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What is Bullet Journaling and Why is It So Effective?

Created by Ryder Carroll, a designer from Brooklyn New York, the Bullet Journal has been a massively popular trend in organization and task management over the last few years.

With social media, especially Instagram, Pintrest and Tumblr, now swamped with content regarding Bullet Journaling, it is evident how widespread the phenomenon is, and how many people are now swearing by this method for task management.

What is the purpose of Bullet Journaling and how is it different from traditional journaling?

The premise is relatively simple: using a paper notebook and pen to write down everything that needs to be done, reviewing monthly, and crossing off when complete. The major difference between a Bullet Journal and a traditional planner that has sky-rocketed its popularity is the freedom to make the journal your journal. Although planners and journals exist in whatever type, shape and form that can possibly be dreamed of, the Bullet Journal allows you to start with a blank notebook and customize it to look however you imagine the planner-of-your-dreams to look like.

While there are certain standard features that most users choose to include in their journals, the primary motive is to establish that the Bullet Journal could be anything from a task manager, to a habit tracker, to a mood journal, even a doodle book, or it can be all of it! There are no constraints on how you fashion it, and at the end of the day, you can choose to decide how messy or organized you’d like the journal to be.

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How does it help?

So why this phenomenon of an analog, notebook-based Bullet Journal is so popular in today’s digitalized world? In a study by Scientific American that compared how the brain processed material on paper vs. on screen, it was seen that “many people approach computers and tablets with a state of mind less conducive to learning than the one they bring to paper.” Our brains are more engaged with an increased thought process while it goes analog – the brain actually behaves differently to process analog information.

Although this is all well and good, writing as a process, though romanticized, is also time consuming and tedious. So why do it? Because the Bullet Journal, by design, helps you decide what matters and what doesn’t. If it’s not important enough to write down any number of times, it’s not important enough to keep in your life, making prioritizing simple, but extremely effective.

Backbone pages of the Bullet Journal

While each aspect of your Bullet Journal is yours to decide and customize on, there are some essential pages that most users include. These include an index page on the first page, a yearly calendar page (also called a future log), a monthly log and task list, and a daily log. Most users also use a list of symbols to indicate tasks, notes, and reminders, in addition to using symbols for whether they’re completed, migrated or not relevant anymore. (Throwback to the filofax days which were hugely popular in the 80’s, and still adorn any good stationary outlet!)

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Other spreads that can be used

Not only helpful to keep on top of all your tasks, the Bullet Journal allows for freedom to include any random spread or list that you might want to have written down. Any number of lists including meal plans, books to read, ideas for your blogs/work, bucket lists, or even your grocery list can be included in the Bullet Journal.

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While the social media popularity of the meticulously embellished, designed and colorful Bullet Journals may be daunting, at the end of the day the core of the entire phenomenon is that it is supposed to be a journal made by you for you. As the reputation of keeping and maintain a Bullet Journal exponentially gains credit, it also may not necessarily work for everyone.

At the very least, giving Bullet Journaling a try will allow you to buy some new stationary, and who doesn’t love a ready-made excuse to buy some new pens? 


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Leah Simon
By Leah Simon

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