Do you BuJo? If you're not yet in the know, that's short for “bullet journaling.” In the digital age, the humble analog notebook has made a huge comeback thanks to Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer. Carroll started a pen-and-paper journaling system to organize his thoughts, which eventually exploded into the Bullet Journal® brand and sensation.
You only need to scroll through Instagram for a minute to know thousands of people are crazy about bullet journaling. Here's what makes the bullet journal such a hit: It's a blank notebook that you can use to “track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future,” as Carroll explains in a how-to video. You don't need to buy a special book or fancy supplies. You don't need to use Carroll's shorthand or organizational methods. You can do whatever works best for you. And because Carroll helped the world fall in love with bullet journaling, you'll be able to tap into a huge online community for inspiration and ideas.
Keep reading to learn about page ideas to make your bullet journal more fun and productive, as well as discover a handful of tools that can take your bullet journal to the next level.
Ready to Get Started?
If you're new to bullet journaling, check out bulletjournal.com for basic tutorials. The only rule for bullet journaling is to do it your way. But it's helpful to learn Carroll's handy rapid logging system.
Bullet Journal Page Ideas
Carroll invented bullet journaling, but thousands of users have improved on it. Once you have the basics down, experiment with additional page ideas to see if they boost your productivity or improve your life. Not sure where to start? Consider some of these crowd-tested ideas:
Setting specific goals can increase motivation and boost achievement. Add sections in your bullet journal for yearly, monthly, or daily goals. For the most effective goal setting, keep the acronym SMART in mind and make goals that are:
Are you a book lover? A reading log is an excellent way to deepen your reading experience. List books you want to read or log books you recently finished. Consider including reflections, favorite quotes, or questions that come to mind while reading. Want to make a more visual log? Draw a bookshelf with books on it, and write titles from your to-read pile on the spines. When you've read a book, color in the spine.
When it comes to forming a habit, repetition is important. Before an action becomes automatic, research suggests you need to repeat it for an average of 66 days. Include a monthly habit tracker in your bullet journal to make sure you're forming the kinds of habits you want to. Focus on specific, achievable, positive daily activities such as:
Exercise for 25 minutes
Meditating for 10 minutes
Sleeping for 8 hours
Reading for 30 minutes
Making and sticking to a monthly budget can help you set and reach financial goals, cut expenses, build wealth, and plan for retirement. Include a monthly budget page that lists your expected income and expenses. Then consider these additional journal pages:
In numerous studies, counting one's blessings is linked to increased well-being and greater life satisfaction. According to Robert Emmons, who studies gratitude at the University of California, Davis, gratitude logs are most effective when you focus on people whom you're most grateful for, and when you take time to savor your blessings by elaborating in detail about them. Paradoxically, it may be better to do a weekly gratitude log rather than a daily one, so gratitude doesn't become a mindless activity.
Are you often distracted by nagging thoughts? Your bullet journal may hold the cure. Writing anxieties helps people who worry a lot be able to focus. Studies suggest writing down worries before a test may help people achieve a higher score. It may also improve your general well-being. Dr. Aviva Romm, an integrative physician, advises anxious patients to write their worries in a journal twice a day to calm the body's stress response, improve sleep, and restore health. Not sure what your brain dump should look like? There are no rules, except to write whatever comes to mind. Write in paragraphs, use bullet points, or do whatever works best for you.
Keeping a clean and organized house is good for your health and well-being, according to a number of studies. Orderly surroundings may also help you stay focused on tasks and sleep better. Struggling to keep your environment tidy? Add a cleaning schedule, calendar, or chore list to your bullet journal to help maintain your house.
Looking for a simple way to visualize the tasks you need to do each day? Add a timeline to your daily log. Write the hours of the day in a horizontal or vertical grid, and use colored pens or markers to designate colored sections for different tasks. Provide a key near the timeline to show the colors you assign to different tasks.
Meal planner Planning meals encourages home cooking, which is nearly always healthier than getting fast food or eating in a restaurant. In one study, people who planned their meals ate a wider variety of food and were less likely to be overweight. Meal planning can also help you save money on impulse purchases when you're at the store because you'll know exactly which ingredients you need for the week. Include a page in your journal for a weekly meal plan and grocery list. Also consider these additional journal pages:
A list of favorite meals
An inventory of what's in the fridge, freezer, or pantry
A recipe file
Want to keep track of which movies you want to watch, remember your favorite quotes, or track must-read authors? Start a collection page to make note of whatever information you'd like to hold on to.
Take Your Bullet Journal to the Next Level
Bullet journal fever is a real thing. Don't be surprised if you find yourself browsing art stores or office supply websites looking for the perfect tools to level up your daily journaling. At first, simple is usually best: You don't need any special tools for bullet journaling beyond a notebook and pen. But once you have the basics down, there's nothing wrong with a little embellishment, especially if it makes you enjoy journaling more.
Don't get too caught up in comparing your journal to the beautiful bullet journal pages on Instagram. Remember, the best way to use a bullet journal is your way. If that's simple, messy, or imperfect, join the club.
When you add a new type of page to your journal, think of it as an experiment, and check in occasionally to make sure it brings joy to your life. If adding a habit tracker or budget makes you cringe every time you look at your bullet journal, scratch those ideas and try something new. Your bullet journal shouldn't be a source of stress. Add pages you're excited to visit day after day.
Abby Quillen is the author of the novel The Garden of Dead Dreams and the editor of two anthologies. Her articles and essays have appeared in YES! Magazine and The Christian Science Monitor and on Common Dreams, Nation of Change, Reader Supported News, The Daily Good, Truthout, and Shareable. She lives in Eugene, Oregon, with her family. When she's not writing, she grows vegetables and weeds, bikes and walks as much as she can, and jots down cute things her kids say. Visit her at abbyquillen.com.