The Genius Bullet Journal Guide for Women Just Beginning to Use It
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Women are incredibly busy these days. Multi-taskers we are, and to be productive, we devise our own methods and systems – from pasting sticky notes on the refrigerator to typing memos on our smart phones.
We use whatever it takes to help us get the job done!
Being a bit of a tech geek, I loved my digital task manager. But when I was juggling a ton of varying complicated tasks at the office and at home, all of the stuff in my digital task manager did more to distract and overwhelm me than to help me the way that it should have, often leading me to procrastination.
But what I have found is that many women who prefer to use analog methods (old school, ya’ll) are now using a bullet journal.
How well you organize and archive your life depends on two factors: your specific needs and the tools you use. For many people, organizing tools don’t come greater than the bullet journal.
Some have called it the most appealing planner. Others, the most convenient calendar. To the rest, it is the perfect productivity tool . But just what is a bullet journal and how can you use it to get stuff done?
In this bullet journal guide, we will help you understand what a bullet journal is and how you can use it to boost your productivity.
Bullet Journal Guide for Beginners
What is a Bullet Journal?
The bullet journal, or bujo (short for “bullet journal”), is an analog planner system for time and task management invented by the Brooklyn-based artistic director, Ryder Carroll. Here’s Ryder’s original bullet journal video.
A bullet journal is a notebook to capture any information that’s important for you — to-do lists, goals, appointments, or anything you want it to keep track of – and it’s a tool that keeps every little thing about your life organized and pretty.
The bullet journal is intended to encourage individuals to log tasks or any ideas or thoughts that come to mind using pen and paper, so that they can keep up with their daily activities and experiences, as well as long-term goals.
In this sense, you could say that the bullet journal functions as a planner, a to-do list, and a diary. The bullet journal uses bullet points as the primary structure.
Elements of the Bullet Journal
Jotting down your ideas enables you to plan the time frame for future dates, understand yourself, and have a visualization of the future track of your life.
Consequently, the bullet journal features sections such as index, dailies, monthlies, as well as a future log to make it easier for you to manage your life properly and plan for the future with more equanimity.
Here’s a breakdown of these elements:
- Index: The index is a key component of the bullet journal. The section consists of a table of contents that is updated with different task lists, notes, and dates.These topics are called collections. Your collections may include friends you want to visit, movies you plan to watch, the foods you want to eat, self-care ideas, etc.The index is updated as a new collection is created. For instance, if you plan on going to the market, the index topic would be “Going to the Market,” then you would enter the number of pages the topic covers.Doing so makes it easier for you to find specific pages or sections in your bullet journal.
- Daily log: This section is where you record your daily tasks, which may consist of the things you have done or what you need to do.
- Monthly Log: This section captures your monthly entries (the stuff you need to do in a particular month and the things you forgot to do the month before).
- Rapid Logging: This refers to the language in which the bullet journal is written.The main point of the bullet journal is that instead of writing long sentences, you pen down quick notes on any number of items.After that, you note the jottings with symbols to classify and track them. Rapid logging is typically made up of topics, page numbers, bullets, and short sentences.
- Future Log: Future log helps you to plan for the future by encouraging you to make long-term goals.
The entries you could make in a future log include anniversaries, birthdays, meetings holidays, etc. which aren’t yet on your immediate plan.
Essentially, the future log captures all the noteworthy events that will occur in the future.
Any journal or notebook can serve as a bullet journal, provided you can take it with you.
This means that the size and quality of the journal have to be right.
If you want something that’s stylish enough to carry around, the Leuchtturm1917 Medium Sized dot grid journal comes highly recommended.
Bujo differs from a weekly or monthly planner in that you can customize it to your specific needs.
With the bullet journal, you can dedicate as much space as you need to fit events into your schedule.
Bullet Journal Signifiers
Bullet journal signifiers are the keys you use to identify different tasks. Using different symbols to denote your entries will help you to see at a glance what your bullets represent.
For instance, you could use:
- A black dot (۰) to indicate a task
- A bullet is turned into a slash “\” when the task is in progress
- An “X” to identify completed tasks
- The less than (<) symbol to mark scheduled tasks The greater symbol (>) to show uncompleted tasks that have been moved to a new date
- An open circle (O) to denote significant events
- A star (٭) to add special importance to a note
- A dash (-) symbol to mark quick notes, thoughts, or smaller events
You could make your own symbols and use different signifiers to denote different tasks.
Journalers suggest keeping a key somewhere in the journal as a reminder of what all the symbols mean.
Why use a bullet journal?
A critical benefit of the bullet journal is that it involves writing by hand, which tends to boost a user’s ability to commit tasks to memory.
While there are plenty of analog tools you can use to keep track of your tasks, events, and schedule, the bullet journal stands out for the following reasons:
1. The Bullet Journal Encourages Creativity and Freedom of Expression
The bullet journal gives you the freedom to create and personalize pages to your liking by allowing you to choose your own design and fit in whatever you like.
Instead of deploying fascinating handwriting and calligraphy, for instance, you can arrange a few pictures across the page if you do not feel like writing.
This way, the bullet journal gives you the freedom to explore your creative side and express yourself fully, while directly helping to plan your life.
2. There Are No Limits
Bullet journal pages are not entirely structured.
The core structure of the bullet journal requires you to format with bullet points across the page.
However, this does not apply when you are writing prompts or new calendar spreads.
This very characteristic is what makes the bullet journal one of the most resourceful planner tools out there.
3. The Bullet Journal Simplifies the Organization Process
A Bullet Journal helps us to conveniently keep track of everything in one place.
For example, instead of having a calendar for work, a calendar for home, a calendar for our blog, and a to-do list in every room, we can keep everything is in one place in a bullet journal.
