This month, we’re pleased to introduce a new ongoing series by Todd Foutz about people using their Bullet Journals on the job. It’s called Bullet Journal® for Professionals. Todd has been running Bullet Journal for Professionals as a blog and Facebook group since the beginning of this year. In July it was announced that he would be joining us at The Bulletjournalist to bring ‘Bullet Journal Pros’ with him.

At The Bulletjournalist, Todd will begin to roll out special articles for specific segments in our community of project managers, educators, marketers, HR professionals and more. This column will feature tips and advice for professionals and share unique spreads that professionals are creating in their Bullet Journals. We kick this series off with Todd’s interview of Ryder Carroll, the creator of the Bullet Journal®.


TF: Ryder, first of all, it’s great to have you sit down and chat. I want to thank you for the incredible Bullet Journal system that you have created and advanced and for being the spark that has ignited a large and connected community of Bullet Journalists. Ryder, you have been a great inspiration to so many of us in the Pro community and yet I feel like we don’t know a lot about you, the man behind the Bullet Journal. Let’s begin by having you share a little about yourself and what you do professionally.

RC: Thanks for having me! I was born in Vienna, Austria and lived there until I left for college, where I studied graphic design and creative writing. After school, I moved to New York City and have mostly been here ever since. I’m a digital product designer. I design interfaces and user interaction models for anything from web-apps to mobile games.

TF: Can you give our readers some background on how you developed your system and, more specifically, how you have built a business around the Bullet Journal?

RC: It was a very slow iterative process fueled mostly by stubbornness and frustration. I was diagnosed with A.D.D. when I was young, making school a painful experience. I just didn’t compute the way others did when it came to taking notes and learning. Existing methods and templates didn’t work for me, so, piece by piece, I designed ones that did. That collection of solutions is what you see today. Now I’m focused on creating tools that teach others how they can overcome their challenges with the Bullet Journal®.

TF: The background and history of the Bullet Journal are fascinating to me and our readers. Talk to us, though, about how the system has changed or evolved since you created it. And further, maybe touch on how your company has evolved as well.

RC: In short, the biggest change is, the purpose of the Bullet Journal®. The Bullet Journal® system wasn’t initially designed to be shared. But it was designed to be flexible, adaptable, and forgiving. Those qualities allowed Bullet Journalists to map my framework to their own lives. The impact that it’s had on some people is transformative, and I never anticipated that. It’s very humbling and inspiring. My goal moving forward is to develop better ways to teach the Bullet Journal system.

TF: The changes you discussed make me want to ask you about the changes you have seen in the Bullet Journal community. For instance, the number of news articles about the Bullet Journal and, most importantly, strong social media support has spawned so many new users and niche communities like the professional community here. What do you think when you see all of the various ways that people are using the system you developed? What does the community mean to you and the Bullet Journal?

RC: The communities are everything. They taught me how diverse the applications could be. It’s been an incredible learning experience and allows me to more clearly see what I can be doing better.

TF: Let’s transition for a minute to talk about the big “B” – Brand – Bullet Journal. I see a lot of people posting pictures of their journals in Facebook groups, on Instagram and Pinterest. Many of these people are referring to their journal as a Bullet Journal but many of them look far removed from the system you pioneered. Many of these journals that people refer to as Bullet Journals are not even using your system. What do you think of that? What does it do to the brand, Bullet Journal, when the brand name is being misused or misrepresented?

RC: I often get asked “what is the right way to Bullet Journal.” Most people come to the Bullet Journal® through the beautifully designed notebook pages they see online. Decorated books are by no means incorrect, but they also don’t provide the full picture. The Bullet Journal® is more than a system, it’s a practice that provides clarity through focus and reflection. The methods I’ve shared have been deeply considered and refined for over two decades. The brand is designed to protect and maintain the integrity of this practice, so that it can continue to provide value to Bullet Journalists.

I encourage people to make Bullet Journal their own for personal use, but it’s also important to provide accreditation. I ask this on behalf of those new to the system who may be encountering it for the first time. It’s really important for beginners to understand the basics, and start simple. It’s not a good idea to get in the cockpit before you know how to fly the plane.

TF: So what can the community look forward to?

RC: The core driver for the Bullet Journal as a brand and company is to make things that help people. Education is a big part of that. The Bullet Journal launched in 2013, and since then, I’ve fielded thousands of emails with questions. In response to that, we’ve launched the new “Help” section on the site. It’s a knowledge base designed to act as a helpful resource for both new and seasoned Bullet Journalists. I’m really excited about the launch of the new “Help section”, and hope that it serves the community well.

