One of the things I love the most about watching the Bullet Journal system evolve, is how diverse and inventive the interpretations are. Recently however, I’ve been getting a lot of email asking me which is the correct way to Bullet Journal. It begs a different, more fundamental question: is there a wrong way to Bullet Journal? The short answer is: yes.

If you spend any amount of time searching the web for “Bulletjournal” the results vary intensely. I choose to keep my Bullet Journal very minimal. Others choose to make their books significantly more exciting. So which one is “correct”?

The Bullet Journal is one of MANY tools out there to help you get organized. However, organization should only be a means to an end. How to get organized is not nearly as important as why to get organized. Once you clarify your goals, it’s easier to equip yourself with the proper tools for the job.

I think that part of the Bullet Journals success stems from its ability to become different tools to different people. Though I advise starting out simple, if spending the time to embellish your Bullet Journal motivates you and brings you joy, then you’re doing it right. If you look forward to coming back to your book and feel like it’s your ally, then you’re doing it right. Don’t be intimidated by what you see out there. It’s less about how your book looks, and more about how it makes you feel. The longer you use it, the more helpful it should become. If that’s not the case, then it’s time to ask yourself why. But don’t despair- there are so many flavors out there to explore- experiment, find what works for you, then you’re Bullet Journaling the right way.

Image by: Dmitrii Vaccinium

About Ryder Carroll

Ryder is the creator of the Bullet Journal. He's a Brooklyn-based digital product designer and art director.
  • Kaitlyn Toles

    Ryder, I absolutely loved this! I agree that one of the greatest strengths of the Bullet Journal is how adaptable it is to the individual. But my favorite line was this: “If you look forward to coming back to your book and feel like it’s your ally, then you’re doing it right.” Thank you for another insightful piece!

  • Snap It

    Good, to the point advice! But it’s hard to resist that feeling of inferiority after viewing some of the masterpieces people create inside their journals.

  • Todd Brockway

    I enjoyed this article as well. Sometimes when your surrounded by alligators you forget you went in to empty the pool. Sometimes we get so pulled in and dragged down that we forget it’s first a tool, as we perfect the tool, then we can embellish the tool. If we are spending time embellishing the tool so much that it keeps us from using it to be productive people, it can become another distraction. That being said, if part of our goal is to create an embellished tool we are on the right track. The bottom line is what works for us.

  • Love this article, Ryder! Such a wonderful reminder to think about why it’s useful to us in our lives; productivity looks different for everyone 🙂

  • This was amazing, Ryder!

    One of my favorite things about the Bullet Journal is its flexibility. Its ability to adapt to each person’s style and needs. I am one of those who finds that a little embellishment encourages me to stick with it and use it as the wonderful organizational tool that it is.

    Thank you so much for this reminder. 🙂

  • Lori East

    Ah, thanks for this. I am brand-new to bullet journaling and love how utterly logical it is, and how it suits my chaotic brain. But the more I looked around, the more I saw all this fancy-schmancy (albeit some quite wonderful) stuff…but if I have to spend all the time making it look pretty, how is that useful? I’m doing this to maximize my own efficiency, not to create unnecessary to-dos. So, yeah, thanks. Again.

  • Amelia

    Great article! I am using a graph paper notebook, and I open it frequently throughout the day. I have collections and sections and really enjoy this methodology. I feel this is something I can continue for years to come.

    I do make a graph for each week so I can write down things I always keep track of. I use the right-hand page for this, and write notes on the left-hand side. I don’t have a lot going on outside my place, and it seems to be working out so far. I have an index and a calendex, but I also use different Washi tape on the edges to make it easy to locate say “March” in my book.

  • francesca

    Ryder, I am curious as to how you keep track of daily appointments/meetings as they come up since there is not enough room on the monthly log. And appointments/events will get scheduled out of order so I may look at my monthly and see evening event prior to am events. I have my own ‘hack’ but am most curious as to how you do it? do you use something else for these? I love how you keep things simple. Thank you!

  • Jane Blundell

    I recently came across the Bullet Journal idea and have been looking at all the information. Some great ideas. As a paper diary person though, most of my planning (Future log, Monthly Log and Daily Log) goes into my paper diary. For me, carrying a pre-printed paper diary AND a notebook is the ideal. The company kikki.K make a great paper A5 diary with a monthly planner in it and room for the monthly log in a double page spread. Then their weekly spread has a good notes section for the weekly planning and actually gives saturday and sunday the same space as the other days in the week – works better than any other I’ve used. There isn’t enough space in the Notes section for a full year so I also carry a notebook – which is where I got interested.
    What I have picked up from this system that I love is that a) it gets rid of all the bits of paper that I scribble on so I am using my notebook instead for those and b) the idea of the arrow to show something has migrated – I love that! My diary has been full of to do ‘dots’ that haven’t been done, so get re-written in another part of the diary. Adding that arrow clears the visual clutter no end. So I carry both a paper diary for the planning part of my life, and a notebook for the more detailed ideas/lists/quotes etc that I do tend to index, but will now add a few nifty bullet journal notations to help organise it more clearly.

  • Catherine Calvetti

    I am playing with the idea of creating a bullet journal. My purpose is to take a box filled with 3 decades of journals and condense them into categories of the highlights, best memories etc. In doing this I plan to destroy the old journals saving space, remembering the good things and shredding the bad memories. Any thoughts on if you think this would work?