Bullet Journaling is a way to organize all of your thoughts, notes, goals, and events in one spot: a notebook. The creator of the methodology, Ryder Carroll, came up with this system so that, over time, it's easier to track your progress, change your habits, and generally get more organized. You know, so you have more time for doing the stuff you actually want to do, whether that's learning a new skill or cooking more with your family.
The problem with starting to Bullet Journal is that it can seem daunting at first. If you search for Bullet Journal inspiration on Instagram or Pinterest, what you find are elaborately decorated and overall complicated examples of what people who are really into it are doing. The mere fact that you don't consider yourself artistic enough to pull one of those off could be a motivation-killer for most.
"Sometimes, planning becomes it's own form of distraction, if you're spending 25 minutes thinking about how you're going to be thinking about your projects," says Carroll. The key is to streamline your Bullet Journal and eliminate any barriers to entry that are keeping you from just starting. "Your journal is meant to evolve as you work with it, so don't expect your first one to be perfect," he says. Besides, the whole thing is about making incremental changes, so don't you want to see some progress as you go along?
While Carroll resisted the "shortcuts" term when I asked for tricks to making journaling easy, he did have some suggestions for getting started — and to keep yourself organized as you go.
1. Definitely include the index.
Even if you're only planning to journal about, say, your grocery budget, leave space at the front for the index. This way, when you have random thoughts you want to put into lists (family-favorite meals, quick meals you can whip up in 15 minutes, recipes to make with only pantry items) you can put the list and page number in the front to save time looking for them later.
2. Resist templates.
Despite the fact that it takes slightly more time during setup ("It's really only about four minutes!" says Carroll), ignore all the printables you see online and start your journal from scratch. Many templates have extra forms and fill-ins that you'll feel compelled to use even if you're not really focused on them. And you could easily fall behind.
3. Do a little every day.
Just a few minutes a day is all your Bullet Journal needs. The point is to just jot things down as you think of them and not spend time worrying about how to organize it — that will form later. "Once you get the hang of it, everything else creates itself," says Carroll.
4. Try "threading."
Just like an email or discussion thread links similar conversations in your digital world, connect like concepts by including the page numbers for related lists in the index, and at the bottom of the page you're working on. Again, this will cut down on the time you spend looking for other lists you already wrote.
5. Make a date at the end of the month.
The most time-consuming part of Bullet Journaling is setting up the next month, but Carroll promises it gets quicker. "It takes about two minutes to set up once you get the hang of it, but after two or three months of that monthly migration is when it clicks," he says. Take the opportunity to review the previous month and weed out unnecessary parts of your journal, and soon you'll find you've reduced the amount of distraction and number of choices that clutter your mind. So clear a space on your calendar and commit to it instead of trying to squeeze it into a busy day.
Do you Bullet Journal? How do you save time and still create a system that works for you?