The Pragmatic Bullet Journal

At the beginning of 2019, armed with my new years resolutions, I was looking for a way to get organised, be more productive and build opportunities for reflection into my life. Over the years I think I’ve tried every task management app available but none of them seemed to stick. So, instead of downloading the latest productivity app I followed my friend Ana’s advice and decided to pick up a Bullet Journal.

If you haven’t come across bullet journalling before I recommend you check out this introduction, but essentially it’s a framework for paper based goal & task management. To me it feels loosely based on principles from David Allen’s, Getting Things Done with greater emphasis on reflection, not just productivity.

I was initially reluctant to get started, mainly because the approach has become fashionable among many bloggers & vloggers who seem to spend more time creating beautifully designed journals than achieving the goals contained within them. However, after six months of journaling I can tell you there is a more pragmatic approach that requires little time and no artistic ability.

Now I’ve come to the end of my first journal, I thought I’d share my process and what I’ve learned so far:

Review’s
One of the biggest benefits of journalling for me has been reviews. I do a review once a month and also looked back on my year too. It’s helped me better recognise what I have achieved and reflect on things I want to improve. Each review, I ask myself:

– What went well?
– What went badly?
– What am I grateful for?
– What did I learn?
– What did I enjoy?
– What did I avoid?
– What are my new priorities?

Monthly Log’s
Every month I set up these simple pages. I have a simple calendar on the left to schedule key events happening in the month and a similar calendar on the right to schedule exercise I want to do. I also track daily habits I want to work on by colouring in squares when I do the activity. In these pages I’m tracking reading, journalling and exercise.

Daily Log’s
I use these daily logs for two things. Firstly I have a task list which I use to capture anything I need to do. I can then cross these tasks off as I go through the day with anything that isn’t done being moved into the next day or scheduled using an arrow. I also use these pages to write, this is normally just free flowing and used to reflect on the previous day or specific questions I want to ask myself.

These are the main components of the Bullet Journal method I use on a regular basis. It’s a simple process, that I use daily and have found to be much more effective than hiding my goals, tasks and thoughts in a digital tool. For me the biggest benefit of journalling has been reflection, looking back and recognising achievement as well as identifying areas for improvement. If you’ve ever considered bullet journalling or are just looking for a better approach to organising your mind I highly recommend giving it a try!