One resource I’m particularly excited about is the free Starter Guide. It’s a one page printable reference guide for Bullet Journaling. Originally created by Kim Alvarez, it’s been translated into over a dozen languages by volunteers from the Bullet Journal® community! How cool is that?

TF: Let’s transition now to talk about the future. I’d like to hear about your vision for the future of Bullet Journal.

RC: There is one focus for the Bullet Journal: Help as many people as possible. The beauty of the system is its flexibility. It can become whatever the user needs it to be. That’s very powerful concept, but it can also be an overwhelming one. Sometimes it’s hard to see how this practice will help with your needs as an individual.

So, the next steps are to teach Bullet Journaling through the lens of specific needs. Two examples are the Bullet Journal for Moms series and the introduction of this Bullet Journal Pros series. These are the first steps in making the Bullet Journal ever more relevant and helpful to users. Speaking of which, can you talk about what’s coming up in future posts from Bullet Journal Pros, and what excites you about the Bullet Journal?

BJP: Sure! First, thanks, Ryder, for the opportunity to bring our programming here to The Bulletjournalist. I will be hosting monthly interviews with Pros from various industries and how they use their Bullet Journal along with tips and sharing photos of spreads that our readers will find interesting. These shared experiences will provide our readers with new insights into the Bullet Journal system and how it can be enhanced for Professional use.

On the Facebook Group for Pros, you will find some great conversation about how Pros are using the system. I have been impressed by how many different professions are represented in our Pro Community including blue collar, white collar, government and even military users. One feature coming up this fall will be a series of interviews and insights into specific professions. We will be talking to groups of project managers, educators, healthcare professionals, marketing professionals and more. I’m really looking forward to sharing this new content with the readers of The Bulletjournalist, Ryder!

RC: I’m as excited as you are, Todd! Thank you for bringing the Pro Community formally to our blog.

BJP: Thank you for the opportunity and stay tuned for great things to come!

Image by: Bethany Legg

About Todd Foutz

Hello Pros! I’m Todd Foutz, head of marketing and business development for an advertising agency. I write about people, like me, who use their Bullet Journal on the job, planning their busy days and nights and meeting their career goals and job requirements. My mission here is to unite and bring ideas to a community of professionals who use their Bullet Journals to be more successful on the job. Let’s go, Pros!
  • Hi Todd! Congratulations on joining the official Bullet Journal site! It’s wonderful to see you here – I love what you’ve been doing in the Bullet Journal Pros community and look forward to the wonderful content you’ll share with us all 🙂 Happy to see this as the first in the series – Ryder is awesome! Loved the cockpit analogy, it’s so apt. I appreciate that Ryder accepts and welcomes all kinds of Bullet Journals and gently reminds everyone to remember to attribute the original and where it can be found, as it’s the first place newcomers to the system should be introduced to – that video is gold 🙂

    • Kym, you are so sweet. You have been a great supporter of me and the Pro community since the beginning. I appreciate your friendship and support!

  • Genie

    Is there a link to the Pros FB group?

  • Mark

    Looking forward to more blog posts for professionals. BuJo is great for me at home but I struggle to implement it in the workplace continually going back to dated Journal.

    • Hey Mark! Thanks for your comment. You’re not alone. There are many people who are trying to find a way for their Bullet Journal to be a part of their work life. I would encourage you to stay tuned to this blog for more to come. You may also want to joint the Facebook Group, Bullet Journal for Professionals. There are a lot of other Pros there who can give you lots of advice and tips.

  • Looking forward to this series!

  • Michael Kridel

    I’m a forensic investigator (primarily financial but in other spaces as well) and one of the lucky people who found BuJo early on, watched it develop (without using it) and then put oney into the Kickstarter project as soon as I was aware of it. I, too, am primarily an analog planner, though I intensively use Outlook at the office and MindManager for mindmapping. I print reports of key control documents on a weekly basis that “live” in a repurposed Time/Design binder that I have been using since about 1983 when David Allen was one of the owners and the lead seminar speaker (pre-dating GTD as a term). I’ve long reconciled myself to being paper-less rather than paperless and there is nothing better than being able to view a critical document in seconds without pressing a power button. That said, I’m looking forward to this column too.

