I remember being really confused the first time I heard the term “bullet journal.” A coworker pointed to my notebook and said, “Is that a bullet journal?” I told them, “no,” because I had no idea what they meant. For years, I had been keeping handwritten to-do lists in blank diaries. My format was a little different but, the process was the same. I used it to plan then, review my productivity. Yet, I found myself asking, “What is a bullet journal?”

Yet, I was completely unaware that this was a movement, complete with products. I was excited to find there was a whole community of people who were logging their activities and sharing their planning tips.

The History

The term, “bullet journal” was coined by Ryder Carroll and popularized by his book The Bullet Journal Method. His story starts in college when he wanted a method to organize his life, around the 1990s. Over the years, he perfected the system — which was influenced by his experiences as a web, app and game designer. He combined that mindset with his scrapbooking hobby to create a method that allowed him to keep track of his life in an analog format.

The community has grown mostly through social media and related products, like dot journals, have filled the market.

What is a Bullet Journal?

The system organizes reminders, lists, brainstorming and other organizational tasks into one blank notebook. They’re handwritten focusing on tools such as,

  • indexes
  • logs
  • collection
  • migration

The concept of rapid logging is popular. People use a styem of symbols to abbreviate their logs. Most of the logs are divided into daily, weekly, and monthly groups. Additionally, trackers allow people to crunch information and show progress on goals.

Why It Works

At the most basic level, all you need is a pencil and a blank notebook. Anyone can start there.

  1. Device-Free organization is a huge appeal for Millennials. Each day, our eyes are glued to screens for work and play. Getting a break from that black mirror frees our minds.
  2. Goal tracking becomes a self-care ritual. Even if you start with something small, like getting more sleep, it resets your focus.
  3. Meditation and creativity have become key parts of journaling for many people. Although the original “bullet journal” focused on a minimalist style, a lot of journal enthusiasts have incorporated design elements into their layouts.
  4. Journalers have come together online to create a community. People share tips, ideas, trackers, and layouts.

All of these features make handwritten journal logs especially appealing.

What do you put in your bullet journal?

If you keep a journal, I’d like to hear about it. Are you more goal focused? Do you add in doodles and quotes? Tell me about your experience. You can join the conversation by posting below or following me on Instagram.

Additional Resources