Home Blog Newsletters About

Bullet Journal: Intro

Smart people write, stupid forget. Well I’m not smart enough to remember everything, so I write.

Capturing thoughts

In 2015 I somehow ended up managing my self, multiple teams, and numerous projects. I was taking notes, but they were all over the place. Piles of paper, here and there.

I was able to find everything all the time. At any time. Not!!!

At some point, I stumbled upon the concept of Bullet Journaling. The idea sounds pretty fancy. In reality, it’s just a small notebook that you use for all the notes. Everything in one place not on thousands of papers scattered all over the place.

You take a beautiful notebook and use it as a dedicated place for your notes. You take it everywhere. To every meeting, trip, … You have it on your bead stand every night. Every time an idea pops up in your mind, you write it down.

I write my thoughts because otherwise, my brain keeps throwing those thoughts back at me. When I write ideas down, I calm down the inner monkey in me. Telling him to shut up. In a sense, I satisfy the fear of missing out. I trick my mind and allow it to forget. I can “relax” because I wrote my thoughts down, and I can retrieve them at any point.

Bullet Journal is the only thing on my working desk beside the computer. Since I spend most of my time writing code and articles, that’s pretty much everything I need anyway. Distraction-free environment. As long as social media is blocked

Notebook

I start a new journal every year. Even if I didn’t fill up the previous notebook till the end. That allows me a clean, fresh start every year. I use Moleskin’s small Karo paper notebooks. They are pretty thick and stylish. They don’t wear out even after a year of constant use and have a nice cover texture. I like my things to be stylish. So I don’t mind spending a few bucks for a high-quality notebook that I use every day.

Since your notebook will contain all of your notes you might want to write down on the first page your:

So if you lose your precious journal, the finder can return it to you. If you offer them 40 bucks, they might actually follow through.

Index

The advantage of Bullet Journal is that you have all of your notes in one place. That help’s a lot. But to take it a step further, you should use an index system.

I write a page number on every page. Then every now and then, I write to the index page numbers and topics that I wrote about. So when I need to find something, I simply search through the index. Establish where the topic should be, and that’s it. No need to flip through piles of paper to find that precious note.

On skipping pages. I don’t leave any blank pages except for the three index ones at the beginning of each journal. Some people use the journal in such a way that they have 10 pages for one topic then another 10 for another. I prefer to log topics with a dedicated symbol and chronologically as they come in. Figure out what works best for you.

When I fill up the journal, I go to the next one. In the first few years, I barely filled one notebook a year. These days I fill one every few months. There are months where I don’t write anything or months where I write over 100 pages. And that’s OK. Over the years, I realized that I write thoughts based on occasion and inspiration.

Entry pages

On the top of every page I write the current month, the year and page number:

Then through the day, I would fill out the page with my notes. Here’s an example:

You’ll notice that I use different sections. To name a few: - rough day outline, - todo lists, notes, - bullet points, - reflection sections, - …

More on the section symbols I use in the upcoming article Visual Language. I don’t use the same process/type of entries every day. Entries vary from day to day. I’ve been customizing my version of the journal for five years now. In fact, I thinker with the content and how I log things every day.

But what do I do when I don’t have my notebook? We’ll I probably have my phone. So I have a digital version of Bullet Journal in my notes app. Same process. Chronological order of notes. Topics indicated by smilies.

Stay tuned

In 2019, 5 years of usage and 9 notebooks after I decided to share some of my learnings. After all, I customized the whole thing quite a bit. Stay tuned for the rest of Bullet journal series:

Get the weekly experiment newsletter to your inbox:

with