Posted in Life & Happiness

Bullet Journal: Basics And Bullets

(This post is a part of the series “How to Bullet Journal”. Read the rest here:

Life can become so busy that sometimes we lose track of things we need to do and things we have done already. A great way to keep track and organise your life is keeping a journal or planner. However, many people find this habit hard to keep up as it can be time-consuming to write diary entries and keeping a rigid planner can be quite cumbersome and boring.

A digital product designer from New York named Ryder Carroll decided to create a simpler system of journaling to combat these problems. The end-result of his many experiments is the Bullet Journal system.
A bullet journal is a note-taking system that is simple, rapid, highly customisable and forgiving.
The point of the system is that it can be as simple and minimalistic as you want, while forgiving you for making mistakes.
The strength of a bullet journal is that because it is so easy to use, it only takes 5-10 minutes of your day.

Your entries should be short, succinct and to-the-point to reduce the time and effort it takes. Because it is non-restrictive and customisable, you can tailor it to your own style and make it interesting so that you can keep it up as a habit.
It is a powerful tool that lets you plan for the future, organise your present and keep a record of your past. Essentially, it is an analogue archive of your life.

Although certain notebooks such as the Leuchtturm 1917 Dotted notebook is best thanks to its customisability, any notebook that you have lying around can become a bullet journal. In fact, it is a great idea to trial a bullet journal on an empty notebook to see if it fits your personality and to experiment with different styles and spreads to make it work the best for you.

Bullet journals utilise different kinds of bullets to simplify your life. It is useful to use three distinctive bullets: Tasks, Events and Notes.

  • A Task is something you have to do. You could use a “.” to denote a task, then cross it with a “X” when it is done. If you can’t finish the task by the set date, you can mark it as “>” to show that you have migrated it, meaning that you will do it by a new due date. Alternatively, you could draw a square for a task, fill in half of it when it is in progress, then completely fill it in when it is finished.
  • An Event is either a scheduled appointment or something that has occurred that day. You can use an “O” bullet, then tick it when it is finished. For example, if you have a dinner or doctor’s appointment, or if a friend just got engaged, you can mark it as an event.
  • Notes are essentially “everything else”. You can use a “” to mark these. These can be a reminder to yourself of something that happened that day, a thought you had, or an observation you made. Essentially, anything from that day that you wanted to record in the journal can be written as a note.
  • The bullet journal is extremely customisable. This means that you can come up with your own bullets depending on what you want to record. For example, you may use “!” for a thought that crossed your mind or “?” to record something you learnt or want to look up later.
  • Bullets can be modified with signifiers, such as putting a “*” next to it to mark how important it is.
  • Because everyone has different preferences on what kind of bullets they use, it is helpful to create a Key at the start of your notebook so that it can index the different bullets you use and describe what they denote.

At its most basic form, all you need is the date, followed by a bullet point list. It’s as simple as that. This is the Daily Log.

That’s all you need to know to start bullet journaling. In the next section, we will look at different modules such as the Monthly Log and Future Log to better organise your life

Examples from my Bullet Journal:

Simplified guide to Bullet Journaling


Key – Note that I use squares as I am used to it from working in the medical field


Daily/weekly log – Very minimalistic style, this is the best way to start bullet journaling as it is simple and does not require much effort


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