Book Review: The Bullet Journal Method

book cover: The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll

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 thing 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.

 

You can find my other book reviews here.

 

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17 thoughts on “Book Review: The Bullet Journal Method

  1. BeckiesMentalMess.wordpress.com says:

    Personally, I think your method makes more sense. In fact, it was because of your idea, I created my own bullet journal.
    When I used to keep a journal, I would write, and write, and write… I used to go through at least a minium of 20+ notebooks in a years time.
    I’m sticking with your method! Hands down, better than a full minute by minute blow of every second of every day.

  2. Barb says:

    I checked out your bullet journal post and was very impressed. I’ve tried keeping one a few times, but it’s really difficult for me, having to “design” the inside. And I can’t seem to think out of the box, like it never would have occurred to me to turn the journal 90 degrees lol!

  3. Meg says:

    This is a fascinating concept. I could definitely use a daily journal for taking notes on what I accomplished each day, because I can never freakin’ remember from one day to the next! Yeah, I need to find a journal that has that feature, and goal lists, and that sort of thing.

  4. Jenni says:

    Loved this! I was surprised how different his approach was, but it was so interesting. You see bullet journals everywhere now, so I love that you reviewed this.

  5. eLPy says:

    I tried to create a bullet journal, well I did I just “tried” to use it. Organization is not something I’m good at (right now 😉 ) so I never used it enough to get a method and routine down. It is an interesting concept that seems to have picked up a lot of traction. Thanks for sharing!

  6. chamomileandcolour says:

    Loved this post!
    I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while but my bullet journalling style is much more similar to yours than Ryder’s. Would you recommend the book anyway or is it not as relevant?
    Thanks!

    • ashleyleia says:

      I think it’s interesting to see where the method came from, but it’s not necessarily going to help you all that much with ideas for your own bullet journal.

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