- Call landlord
- Plan vacation
- Task List Item
- Dinner with FM next month
- Take in laundry
- The dress is blue and black
- The gym is closed saturday
Note-taking and traditional journaling take time; the more complex the entry, the more effort is expended. The more effort expended, the more of a chore it becomes, the more likely you’ll underutilize or abandon your journal. Rapid Logging is the solution. Rapid Logging is the language in which the Bullet Journal is written. It consists of four components: topics, page numbers, short sentences, and bullets.
Topics and Pages Numbers
The first step to Rapid Logging is to add a topic on the top outer corner of the page. A topic is simply a short descriptive title. Give it a little thought, as that can help you clarify your entry. Once that’s done, be sure to number the page. As you start filling your Bullet Journal, get into the habit of titling and numbering your pages before you add content.
Rapid Logging relies on the use of short-form notation paired with Bullets. Every bulleted item should be entered as short objective sentences. The Bullets will help organize your entries into three categories: Tasks, Events, and Notes.
Tasks are represented by a simple dot “•” and include any kind of actionable items like “Pick up dry cleaning”. The task bullet does a lot of heavy lifting in the Bullet Journal so it has three additional states:
- X = Task Complete
- > = Task Migrated
- < = Task Scheduled
Events are represented by an “O” Bullet. Events are date-related entries that can either be scheduled (e.g. “Charlie’s birthday”) or logged after they occur (e.g. “signed the lease”).
Event entries, no matter how personal or emotionally taxing, should be as objective and brief as possible when Rapid Logging. The Event “movie night” bears no more or less weight than “best friend moves away.” That being said, once you’ve rapid logged an Event, feel free to write about it at length on the next available page.
Notes are represented with a dash “–”. Notes include: facts, ideas, thoughts, and observations. Notes are entries that you want to remember, but aren’t immediately or necessarily actionable. This Bullet works well for meeting, lecture, or classroom notes.
Signifiers are symbols that give your Bullets additional context. A handful of useful examples are listed here; feel free to come up with your own as you get more comfortable.
Represented by “*”; used to give a Task priority. Placed to the left of a Bullet so that you can quickly scan your pages to find most important entries.
Represented by an exclamation point; most commonly paired with a Note. Great ideas, personal mantras, and genius insights will never be misplaced again!
Represented by an eye; used when there is something that requires further research, information, or discovery.
A good way to look at the Bullet Journal is as a framework. This framework consists of modules. Modules are methods designed to help collect and organize specific kinds of entries. The power of the Bullet Journal is that you can mix and match these modules to best suit your needs. Let’s take a look at the four core modules: The Index, Future Log, Monthly Log, Daily Log.
The first few pages of this book are your Index. The Index is where the Bullet Journal really comes together. As you start to use your book, simply add the topics of your Collections and their page numbers to the Index, so you can quickly find and reference them at any point.
Collections that span a series of consecutive spreads are indexed as such: “Topic Name: 5-10.”
Some Collections are recurring and can be spread throughout your Bullet Journal. These topics can be indexed as such: “Topic Name: 5-10, 23, 34-39, …”
The Future Log
This Collection is used to store items that either need to be scheduled months in advance… or things that you want to get around to someday. Set up your Future Log by graphing the pages by the amount of months you’ll need. Two equally-spaced horizontal lines across facing pages creates a six-month calendar, for example.
The Monthly Log
The Monthly Log helps you organize – you guessed it – your month. It consists of a calendar and a task list. To set up your first Monthly Log, go to the next available spread of facing pages. The left page will be your Calendar Page; the right will be your Task Page.
The Calendar gives you a birdseye view of the month. To set it up: title the page with the current month’s name. Now list all the dates of that month down the left margin, followed by the first letter of the corresponding day. Monday the 14th would be “14M.” Leave some room in the left margin of the page to add Signifiers.
You can use the Calendar Page to schedule Events and Tasks, record Events after they happen, or both. Regardless, entries here should be as short as possible, as this page is designed for reference only.
The Task Page is a list of both Tasks that you want to tend to that month, and unfinished Tasks that have migrated from the previous month.
The Daily Log
The Daily Log is designed for day-to-day use. At the top of the page, record the date as your topic. Throughout the course of the day, simply Rapid Log your Tasks, Events, and Notes as they occur. If you don’t fill a page, add the next date wherever you left off and you’re ready to continue.
Tips: Don’t set up Daily Logs way ahead of time. Create them as you go or the night before. You never know how much space you may need any given day.
Migrating content is a cornerstone of Bullet Journaling. Once you’ve hit your second month of journaling, take a glance at your previous entries. See any unresolved Tasks? “X” out your completed Tasks and assess whether the remaining open Tasks are still relevant.
If a Task has become irrelevant, strike out the whole line, including the task Bullet. If the Task still needs your attention, migrate it: turn the “•” into “>” to signify that you’ve migrated that Task, then add it to the Task Page of your new Monthly Log.
You also have the option of migrating scheduled Tasks and Events. When you’re setting up a new month, migrate any entries scheduled for that month from your Future Log into your new Monthly Log. Scheduled items are placed on the Monthly Log’s Calendar Page.
It may seem like a lot of effort to have to rewrite items over and over, but that’s intentional. This process makes you pause and consider each item. If an entry isn’t even worth the effort to rewrite it, then it’s probably not that important. Get rid of it.
The purpose of migration is to distill the things that are truly worth the effort, to become aware of our own patterns and habits, and to separate the signal from the noise.
Congratulations, you’ve made it all the way through! Start by getting a notebook and trying out the system for a least two months. Also, check out the Bulletjournalist Blog and the Library. Lastly, sign up for the newsletter.
Who, what, where etc…
The Bullet Journal® was created by Ryder Carroll. To find out more about him or the backstory, check out the about section.
What notebook should I use?
The short answer is: your favorite notebook. The long answer is, use a high quality notebook that will last. You can also purchase the custom Bullet Journal notebook available from the store. It features numbered pages, an index, a bullet key, and 3 bookmarks.
The two main things to keep in mind are size and quality. If it’s too big you’ll never take it with you. If it’s too small it will be impractical. Be sure to get something that’s rugged enough to keep up with you. I love that I can refer back to years worth of my old Bullet Journals.
I find that starting with a fresh book on the first of the new year will help you catalog them much easier. Even if your book is only a quarter full, there is something inspirational and motivating about beginning the new year with a blank slate.
Pen vs. Pencil?:
My advice is: use what makes your handwriting more legible and doesn’t fade. One of the great benefits of Bullet Journaling is that over time, you assemble a library of notebooks. This library is a wonderful thing to revisit years later.
Identification and security:
Even though a lot of Bullet Journals can be intensely personal, I highly recommend adding a very visible note in the front of the book for people to contact you should you lose it. Leaving your first name and your phone number only should do the trick. Cash rewards are a great incentive, but so are personalized messages. My Bullet Journal fell out of my bag on a train to New York during rush hour, and it was returned to me.
As for recurring tasks, you can create ‘tags’ (two letter abbreviations – i.e. soccer practice = SP ) for those and add them to your monthly calendar events page. Another option is that you take an entire page for each day, and jot the recurring tasks at the top of the page.
Is there an app, and can I build one?
There is no Bullet Journal app. If you’re interested in building one, please contact me via the contact page and I’ll be happy to chat. Otherwise, please note that all rights are reserved.