Bullets & Books

Q: When can a bullet save your life…?

A: No; not when it’s fired from your gun!

I am planning on trying out the Bullet Journal approach to “managing my life” and have spent the last few days doing some research around the pros-and-cons,  trying to get an understanding on how and why people are using it.

What is a Bullet Journal?

A bullet journal is a little bit of everything. It’s kind of a planner, a calendar, a to-do list, and just a journal in general. Plus, the whole project is a DIY kind of process which allows for the bullet journal to be entirely customizable in regards to its decoration, organization, and make-up (The Travelling Curl)

Why a Bullet Journal?

For me?  Well, like many others, I have tried out numerous “life management” tools and systems, both analogue (paper & pencil) and digital (software/electronic) including – but not limited to! – hardback book diaries (large and small); fully customisable ring-bound filofaxes (large and small); stacks of small cards (DIY GTD); on-line tools (from simple to complex) including both smartphone apps and web apps.  I like the approach offered by Getting Things Done but, ultimately, the lack of a ready tools and integration into the rest of my Life caused me to fall off that bandwagon.

So its a full circle back to pen-and-paper – which does make intuitive sense to me as fifty-something, growing up in a pre-digital world, with deep roots in books and fond memories of “holiday diaries”.

Thoughts about Bullet Journals…

Some quick sound bites from around the web that made me think:

  • As much as I’m a gadget geek, I’m also very much a pen-and-paper gal. Maybe it’s that crossing things off, with a pen, is more fulfilling. Maybe it’s that I hate always staring at a screen. Maybe it’s just that I’m old-fashioned.
  • The act of crossing out items after having written them down (in lieu of typing them) takes some sort of psychic weight off my shoulders.  I really can’t explain it.
  • Think of bullet journalling as panning for gold. You throw everything in there so you don’t miss anything, and then you start sifting through, dumping the junk and moving the good stuff somewhere safe.
  • It only works if you have it with you at all times. This means all notes, ideas, brainstorms and plans are all together, in one place. I just know where everything is; in my Bullet Journal.
  • What have I been writing in my Bullet Journal? Whatever seems relevant. Daily steps, notes on calls and meetings, what jobs I’ve applied for, post ideas — anything that I’ll want or need to know later.
  • Start simple.  Follow the original Bullet Journal layout for a month, then experiment with adding things to make it even more personalized for you and your lifestyle.
  • You can do anything you choose. It’s your journal. Paste on sticky notes, paste in pages, use tabs prolifically, as I do, or not. Your bullet journal can be all business, or you may doodle across the pages… it’s up to you.
  • Unlike pre-printed journals and certain religions, if you don’t think the prescribed dogma works for you then change it. Change all the rules. Steal from other methods. I already have. So has everyone who has posted on their blogs, as far as I know.
  • Don’t worry about PERFECTION!  Set the expectation from the start that you’ll make mistakes.
  • Be creative or NOT!  The amazing thing about a bullet journal is it can be whatever YOU want it to be.  Plain and simple works just as well as colourful and fancy.  Ultimately, the Bullet Journal is a productivity tool, so worry about that first.
  • Nice notebooks are “pricey,” and that’s why I bought one: the point of the exercise was to trick myself into using the shiny new purchase to get my moneys-worth… and the trick worked for long enough to hook me into the system.



Bullets & Books