The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future is written by Ryder Carroll, who is the founder of the Bullet Journal® (yes, it’s trademarked) and the website bulletjournal.com.
Before reading this book, I was vaguely aware that there was an official bullet journal website, but what I learned about bullet journalling came from other bloggers and from Pinterest. It turns out my journal is very different from a Bullet Journal®.
Bullet Journalling was a system the author came up with for his own use. He writes that he had ADD, so he had problems with focus and getting easily distracted. The Bullet Journal is part task list, part journal, and part planner, and the author explains that it brings together productivity, mindfulness, and intentionality.
The main elements of a bullet journal are:
- the index, which goes at the beginning of the journal
- future logs, for tasks to do in upcoming months
- monthly log
- daily log
- collections, which are pages devoted to a specific topic
In the book all of these terms where capitalized, and to be honest I found that a little bit annoying.
Carroll describes the process of rapid logging, which involves concise notes using symbols for clarity. Tasks are listed as bullets, and symbols are used to give additional information. Subtasks can be nested under tasks as needed, or moved to their own collection.
The author suggests that each day you briefly make note of everything that’s happened, preferably right after events or interactions have occurred, since our memories are unreliable and being able to look back later may give us some new insights. He also suggests doing a reflection each morning and afternoon.
There are explanations of how to set up new monthly logs each month and “migrate” any leftover tasks from the previous month. There are also a number of suggestions for “Collections”, including goals, gratitude, challenges, and more involved tasks like vacation planning.
Throughout the book there was a focus on productivity, organization, and prioritization. There is also an emphasis on self-reflection, and the way that writing things down can help, especially when they’re being rewritten as they’re migrated from one part of the journal to another.
While the author observed that he’s seen some people get very artistic with bullet journalling, that hasn’t been a priority for him. The book includes plenty of diagrams, but they are functional rather than aiming to be aesthetically pleasing.
What really struck me was that a journal wouldn’t last very long if you were throwing all your everyday stuff in there. The author admits that he goes through 3-4 notebooks per year.
While personally I’m not interested in using my journal as a day planner and a home for basic tasks lists, it was interesting to learn about the idea that inspired whatever hybrid mutt version I’m using right now.
The Bullet Journal Method is available on Amazon.
You can find my other book reviews here.
The MH@H Store has a free how-to guide on creating a bullet journal to support your mental health. My approach isn’t about artistry; the key is functionality.
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