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

Posted in Life & Happiness

Bullet Journal: Modules

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

Now that we know the basic format of the Bullet Journal, it is time to organise it. Think of the bullet journal as a framework, where you can hang different types of modules to better organise your life.

First, use the first few pages of the notebook to set up a Key for your Bullets, then an Index. The index is simply a way to keep track of what content is on which pages. This can be used to keep track of date ranges, or collections.

Next, it is helpful to create a Future Log. This is a barebone view of things to come in the next six months. Make it simple and minimalistic so you can easily refer to it when you are filling in your Monthly Logs later.

The Monthly Log is a place where you can have an overview of the current month. This could be as simple as a list ranging from the first to the last day of the month, or a traditional calendar shape. Put important dates and events on the log so that you can remind yourself in your Weekly or Daily Log. This is a place where you can form a basic plan for the month.

The basic unit of the bullet journal is the Daily Log, but this can be organised in different ways.

Some people choose to use a minimalistic style where they simply write Daily Logs day-after-day until the month is over. This style is useful if you like to keep things very simple and like to quickly jot things down.

A more common form is using a Weekly Log to have set spaces for the Daily Log of each day in a week. This requires slightly more set-up, where you draw up a Spread for the Weekly Log. For example, you could divide the pages into seven large boxes. The benefit of this style is that you can plan up to a week in advance, so you can record your Events ahead of time and remind yourself. It also lets you get more creative as you can fill the empty spaces with other useful modules.

This is the barebone form of the bullet journal. Once you are ready to start, draw up a key, index, Future Log and a Monthly Log for this month. Then, write today’s date and start writing a Daily Log. You will find that it is awkward at the start, but the more you use your journal, the more you will find yourself figuring out exactly what the bullet journal means to you. Is it simply a planner, or a place to release your creative side?

In the last section, we look at Migration and Collections, to see how we sustain bullet journaling as a hobby, while making it unique and creative.

Examples from my Bullet Journal:

Future Log – Minimalistic style, dots represent month. This style allows you to keep adding to the log out of order. Colour coding is a helpful way to organise different kinds of events.

Index – First page is an index of collections, while the next page is an index of what page to turn to for each Monthly Log

Monthly Log – Calendar style, note the Habit Tracker on the side (to be discussed in the next section)

Weekly Log – Simple version, pre-divided sections but Daily Log is still the classic style

Weekly Log – Variation, notice how Tasks and Thoughts have been moved to a separate section, with a small section to remind you of Events in the short-term future.

Posted in Life & Happiness

Bullet Journal: Migration And Collections

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

The final part of starting a bullet journal is knowing how to migrate and how to truly make it your own, unique journal by using Collections.

Migration is the task of reviewing your entries for the past month and then re-grouping for the next month. At the end of the month, look back on your Tasks and see which were not completed. If you feel you do not need to do it any more, cancel them by crossing them out. If you feel it is important enough that you need to do it this month, you can migrate the task over. You can do this by using a notation, such as turning a “.” into a “>”. Migration is simply reassigning the task to the new month so you have another chance to complete it.

The key is to avoid migrating the same task over and over, but to recognise that it is a “second chance” so you prioritise it higher. Along with migrating Tasks, you can look back on the month and see what interesting things happened. It is also a good time to review how you liked your spread and experiment with different page layouts for the next month.

Using knowledge from these three articles, you have the bare framework of a bullet journal. But the beauty of a bullet journal is how customisable it is. Collections are basically everything else you can put into a journal to make it truly your own.

A Collection can be as simple as a list, such as a list of all the books you read or want to read, movies you have enjoyed or recipes that you want to try out. It could be more innovative, such as a log of when you caught up with friends, or a collection of stories from your life or from people that you met while travelling. You could devote a page to practise your handwriting, or make a Brain Dump where you can write down all the random thoughts in your head to try clear your mind.

A common, useful tool is a Tracker, which is a simple record of when you have done something. You could do this on a weekly or monthly basis and all you have to do is make a grid and colour in the squares of the days you have done something. This is a great way to keep track of your habits and things you want to do more often, such as exercise or getting enough sleep.

The bullet journal is a carte blanche – you can do whatever you want with it. So grab a notebook and a pen and try jotting some things down. You will be surprised how powerful such a simple tool can be, and you will notice the impact it has on your life through the power of organisation and creativity.

Examples from my Bullet Journal:

Tracker – Try different colour schemes to easily see how well you are keeping up a certain habit. Note that the Leuchtturm 1917 dotted notebook makes it easy to create a grid.

Collection of books, movies, whiskey – Let your creativity flow and try out different designs to make your lists look more interesting.

Other examples of collections – A collection can be whatever you want. Think of some ideas of things you want to record in your “Life Archive”.

Note: There are a lot of material on the internet on how to make a bullet journal – simple or elaborate – thanks to the amazing community. Check out the original video made by the creator as well: