What is the Bullet Journal System?

When I stumbled upon the bullet journal system I was very confused by what I saw. The terms, the concepts, all of it. The definitions that are out there aren't wrong... it's just hard to grasp if you're not part of it. So I'll try to define the system as a whole and then introduce the usual ideas:

A bullet journal is essentially whatever you need it to be. For some people it is more of a sketchbook than anything. For others it's more of a diary. For many it is a planning necessity. A bullet journal is a label given to any kind of journal that is usually indexed with different types of entries or collections. The key to the bullet journal is that it works for you. From everything I've read bullet journalling is a process that truly comes in its own for each individual through trial and error. When you start you'll assume you'll follow every article and instagrammer to a T, then over time you learn to adjust your system so it's more functional for your own needs.

The key elements that make a bullet journal a bullet journal are an index, a key, usually a future log, and usually bullet lists using the symbols in your key (hence, bullet journal). I haven't stayed too on top of the more specific of my symbols. But the tasks, notes and appointments, and status (complete, migrated, cancelled) I've stuck to. The more specific symbols are good in theory but when you're in a rush you don't think to make a clock when you have a deadline. I usually do inspiration and ideas in the form of brain dumps. I've only been bullet journalling for almost 2 months and I've already evolved in this way. In my next journal I probably won't do the color coding (I used to write in the specific color when a task fell into that category), and half of those symbols. My index does not happen as I do the pages. My current bullet journal doesn't even have all the pages numbered. I indexed the first week and then went through everything and indexed a month in. I think having an index is important but not necessarily important as your going along. From my experience, once a month works for me. 

 

So what are some of these terms? Here is the Bullet Journaling 101 which every bullet journalist should read and reread to understand the concepts and then dive in (from my experience anyway!). I'll also try to give a short rundown of some of the terms:


Migration - Migration is a fancy term for when you're too busy for something one week so you push it back to another week. A point Ryder Carroll makes is after a certain point in pushing things back you need to decide if it's still worth your time or not.


Threading - Threading is a very cool concept that I have not had the chance to utilize yet. Let's assume you are taking class. You take notes on 10/10 for that class. The next time you take that class and want to take notes the next available page in your journal is 5+ pages away. On the initial page you'll write the page number of the next applicable page with a forward arrow. You keep doing this as long as necessary to help you know where to look for things that are the same topic or a continuation.

Future Log - Sometimes there are things you plan for way in advance. Having a place for all these things in one place is convenient. There are many different ways to accomplish this. I like the Calendex and Alastair's best.

Daily/Weekly/Monthly Logs - Self explanatory. Spreads of different durations that help you stay organized and know what's going on in your life. There are countless ways to do them and social media is a great place for inspiration. Self conscious and worried you can't be pretty like everyone else on instagram? There are plenty of instagram users who are planners/bullet journalists who have very mimimalist journals and layouts. Like I said, it's about functionality!

Hopefully I haven't missed anything. If I have and you have questions don't hesitate to ask! The bullet journal community is a very supportive community that helps build the system together. Basically people have an epiphany about a system or layout that they think would be cool to try, they share it, and someone else thinks it would work for them. That's how it all started with the creator, Ryder Carroll, shared his system of journaling and now we have this huge community expanding and making it their own! My journal helps me keep track of my sleep, productivity, and mental health. I am developing the things that best work for me and finding things that work and don't. Follow me on my journey! :)