How to keep a Bullet Journal

Bullet Journal
Max Miller
Max Miller
11 March 2024
8 min

Organisation is the first step towards success in life. Properly managing your working and personal time, skilfully distributing priorities, it is much easier to achieve your goals. An organised person is able to quickly solve any problem. To increase your productivity, you can use different methods. For example, the creative way of keeping Bullet Journal notes, invented by the American writer Ryder Carroll.

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What it is and how it works

Ryder Carroll, the author of the Bullet Journal methodology, writer and designer, was diagnosed as a child with hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder, which made him unable to focus on one activity for long periods of time. He was bursting with ideas, starting several interesting things at the same time, but never finishing anything.

His concentration problems did not disappear in adulthood. It was difficult for him to memorise any information and to conduct business with customers. In order not to let potential customers down, Ryder developed his own concept of a notebook diary, combining the features of a planner, a personal diary, a financial book and a list of goals.

To keep and design a Bullet Journal, all you need to start with is a pen and an ordinary paper notebook of any format for writing down to-do lists, notes, plans, and other information that is important to you. Unlike the planner that many people are accustomed to, there are no rigid examples of templates, pre-drawn pages or strict rules. To use this planning tool, you only need to fulfil a few conditions:

  • The presence of an index in the form of a table of contents on the first page of the notebook to help you quickly navigate through the entries.
  • Convenient page spreads to display information effectively.
  • Page numbering, to make it easier to find information.

The entries in the notebook are made daily, by hand. They are labelled according to the degree of completion, topic, importance, progress. For example, tasks scheduled for completion are marked with a dot. Completed tasks are marked with a cross. The most important, major tasks are marked with a dash or a circle. To record global goals for half a year, a year or another period, separate pages are allocated. Also separately record small tasks that need to be completed during the current month. Allocate a separate module in the notebook with collections in the form of collections with a list of books, films or ideas.

All personal notes concerning plans, ideas, planned activities are made in the same notebook, without distractions on other media. For example, if you use a separate application to make a list of tasks, but you record your habits in another service for tracking habits, and you have a plan of books for the summer stored on some other medium. When using the Bullet Journal system, you need to train yourself to keep all your information in one place. You also need to build a structure for easy navigation through the journal, which is why you train yourself to keep your notes in order.

The size of the notebook should be chosen so that it fits comfortably in your hand or bag. It is desirable that the page can accommodate up to 30 lines, according to the numbers of the calendar month. If you plan to take notes frequently on the road or at work, a hardcover edition is the best solution.

Why keeping Bullet Journal helps you become organised and successful

He instructed the subjects to make manual diary entries for three days, taking at least 20 minutes to complete. People who took notes felt calmer and more balanced than those in another control group who did not take daily notes. Their blood pressure stabilised and they had fewer colds. They were able to improve their performance and relationships with others.

It has been proven in studies that regular use of handwriting in ordinary life helps boost the body’s immune functions, improves memory, and helps overcome problems with sleep disorders. Other benefits of keeping a diary:

  • Finding new ideas for creativity through associative thinking.

This method is popular in psychiatry. By analysing the entries in a personal diary, the person, with the help of a counsellor, understands how they relate to each other and how to react to certain emotions or thoughts.

Since Bullet Journal is a collection of various thoughts, tasks, goals, recorded in different emotional periods of life, rereading them from time to time, you can find many interesting ideas that will become a source of inspiration for new creative projects.

  • Memory Unloading.

Because of the huge amount of often unnecessary, superfluous information stored in our memory, we often overlook really important, serious things. To save yourself from having to remember everything about everything, it is better to transfer your thoughts, remarks, memories to paper. This will relieve the brain and get rid of unnecessary anxiety because of the fear of forgetting or overlooking something. After all, if we forget something, we will just look at our notes.

  • A sense of fulfilment.

In the age of computer technologies and digital media, communication with paper media – books, notebooks, magazines – brings incredible aesthetic pleasure and fascination. Paper notebooks are pleasant to hold in your hands, to leaf through their pages, to make notes or sketches in them, because in terms of emotional colouring these feelings cannot be compared with mechanical typing on a computer keyboard or smartphone.

  • Developing your creative skills.

Starting to keep their own Bullet Journal, some people turn it into a real work of design art, bringing not only aesthetic but also practical benefits. To make a beautiful journal, you can take as an example video reviews of other people or ready-made templates.

What other tasks does Bullet Journal help to solve

What other tasks does Bulletin Journal help to solve

First of all, it is needed to be able to organise your own life, to learn how to navigate it, and to gather as much information as possible about yourself, your plans, desires, habits, in one convenient place.

