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The Bullet Journal Method: How to improve your life through daily journaling

Woman writing in a journal using the bullet journal method to stay organized
Camryn Rabideau
Camryn Rabideau May, 20, 2020

Baker, green thumb, living well with anxiety

Is your kitchen counter covered with reminders scribbled on the back of envelopes and receipts? Chances are you've had at least one super organized friend telling you how life-changing it is to track your goals and accomplishments in a bullet journal — and probably gushed over some beautiful, artistic spreads at the same time.

Don't be turned off because you don't have an art degree or like the idea of spending hours with pen in hand! Bullet journaling is nothing like the diary you might have poured your soul into as a teenager.

The Bullet Journal Method, based on a book of the same name, is a system of organizing all the to-do lists, reminders, goals, daily happenings and other thoughts floating around in your head. While there are a lot of special journals with fancy layouts available, the only real "requirement" when keeping a bullet journal is using a key of symbols to keep track of your tasks, notes and events. Beyond that, it's as flexible as you need it to be!

4 Major benefits of bullet journaling

Woman writing by pen in notepad at sunny summerYou may be thinking that this basically sounds like using a normal daily planner. And it is, to some extent — but there are other perks to bullet journaling that regular planners can't provide. Here are four you might enjoy:

  1. Staying organized and accomplishing goals
    You can record daily tasks, due dates and commitments in a bullet journal, just like with a planner. However, it's also built to include long-term goals, random reminders, your sleep schedule, and even positive mantras — anything you want to write down or track. Best of all, this method is designed to cut the clutter and only show you the information you need.
  2. Balancing creativity and productivity
    One of the reasons bullet journaling is so popular is the creativity involved. You can use the creative part of your brain to decorate and color-code your bullet journal, or you could keep it classic with clean lines and lots of white space. It's entirely up to you!
  3. Enhancing self-esteem and prioritizing self-care
    Many people find that bullet journaling is a good way to hold themselves accountable for tasks outside of work, such as self-care. Your journal could log how often you go to the gym, get eight hours of sleep or do something else you want to turn into a habit.
  4. Remembering there's no need to be perfect — just to be you
    Another great thing about bullet journaling is that there's no right (or wrong) way to do it. There are countless suggestions regarding page layout and content, but your journal can be as intricate or minimalist as you want.

How to get started with the Bullet Journal Method

Ready to give bullet journaling a try? You can get started with a couple easy steps! Here's how to start documenting your wins and setting yourself up for future success.

Finding a cool journal

First thing's first: You're going to need a journal! You can go all out and buy the official bullet journal or simply find a cute notebook at your local bookstore. Journals with dotted pages are the popular standard, but lined pages can work, too. It's all about your personal preference. Choose something you'll be excited to open up regularly.

Not a paper-and-pencil person? No worries — there's a bullet journaling app for the digitally inclined! It provides the same key features, just in virtual form.

Creating your key and initial pages

Once you have your journal picked out, follow the bullet journal starting instructions to create a key on the first page. Your key lays out the basic marks you'll use in the journal, serving as a reference guide that streamlines the experience.

On the next few pages of your journal, sketch out an index, a future log for big goals and events, a high-level monthly activities log, self-care checklists, reading trackers and any other customized sections you think would come in handy. Then, it's time to get into daily logs, where you practice what's called "rapid logging" using the bullet journal key.

That's really all there is to it — so don't hesitate to get journaling! Whether you prefer putting pen to paper or finger to keyboard, staying on top of the little things you accomplish every day is how you build your way up to achieving something great.

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