What is a bullet journal?
The bullet journal has been described as “an analogue time management system for the digital age.”
It is designed to track the past, organize the present and plan for the future.
That sounds like the kind of system every Time Hack Hero should know about, right?
I have to confess that up until last year, I had never even heard of a bullet journal or a BuJo, as it’s often called by the seemingly ever-growing number of enthusiasts that make up the bullet journal communities around the globe.
I guess you’d call them BuJoers, if you’re one of the cool kids.
The first time I recall seeing any reference to it was on Pinterest – you know the pins showing all those beautiful headers, funky icons, gorgeous fonts and doodles – and I thought that bullet journaling was just a way that the artistically-inclined could customize their diaries with pretty fonts and colours.
It had been at least a decade since I’d used any type of paper-based diary and I wasn’t about to start again just so I could decorate it with my awful artwork and uber-crappy attempts at calligraphy that even a first-grader would laugh at – or more likely, pity.
But then I discovered that it was being hailed as a serious productivity tool.
And that did pique my interest.
BuJoers all over the world claim that they’ve previously tried all kinds of apps and systems and that this is the only one they have used that has had such a transformative effect on their productivity and ability to remain organized.
I must admit that I was skeptical. Basically, you’re writing a to-do list in a diary and adding some pretty doodles.
I mean, I’m always looking for the best ways to get the most out of my time, but somehow going back to pen and paper and spending ages on fancy lettering and fonts seemed kind of counter-productive. Using a diary seems like a bit of a step backwards. It’s like we’re jumping back to the 1980s when all the Yuppies were using a Filofax (in the UK, at least).
And I write so little these days that my hand cramps up if I have to do any more than sign my name.
But maybe there was something I was missing?
As I found out with a bit more research, there is quite a bit more to bullet journaling than I originally thought.
Origins of the Bullet Journal
The original concept of the Bullet Journal is the creation of Ryder Carroll.
His original, functional concept has since morphed into something more artistic with people customizing their journals to reflect their own personalities and requirements.
I’ve seen some incredible artwork and journals that expand on the original concept to include things like mood, stress and fitness trackers, sleep and spending logs, book and film lists. In fact, anything that is on your mind can be tracked, logged and archived in a bullet journal.
How to set up a Bullet Journal
The best way to introduce you to this is with a video by the creator himself.
Does it work?
At the end of the day, a bullet journal is just a diary/daily planner. So why do the bullet journal thing instead of just buying a planner bought from the store?
Well, the most common reason for designing your own bullet journal is due to the limitation of a generic planner. There may not be enough space for entries or not enough blank pagers for your trackers, etc.
This side of things I get. And I also found out that a bullet journal doesn’t have to be super-artistic either. As long as it has an Index Log, a Future Log, a Monthly Log and a Daily Log, it seems you’re good to go.
But BuJo’ing is definitely not for everybody.
And I don’t think it’s for me.
That is not to say that it won’t work for you, so don’t be afraid to give it a go if the idea appeals to you.
And I am not sure if it necessarily helps you with your time management, but it can definitely make you more organized.
Time Hack Hero Takeaway
I have not gone out and bought a bullet journal, simply because I know that it is not the system for me. I am too digitally-minded and don’t do anything on paper unless I have no other choice.
And I’m definitely more into functionality over aesthetics – when it comes to managing my life, at least – and I’ll stick with apps for now.
I completely get that some people don’t like apps though because I recognize that many apps do have their limitations. If you’re somebody that doesn’t like the fact that the app dictates the framework you work in, then the bullet journal method becomes an attractive alternative since it gives you the flexibility to customize an organisation system exactly to your own personal needs and you don’t have to try to fit everything into a pre-formatted template that apps provide.
I also get why some people might love using a bullet journal and how it may even be a therapeutic way of organizing tasks, tracking progress and exploring thoughts, but for me, the process of setting it all up and making it look pretty would be a waste of time, especially since I am currently use apps that work for me.
There are plenty of bullet journal communities around if you want to find out more. A good place to start is this subreddit: r/bulletjournal.
If you like the idea of bullet journals, but don’t want to do all the fancy doodling, then this one might be more your thing: r/BasicBullet Journals
[Fetured image credit: Estée Janssens]