What is a Bullet Journal and How It Changed my Life

A little over I year ago, I ran into this thing called a Bullet Journal – bujo for short. You’ve probably seen it something about it already. If you don’t know what it is, a bullet journal is sort of a personalized planner – you’ll usually see them full of cute lettering and inspirational quotes, and people showing off their artistic talents. I’m far from an artistic person – I wish I was, to be honest, but a bullet journal is much more than a cute place to write down your appointments, it is, in fact, whatever you need it to be. Having a bullet journal has changed completely the way I organize my life. No joke! Ok, I’m hyperbolizing a bit to make a point, but I really don’t see myself ever going back to a regular planner. Let me explain what I mean by that.

06I’ve had already three different notebooks since I started bullet journaling and each one was a completely different experience. The first two I made myself from regular printer paper and a few paper bags from Trader Joes. The whole process of making my own notebook was rewarding in itself, but I’m no expert at bookbinding, so it the type of paper and the way I made them weren’t really making them user-friendly. These notebooks were also a lot about experimenting with different layouts and collections and trying to see what would fit best into my lifestyle. If you flip those pages, you’ll see a lot of different colors and shapes and crazy drawings and unusual collections (if you don’t know what a collection is, hang in there for a bit, or skip to the end). For my current bujo, I’ve decided on a minimalistic approach. I’m using only black pens and pencils. I’m also using washi tapes to decorate it, instead of trying to create my own banners and cute little drawing to make it more friendly. But that’s not what is important. Most importantly, I have been using it a lot to track my health and habits. If you are familiar with a bullet journal, you’ve probably heard of trackers – that is not what I’m talking about. I’m keeping track of important events with little codes on the pages and note that I make to myself.

I think I’m going ahead of myself. Before I tell you a bit more about why having a bujo change my life, you probably have a bunch of questions in your mind, like: What exactly is a Bullet Journal? How does it work? What makes it different for a planner or keeping track of my things on my phone? And many other questions you might have. Here’s a brief explanation of What a bujo is.

What is a Bullet Journal?

Bullet Journals are a note-taking system developed by Ryder Carrol. In simple words, you use bullet points to organize your schedule, lists, plans, doodles… anything! Really! I’ve used it not track more than just my appointments and important information. One of my favorites was to track how far along I was with The Walking Dead comic books. All in all, you only need a notebook and a pen/cil. The fact that a bullet journal is literally a blank page makes it incredibly easy to customize and make it look however you want it. Have you ever seen some of the layouts bullet journal bloggers and Instagrammers do? It might even look a bit intimidating to start your own bujo if you think that’s the expectation. But it’s not, trust me. It’s whatever you need it to be. Remeber that a Bullet Journal is a quick list of events and information. So you don’t have to make it look artsy and colorful – unless you want to.

What I like most about having a bullet journal is its flexibility. The original method would describe everything as lists with different codes, which is basically what I do, but I need a bit more since I am a visual person. So my layouts are organized a bit differently from the original. Still, I follow the basic principal of coded bullet points to organize the information I need organizing. You can also add pages according to your needs – like my TWD collection. As long and your pages are numbered you’ll be able to access all the content you decide to put in your bullet journal, and then refer to an index. But there I go again skipping important information.

What Goes In A Bullet Journal?

Despite all its flexibility, there are some key parts that make a bullet journal a bullet journal. And here they are:

1. An Index: Just as in any book you would find an index that guides you to what you want to read, the same happens in your bujo (this is was I was talking about before). Since all your pages are numbered, you’ll be able to access your content easily. This might sound a bit strange at first (it was to me), but it’s of extreme importance. As you add information to your bujo, you continue to number your pages and use them as needed. An example of this is if you decide to go on a trip to Brazil, you’ll need a place to write down flight and hotel details, things you should do while in Brazil, a list of people you need to buy souvenirs, and so forth. But your trip is still a few months from now, so when the day arrives and you need this important information, you’ll be able to refer to this many times just by accessing the index page of your bujo.

2. A Future Log: A future log is a way to plan and visualize your tasks and appointments in the months ahead. As something comes up on your agenda, a birthday, holiday, wedding, you add it to your future log. An example of this is our winter vacation. It’s still a few weeks away, but I’ve got the dates all written down, so I don’t get mixed up when the time comes. You can do your future log as short or as long as you need to. I have a 6-month future log as well as a year-long list of the events that occur annually.

3. A Monthly Log: In your future log, you have simple bullet point reminding of future information. Your monthly log is where you start to add details to it. Don’t forget about your regular monthly appointments. You can do it as a list or a grid (which is how I do it). Whatever works for you.

4. A Daily Log: Here is where you get the ins and outs. All the tasks and events of your day. The secret here is the code you use to track what you need to do. I can explain in more details in another post if you are interested.

5. Collections:  This is where it gets fun. So anything else that you need you can add to a collection – like your trip to Brazil, or my TWD tracker. Some of the most popular collections are trackers, books read, planning trips, recorded recipes, etc. Since you are numbering your pages, once you create a new collection, go back to your index and take note of it in your index so you can find it easily. I currently don’t have many collections, expect my weight and waist tracker and pages on mindfulness.

I know this seems like a lot, but it really isn’t. Trust me! The first time I saw anything about bullet journals I was intrigued by the concept, but at the same time, a little overwhelmed. If you are still a bit lost on the whole concept, that’s ok; it takes some time trying to figure it out. This BuzzFeed post will help.


What Makes A Bullet Journal Different From Anything Else?

The key word here is flexibility with the content. Before I ever heard of bujos, there was the one planner that I really liked using, which was basically a calendar with lines for each day. So I could add anything I wanted to. A bullet journal only systemizes the things you need. The possibility of having collections in a bujo really makes a difference. You don’t need to be carrying several notebooks to store information when you can do it all in one place. All that said, a bullet journal is a system so you can do this in your planner layout. One of my best friends uses a similar system on her Google Calendar. Several codes and lists and links to different collections. To be honest, I thought of doing something similar, if it weren’t for the fact that I’m old school and I like having things written down. Also, when I travel to visit family in Brazil, I don’t have easy internet access on my phone, as I do here in the States. Ultimately, having a bujo is not much different from a planner or whatever other methods to organize your appointments you use. It is trendy and has a cool name though. “Just a sec. Let me check my bujo first.”  sounds way cooler.

In the end, I have adapted well with to the bullet journal system. It seems to fit my needs. I’m not saying that you should throw away your planner and start a bullet journal right now. But I do think you should consider if the flexibility of a bujo would add to how you organize your appointments.


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