Gwennan Rees

Blogger and Illustrator

Ways I Make The Bullet Journal System Work For Me.

Ways I Make The Bullet Journal System Work For Me.

The bullet journal system as devised by Ryder Carroll is set to make note taking and list making simple in an increasingly busy world. It's basically a way of 'rapid logging' which is devised into a series of steps which includes things like titling each page, numbering them, bulleting, noting, logging and prioritising. 

The bullet journal craze has taken over the world of organised people and seems hell bent on continuing the trend as people are addicted - myself included. The system created by Ryder relies on a key of symbols and migrating of tasks and future logging and whilst very simple to use once you get into the swing of things, still doesn't work for everyone. 

The point of the system is to make it simple to organise and plan in a very personalised manner - but what if the system doesn't work for you? You need to make it suit, something I have just about mastered. 

Ways I Make The Bullet Journal System Work For Me;

1. The index.

The point of titling and numbering your pages is to then fill in an index at the beginning of your journal to help you identify where things are when you need them. I personally don't ever use my index, only filling it because it's there and instead I organise my journal so I immediately know where all the important stuff is. I have all my monthly calendars and habit trackers together at the beginning along with all my information pages and then the rest of the journal is weekly trackers and seasonal content, all tied neatly with a ribbon to tell me which week I'm on. 

2. The key. 

The system created by Ryder has a very structured key which is all well and good if it works for you. Personally I have taken some elements but mostly designed a key myself based on icons that work for me and what I need a key for. That means things like downward facing arrows for migrated tasks, crosses for tasks that no longer need completing, a hashed box for completed tasks, a £ for bills and an @ for blogs and a ! for the most important of all. 

3. The future log. 

Future logging is very important in the original bullet journal system and whilst I have my monthly calendars and my master to do lists for the following week, I found future logging actually very difficult for my own journal. I found planning too far ahead and designing spreads for weeks ahead really affected the way in which I used my journal and eventually led to the demise of my 2016 one. Now apart from my calendars I only work week on week and it's much more productive. 

4. The monthly log. 

The design of the monthly log in Ryder's vision is very very simplistic - a line with dates on one side, maybe a few important bits of information and on the right hand side the tasks for the month. I knew from the off that this monthly log wouldn't be for me, I need plenty of room to write tasks and events so I immediately designed a calendar very similar to a traditional format and I've stuck with that ever since. 

5. The daily log. 

Again, the daily log is too simplistic for me although I use it in a very similar way. I bullet point for tasks and events and I write very simple undetailed notes to myself but my design is much more illustrative.  One thing that Ryder suggests is if you miss a day of the week because you have no tasks or things to record then move immediately onto the next day but I can't have that - I need a whole 7 days of the week recorded whether I'm busy or not (I'm always busy).

6. The app. 

There's an app that accompanies bullet journaling which as far as I can tell records your old notebooks and tags your collections, gives you inspiration and also acts as a habit tracker. Whilst I'd have ordinarily been allllll over this I think the beauty of the journal is it in paper form and I for one will not be moving over to digital. 

7. The simplicity. 

For me, the bullet journal is too simple - which I appreciate is completely the point. I love the bullet journal system for what it is but the application of the system onto paper is too simple for me. I need drawing, I need doodles, I need design, I need boxes and headers and a bit more than just bullet points on a page.

8. The perfection. 

The idea behind a bullet journal is it's personal and it's not confined to the format of a traditional notebook or journal. You can create and design it any which way you like and if you get something wrong, you mess up dates or plans change it doesn't matter you cross it out and move on. I have never been able to just cross out and move on and I have a whole post planned on the perfectionism of bullet journalling. 

How To Adapt The System To Work For You; 

1. Research the original system. 

The best way to implement the bullet journal system by Ryder is to research it yourself and look into the ins and outs. Finding out how it was supposed to be used instantly gave me a feel of whether or not this was for me and which elements I knew would be a no go from the start. Look into how it works and what the fundamental principles are before you start. 

2. Work out how you live. 

For me future logging wasn't essential whereas habit trackers and lots of spreads and information at the start of the journal were. I learnt from my first journal that working month by month wasn't helping me so for my 2017 journal I moved into creating all 12 calendars in one go. Now I can future plan without extensively logging ahead and it makes my weekly spreads much more productive. If parts of the original system don't work for the way in which you organise yourself, omit or edit them. 

3. Design your own way. 

The simplicity might be your thing and equally, like me, it may not be. The beauty of the bujo is the ability to design your way to make it the most effective journal for you it can be. Don't forget to check out my free printables if you're in need of any inspiration for the odd doodle. 

4. Don't be afraid to change. 

My 2016 bullet journal as lovely as it was to start off with ultimately failed because it wasn't working for me and I was too afraid to do anything about it. I felt like once I had a system that was working I should stick to it even when it became redundant and didn't work anymore which meant I stopped enjoying my journal and stopped using it productively. Now even though I have a pretty tight system that works I still deliberately change the layout slightly or the design in order to keep it fresh and stop the same thing happening again. 

5. Take inspiration from others. 

Pinterest is your bae when it comes to working out how to make the bullet journal system work for you. There are millions upon millions of boards and pins and ideas for you to research and check out, all based on the same fundamental principles that Ryder outlined in his bullet journal creation. Have a look and save your favourite ideas for help on how to implement it into something that works for you. 

6. Use the basics. 

It doesn't really matter at the end of the day whether you stick to the original bujo system like glue or not. If you use the basics of a bullet point system and rapid journaling with little detail then the rest is ultimately how it works for you, in the way you design it and the way you use it. 

The best way to ensure the bullet journal system is working for you is to cater it 100% to your lifestyle. If you prefer to work from one master to do list and just pick and choose what tasks to complete on a single day then do so. If you need dedicated plans per day with very regimented timings and lists then you do so. If you need constant reminders of what's to come and work best by future logging then you do so. The most important thing is it works for you. 

The bullet journal system is very simple in it's core and that's the reason it has been so successful. In a busy life such as the one we lead today we need rapid logging and rapid planning and rapid organising to keep up with us and our every changing plans. It just so happens I like to take some well earned time out with mine to make it look pretty too.....

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