Bullet journaling seems to be the latest trend that’s taking social media by storm. Everyone seems to be talking about it and many are eager to try it out and see if it works for them. The whole idea behind this is new trend popularized by Instagram is the meshing together of the act of thoughtful planning, self-reflection and artistic expression in the form of a journal. It is a delightful way to stay organized while doing something productive. In a nutshell, it is a highly organized planner with illustrations and visual art.
Bullet journaling can be used to restructure everything right from meals, to someone’s weight loss journey, trivial to-do lists, habit tracking, financial goals, reading lists and practically everything else. It is a customizable method of tracking day-to-day events in a way that would ensure maximum productivity. Described as a “Mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system” on the website it seems to be a new form of organization where aesthetics are used to usher in productivity. As displayed by the thousands of Instagrammers and Youtubers online, the writing can be combined with beautiful illustrations, layouts, lettering, calligraphy, sketching, borders, headers and a bunch of other things for making a bullet journal more aesthetically pleasing.
It all started with an idea put forth by Brooklyn-based Ryder Carroll in 2013 that took off quite well. He introduced a new concept that would entirely change the way people managed their productivity levels. He introduced to the world Bullet Journaling, also known as Dot-Journaling, a method that he had worked upon and developed for the purpose of organizing his day-to-day events without being restricted by a particular format or template. He envisioned a system that he could tweak in a way that would benefit him particularly. The official Bullet journal website, owned by Carroll, describes it as the “the analog system for the digital age”.
The creator of this innovative concept released a video in 2015 in which he exactly explained his reason for creating this method of documentation. “I needed a system flexible enough to handle whatever I threw at it and fast enough that it wouldn’t get in the way.”, he says, as he explains what it is all about and how to go about with it. This eye-catching trend caught on with the millennials quite quickly and spread to the hotbeds of social media platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and many others. These so called “BuJo” fanatics upload pictures of their own personal variations of the Bullet journal faster than the eye can see. The hashtags of the likes of ‘Bullet journaling’, ‘BuJo’ and many more often trend on Instagram.
The subreddit r/bulletjournal has 106k subscribers and growing everyday.
There is an entire market out there for Bullet journaling – expensive paper, pens, washi tape, lettering and calligraphy pens and special bullet journaling notebooks. It is a burgeoning trend that has a vast community on instagram of self-proclaimed ‘BuJo-ers’, who share their own layouts, headers, styles, printables, fonts, designs and what not.
This method has had its fair share of criticism, with people calling it a high-handed process meant only for artistically inclined people. The truth is that the bullet journaling isn’t only about the creative and beautifying process. These are add-ons that are meant to motivate people to use it more often, but these can be skipped nevertheless. The vast number of products used by the majority of the Instagrammers isn’t necessary at all, all one needs is an old journal lying around the house and a couple of pens. That’s all it takes!
It seems to be intimidating, while it actually is a fairly easy process of documentation when one gets the hang of it.
- Bullet journals mainly consist of an index page and a collection of logs- future, daily and monthly logs. One can add additional lists and “collections” in between as well, in order to make it more interesting.
- Apart from these few rules there are multitudes of ways in which one can customize these journals according to their own whims, such as sketching, doodling or drawing illustrations to accompany the text, but there are no hard and fast rules as such that one has to follow. You can start off by gathering your raw materials- an inexpensive journal and a few pens and pencils of your choice.
- The journal can be either lined or unlined, but it is preferable that it doesn’t have any existing sections, so that you could customize it according to your requirements.
- The first step is to create the Index of the journal, which would be a sort of reference page or a key to the rest of your journal entries. The purpose of the index is to easily categorize the pages in one place for easy accessibility. Brevity is a defining feature of bullet journals, so it is imperative to keep the entries precise and short.
- The next step is the creation of logs. They are what actually organize all events for you- past, present and future. Future logs are supposed to help you keep track of events that you want to deal with later. They enable you to keep long term goals in your radar without completely forgetting them. The monthly log is a calendar-like list of the next 30 days that keep track of goals over the month. Daily logs are the most important, as they are a list of things you need to do, reminders, events and goals for a particular day at a time.
- There are a variety of signifiers that are used to distinguish tasks, reminders and goals from each other, such as bullets, dashes, stars and circles. You can customize your signifiers accordingly too and derive a system that is unique.
Apart from these basics, there is a lot more that can be done with this format. The only important thing is to keep aside a couple of minutes during each day to update your journal and cross out whatever has been done. One can also do a monthly review of their goals and tasks in order to plan out their future goals and transfer their unaccomplished objectives onto the next month. Its effectiveness comes despite the fact that we live in a technologically-savvy world where our phones are quite capable of performing the same function. Despite this, Bullet journaling enables us to be independent from technology in at least one aspect of life and promotes a return to the old paper-and-pen ways of organization.
Researchers have extensively looked into the psychological effects of this. Studies show that writing manually has many health benefits such as lowered blood pressure and improved memory. It is a healthy way of not only keeping track of your activities but also process thoughts and emotions organically and maintain a sound mental health. It is also a way to keep the distractions to a minimum. Bullet journaling is essentially inculcating a hobby. Hobbies like drawing, painting and writing are known to bust stress and boost creativity. Thus these help to tap into one’s creativity as well.
One should create a productivity routine and incorporate it into their daily schedules for numerous reasons. For one, it externalizes the thoughts, hence de-cluttering your mind and lessens your load in terms of remembering what to do. Apart from the de-cluttering, it would give an instant sense of satisfaction of crossing out the things that have already been done and would motivate you to maintain this cycle of perseverance. Nothing would fill you with the sort of sense of satisfaction when you would look back and see the pages littered with crossed-out to-do’s
It isn’t something that would necessarily take up a lot of your time. A few minutes each day would be quite sufficient to maintain a daily log and an overall overview. The key to successfully implementing this method in order to benefit you is to maintain consistency, rather than dedicate huge amounts of time each day in its maintenance. It is a movement that is hell-bent on ushering a new era of productivity, so to say. Participating in this offbeat organizational system seems to be worth the try.