    • Great insights, Michael, and I love your long history of working in analog. It sounds like you have a lot to share with other Pros here so I would encourage you to connect and comment, sharing your advice and knowledge. I hope you are also part of the Facebook Group, Bullet Journal for Professionals. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  • Linzé

    I have been using a Bullet Journal for my own personal and creative work (I am a fiction author) and then decided to start using it at work too. What a change it made to my daily task list! I am a project manager and while we have all these tools to help us plan projects, I find my Bujo the best way to plan my own responsibilities and tasks. I am telling everyone who wants to listen, and managed to convert one or two to use a Bujo too 🙂 Thank you for such an incredibly simple, yet powerful system – it just works!

    • Hey Linze! I would invite you to participate in our survey just for Project Managers at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BujoPros – We would love to hear from you and plan to compile the results and use for an upcoming blog post. Thanks Linze!

      • Linzé

        Saw your comment early this morning, and did the survey. Hope it helps! 🙂

  • Here is link to the Pros Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/BuJoPros/

  • My name’s Ava Marie and I own a small design firm in the Bay Area making anything from custom leather bags to one-off hardwood furniture pieces (and even a few things for Medicinal Cannabis Patients).

    As a physically disabled craftsman I have a lot of both practical & impractical notes that I take throughout the day. How I feel, ideas I have, revelations about tasks that only come from hours of frustration…you know…the usual. Since the world won’t wait while I work so I needed a system to quickly organize both personal and professional notes without interrupting my daily workflow.

    This was when I started to look into Bullet Journaling. While I haven’t gotten my hands on one of these babies…this blog & ideas laid down by the team here really helped me develop my original ideas for a ‘color coding’ system in my notebooks I still use today. Once I get the finishing touches on my revisions I’ll join in on Facebook, too!

    But for a little fun here’s a shot of an early draft. Although confusing to most (I assume) it has completely changed the way I spend my days. I also use my notebooks as a planner so I kinda keep my whole life in these pages. That’s why it seems like…a lot.

    • Thanks for taking time to comment and share your system, Ava Marie. This is really cool. I love your Signifiers and great use of color. This is what I love about the Bullet Journal. You have a great foundation and system of organization that you can always rely on. But then you can go beyond, as you have done here. I would encourage you to connect with Kim Alvarez – http://www.tinyrayofsunshine.com – she has some great posts and ideas. And I hope we will serve up some ideas and insights that will help you in your journal. I would also invite you to joint the Facebook Group – Bullet Journal for Professionals – https://www.facebook.com/groups/BuJoPros/ – for more interaction with Pros from all walks of life. Welcome, Ava Marie!

  • Amy Wilson

    I’m new to Bullet Journaling although I’ve done pieces of it sporadically over the years. I’m thankful to Ryder and the wonderful BuJo online communities for so generously sharing their journals, ideas and resources. Bullet Journal for Professionals sounds like a useful column that I’ll be reading regularly,

    • Thank you, Amy! Great to have you here. I hope that you will share some of your ideas and organization methods from your Bullet Journal. Ryder has provided us a great foundation with the core modules from the Bullet Journal system and it’s always interesting to see how people go beyond that and make very creative journals. Look forward to more content for Pros here this fall.

  • Chris Eddy

    Hi all. I’m a local government Chief Executive in Australia and have recently discovered bullet journaling as a way to be better organised. Looking forward to following this forum for professionals.

    • Welcome Chris! I hope you find some useful tips and ideas for better productivity and organization on the job. You’re a Pro!

  • EdRo

    Happy me! This is the angle I am particularly interested in.
    Look forward to your posts Todd

    • Thanks EdRo! And I’m looking forward to hearing from you as well. Hope you find the content here helpful.

  • Karen pollitt

    I have been googling “bullet journal for professionals” for some time now … I’m glad its here now and presented in this forum!

  • Judith Favia

    I am so happy to see a distinction made between the needs of different users – moms, professionals and creative workers. I struggle sometimes with seeing how to adapt ideas to my own needs and this kind of focused content will be extremely useful. I am a parttime project manager for a non-profit, and a part time bookmaker and fiber artist who loves journals in all their forms. Like others I have used planners in myriad forms all my life, from Franklin Planner to electronic tools like Toodledo. None are perfect but finding the right combination of electronic and analog has been really helpful. I look forward to this ongoing blog.

    • I love your point of view Judith! Thank you for taking time to comment on this post. Your comment about the distinction between different user groups was firmly in mind when I began this community. I hope to share how educators, students, realtors, project managers and others use their Bullet Journal to be more effective and productive on the job. Judith, since you are a project manager, I invite you to participate in the survey on how Project Managers are using their Bullet Journal. Visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BujoPros and share your opinions. The findings from this survey will be posted here soon. Thanks Judith!

