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Bullet Journaling – A New Age of To-Do Lists

With over four million #bulletjournal posts on Instagram, bullet journaling, or bujo as it is nicknamed, is becoming an increasingly popular way to structure your day to day life. The bullet journal gives an artistic flair to the traditional to-do list, making it not only an organisational tool but also a creative outlet for enthusiasts.

To those unfamiliar with the term bullet journaling, it was first developed by Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer from Brooklyn, New York. His method of organisational writing produced a system of productivity we know today as the bullet journal. Although it can be created in a variety of different styles depending on the creator’s personal preference, Ryder’s own 5-minute tutorial on creating a bullet journal is a great place to start for beginners who are feeling overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of their Google search.

While many avid bullet journalists enjoy making their journals beautiful as well as organised, by adding stickers, drawings and colour, Ryder’s version brings it back to the basics, using only a small notebook and pen. This allows you to add your own artistic flair once you have the initial plan in place. His steps are as followed:

  • Firstly, a contents page is drawn up. This includes the page numbers, for quick access to the following pages.
  • After that a future log is created. This provides a broad overview of your life for the next six months, allowing you to keep up to date with future events or reoccurring goals.
  • Following that is a monthly log. This gives you a birds-eye view of your progress month by month and highlights how many tasks you need to get done in this timeframe.
  • Finally, a daily log is added, with helpful drawn icons to indicate tasks, events, notes, and priorities.

Having a clear view of my week and month on paper, it has allowed me to structure my ideas, know my mood, and manage my habits. I have learned to take time out for myself.@plan_with_cha

Altogether these logs create an order to daily routine, that enables you to get everything done easily in a set amount of time. By breaking up your long-term goals into short-term tasks, it helps to monitor your progress on a daily basis, keeping you motivated. As the trend of bullet journaling expands, enthusiasts are finding new, fun ways to track different types of productivity, such as; books read, financial outgoings, and even daily water intake goals. As Charlotte (@plan_with_cha and @bullet_daily), a bullet journal Instagrammer with a total following of over 235k, says, “having a clear view of my week and month on paper, it has allowed me to structure my ideas, know my mood, and manage my habits. I have learned to take time out for myself”.

Bullet Journaling is the only thing that I have stuck to which keeps me organised and motivated. I started it whilst at university to keep on top of work and deadlines, and I’m no longer the person who forgets everything! Amazingly, it has also brought out the creative side in me which is a nice unexpected bonus.@hayleyremdeart

With any ordinary to-do list, the pleasure of seeing your achieved goals being ticked off is a brilliant feeling. For the bullet journal, imagine this feeling but on a much larger scale as you are able to track all of your accomplishments for the day, week, month and even year; all in one small, portable notebook. It can act not only as a system to increase productivity, but also as a motivational reminder of positive change. It can also be easily maintained due to its simplistic style and unlike dated journals, it can be started at any time. Hayley (@hayleyremdeart), a bullet journal enthusiast with over 28k followers on her bujo Instagram page, says that, “bullet Journaling is the only thing that I have stuck to which keeps me organised and motivated. I started it whilst at university to keep on top of work and deadlines, and I’m no longer the person who forgets everything! Amazingly, it has also brought out the creative side in me which is a nice unexpected bonus.”

As bullet journaling continues to promote organisation as well as creativity throughout modern life, many mobile app versions have tried to copy the bullet journal formula. However, what these mobile apps lack, is the ability for users to create absolutely any type of bullet journal they want. Though functional, all apps have restrictions and you may even have to pay extra for additional creative features. With a paper-based bullet journal you are free to either follow Ryder’s basic format or let your creativity go wild.

The bullet journal breathes new life into the pen-to-paper list making strategy. With the freedom to create any type of journal you wish, increase your productivity, and introduce a new source of motivation to your life, it is clear to see why the popularity of the bullet journal has continued to grow since its initial boom in 2017. So, if you yourself struggle to maintain goals, want to stretch out creatively or would just appreciate having everything you need to remember kept in one place, perhaps give the bullet journal a go. It may be the simplistic tool you’ve been looking for.

Article by Lucy Appleyard