My Bullet Journal Method

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Status: On-going

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 bidirectional setup, riffed from a combination of Carroll’s and others' minimal designs. This documentation also serves as future reference.

Marked as on-going because I’m always revising my bujo ways.

Materials

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

Optional

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.

From one side, the front, all the logs—daily, monthly, future—are written. I don’t put the Index in this side, because it’s not often that I refer back to a Daily Log.

For the other Collections, the bujo is flipped over, and writing starts 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:

The notebook is done when two sides meet in the middle.

This front-back split makes navigating easier. I know that the chocolate crinkles recipe would be in the back side of the bujo.

Core Collections

Future Log

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

Monthly Log

A spread is dedicated for each month of the year.

Mine contains the following, going from the left page to the right:

  1. Calendar” of the month, implemented as one day per line;
  2. On each day I write Daily Highlight/s. I write a one- or two-sentence summary of what happened that day.
  3. Habit Trackers are also in here. Currently, I only track three habits.
  4. 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.
  5. I also have a place for upcoming to-do’s, tasks that don’t necessarily have a schedule yet. These usually are important but not urgent.

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.

Daily Log

Bujo’s bulk comprises Daily Logs. This is where it’s at for me.

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 □
        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:

  1. The first line already contains several info.
    • Current date, day of the week
    • Dream signifier, represented by a square. This is just a reminder that I had a dream from the previous night’s sleep.
  2. The next two lines, AF and PF, are Food Log. I list my meals during daytime (AF or AM Food) and nighttime (PF or PM Food).
  3. The rest are bullets. I maintained Carroll’s bullet and signifier usage, with a bit of addition.

Index

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.

Archiving

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.

What about digital bullet journal?

It’s entirely possible to use bujo in the digital space. In fact I use one, solely dedicated for work.

This work bujo incorporates ideas from Jeff Huang’s .txt file as productivity app, implemented using a plaintext editor. For this I use Notepad, since I use Windows for work.

Not only is it light on resources—currently at ~45 KB storing four months worth of logged info—it’s easily portable, as many operating systems accept plaintext.

Mine is inventively named as log.txt.

Separating Work and Personal

In the ever increasing complexities of modern life, having boundaries can be helpful, especially when trying to maintain a work-life balance.

In this case, not only do we have physical but also computational boundaries, between Work and Personal life. This is important for me: my personal bujo won’t be cluttered with the hot mess that is my work; and my work bujo won’t distract me with personal stuff.

Do what works for you.

Inspiration

I only go the these subreddits: r/BasicBulletJournals and r/bujo. It’s because they tend to focus on utility and productivity, not on aesthetics.

And, of course, thanks to Ryder Carroll for sharing this method to the world for free.2


  1. 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. ↩︎

  2. 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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