Happy New Year! You know what a new year means, don’t you? A new Bullet Journal!
If you don’t know what a Bullet Journal is, start here. In short, it’s a planner created by Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer. You could also look at my 2017 journal. The Bullet Journal (BuJo) has exploded on the internet over the last couple of years and it’s changed a lot, but I still use Ryder’s original system. This style is now sometimes referred to as the Minimalist Bullet Journal. I still just call it the Bullet Journal.
This is my fourth Bullet Journal. It will contain All The Things. In previous years, I experimented with keeping a separate one for work, but I didn’t like juggling two journals. In 2017, I had an integrated journal and that’s what I’m doing in 2018. Once again, I’m using a Moleskine Classic Collection Dotted Notebook. This is a hardcover journal. My first Bullet Journal was a softcover grid Moleskine, but I prefer the hardcover because it holds up better. I’ve used both the grid and dotted journals and I like the dotted journal just a little bit more.
My Bullet Journal retains the same basic features year after year: index, monthly calendar and tasks, rapid logging, and collections. The collections have changed and I have experimented with other features, but after a few years of using this system, I feel like I’ve settled into the features I like.
Last year, I dedicated two spreads to the index. I didn’t use the second spread so I’m using just one spread for the index this year.
In 2016 and 2017, I dedicated the following two spreads to a future log. This is not part of Ryder’s original system and was created by someone else to resolve what is often seen as a weakness in the system: the lack of future planning. I tried two different layouts. The 2017 layout was more practical because it had more space to add dates, but I didn’t end up using it much. I relied more on Google Calendar. I’m skipping the future log in 2018.
In Ryder’s original system, the index is followed by the monthly calendar. The collections emerge from your monthly and daily calendars. I followed this process with my first two Bullet Journals and so my collections were scattered throughout the journals. Now that I’ve been using this system for a few years, I have a good sense of which collections are useful for me. Because I like to collect my collections, I put them all at the front.
Last year, I had 12 collections. This year, I have seven:
CP’s Guide to Life: These are principles I try to live by as well as the character strengths and virtues that I strive to develop. They are learnings I’ve picked up. You can read some of them in 40 things I know are true.
Goals: Like a lot of people, I set New Year’s resolutions in the form of goals. The page contains a list because I like to look at them, but I don’t track progress here. I use Trello for project management.
Donations: Every year, I donate a portion of my income. I use this page to keep track of what organisations I donate to and how much I give.
Waiting on: It’s the first of January and this list has eight items on it. I use this list to track purchases I’ve made online. I jot down what it is, where I bought it, and when. When the item arrives, I tick it off. Last year, I gave this list one page and it poured over into the next page. This year, it’s getting a spread.
Master packing list: This is a spread with a master packing list on the left and special categories on the right – e.g. camping, beach, Pagan, cemetery. Impromptu trips are not uncommon and this helps me ensure I don’t forget anything.
Important info: This is a collection of random, but important information that I need to have on hand sometimes. For example, medical information such as when I had my gallbladder removed or my last dental visit.
Logins: This is a collection of some usernames and passwords. I know that sounds risky, but I’ve written it in a way that only I understand.
Collections that I axed this year are:
- Blog ideas: I now keep this in Trello.
- Nail colours: This list was to help me avoid purchasing duplicate colours, but I didn’t buy any nail polish in 2017. I’m guessing I’m not going to buy any in 2018 either.
- Makeup brushes: This list was to help me avoid buying yet another eyeshadow brush, but I’ve got all the makeup brushes I need and don’t foresee buying any in 2018.
- On loan: This is a list of items I’ve loaned to others. I’ve given up on the idea that I’m getting these items back so I’m eliminating this list.
- Books to Read and Films to Watch: I used this spread to capture titles I’m not familiar with. Now I keep track of my books on Goodreads. I don’t have a place to capture Films to Watch, but I didn’t use this list in 2017. This one could make a comeback if I don’t end up using a platform like Rotten Tomatoes to keep track.
The calendars follow the collections and these are the bulk of my Bullet Journal. I use Ryder’s original spread: the month on the left and the monthly tasks on the right. I also use the tasks page to capture things I want to explore, such as books, movies, ideas, websites, and apps.
Before I jump into the daily calendar, I dedicate a page to capturing things I’m grateful for. It looks like the monthly calendar page, but rather than adding events, I jot down one thing I’m grateful for every day. I used to do this in the daily calendar, but like seeing them all on one page. The position of this list varies a little bit. I always keep the monthly calendar and tasks on a spread. I never leave an empty page and so, depending on how the month ends, the gratitudes page might be before or after the monthly spread.
Then the daily calendars and rapid logging begin. When I started using the Bullet Journal, I used Ryder’s suggested bullets and signifiers. Bullets are the unique symbols that represent tasks, events, and notes. Signifiers give context. For example, a star to represent a priority item or a light bulb to represent an idea. Over time, I’ve developed my own key, which includes only a handful of bullets and signifiers. It’s short, inconsistent at times, but it works for me. In my first bullet journal, I added the key to the back of the journal, but I no longer need the visual reminder.
That’s it. Those are the first 17 pages of my 2018 Bullet Journal.
What’s not in my Bullet Journal
My Bullet Journal is my personal organiser. It’s largely a productivity tool. I don’t throw my old journals away, but I store them and rarely need to refer to them. Given the temporary nature of its purpose, I don’t use it to keep information that I want beyond the year. For example, I don’t use it for my writing. If I attend a writers’ workshop, I don’t use my Bullet Journal for notetaking because I will want to refer to those notes after the year is over. For writing, I use Scrivener. For notetaking during courses and workshops, I use a separate journal or an online tool such as Google Docs or Evernote. For magickal work, I use my Book of Shadows.