Sunday, August 6, 2017

Bullet Journaling 101

I've decided to write this post to go over the basics of Bullet Journaling. I'm including my own entries to demonstrate that you do NOT NEED TO BE AN ARTIST! In fact, the best place to start is the creator's own YouTube video, and he has no artwork featured. I had to take notes as he went very quickly over the system, but I appreciate how he's not dogmatic and actually states you can use any notebook, as opposed to the official one.

Since I had to take notes during the video, I don't mean to offend anyone by pointing out the obvious, because I needed these most basic things pointed out to me when I started out. So, I'm writing this post to cover the absolute basic things.

The other reason for writing this post, is to show you my entries because they're very basic and require no talent, just notebook, pen and ruler. When you see other people's Bullet Journals, I wonder if they all are graduates of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), which made me feel overwhelmed.

Indeed, I was excited to see one YouTube video on Bullet Journals, to get more understanding of the basics, as he insists that he can't do art, and that all the ideas he had was from other Bullet Journalists. Come to find out, on his Key page, he had this very handsome artwork on it. 

At any rate, I also have gotten ideas from other Bullet Journalists and put together something that is very basic that everyone can do. 

But again, watch the YouTube video first, and then you can get ideas below.

I'm using a Leuchtturm A4 Master Slim notebook as Leuchtturm is the general consensus, most preferred Bullet Journal.


Spread. This just means two pages, when your book is lying flat:

The order of Each Spread is: Content, Key, Future Log, Monthly Log, Daily Log, and Collections. I will break each component down.

The Leuchtturm has a Content page built-in and also numbers every page in the journal for you. Otherwise, you'll have to number the pages by hand. Also, I like how the Leuchtturm Content section already has the page numbers on the left for you to write in, and then the subject is to the right:
Content Page, Close-Up
As you can see in the Content page, the first page is the Key. I like to put the Key on Page 1, which Leuchtturm numbers for you. If you have to hand-write all the page numbers, you can number your pages any number you want.

(Aside: if you noticed, I also wrote the Key on the Content spread, just for reinforcement, but I wanted to have a complete new spread for the Key and so I also rewrote the Key on Page 1. In other words, I wrote the Key in two different places).


At any rate, on the left of the Key page, I put down the Bullets, and on the right, Signifiers. Note how I scratched things out, so this is clearly not "professional" and you'll do a better job than this.  Here's a close up of Bullet symbols.  As we go into the details of the various logs, the symbols will be explained:
Bullets, Close-Up
 Here's the details of the Key page, Signifiers:
Signifiers, Close-Up
On the next Spread, I have the Future Log spread on pages 2 and 3.  You put 6 months per Spread.  The beauty of this system is that unlike planners, you can start at any month you want, instead of the usual January. Here, we started in August, so the Future Log spread runs from August 2017 through January 2018.

Future Log

Here's a close-up of the Future Log's September, which has the taxes due. 
For taxes due, that's on September 15th, I circle that day on the calendar. To the right, I put, in order: ! (signifying Deadline), * (signifying Important) and • (signifying Task).
Future Log, September, Close-Up
After the Future Log spread, here's the Monthly Log spread, Pages 4 and 5. On the left side of the spread is the calendar, and on the right is the Month's To-Do list, events, appointments.

Monthly Log for August
Close-up of the Monthly calendar, I have put in the events and appointments:
Monthly Log: August Calendar, Close-Up

This is the close-up of the other page of the Monthly Log, which is your to-do list, events and appointments. The • are the Tasks, ◯ are events like Birthdays, Holidays, and △ are scheduled events like Doctor's Appointments. As you can see here, blog is due on the 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th. I'm quite surprised that I was organized enough to put all the dotted tasks first, followed by appointments below, and then on the right side, all the events. That's unusual for me, and most likely, in the future, this would not be organized.  However, by looking at the Monthly Log's calendar of this spread, you can see when all the events/tasks are scheduled/due, so organization of the To-Do List section of the spread is NOT necessary.
Monthly Log, August To Do List, Close-Up

