Essence of Bullet Journal

by Amanda Fleet

No, not some fancy new fragrance... but the slimmed down version of bullet journaling that I use.

After putting together the guide on bullet journaling, I realised that my "daily driver" is, in essence, a very cut down version of the bullet journal system. In the full "bullet journal system" there's an index, a future log, a monthly log and the daily log, plus collections. My daily driver is essentially the daily log, and I have monthly and weekly stuff kept elsewhere. Collections are in different notebooks altogether too.

"Why not just combine it all into one, like the Bullet Journal method?"

Yeah... I see that for many, having it all in one place works, but for me it just doesn't. I have a separate diary where a lot of this goes. My daily driver isn't kept once the notebook is full. Having stuff I don't want to keep mixed in with stuff I do want to keep makes my brain hurt. And having to flip through planning stuff to find the list of books I want to read would also grind my gears.

So, where do I keep the other stuff? My A5 diary, mostly. For long-term planning (big picture stuff) there are project planning pages at the front. Interspersed between vertical week to view pages are monthly pages - 2 pages with a month to view; two pages for planning stuff.

The vertical week to view allows me to see an overview of my week (to know which days are busy and which aren't) plus there's space for weekly to do and longer "chipping away at big projects" notes.

Which leaves the daily driver, which kind of does follow the bullet journal method!

Currently, I'm using a Clairefontaine pocket notebook with squared paper, but anything will do, really - squared/lined/dot grid/plain. Any number of pages. Great paper or terrible paper. It doesn't matter because it's such a scrappy little thing!

But I do follow the bullet journal system of a dot for a task and a line for a note. Appointments are rare beasts, so often just get written in red pen on the page. I also follow the system of reviewing the notes/tasks etc., but I do this daily and weekly as well as monthly.

Each evening, I prepare my list for the next day. Tasks that have not been done get added to the new day (often with some indication that they've been transcribed so that I focus on them). New tasks and appointments get added to my daily list. Any notes that need to be kept longer term go into their own notebook (of which there are many). I keep a separate notebook for each "collection" - books to read, knitting patterns to look at, writing ideas... you get the picture. My main difference is that I tick things that have been done (in my brain, a cross next to something means it wasn't done), and arrows to indicate things have been moved are at the end of the task.

Once everything is processed, I cross through the entire page. sometimes I just tear the pages out and toss them at the end of each day. Everything that needed to be kept from it, has been. The rest is such trivia, it's not worth preserving.

And as you might have guessed, there are no decorations, no stickers, no different coloured inks, no stencilling... none of that malarkey. Just a list of tasks, appointments and notes. For me, it's a productivity tool, not a work of art.

I follow a similar process on a weekly and monthly basis. These look at longer-term goals and projects and make sure I'm making progress on them and not getting swamped by minutiae.

So, it's a bit like bullet journaling, only I deliberately spread it over lots of different places rather than keep it all in one. Is that "essence of bullet journaling" or "anarchy"?

Whether you want to follow the full bullet journal system and keep everything in one book, or follow the anarchist version with just a daily driver, I'm pretty sure Nero can fix you up with the right notebook!