I had heard about the concept of bullet journaling a little while back. It was something I’d been interested in trying, but frankly never got around to it. Since the start of a new year brings with it the opportunity to hit refresh and incorporate positive habits into our routines, I thought it would be the perfect time to give bullet journaling a try and see if it would help me become more creative and organized. Keep reading to see how it worked out for me.
The lowdown on bullet journaling
Before actually starting the bullet journal, I had to figure out exactly how to do it, so I tapped good ol’ Google as my starting point and found this particular resource to be helpful in terms of how to lay out the journal and create each daily log. If you’re not familiar with the concept of bullet journaling, it’s essentially a form of “rapid logging” information (tasks, events or thoughts) as bulleted lists. Each category is represented by a symbol, for example, tasks are associated with a simple dot (“•”) in the journal, events are an open circle (“O”) and notes are marked with a dash (“–”). The journal should also include an index at the beginning of your notebook which more or less serves as a table of contents to easily locate the different topics you might wish to journal about (besides your daily logs) from recipes to goals to drawings (the index can constantly be in flux). Ultimately, though, there’s no one right way for how to create a bullet journal — you can design the content in such a way that suits you and your lifestyle best.
First few days
I often keep my running to-do list in my head and will occasionally write things down, so was especially curious to see if bullet journaling might make me feel a bit more organized and in control. I started off my bullet journal by doing a bit of daily meal planning and jotting down several tasks I needed to take care of ranging from dealing with the plumber to setting up a doctor’s appointment for my daughter and lots of things in-between. I noticed that simply thinking through some of these simpler tasks and writing them down along with any accompanying notes helped put my mind at ease more than just a little bit. Even after only a few days, I was starting to understand why people have referred to bullet journaling as a “mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system.”
After week one
In addition to everyday tasks and upcoming events, I started using the bullet journal to jot down creative thoughts whether it be pitch ideas for stories, mantras that I thought would help me in my day-to-day life or general musings. As someone who never really kept a journal before, I found this to be quite fun and creatively productive. Since I also don’t really have a ton of free time to sit and write in a notebook, I noticed that this version of short-form journaling was definitely working for me and my schedule.
To be totally honest, there were two days in the beginning of the second week that I forgot to log in my bullet journal, but I got back on track on the third day. At this point, I decided to expand beyond the work I’d already done in the journal and write down some personal short- and long-term goals. I felt as though this was an effective exercise and made me feel positive about the future — I also like the idea of being able to track my progress against these goals in the coming days, weeks and months. For a few days at the end of week two, I also started writing down my emotional reactions to certain things in a sentence or two. As someone who is quite emotional, I thought this was beneficial for my mental health and helped me feel in control of my emotions and frankly a bit calmer.
Separately, I’ve also started to notice that the tasks I had logged since starting the bullet journal were slowly but surely getting taken care of which was certainly gratifying and made me wish I got into the habit of making regular lists sooner instead of just creating them sporadically.
After the two weeks came to an end, I felt as though this little experiment of bullet journaling had proven to be quite beneficial. It’s certainly an activity I’d like to continue doing as much as possible to help me keep my mind clear and focus on what’s important in my day-to-day life. Aside from being a handy productivity tool, I also think it’ll be interesting to be able to flip back later in time to see what I was up to and thinking about now.