My Bullet Journal Method
Table of Contents
I have been bullet-journaling (bujo) since I first chanced on it on 2015. It made sense to me at the time, and it still does. Whether I like it or not, the technology that humans are now developing rapidly moves towards the digital. Bujo remains my anchor to the analog world, where things are slower and require more deliberation.
If you’re curious what this is, Ryder Carroll, the creator, explains it here.
In this post, I discuss my setup, riffed from Carroll’s minimal design. This documentation also serves as future reference.
Marked as on-going because I’m always revising my bujo ways.
A notebook and a pen(cil). Literally any kind will do. Some people even do it with tablet and stylus (usually iPad and Apple Pencil), but that’s unnecessary and too high-tech for my taste.
Preferred, but not required
- notebook: dotted, at least 35 rows, A5 max size
- pen: 0.5mm needle point, black ink, doesn’t smudge
- small ruler
- other pen/s with different color
Front- and Back-door Scheme
From the official website:
Bujo is a modular framework. Each module, or Collection, serves to organize related information… [The four core Collections are] Index, Future Log, Monthly Log, and Daily Log.
Accessing the notebook via “front door” means opening it in its proper orientation. Conversely, “back door” means the back cover of the notebook.
All the logs are written from the front door going in. I don’t put the Index in this side, because it’s not often that I refer back to a Daily Log.
Other Collections are written from the back door going in. On this other side, I put the Index. I write the page number at the bottom corners of each page.
Sample of non-log Collections that I write from the back door:
- cooking recipes
- instructions on how to do a recurring thing
- listicles I hand-copied from the internet that I need to access offline
The notebook is done when notes from the front and back finally meet in the middle.
This is used to store entries that will occur outside the current month.
I find this useful, especially when scheduling tasks and projects for later that I don’t want to keep in my head right now.1
A spread is dedicated for each month of the year.
Mine contains the following, going from the left page to the right:
- Calendar of the month;
- Below it, Upcoming tasks and events for the month. These are usually migrated from the Future Log.
- Expenses tracker, in which I list the expenses I make per day. I transfer this data to a spreadsheet in my computer, where the calculation takes place. This tracker serves as a reminder to be mindful of expenses, as well as a backup, in case something corrupts the spreadsheet.
- The whole right page of the spread is dedicated for Daily Highlights. I write one to two lines per day here. In the past, this was my “daily gratitude,” but I find it hard to be grateful everyday.
- I also write a Monthly Review at the end of each month, which I don’t place on the spread, but on the page after the last the Daily Log of the month. Here I try to talk about what happened to FORM (Friends and Family, Occupation, Recreation, Motivation) during the month. This is not a strict format, though.
I should also note that my I also incorporate my mood tracker in the calendar. I do this by highlighting the day with a color in the rainbow: red is a great day, violet is horrible day.
Bujo’s bulk comprises Daily Logs.
As the day goes on, I update the log, adding and/or subtracting bullets.
My Daily Log is many things: a to-do list, a reminder, an analog Twitter, notepad, tracker, etc.
Below is the format I currently use:
01 JAN, MON □ △ ◯ X AF: tosilog, coffee PF: sinigang na bangus, pakbet, brown rice ○ New Year's Day! (event bullet) - The dog ate the sausage! (note bullet) · Take out the trash (task bullet) □ - A flying cat was chasing me. Weird! x Prepare anti-hungover drink (task completed bullet) * · Buy eggs
Let’s break this down by section:
- The first line already contains several info.
- Current date, day of the week
- Daily Trackers. I only have four,2 each one represented by a PlayStation symbol, because I’m creative like that. Notice that I have my trackers in the Daily Log, and not on a dedicated spread like in many bujos online. This is just a personal preference.
- The next two lines,
PF, are Food Log. I list my meals during daytime (
AFor AM Food) and nighttime (
PFor PM Food).
- The rest are bullets.
I maintained Carroll’s bullet and signifier usage, with a bit of addition.
I also used Mood Tracker symbols as signifiers in conjunction with a Note bullet.
□ - A flying cat was chasing me. Weird!
I use □ as my Dream Tracker. When I use it as a signifier to a note, it becomes a Dream Log, in which I can write about the dream I had. I don’t have to make a note on each of the Daily Tracker, but when I do, their symbol makes a useful signifier.
I do have an Index, but it is placed right after the back door, where non-log Collections are. I allot a spread for this, but I have never maximized this space ever.
When a bujo is (mostly) filled, it’s time to archive them. I simply write the start and end dates that the bujo served me, usually along the spine. I still keep them accessible, because I usually have some notes that I need to refer to from time to time.
And, of course, thanks to Ryder Carroll for sharing this method to the world for free.3
In fact, the main tenet of bujo is rapid logging: to write down a thought quickly before the mind forgets it. As a consequence, the notebook becomes a list of list of items in bullet points, hence the name Bullet Journal. ↩︎
In my opinion, one should not have millions of trackers. I found four to be manageable. ↩︎
You see, it’s amazing how there are paid “courses” to “guide you in setting up” your own bujo. Look up the terms “bullet journaling course” in your favorite search engine, and see what comes up. ↩︎
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