I’ve seen the best and worst of productivity. In my 4 years of high school, I’ve experienced days of sitting by lit candles in my spotless room listening to The XX and completing tasks at a rate of 4 tph (tasks per hour), but I’ve also spent 12 hours at a time splayed out on my bed watching Bojack Horseman and slurping a Baja Blast while trying to forget the AP Calculus test I have tomorrow. In short, you could say I’m someone whose productivity fluctuates on a large scale, but recently I’ve found a way to balance out my desire to do as little as possible to survive with that of needing to have control over every aspect of my life in a new little book I call my Bullet Journal.
I first stumbled across the idea of doing a Bullet Journal about a month ago on Tumblr when I saw a post containing a link to the Bullet Journal website. I watched the introductory video and read the basic instructions and decided I’d give it a try. Assuming that this would just become yet another one of what I like to call a “2-day productivity kick,” I grabbed an old World Market journal and flipped to the first blank page, which ended up being about half of the way through the book, and got to work.
A Bullet Journal is organized in modules, each dedicated to different types of notes. The first module is the index, which later makes it easy to go back and find an old journal page a few months later. After adding the index, I added a future log and a monthly log for the current month. The future log has space to write any long-term notes for the upcoming six months or year, and the monthly log features a calendar with quick notes with major events throughout the month.
After adding the monthly logs into my index, I was ready to add my daily logs for September. With similar formatting to a traditional planner, I dedicated a week to each page, so September’s daily logs took up four pages. I then made a space for each day for notes, and filled in my tasks.
The Bullet Journaling system has three kinds of notes: tasks (i.e. to-dos), marked with a bullet, events, marked with a check box, and other personalized notes, which are marked with a special symbol you create yourself. I used a music note to mark any songs I had heard that day, a quotation mark for interesting quotes I’d heard, and a clock for deadlines. Using the space I’d given for each day, I jotted down notes for the day, and by the end of each day, it was easy to see everything I had done and needed to get done. And at the end of the week, I could see what I had gotten done as well as what I hadn’t so that I could move my uncompleted tasks to the next week or the next time I predicted that I would have time.
After about a month on the Bullet Journaling system, I’ve turned my ratty old half-used journal into a functional system that keeps me organized in a way that’s simple for my brain to understand even on my laziest of days. As someone who easily gets overwhelmed by crowded to-do lists, the visual appearance of the different types of bullets have made it so easy to look at what things I have to do on any given day without stressing over event notes that I may have thought were deadlines at first glance before.