By creating daily entries in your diary planner, spending no more than 20 minutes a day to fill it in, you will notice how your affairs will become clearly structured, organised and clear. You will have the energy and time to do things that you have long wanted to do, but never managed to do because you just “couldn’t get to it”.

By using the Bullet Journal planner, you’ll get a lot of useful bonuses:

  • Get your affairs in order. By making a habit of writing down long-term and daily tasks, you will always see the full picture of what is happening in your life. With lists, it’s easier to make the right decisions about the importance of things: what needs to be done quickly and what should be forgotten about.
  • You will become more efficient and productive. Seeing the amount of work in front of your eyes makes it easier to orientate yourself in terms of deadlines. On the basis of records, you can rationally distribute time for each task, set realistic deadlines for their fulfilment, and highlight priority tasks.
  • You will have a better understanding of yourself. Every day, observing the achievement of your goals, you will notice which of them you conquer with ease, and which ones remain lying “dead weight”. How relevant they are in today’s conditions, changed time. This will give you the opportunity to adjust to the situation in time, if necessary, to revise your long-term plans and priorities.
  • You will develop your creative skills in an interesting way. Even if you are completely lacking in artistic ability, rereading your diary, studying your thoughts, selections, you will discover many interesting qualities in yourself. Your personal Bullet Journal doesn’t have to be glamorous or beautiful like many similar options on the internet. It is your view of the world, you choose how you live your life, so Bullet Journal can be anything you want it to be.

Where to start keeping a Bullet Journal

The main tools you will need to keep a diary are a notebook and a pen. It is better if the pages of the notebook are immediately numbered. If you fully comply with the advice of the author of the method, Ryder Carroll, then the notebook should be chosen with sheets in dots. You will also need:

  • Coloured markers to highlight important information (preferably they should not be very bright and should not stamp on the pages).
  • Pencil with eraser (for sketching and correcting).
  • Liners, for notes and drawings.
  • Stencil kits, for quickly creating creative layouts and original fonts.

If you want to make your notebook original and creative, you may need other means for design and decoration: stickers, bookmarks, stickers, felt-tip pens, watercolour paints. But, you can do quite well with a simple notebook with a biro. The main thing is to always keep it handy and make regular notes.

How to keep a notebook

Start the design from the first page. It will be the title page. On it you can put quotes that inspire you, decorate it with your own drawings. The main thing is to enjoy the process. Next, move on to the layout. Since Bullet Journal is designed in the form of lists, united in hotel thematic blocks. They are marked with special symbols corresponding to the content:

  • Tasks are marked with a dot. As they are completed, the marking changes to a cross (completed), an arrow (if the task is moved to another module), or a back arrow (if the task is included in the annual plan). You can also simply cross a task off the list when it is completed.
  • Meetings and events are marked with a circle. They are attached to specific dates.
  • Facts, ideas, observations, other notes are indicated by dashes.

Tasks with a high priority are additionally marked with an asterisk. Important thoughts, interesting ideas that are important not to lose are marked with an exclamation mark.

You can distribute the pages in the diary in any way you like. For example, it can be divided into the following modules:

  • Key. It is more convenient to put it on the left side of the notebook, so that this section is always visible. On this page you can see the designations of all the entries with deciphering: dot – task, dash – note, etc.
  • Index. Journal contents with numbering.
  • Future Plans. In this section you should place your global goals for the year or six months.
  • Monthly trackers and collections. These are the moments you would like to track throughout the month.

LeaderTask app for Bullet Journal

LeaderTask app

You can use a paper notebook to keep personal notes. Or you can use the modern digital service LeaderTask, which has the functionality of an electronic diary, planner and time management software. In the application it is much faster and easier to make to-do lists, monitor and control their fulfilment, manage your schedule, make notes, set focus on priority tasks. If in a paper notebook it takes a lot of time to simply transfer tasks from section to section (you need to study them, cross them out, write them in another column), in LeaderTask this manipulation is done in one motion.

With the help of the electronic diary you can make your own lists of to-do’s and tasks, group them by topic, importance, priority of fulfilment. The program will help you:

  • Get your affairs in order.
  • Use a variety of time management techniques.
  • Increase awareness.
  • Get rid of disorganisation and forgetfulness.
  • Improve personal productivity.
  • Take control of your life to get better results.


Bullet Journal is an easy-to-use, flexible, minimalistic tool for storing and structuring information. It is suitable for planning, making a list of tasks. It is effective as a tracker of lifestyle and useful habits. It can be used as a personal diary for storing emotions and impressions.

When you start filling it out, don’t be upset if your version is far from the spectacular design options presented on the Internet. After all, the main purpose of creating a notebook is to improve your productivity. Regular note-taking by hand or in a special program will make you calmer and more confident, help you improve your psychological health and achieve important goals in life.

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