How I Bullet Journal, Summer 2016 Edition

I’ve been bullet journaling for almost two and a half years, and I finally feel like I’m hitting my stride with it. I take so many notes for graduate school that I fill up two Moleskines a year. I thought I would take the opportunity of switching to my second volume to share how I use the Bullet Journal system, and which parts I leave out. You can find pictures to go with these on my Instagram account.

My notebook of choice is the Moleskine Classic Collection Large Hardcover Squared Notebook. I began with a lined notebook, because when I first started I wanted to use something that I already had on hand; I wasn’t sure this system would work for me and I didn’t want to invest money in something I wasn’t going to keep using. I switched to a softcover squared notebook for my next journal, but I’m pretty hard on my journals, shoving them in purses and backpacks where they might be near drinks or food that could spill on them, so after the pocket on that softcover gave up the ghost, I switched to hardcover. I love Moleskines for their simplicity and sturdiness.

I love having an index, but I found that with monthly pages and collections all in one index, I was having a lot of trouble finding collections. For this reason, I’ve now divided the index; months go on the left, collections on the right.

In the bottom right corner of my index spread, I have this key. I found that I didn’t use the signifiers Ryder Carroll originally suggested such as an asterisk for priority or an exclamation point for an idea, so I just stopped including them in my key. I never left enough space to the left of my bullets for them anyway.

I tend to use the event bullet when I’m making a daily list; this keeps me from getting too ambitious and giving myself too many “today to-dos.” On each day, I set out specific tasks from my larger monthly list that I want to do; I leave a blank line and then items after that blank line are my rapid-logging for the day. I fill in the event bullet when the event is over.

When I started, Ryder was using boxes for tasks and bullets for notes; I actually like this bullet for tasks and dashes for note system much better.

You’ll notice there’s no bullet for migrating a task backward to the Future Log. That’s because I don’t use the Future Log; I tried but I never looked back at it, so I stopped including it.

Similarly, I usually would forget to refer to the monthly calendar; it wasn’t a good planner because I wouldn’t check it, and it wasn’t a good log of what had happened since I would forget to add things to it after the first of the month. I use Google Calendar for tracking future events, meal planning, and setting reminders. I also refer back to it when I need to know what happened in the past. So my monthly spread just begins with the task list.

I’m a doctoral student, so my work-related collections tend to focus on revising papers for publication, designing new studies, and the grant-funded project that will support my assistantship for the next 3 years. You’ll notice that in my “To Revise” list, I’ve used threading to point to revision notes in an earlier notebook.

School is out right now, and I don’t really feel like going back to my old notebook for examples of these, but I plan to write another post in September about the way I handle specific spreads and collections in the school year: weekly reading, notes on readings for literature reviews, and data collection and analysis.