bullet journal tips

Bullet Journaling Tips and Tricks

Around this time last year, I introduced you to a handy little note-taking system that might just change your life. Let’s recap: a bullet journal is a hand-written system of symbols that categorize your thoughts, notes, ideas, dreams, tasks, etc. in one space. I prefer using a hard-back, squared moleskine for my bullet journaling needs, but you can basically use any old notebook. That’s the beauty of this whole thing – you can basically do whatever you want while bullet journaling, as long as it works for you. And that’s pretty powerful, no?

So, in the year since I’ve embarked on this new note-taking stage of my life, here are my stats:

  • Number of journals filled: 2
  • Number of journals lost: 1
  • Number of countries to which I’ve taken my journal: 10
  • Longest stretch of time between entries: 1 month
  • Shortest (and, actually, average) stretch of time between entries: 1 day.
  • Tasks logged: too many to count
  • Sense of accomplishment: 100%

Here’s the thing: I’m terrible at committing to things like writing down my thoughts. Being your prototypical type-A personality, I always have a to-do list of some kind, but actually sitting down and writing things out (i.e. not just scribbling little notes to myself on my phone or a post-it note) took a lot of effort. And sometimes I didn’t follow through. So I stopped. But the important thing, at least in my opinion, is that I always came back to bullet journaling, even after several weeks or even a month off.

bullet journal tips

The hardest part was devising a system that actually worked for me. I generally look to others for inspiration in everything, and I kept expecting to find the answers in an enlightened blog post about how someone else made their bullet journal fit their lifestyle. It didn’t actually click until I gave up and just started loosely writing everything down in one place: it doesn’t have to be perfect or adhere to the “bullet journal methodology” – it just has to make sense to me. Here are some modifications I’ve made to suit my needs – think of them as bullet journal tips:

  1. Use the index page – I really like the idea of creating more general lists (like books I’ve read in 2015) that I can come back and add to in the future. To save myself a lot of frustration trying to go back and find these guys later on, I catalogue everything on  the Index page. Seriously, everything. Meticulously. This has helped me track goals over longer periods of time, add to ideas after I’ve had some space to think, and revisit little bits of advice that I’ve left myself over the last few months.
  2. Add a weekly focus page – at the beginning of each week, I like to add a page where I collect my goals for the days ahead. This method has been crucial for setting off on the right foot every Monday morning and prioritizing my various efforts effectively. Aligning my weekly goals to my longer-term, more nebulous goals actually helps me track incremental success, and I end up with a more distinct sense of accomplishment every Friday afternoon. It’s pretty cool.
  3. Don’t use the whole page – or do. Whatever. – this is more of an ACD-specific parameter, but it speaks to my super-OCD tendencies about wanting to fill each and every page with just one entry . If I don’t, I must have missed something. Or, I didn’t accomplish enough that day. WHATEVER. Just write things down as you need to – don’t invent stuff to put in there or feel bad if you use two or three entries per page. It’s all good, man.

The result, as you might expect, has been awesome. I used my bullet journal all throughout our adventure in Europe, and I can now look back and remember in vivid detail what we did, ate, and saw every day. It’s bananas. I’ve also taken to writing little notes of encouragement to myself on a day-to-day basis, and sometimes it’s nice to go back through my daily lists and find those little nuggets of happiness. Basically, the moral of the story is that bullet journal is a choose-your-own-adventure type deal, and if you stick with it, the results can be fabulous.

What are you doing to keep yourself organized? Have any bullet journal tips to share? I’d love to hear your all about your own methods!!

  • http://www.amgooriedesign.com/ a l e x i s (amgoorie)

    Oh wow, ok Amanda I think you have just sorted my mutiple journal woes. This concept is exactly what i have been looking for. It was doing my absolute head in having multiple post it notes, journals and scrap books. ** Goes out and buys another moleskin notebook**.

    Thank you :)

    Alexis x

    • http://exvitae.com/ Amanda Dillon

      Dude, you HAVE to give this method a try. I totally relate to the post-it/journal/legal pad mess, and this definitely helped me organize my craziness into something manageable. DEFINITELY let me know how it goes for you!!

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  • http://thesafaricollective.com/ Sarah Wheeler

    I’m starting this. TODAY. Ok, really Sunday since that’s the first of the month, but I wrote out the month in my notebook today. Really hope this helps my productivity and that I stick with it! I’ve heard so many good things :)

    • http://exvitae.com/ Amanda Dillon

      get it, girl. I’m so excited that you’re joining the bullet cult – we’re very nice and well organized, I promise! let me know if I can help/support in any way, and DEFINITELY let me know if you find any strategies that work for you :) xox

  • Mackenzie

    I started using this method around October of last year. Best. Thing. Ever. I use it for work, so it allows me to keep track of meetings, projects (I keep specific pages for each project), tasks for coming months, everything. I was struggling to keep on top of things before but this sorted out my organizational issues so easily.

    • http://exvitae.com/ Amanda Dillon

      AHHHH I love hearing success stories like this! I love the idea of keeping specific pages for each project you’re working on – very smart. thanks so much for the tip, Mackenzie!

  • Kobe Van Reppelen

    Great post! Started yesterday. :-)