【Bullet Journaling】: Turning Blank Notebooks Into Productivity Machines


Do you have blank notebooks at home? — Great, you can now turn it into a productivity-enhancing machine.


Notebooks have always been one of the very important tools. Of course, it is not as convenient as a smartphone, nor is it easy to carry, and it is quite slow to write. But if you learn some systems for planning your schedule, it will be much more efficient than planning with your mobile phone or computer.


What is a Bullet Journal?


Bullet Journal is a journal system invented by American designer Ryder Carroll. This system can help people arrange their lives according to their own needs and in the way they want, referred to as BuJo.


Essentially, it's more like a calendar or timetable, but it's so flexible that you can add or remove whatever you want that doesn't work for you.


With a bullet journal, you can track the past, plan the present, and design the future.

                                                                                                  ——Ryder Carroll


Ryder Carroll is a digital product designer living in Brooklyn, New York. As a child, he was diagnosed with a learning disability and had to find ways to focus and be more productive, eventually creating a bullet journal system.


How to create your own bullet journal?


We often see bullet journals with rich colors, exquisite designs and beautiful drawings on the Internet, but the most basic bullet journal only needs a pen and a blank notebook.


You can use bullet journaling all you want, but using the boards that most people use will probably get you started faster, and of course, these beloved boards will help you be more productive.



The Key is where you record the page numbers and symbol meanings of the Bullet Journal section, and the symbols you use are entirely up to you.

I briefly introduce a few of the most commonly used symbols:

  • Dots (bullets): a task
  • Cross X: task completed
  • Arrow →: Task Migrated
  • Strikethrough: Task canceled
  • Triangle △: Reservation task

You can also customize the symbols according to your own needs. I usually use squares to represent school affairs, and dots to mark other tasks.

Tip: You can use different colors to represent different tasks. Colors help the brain efficiently recognize different tasks.


2. Directory


The bullet journal will have many sections and many pages. Creating a page similar to a book catalog will help us quickly find the information we need.

Tips: You can also buy a notebook with a built-in BuJo system, which already has a catalog, and you don't need to spend time designing it.


3. Future diary

The future diary is used to write down important events in the future, such as the time of the final exam, the appointment for double eyelid surgery in a few months, the deadline for major group projects, etc.

The future log of the BuJo system is a separate page, and you need to write the tasks into the monthly calendar (or directly separate the records by month). If there is a new task in the future, you need to write it here as a reminder.


4. Monthly log

The monthly log of the BuJo system is no different from the regular calendar. In this section, you can browse what you have to do this month and clarify what your most important tasks are.



Tips: You can write down this month's goals, new plans, this month's task list, etc. in this board.


5. Daily log/weekly log

The Daily Journal/Weekly Journal is where you record every task, event, note, deadline, etc., and of course, each plan needs to use the notation you specified on the index page.

All the mess and to-do lists for the week are recorded on this page. Of course, as time goes on, you will complete task after task, so cross them off quickly.


6. Checklist

Lists are very expressive, and you can use them to track habits, make lists, or jot down thoughts.

These lists might help you get more organized: to-do lists, habit trackers, expense trackers, health trackers, and more.


How can I be more productive with a bullet journal?

1. Highly flexible logging

Although there are many ways to improve efficiency, they are not as flexible as BuJo, nor do they allow users to track so much content on the same notebook as easily as BuJo.

Consolidating all your daily goals, lists, plans, and appointments into one notebook will save you a lot of time. After all, we often tear off a post-it note, write down important things, stick it on the desk divider, and when we really need it, we can't find it anywhere. It also makes it easier to keep all your thoughts and life plans with you at all times.

All in all, it saves a lot of time and energy, thus helping you to be more efficient.

2. Quickly record

BuJo uses the symbol system you set up on the Key page in advance - if you forget what the symbol stands for, just turn to the first page to find out. It allows you to easily record each individual task or event, while still keeping the diary organized, which achieves a balance of time saving and organization.

3. Cross out completed tasks

Honestly, crossing off tasks off your to-do list makes you feel great.No matter how big or small the task is, the act itself frees your mind from the task and gives you a sense of accomplishment.

BuJo does a great job on this one too. You can write down everything you have to do today/tomorrow/this week in BuJo, even if it seems insignificant, and it can definitely be done in 5 minutes. Its effect is reflected in the things you complete this task: crossing off completed tasks will greatly improve your efficiency. Because the more productive you feel, the more you want to keep it that way.

4. Write things down

Cognitive psychology research shows that typing is much less efficient than handwriting, which requires more active, conscious thinking. So when you take a pen and write down a task, you are actively processing your thoughts, thinking, appointments, tasks...

Besides that, putting things on paper can help you focus and think more clearly, as well as increase self-awareness and reflection.

5. Habit tracking

As silly as it sounds, habit tracking can really improve productivity.

So take advantage of the custom-designed habit tracker that not only keeps you focused and productive throughout the day, but also allows you to think about your good and bad habits and help you get rid of them.

6. Record your inspiration anytime

Most productivity systems are just a daily plan or schedule, but BuJo is a system that helps boost creativity, and it can help push individuals to be more innovative.

It lets you quickly jot down the day's whimsy all in one place.

7. Throw away the least important thought

"Yeah! But the BuJo I made doesn't look that good, how can I share it!" - Well, you don't have to. Of course, if you like drawing, you can make your BuJo more beautiful; if you don't like it, don't force yourself to make it look better. For users, BuJo is characterized by its convenience and ease of use.

Before I started writing BuJo, my life was chaotic and disorganized. BuJo has helped me accomplish so much, so much more than I could ever imagine: It has helped me develop healthier, more effective habits in my life, and it has given my inner artist cell a creative outlet.

Once you start writing BuJo, you realize how powerful and useful its methods are. I highly recommend you get into the habit of writing BuJo.

For me, bullet journaling for 5 minutes a day makes me happier and more productive. Most importantly, it keeps me awake during stressful times at work and in life.


Other blogs