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Personal blog by Johannes Holmberg.
Thinking and musing.

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Starting out with the Bullet Journal Method

January 19th, 2019

In October last year I read The Bullet Journal Method, a book that describes a simple system for personal journaling. After reading it I have come to fall in love with this magical process. I’ve been journaling on and off at times before. But the thing I like so much about using the bullet journal method is the strict simplicity it provides. The rules are so simple:

1. Use a normal notebook

This was kind a big thing for me. I’m a fan of digital tools and when I heard that I needed to use a normal notebook for this, I cringed. I wanted to know which writing app would help me to be most productive, not go back to using pen and paper again. No way I would.

But I tried it out. And now it’s the top thing I like about the system. It has this simple beauty to it: Sit down at the kitchen table, open up the notebook and fill it with my thoughts. Yes, it was horrible to look at my handwriting in the beginning (still is by the way), but I’ve come to see beyond that. The more I write in this book, the more personal value it contains, the more it helps me become the best person I can be. At the moment it is one of the highlights of the day, when I get to sit down, have a cup of tea and write down what is on my mind.

2. Rapid logging

Bullet journaling uses a technique called rapid logging. It contains a series of symbols (or bullets) to describe the different types of events you want to log. And this is the second top reason why I like it so much. Freeform journaling is great but it’s very hard to go back to it and get an overview. Using the bullets is also a much faster way to get your thoughts out of your head and down on paper. Things you want to remember, things you need to do, quotes that are valuable to you. All those things goes in the journal. And they are easy to jot down thanks to the simplicity of the symbols. But I’m not going to describe all those symbols here. I would rather refer to Ryder’s official website for further explanation.

3. The daily log

The simplicity of this is nothing but pure genius. Write the date of the day as a headline on a new page, use the rapid logging system described above, and you can jot down your whole day in a simple outline. The structure of it is so clear. I love going back now and then, to scan previous days and get a full reminder of what led up to where I am. Powerful.

The way I do it is that every morning I sit down to reflect about the things I know is coming up for the day. I note how I slept, what I’m feeling grateful for, my general mood. I like this practice because it gives me a sense of direction. Things are in order and I have my thoughts on paper.

In the evening I sit down again to review. This feels good because it’s a natural way to end the day. I review what I wrote earlier in the morning. I strike out tasks I’ve accomplished, and note down any new things I’ve learned.

4. Collections

Now and then I start recognizing patterns in my thinking. Things starts to make sense when they come out on paper. Similar thoughts forms into something like topics. And that’s where collections come in. Collections are placeholders for things that I want to elaborate and research more on.

For instance, I set up custom collections for books I read. Any time I want to note something from a book it goes into this collection. When I’m finished reading I have this index of what stuck with me most, all written in my own words. Going over this again helps me materialize what I have learned.

I also keep a collection with ideas for trips I would like to make. And another for things I want to write about. The collection practice makes this system so strong and flexible.


I have just getting started with the bullet journal method. But it could be a thing that sticks with me for a long time. And the longer it sticks the more value it will bring back. When I’m able to review what I’ve been up to, see the ideas I’ve had, the goals I want to reach; it allows me to correct the course I’m setting for myself. This is much harder to do when I’m not aware of where I’m going. I intend to follow up on this post later to check in with how I keep my bullet journal practice going.

For more information on this system, check out the official bullet journal website.


johanneswrites.com

Personal blog by Johannes Holmberg.
Thinking and musing.