The Bullet Journal is an analog productivity and knowledge management system created by Ryder Carroll. I've used a Bullet Journal in some form or another since the beginning of 2016, and my use of it has evolved a lot over the years. Here are some of the reasons why I love the Bullet Journal so much:
Any Notebook and Pen Will Do
One of the best things about the Bullet Journal is you can use any notebook and any pen you have, so it's easy to get started right away. You can experiment with different notebooks and pens until you find a combination you like. You don't need to buy the most expensive notebooks and pens to have an effective Bullet Journal, and fortunately there are lots of great options out there for any budget.
No Feature Limits
With pre-made planners and productivity apps, you're locked into whatever features the creator decides to include. With a Bullet Journal, you can pretty much do anything you want, the only limit being your imagination! Granted, some things that digital solutions do well, like searching and linking notes, are not quite as straight forward in a physical notebook, but with some experimentation and creativity, there are ways to bring those types of things into your Bullet Journal (creating an Index and including some sort of unique ID next to individual notes are examples of ways to accomplish those things).
I Can Set It Up the Way I Like
The base Bullet Journal system is simple and minimal, so you can be up and running with it in about 10 minutes. I highly suggest starting with the base system in order to get the feel of it, then start to make improvements and changes once you're comfortable. I like the bullets that the base system uses, so I've kept those, but I didn't really use the Future Log, so I stopped using it. I generally enjoy a more minimal aesthetic, so I mostly use black pen, but have a couple other colors for titles so they stand out more. Others enjoy doing artwork in their Bullet Journals, and I've seen some amazing layouts people have created. There's no right or wrong way to keep a Bullet Journal, so do it in whatever way makes you most happy.
Doesn't Require the Internet
My internet service provider recently had an outage in my area, and I was without the internet for about 24 hours. It was the most peaceful day I've had in a long time, and the beauty of having large portions of my productivity and knowledge management system in my Bullet Journal is I didn't need to connect to any cloud services to continue capturing and working on tasks and ideas. It was so liberating not being constantly bombarded with notifications. I find I have so much more focus and clarity when I'm working in my Bullet Journal. It's when I do my best thinking and writing because I'm not distracted.
More Permanent than Digital Tools
I've never liked the idea of journaling in a digital form. I worry about getting locked into a proprietary data format, or cloud services no longer being supported. Having my journal in a physical form is much more future proof than having it in a digital file. I don't have to worry about whether my files will be able to be opened in the future. I'd like myself and my posterity to have my journals for years to come, so a physical journal is the way for me.
Matches My Productivity Philosophy
The best productivity system is one you build and experiment with yourself, and the Bullet Journal is a perfect system for that. Since it's done in a blank notebook, you can build it however you want. You can easily utilize core productivity principles (FIRST) as you craft the perfect system for yourself.
If you're interested in starting a Bullet Journal, check out the starter video by the creator, Ryder Carroll.
Questions or comments? You can leave them in the comments section below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org