In addition with the bullet journal, you utilize bullet symbols such as x, greater than, less than, star, etc. over the bullet, which makes organizing your thoughts easier to do.
When we’re busy at work and remember that we need more toothpaste, we can flip over a few pages and add it to our shopping list.
If you realize you forgot to think about dinner tonight, you can turn to your meal plan, text your husband and ask him to start defrosting the meat.
What we need to organize our thoughts and tasks, for any area of our life, is available in our Bullet Journal or little notebook.
4. The Bullet Journal Makes It Easier for You to Remember Things
The use of bullet points makes your jottings easier on the eyes.
And since every page gets a number, creating an index section at the beginning of the journal helps you to outline and organize your thoughts so you don’t have to skim through chunks of pages to find a specific entry.
5. Bullet Journaling is Less Stressful
Using the bullet journal system, we can feel less overwhelmed and more clear-headed.
Unlike other planners, the bullet journal does not require you to save pages or have empty sections, which eliminates waste.
You do not have to write anything consecutively; all you have to do is jot down any new information on the next blank page.
Journaling all the things that need to get done the next day helps us stay focused, not stressed.
6. A Bullet Journal Helps Us To Be More Productive
If we think of a task, it goes on a list, and if that task is already on a list, it gets done.
A Bullet Journal never disappoints us with dead batteries or technical glitches.
7. A Bullet Journal Is Practical
It doesn’t require us to pay any subscription fees or syncing.
Yet it helps us be the Chief Operating Officers of our families.
Bullet Journal Ideas
The good thing about a bullet journal is that it is an all-rounder in that it serves as a life record that gives you a space to reflect on and appreciate the good moments, as well as plan your life.
To help with the organizing process, we have identified some ideas you might want to incorporate in your journal:
Create a habit tracker spread: You can use a habit tracker to track your behaviors.
For instance, if you are trying to make it a habit to wake up at 5 AM every day, creating a habit tracker spread will enable you to monitor your achievability.
Period Tracker: Using the bullet journal to track your menstrual cycle will make your period so much easier and enable you to feel more in control.
For example, it will allow you to understand the influences of a certain medication on your cycle, stress levels, and mood swings.
- Use a bullet journal to track your water intake.
- Use a bullet journal to track your bills.
- Use bullet journal to track your savings goal.
- Keep track of your fitness progress using the bullet journal.
- Use bullet journal to track birthdays and holidays.
- Use bullet journal to track TV shows.
Other significant logs you could create include, goals and rewards, memory log, recipe bank, affirmation log, gratitude log, meal planning log, etc.
There’s an amazing variety of ways you can lay out your pages and spreads. Here are a few:
Pinterest – On Pinterest people share…
- the way they set up their journals,
- the way they lay out the pages,
- the types of spreads and collections they use, and
- the way they decorate their journals.
Instead of getting overwhelmed by people’s creativity and artistic approach we can find some ideas that can be easily incorporate into our Bullet Journal.
After all it’s fun to try different approaches.
- Instagram – By searching the hashtags #BulletJournal or #BuJo we can find how other people are using their Bullet Journals.
- Websites and blogs – For inspiration there are whole blogs and groups built around the use and design of Bullet Journals. These blogs and websites describe an amazing variety of ways we can lay out our pages and spreads.
- YouTube – There are YouTube videos about Bullet Journaling, demonstrating how people set theirs up and what pages and spreads they use.
Bullet Journal Tips
Our Bullet Journal can include all of the things our brain and our life need to succeed.
It can have…
- a monthly page that works like our monthly calendar,
- a weekly page to plan out each week, and
- our daily log- also known as our daily to-do list
- an index (i.e. a table of contents) for our to-do lists
- a weekly brain dump of all possible to-do list items
- a goals list
- shopping list
- meal plan
- random doodle page
- meeting notes
- budget pages,
- a page for the previous month’s accomplishments
- a page for the next month’s goals
- a calendar page for the month
- a monthly meal plan
- blogging pages to plan out content and social media schedules
- a habit tracker
- quotes to remember
- books we want to read
- things we need to buy
- upcoming birthdays, weddings, anniversaries baby showers
And the list can go on and on.
The beauty of a Bullet Journal is that we get to do whatever fits our fancy.
Tools You Need for Bullet Journaling
As mentioned, there are two tools you need for bullet journaling: a pen and a notebook.
However, all tools are not created equal. For that reason, most users prefer to use the following:
Leuchtturm1917 – Leuchtturm 1917 is the most popular bullet journal brand. It’s about $20. It’s our choice if we want to keep it simple and set it up using fine-point colored pens (ranging between $7 and $20) whose ink will not bleed through the paper so we can color code things.
We can get creative and pick up things like…..
- sticky divider notes,
- washi tape, and
- stamps with ink pads
We may spend more time and money on a bullet journal than a traditional planner, but it really all depends on your personal tastes. Bullet journals promote our use of creative outlet, as well as some well-deserved “me time”. And we can feel more in control and content when we thoughtfully and creatively plan out the different aspects of our lives.
We hope you have enjoyed this bullet journal guide. The bullet journal was created to allow you to be more organized on your own time and terms.
For most users, the major draw is that bullet journaling offers great flexibility, and enables users to make their journals whatever they want them to be.
For you, the bullet journal might turn out to be all the tool you need to create and capture your ideas onto the page, to foster your artistic sense and boost your productivity.
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Kimberly Clay is the founder and creative force behind What She Say. She’s a business professional, writer and editor who’s been creating and managing digital content for nearly twenty years. Her work is now focused in the areas of self-improvement and personal development, and she is passionate about helping other individuals, especially women, to find a path for living their best life.