  • Tim Penner

    I’ve been “open journaling” for about 6 years now. I decided that pre-printed journals (qua vadis, harvard planner, etc.) were not flexible size-wise. Some weeks I needed 3 times the space to get all my notes in, others looked like I was on vacation. Then there were the special notes and subjects that came along and disrupted the patterns. I tried the loose leaf versions of the Harvard Planner system. It worked reasonably well but the journal itself was gigantic. And, ultimately, quite expensive for what it did for me. So I decided to use a normal journal. It was a clairefontaine a5-ish size, with grid paper. I drew the familiar weekly planning grid (from my Harvard Planner), clearly marked the start of each day, started using symbols and markings to make certain things stand out (like meetings). I switched to Moleskine notebooks but have settled on fountain-pen-friendly Leuchtturm books. I later tried electronic journaling for a couple months. (I used an adapted instance of TiddlyWiki.) It totally solved the findability problem, but was unsatisfying and required I had my computer with me constantly. Yuk.

    So, here I am, bullet journaling like mad. The system has taught me a few good tricks and ways out of little problems that I caused myself, and given me new ways to solve new problems. My note-taking has turned into a personal journal, special page sequences about all kinds of interesting things, I use a special ink colour for a majorly serious project and other colours for everything else. I’m really pleased with the way it has worked out. I’ve been watching this blog for a few months now, and the enduring lesson is clearly “experiment, be free, make progress, ditch the junk”.

    One reason I’m writing here is to relate a growing anxiety over the burgeoning details of the formal bullet journaling “system”. To me (and it’s just me), pre-printing anything in these journals other than page numbers flies in the face of the touted flexibility. I use the Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks and my biggest complaint is the date title at the top of each page. I mean, do I really need to be reminded? Is what I would write after a label “Date” not be obviously a date without the label. And I’ve adapted the bullet meanings, and write my list of adaptations in the front of each new notebook as personal reminders. The last thing I would want is the reminders for the formal system pre-printed in my journal. Consequently, I’d never buy the formal system journal. Even the boxed index pages at the front restrict me. Is the point not total flexibility?

    Another reason I’m writing here is the unfortunate characterization of “professional”. We all love that word, and many people (me included) think of themselves as professional this or that. But here, in a place where flexibility and liberality are key to success, to put a jacket around a gigantic group of people who really have so little in common is to attempt to produce context where there really is none whatever. Does a professional soldier have anything in common with a professional stage manager, with a professional masseur, with a professional financial advisor, with a professional software developer, and so on? Are there non-professional versions of these? What if there were? Would discussions for pros on this site not apply to them? Really? So what’s with the label?

    I get that there is a fundamental urge to expand the views and applicability of a site like this. To encourage and organize and grow. However, as the wind blows and the core of a new idea erodes or changes into unanticipated behaviours and patterns (applicable to being pregnant or leading financial institutions into the next decade), to attempt to draw attention by calling out a group with the stuffy name “professionals” seems to be a step too far. And a bit disappointing.

    • 1. You might want to look into the dot-grid Leuchtturms – they do not have date spots on the page. Just the page numbers and the dot grid 🙂

      2. I think the use of “professionals” is fine the way they’re using it. Perhaps calling it “white-collar” or “9-5ers” would be more accurate, but many people won’t understand that. So, you have to pick a word that’s a bit more vague but more understandable. I, personally, very much look forward to reading about standard office workers and their bujos. I don’t think it’s stuffy or rigid at all. Rather, it showcases one particular application of use. If someone becomes pregnant, they can research how mothers use their bujo. No one’s trapped into sticking with one style, as you said. So, I don’t find it disappointing or a step too far. My 2¢.

    • Hey Tim! Very thoughtful and well-articulated comments. I really like your point of view on the freedom of crafting your own journey rather than following pre-printed journals. I believe Ryder’s system is fundamentally sound and is a great place to start. My mission when I started this community of Pros was to connect like-minded professionals in various fields to share advice and knowledge on adapting and enhancing their Bullet Journal. So, while we can use the four core modules and rapid logging fundamentals, I believe that we each have unique and interesting ways of organizing their activities and tasks. I have learned so much from educators, project managers, government officials, photographers and many other Pros. And I have found that I can apply and adapt some of their “spreads” in the work that I do as an advertising professional.

