Bullet Journaling

For the past few years now I’ve kept a small Bullet Journal, and enjoy how it helps me structure my work. There are sites like bulletjournal.com that manage to overcomplicate the process a lot, and of course provide ways to spend money on courses, books, memberships, etc.

At it’s core though, a Bullet Journal is just a todo list. And my monkey mind can get down with a todo list.

Journal Structure

I keep everything in a standard moleskin notebook. At one point I added a single sticker on front that says Drink Coffee, Do Stuff. The sample size is too small to be able to say if the sticker is as critical to the methodology as it seems.

Journal Cover

The first half dozen or so pages in the journal are a list of goals for each year. Each year has two pages:

Journal Cover

I add and remove items from these lists as the year goes on, but it helps to see it all side by side. With only so many days in a year I often realize there just isn’t enough time for everything, and I need to choose what’s truly important.

It also helps me set a work-in-progress limit. I try to stick to one item on each side. The monkey mind wants to do no fewer than 17 things at once, but it’s hard for those 17 things to get done. But the monkey mind also really wants to cross one of those items off the goal list, adding a date next to it.

Daily Log

The rest of the journal is a collection of short daily logs. These are rather short, and consist of:

Journal Cover

The (Z/S/E) acronyms are for things I try to do each day.

These daily tasks evolved over time. Sometimes there were fewer, sometimes more. But they act as a kind of backbone habit for the rest of the list. On days I complete those, I find I complete the rest of the list more frequently as well.

Below the combined list of events/goals uses some semantics around the bullets.

 (-) A single dot means it's planned
 (x) After you can show it's done with an x
 (o) Circles are for events

I’ve found it best to try and just spend 30 minutes on a 2-3 current goals each day, rather than spend two hours on a goal one day, 2 hours on a different goal the next. Ideally no zero days.

Final Thoughts

My patterns around my Bullet Journal are relatively stable at this point, but it took a while to really figure out what worked for me.

Also I’m far, far, far from perfect with my journal. There are whole weeks, likely months that I’ve got gaps. But during times I am keeping up with it, I find myself more mindfully approaching my work. The monkey mind grows quieter.

I don’t bullet journal because I’m well organized. I bullet journal because I’m poorly organized, and it helps.