I have to admit — I was SO confused when trying to grapple with how a bullet journal works. I looked at various tutorials, Pinterest-worthy photos and a seemingly endless stream of YouTube videos. I really, realllllly tried to focus on the whats, the whys and the wheres. But all the while, I was wearing a WTF look on my face (and it should be noted, that this is not my usual look).


Even with the initial confusion, I was willing to give it a go because I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient, to work smarter and to be more focused on making those dreams of mine come true. This whole bullet journal seemed to be worth the brain pain.


The first thing I learned is that there were things that I needed. Hello, shopping! First and foremost was a journal, one that’s sturdy and a size that’s easy for me to bring into the wild (I went with Classic Moleskin). Then I needed some pens — pens that I love, pens that make me happy when I write with them (hello UniBall Deluxe… I love you). I threw in a ruler and Washi tape after getting major inspo from the bullet journal masters on Pinterest.

The second thing I learned? My penmanship sucks. (I think it’s time to sign up for Brit + Co’s Calligraphy 101 course!) I just had to remember that the bullet journal is an uber-personal thang, and it isn’t for public consumption. Although I’d pretty it up with fancy tapes and cute labels, the gist of it is purely utilitarian. But in the end, the prettier I made my journal, the more likely I’d open it up.


I spent more time than I should have setting up my journal (there went a chunk of being-efficient time). In mapping it out, there were some basics that I made sure to add per Ryder Carroll, the inventor of the bullet journal. They included the Index, Future Log, Monthly Log and Daily Log. I then threw in a few of optional goodies such as a TBR (To Be Read) page (with little sketches of the spines of books, natch), Spending (or, where the hell does all my money go), Project (Fun), Projects (Home, aka not as fun) and Ideas. I opted to sprinkle those extra sections throughout the book using paper tabs so they’re easy to reference.


Since I’m crazy busy (but really, who isn’t these days), the big one for me was the Daily Tasks. On Day 1, I wrote an assortment of stuff that needed to be done RN, from pulling together a list of story pitches to filling out a jury duty questionnaire to paying the cable bill (and seriously questioning why it’s so spendy). I love that you’re supposed to do a thing called “rapid logging” and not get too immersed in the deets (“pay cable” rather than “pay that enormous cable bill or else you’ll have no Game of Thrones tomorrow”).


The thing that had me stumped for a while was the whole “bullet” part of it. Then a light bulb went off. You’re just putting a dot, and as you do things, you change the dot to an “X” (for completed tasks), or an arrow for migrating a task or a task that has been scheduled. It’s all based on the dot. Bullet = bullet point = dot. Duh! While it was all fine and dandy, I *totally* missed the satisfaction of crossing off an entire task when I was done, I had to show major restraint to merely turn the little dot to an “X.”


As the days of embracing the bullet journal ticked by, there were a few things I noticed. I was actually excited to fill up my Daily Log each morning with my coffee in hand. It allowed me to purge all the things that I needed to tackle on a given day. If they don’t happen on that day, I just move them to the next.

The other aspect that I adored was having a home for all of the other things on my mind, from my next embroidery idea to how much I spent at Peet’s that afternoon. The journal held me accountable for not just my spending, but for holding on to those random ideas that pop up throughout the day (ideas that would have otherwise gotten lost in my brain or on a tiny slip of paper). One of the best things, for me at least, was the tactile nature of it all. I love that it’s offline and something made of paper and ink (and cute Washi tape, of course). Has it improved my life in any significant ways? Not yet, but I think if I continue on, it will.

“Continue with the bullet journal.” Yep, adding that to my task list.

Have you tried bullet journaling? Tell us what you think @BritandCo!

(Featured photo via Getty)