      In regards to your comment, “…attempt to draw attention by calling out a group with the stuffy name “professionals” seems to be a step too far. And a bit disappointing.”, I both agree and disagree with your point of view. I agree that the term “professionals” is indeed a bit stuffy. Perhaps I could have used another term or expression to define this niche community. However, my early observations of people who were using a Bullet Journal mostly consisted of those who were journaling for personal use. There are a lot of moms, students and others who were keeping personal goals, activities and family calendars in their Bullet Journal. I knew there must be others, like me, who used their Bullet Journal to manage projects and activities at work. My mission was to bring this niche community together. I’m proud that it now consists of realtors, finance executives, clergy, project managers, educators, marketing professionals, government officials, entrepreneurs and more. And, to me, they are all Pros because they are journaling on the job.

      Tim, I welcome and appreciate your point of view. I think it makes us think harder about what we are doing and sharpens our focus and mission. I do hope that you stay tuned for more posts this fall as we interview folks from a wide range of professions to learn how they are journaling on the job. Cheers!

    • I now see what you mean by “professional” – it’s as opposed to “personal”, not to “non-professional”. I have this thing about that word, as it’s so often used to classify people. In this case, I was wrong about Todd’s use. I apologize for jumping to that conclusion.

      I decided a long time ago to combine the two parts of my life – which I refer to as business and personal – into a single journal when I realized that keeping two of them would make everything a lot more complicated. I annotate entries so that business and personal are distinct.

      Thanks for your thoughtful replies, Todd and Chirmer, and your gentle disagreement. If there’s anything more useful and engaging than civilized communication, I don’t know what it is.

  • Charlei Scott

    As a public school teacher who uses the bullet journal for lesson planning, I look forward to seeing how others utilize it in their professions so I can hone mine to be more efficient and useful.

    • Hi Charlei! There are many teachers who are connecting on the Facebook group, Bullet Journal for Professionals – https://www.facebook.com/groups/BuJoPros/ And, stay tuned to The Bulletjournalist because I will be posting this fall about educators who are using a Bullet Journal for their work in the classroom. Let me know if you are interested in participating in an interview about how you are using the Bullet Journal as an educator.

  • Bonny Warby

    New to bullet journaling.. also toying with the idea of using it for lesson planning (I’m a high school teacher). It’ll be interesting to see how other people use their bullet journals in their professions 🙂

    • Hey Bonny! Thank you for the comment. I have seen many teachers who are part of the Bullet Journal Professionals Facebook group. I would invite you to join the discussion and connect with other teachers. I have seen some comments about using a Bullet Journal for lesson planning. And stay tuned to this blog because I will be conducting some interviews with educators this fall for a blog post. If you are interested in participating, please let me know!

      • Bonny Warby

        I’ve joined a group on Facebook, thanks for the suggestion. It’s really interesting seeing the various teachers and various planning needs. So far I’ve seen a lot of elementary teachers posts, but not many secondary teachers. I teach 9th grade biology (high school). But so far I’ve started to get some ideas on how to use it to lesson plan. Yes, I would be interested in participating. 🙂

        • Sara

          I teach high school Maths to age 11-16 in the UK. I am very interested to see this strand developing.

  • Robert Dašek

    Like many others here, I’m ecstatic about the direction this part of the website is going. I’m particularly interested to see how professionals have used one bullet journal to accomplish both, professional and personal planning and organization.

    • I agree Robert. In fact, that was why I started the Facebook group this year. I wanted to connect a community of like-minded professionals to share their insights and ideas on planning and organization. I hope you find content here to be helpful for you. If you are involved in Project Management activities on the job, I would invite you to participate in this survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BujoPros as we are trying to gather information specifically on how project managers are using their Bullet Journal.

  • Thank you for all the kind words! So glad you are here and hope you find the posts to be interesting and helpful for you to be more productive and organized on the job. Let’s go, Pros!

  • Annie

    I’m so relieved to see this. I’ve been trying to get my head around setting up a new Bullet Journal and getting started and have found so many examples beautiful journals by artistic and organized people. I don’t/can’t even doodle. Don’t have an artsy bone in my body. I look forward to seeing set ups for professions with multiple complex projects. I’m a Realtor and there are repeatable to-do needs for buyer and seller transactions, more diverse tasks for marketing, etc. I need to figure out how to set up for all of these different clients on their own timelines. I’m also soon-to-be president of our local Realtor association and a director on the board of another non-profit. It feels like 3 jobs. 3 journals? And personal projects…a 4th journal? Where to begin. I hope other Realtors chime in with their ideas on our common challenges. Thank you and I look forward to your blog and FB group.