I first came across the concept of Bullet Journaling almost a decade ago, but it is until recently that I adopted this journaling method in corralling my thoughts. Ryder Carroll, a New York-based digital product designer who invented the Bullet Journal, was given a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) early in his life. As a strategy to cope with his ADHD, he developed the Bullet Journal Method to help him stay focused and be productive. To be a Bullet Journalist, all you need is a pen and a blank notebook, preferably a dotted or grid one with page numbers.
You might wonder why a digital product designer would develop a physical journaling method instead of writing a computer programme or even an app to do the job. According to Carroll, digital journaling and analog journaling are mutually inclusive. At the end of the day, which option to go for depends on which method works best for you. Personally, Carroll considers electronic products a major source of distraction. Let’s say, he would pick up his phone hoping to drop some notes, but somehow ended up browsing for shoes in the online store. If he writes on a physical notebook, the shopping spree would never take place. Carroll also points out that people are generally overwhelmed by work and being away from the computer to write down your thoughts and ideas is like taking a break from work to go for a walk — it helps to clear your mind and improve productivity.
While Ryder Carroll identifies some benefits of journaling, I also have my own reason in adopting the Bullet Journaling Method, and it is the flexibility that it offers. Generally speaking, whether it is a digital or a physical journal, it always comes with a designated format. But a Bullet Journal is different. You can customize the Index and define the various Bullets, i.e. the symbols that help you categorize your entries, according to your needs and preferences.
To start a Bullet Journal, you will need a blank notebook. If the notebook doesn’t come with page numbers, simply number it yourself. Next, you can start designing the Index. The Index serves to locate content in your Bullet Journal. Simply add the Topics and their corresponding page numbers to the Index. For example, if pages 15 to 30 are a collection of notes from July, you can index it as: “Notes of July: P.15-P.30.” If there’s a drawing in between those pages, you can write on the Index page: “Notes of July: P.15-P.18, P.20-30” and “Painting: P.19.”
The Future Log is a collection of entries that will occur outside the current month, say, in half a year’s or even a year’s time. It is similar to the monthly log in a standard journal where you can put down events and details; but in Future Log, the entries are not date-specific. For example, if you are going to the beach with your friends in two months’ time (let’s say in September), you can put down “Going to the beach” in your Future Log. When you start your Monthly Log for September, you can then migrate the entry of “Going to the beach” from Future Log to the new Monthly Log.
What comes next is the Monthly Log. My recommendation is that you should start the Monthly Log as the month begins because it’s the best time for you to take a mental inventory check to sort out and prioritize Events and Tasks for the month. Also, you can review your Future Log and see if any Tasks or Events listed there have become current. If so, migrate those entries into your new Monthly Log. Doing a monthly migration can avoid duplication and missing out of entries. (Now that we’ve came across the term “migrate” quite a few times already, I am sure you can tell “migration” is something important in Bullet Journaling.)
The Daily Log is designed for day-to-day use. Before you set up your Daily Log, I’d suggest you to take a look at your Monthly Log first to see if there are any Tasks or Events you can migrate to the Daily Log. I think it’s time for us to talk about the Bullets, which are the symbols that visually categorize your entries. Here below are some standard Bullets that are commonly used by Bullet Journalists. But you are welcome to redefine them or even come up with your own based on your preference and needs.
X Completed task
＞ Migrate to the following day
＜ Migrate to the Monthly Log
《 Migrate to the Future Log
Here is an example of a Daily Log:
° Show @ live house 1900
X Manuscript deadline
＞ Get ink from stationery shop
＜ Plan for second half of July
・ Finish the novel
Let me explain how to read this Daily Log. Firstly, there is an Event (°) that says I am going to the live house to watch a show at 19:00. Then, there is a Task (・) of which I need to complete a manuscript by the end of the day. As I’ve finished the manuscript, I put a cross (X) over it to indicate the Task is completed. Next, I scheduled to get ink from the stationary shop. But unfortunately, I couldn’t find time and decided to migrate the Task to the following day (>). As for the “Plan for second half of July”, since it is a major task and requires some more time to work on, I therefore put down some additional explanation Notes (-) and migrated the entry back to the Monthly Log (＜). As for “Finish the novel”, I decided that this task is not that important after all and thus I crossed it out with strikethrough. From this example, you can see whether a TASK is “completed”, “migrated” or “cancelled” in an orderly manner.
With a grasp on the basic format of Bullet Journal, you can now customize your own journal based on your needs and preference. For example, you can create a journal to track your finance, diet, and even weight loss. The most important of all, is to keep the Index of your journal nice and clear so that you can always quickly locate the entries later.
最近官方推出第2代的官方子彈筆記本，雖然說不一定要用他們的商品，但因為是跟德國Leuchtturm1917的聯乘，是非常優質的筆記本商品，同時也想趁著這個商品推出之際，分享一下這套厲害的記事方法。如果你已經讀到這裡了，相信本身就有各種記事的興趣或煩惱，雖然「子彈筆記」不一定能令你飛黃騰達，但就像他們的口號一樣「Track the past. Order the present. Design the future.」，最起碼能做到以上三點。而隨著年紀越來越大，越發覺得成年人所謂的自由，以及到底能過得多自由，重點在於你能把生活掌握到哪種程度。再次感謝你們讀到這裡，希望有幫上你們的忙。
The official Bullet Journal Notebook Edition 2 has recently been unveiled to the world. This current edition is a high-quality product that is beautifully made in partnership with Leuchtturm1917. I am very much delighted to share this update with you, while at the same time give you some tips on Bullet Journaling. I guess at this point I can safely assume that my dear reader, you are either interested in note-taking or having trouble looking for the right note-taking tool. Although Bullet Journaling may not be the best tool out there, at the very least, it can help you “Track the past. Order the present. Design the future” (so as they claim). As I get older, I come to realize that the so-called “freedom to live” or how freely you can live your life is relative to how well you can manage and organize your life. Thank you for reading this, and I hope my writing can help you organize your life in some ways.