The concept of keeping a journal is something we've been hearing for years now. It helps us get our thoughts down, they help to keep us organized, and they can just be great tools to keep track of the chaos in our lives. Though, for people who have a million and one things on the go, the bullet journal seems to be the better alternative.

What Is A Bullet Journal?

  • A bullet journal is a quick and efficient way to keep track of your goals, take notes, set reminders, and organize your life a little better.
  • You can use any old notebook you like. All you need to get started is a notebook and a pen.
  • The bullet journal is a new take on journaling that uses bullet points and lists as its core rather than longer sentences.

Bullet Journal Terminology

There are a few key phrases you'll need to learn before diving into the project:

  1. Index: A table of contents that you'll need to update as the days go by.
  2. Daily Log: Pretty self-explanatory, but it's just a log you keep of things you need to do that day or things you haven't done.
  3. Monthly Log: This is just a log you keep throughout the month of things you want to accomplish. It's also a good place to keep track of things you may not have done last month, but want to catch up on.
  4. Rapid Logging: This is a fairly important definition in bullet journaling and it essentially just means the symbols you put beside different notes.
  5. Future Log: This here is just an overview of your year and what you want to get done in the next 365 days.

Each of these has their own little branches of terminology that will help you stay better organized.

Getting Started

The main purpose of the bullet journal is to help you keep track of your life in as compact a way as possible, which means that its primary method is for users to write down quick bullets over longer sentences. This is where rapid logging comes into play. The bullet journal website describes the steps to rapid logging as "consist[ing] of four components: topics, page numbers, short sentences, and bullets."

  1. Topics: When you start your bullet journal, you'll want to include a topic and a page number on each page. The topic can range from anything that will help you keep better track of your entries. For most, the topic is the date, but they can range from whatever your little heart desires. It's recommended that you get into the habit of numbering each page and adding a topic before you start journaling.
  2. Bullets: Bullets are the next step to rapid logging. What happens here is just keeping a bullet-point list of what you need to do that day or things you want to keep track of. The site describes the bullets as helping people to "organize your entries into three categories: Tasks, Events, and Notes."

When it comes to organizing the bullets, the website recommends the following symbols:

  • X = Task complete
  • > = Task migrated
  • < = Task scheduled
  • O = Event
  • -- = Notes
  • * = Priority task
  • ! = Ideas and mantras
  • (an eye) = Something that should be looked into further

You can also come up with your own symbols!

Pros And Cons Of A Bullet Journal

Many people have indulged in a bullet journal and have lots of things to say about it. There have been tons of people who have posted on their blogs or written articles about their experiences with a bullet journal, and while there are tons of pros to having one, they come with a few cons as well.

The Pros:

  • Bullet journals are fantastic ways to express creativity. Anhthology stated that the bullet journal allows people to be as creative or minimalistic as they like and have free reign to make whatever they want of their notebooks.
  • They're great ways to keep track of important events, take notes, set reminders for yourself, and stay organized.
  • These journals offer a sense of uniqueness that you're not going to find in traditional planners.
  • They keep track of long-term goals and are great ways to inspire productivity by having everything laid out in front of you.

The Cons:

  • Bullet journals can be pricey. Of course, there are plenty of guides suggesting that you turn a simple notebook into a bullet journal, but people like to make the most of them sometimes. This means that you'll be staring at the business end of a $25 price tag for a bullet journal in addition to other supplies you may want to use.
  • They can take up a lot of time. Though they seem really cool and fun (and they are) they can also take up a ton of time for people who just want to quickly jot their thoughts or notes down without having to add specific symbols for every little thing.
  • For some, bullet journals really aren't worth the trouble. Sure, they're cool ways to be creative, but if all you're looking for is a planner to keep track of daily goals and plans then this type of journal might seem too busy.
  • Should you start a plain notebook as a bullet journal you're pretty much left to do all the work. Unless you find a bullet journal that has some of the symbols already added in for you, you're left to do the work.

In an article by Refinery29, blogger Kim Alvarez talks about a few things to keep in mind before you start a bullet journal. She reminds new users to keep things simple and not to spend too much time trying to make it perfect or look nice. "When [new users] see so much inspiration, they're like, 'Okay, I want to do a sleep tracker, and I want to do a habit tracker, and I want to do this, and I want to do that.' Pretty soon they overwhelm themselves with all these different ideas," she says.

"It has to be yours. It's not what anyone else is doing. It's what works for you. It's what you need in your life at the time, and what you need now may change in a couple of weeks or a couple of years. And your Bullet Journal will adapt along with you as your life changes," she added.

Be sure to think about whether you really need the bullet journal in your life and question how useful it will be given your schedule and needs. If you're thinking of getting a bullet journal, there are a few places you can go to check them out. Some offer a variety of colors and come with the specific symbols already added to the margins.

It's all about doing what's best for you!

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