After the Monthly Log spread, next spread is the Daily Log, pages 6 and 7. At the bottom is the Daily Habit Tracker. I only added 3 Habits, but will add more once I'm more consistent:

Daily Log Spread
This is a close-up of the Daily Log. The • is the Task, and the X means I completed the Task. The ◯ is an event and * is important:
Daily Log To-Do List, Close-Up

This is a close-up of the Daily Habit Tracker which I put at the bottom of the Daily Log. I made only three rows of the habits, and then the columns are the days of the week. I put X when completed the tasks:

Daily Log: Daily Habit Tracker, Close-Up

For the next spread after Daily Spread, you can include your Collections.  My Collections are: Gratitude Journal, Exercise Log, Video Games to Complete, Blog Ideas, and Dark Souls 3 Notes. You can make your Collections any subject you want, or not have any Collections.

My Gratitude Journal is very simple, on pages 8 and 9:
Collection, Gratitude Journal, Close-Up

Exercise Log follows on the next spread, pages, 10 and 11. I circle the days when I do at least 10 consecutive flights of stairs, so it can give me an easy visual as to how many days/week I've been exercising. As you can see, last week, I exercised twice, which are circled. Below the calendar, I just wrote dates, and #Flights. It may be hard to see, but the last entry is 8-2 = 10, 10 = 20 Flights:
Collection: Exercise Log, Close-up

Video Games to Complete, 11 and 12, this is a close-up to get a general idea. I put • next to each game, to cross out • once game is completed:
Collection: Video Games to Complete, Close-Up

Dark Souls 3 Notes is self-explanatory, but I made sure I start it on a new spread as per usual:
Collection: Dark Souls 3 Notes, Close-Up

The beauty of this system is that once you fill up the daily log, you can easily go to the very last blank spread, to make your next daily log. This is not an issue because you can index those pages so it will be easy to find. Further, the Leuchtturm has a bookmark that you can place for your current daily to-do list. If you run out of space for any of the Logs or Collections, then add that to your next blank spread, index those pages, and so on and so forth.

Now that you see how simple it is to make your Content, Key, and Future, Monthly, Daily Logs, and Collections, the organization plan is quite brilliant, which we'll break down.

However, first, watch the Youtube Video as it makes more sense to see the system in action.

For each day, write down • Tasks in the Daily Log. If you remember that you have something scheduled way in the future, like taxes due, put the Scheduled symbol (<) next to it. The < visually points back to the Future Log spread, and reminds you to add the task to the Future Log.
Daily Log, Migrated Tax with < sign

Then, go back to the Future Log, and put the Tax task in your calendar. As you can see, in this close up of the Future Log, I circled 15, and to the right, wrote down the Task (•) of paying taxes, with the deadline (!) and important (*) signifiers:
Migrated Tax Task to the Future Log
At the end of this month, August, look at all of your Daily Log lists. Scan for all the • that have NOT been crossed off, and see if you really need to do them. If not, put a line through the entire task.  But, if you still need to do them, put a Migrated symbol (>) on it, and write that task in the next month's Log, September, in the To-Do List section of the spread.  The > points forward, reminding you to put this in the next month's Log. 

Since we're not at the end of August, I don't have any examples of Migrated tasks, but will update this post with picture when the time arrives.

Next, look at the Future Log to see if you have any tasks for the upcoming Month, September, and then put that September task in your September monthly log spread. So, starting in September, I'll put taxes due in the September Monthly Log, and when it comes to the 15th, that would be on my Daily Log to do list.

And that's all there is to it!

I really love this system as you can see everything on paper, and can easily flip the pages back and forth, which is much faster than electronic systems.

Conclusion: Do not be intimidated by the fancy artwork, perfect handwriting and calligraphy, fancy fountain pens, and terminology of the Bullet Journal world. Your Bullet Journal can be as simple as the one I've shown. Those who are creative, by all means draw! This is your journal to do whatever you want with it!

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