15 items can go in any given month.  And you probably don’t want to use that much really.

I have looked at what I can fill out right now, and I think that I’m overthinking it.  But, let’s go with that, for now.

Monthly Log

I don’t know if it’s supposed to be called a monthly log or a month log.  I think the wording has been monthly, but sadly I don’t know of a similar form of “future” which would allow for appropriate parallelism.  I’ll leave it at that.  But I will think about it really.

The monthly log, will be a brief overview of the month.  On the “left page” there is a whole month overview (28-31 days) which uses a simple list with the day number, and the day letter (S-S), or whatever.

On the left page, is a log of todos, events, or whatever.

2 Page Spread of Bullet Journal - Monthly Log

Monthly Log Spread in Bullet Journal

2 pages

This is only a 2 page entry.  It is kept that brief to be very simple, keep things much simpler than if you have a more free form way.  This also makes it easier to look at the current month and putting stuff there, or whatever is a lot easier.

1 Page month overview (28-31 days)

The left side of the page spread has the month listed, with the 28-31 days down the left, with the day of the week listed right next to it.

Monthly Log - Date View - Top Part

Top part of Monthly Log – Date View – In Bullet Journal

1 Page List of todos for month.

On the right you put your to dos, or notes for the month.  The sense I have is this is more for the ones which you aren’t putting on a date (event things) or just adding on a day (I’m doing it today (or planning to)).  This I’m not quite sure what I will do with it, but I’m setting my first month up now.

I have looked at how this sets up.  I need to try to remember to “do it right” for April.  There are a few “messes” which I have made, but part of my process is allowing myself to make mistakes, and look at them.  Without being too upset about them (trust me, I will be upset).

To Do Items in Bullet Journal - Monthly Log

To Do Items for a single month in Monthly Log of Bullet Journal

Daily Log

This is what you do in the day.  I think these are usually very brief, maybe 3-7 items, which means you end up with several days on a given page.

Text with marks for Bullet Journal. Daily Log

One Day of Daily Log of Bullet Journal

Very short

Everything here is really short, you want to have a short sentence, or just enough to remind you in a few days what this means.  If you will need more, you will do that in an “other” page.  That is a page which will have something like meeting notes, or whatever.

Only what gets done that day

How I am looking at this, I create it at the beginning of the day, and work through it throughout the day.  I add items as I feel I need to, and then I will mark them at the end of the day as to how I have “processed” them.  If something is a “note” or a “future to-do” I can write it for the given day, with some note as to when or what to do with it at the review stage.

Possibly multiple days on a page

Most days (I expect for me) will only take up a portion of a page.  This will allow for the more “dense” storage of this information.  I expect that most of my “daily log” pages will have 2-4 days on them.  Though this will have to be looked at differently.

Other pages

One of the purposes of the bullet journal is that it keeps at least the “basics of everything”.  It’s supposed to be the one book that you always know where it is, and you can put anything for any project into it as it comes up.

So, some pages will end up being outside of the scope of everything else that has been listed.

So, we need some concept to handle that, and I’m calling that “other” pages.

Other stuff is pretty open

This can really be anything.  I’m using the general term “other page” right now as I don’t know what I might do with that.  So because I’m doing it that way anything goes.  But as things work out differently over the weeks and months, things will evolve.

Try to keep one “thing” on a page

If something doesn’t really fit on any of the “core” pages, it will need an other page.  I will try to keep each “page” (and they might be multiple pages) on a single topic or whatever.

Summation

So, I think I have things setup for the first little while.  I think there are a few things I will want to put in at this point.  Some of this is just trying to say a bit about everything which has been said above.  Other stuff is more “direction to go” for me, and for those of you who might be “following along”.

Keep it how you want it

This is important.  While I am talking about a format, and how to use it.  This needs to work for you (or you need to find something which does, and this looks like it can work for most people, though it might not be a “best solution” for some people).  So do what you want with it.  And that’s what I’m trying to do with this.

Format is flexible

The format I have presented is flexible, but it needs to be noted that I have given some specifics which are not necessary.  That is, how I am doing these things is how I am doing them (based largely on the “official” version of this, though from what I see, it’s meant to be played with).

I have looked at what other people have been doing, and looking at that is overwhelming for me.  Starting with this basic format, and one which has been setup right from the beginning from the creator of the system feels like a great way for me to start this.  And for me, starting is a huge thing.  I don’t get anything done, if I don’t do something to start.

Make your format work

If you are just “following along” and trying something out.  You will probably find that things will work, and things will probably not work for a variety of reasons.  I know that for me I expect that each daily log, each monthly log, each future log, will end up having revisions placed on it.

Play with it

This is something that you play with.  I know the point is to “keep you organized” and that’s important.  But anything that is too much work, will be something that you will only do reluctantly.  So do what will make it fun.

Of course, there is the other end of things too.  Don’t obsess about making it fun either.  I know for me personally fun is a “dirty word”.  It’s something that when someone says “what do you do for fun?” I usually come up blank.  Because, well I don’t even have any clue how to answer that.

Because I’m pretty sure “use my bullet journal to organize my life” most people will not consider an “appropriate” answer.  But right this moment, that is probably the answer I have.  And to me, it’s totally an awesome answer.  Because while before I started looking at it, my “feeling” about someone saying something like that has been “you’ve got to be kidding.”  But now I’m doing it, I think it might actually make sense.

Keep a schedule

Here’s something that likely will be very hard for me.  While this is “kind of a free flow” thing, it really isn’t that great if it ends up slipping by.  At least once a day (at a regular time) you need to make sure you look at your bullet journal, if you are going to make it something that meets its primary goal.  That is keeping your organized.  For me, what I plan on doing (though I’m not sure it will happen) is “in the morning” I will look at what is “left over” and “scheduled” for the day, and start that day’s daily log.  Then at the end of the day, I will look to note what I did, or did not accomplish, and create a “to do” for tomorrow.  And that’s where I’m at now, the end of the day, and reviewing my day.

My battery looks like it’s not fully charged, so I’ll leave that overnight rather than finishing this off today.  I want to get this posted tomorrow including some pictures of what I have done so far.

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