Using the Bullet Journal

A couple months ago I stumbled upon the Bullet Journal, a paper-based note-taking system for getting things done. Having jumped around from to-do list app to to-do list app, I figured I’d scrap the digital approach and give the ol’ notebook another chance. After receiving my Moleskin four weeks ago, I got started with the system.

At its core, the Bullet Journal is just a framework for organizing the contents of a notebook. You can read the full details on the website, but here are the aspects of the framework that I’ve found most useful:

  • Organizing items by day or by category (e.g. a collection of notes from a meeting)
  • Using bullet point styles to identify types of list items (an empty square for a to do, a circle for an idea, etc.)
  • Maintaining a table of contents for quick navigation

Beyond the elements of the Bullet Journal system, I’ve tried to adopt some of the ideas from David Allen’s TED talk on productivity. For example, in order to keep my head clear and stay focused, I start each day by jotting down my tasks and thoughts for that day. As the day goes on, I capture anything that I need to remember in that day’s list, pushing any salient thoughts out of my head and onto the paper to keep my focus.

So far I’ve enjoyed my time using the Bullet Journal, and although my simple notebook doesn’t provide any usage statistics or automated reminders, I’ve found that the flexibility of pen and paper is worth the tradeoff. If you’ve been looking for a new way to capture and track your thoughts, I’d definitely recommend checking out the Bullet Journal.