Read an update on this article here.

Do we really need more posts on Bullet Journaling? Yes, we do! I have wanted to bullet journal for a long time, and never really got into it, because I do not want to schlep a paper diary with me, it’s 2017 people. I want my phone and be done with it.

But I couldn’t find a great solution online on how to bullet journal with online platforms or apps. Yes, there are options out there, but I wanted a minimal solution — not one blaring with stickers and what nots- I wanted something easy to use, and most importantly, I wanted something that gave me a quick and easy overview. Because, it that not the point of bullet journaling? But I also wanted something that gave the same feel that a paper diary has, with a shorthand for example.

After dabbing around with different options, from google calendar, google keep, i calendar, wunderlist, trello, and many, many others, I started playing around in Evernote. I already use Evernote for a variety of things, so that was an additional bonus. And after two to three months of use I have to say, by golly I think I got it!

So, as I could’ve really used this info myself — would have saved me about 6 months of failing — I decided to share.

I’m showing you using screen shots of the browser version of Evernote, because it gives the best overview. But you can use the app as well.

As you can see, I have several note books in my Evernote; a Cabinet with things I want to remember and recipes, a notebook for work, a diary…And the new addition at the top: Bullet Journal.

The bullet journal notebook is an umbrella for all the other notebooks I have, also called a stack. In the bullet journal stack there are my bullet journal notebooks, which are the different sections I want in my bullet journal. The numbers in front of the different notebooks secure that they are kept in this order.

In each notebook or section, I have notes. These notes are the actual logs. This will become more clear in the sections below.

creating new stacks and notebooks

You can create stacks by clicking on ‘notebooks’, this will bring you to an overview page where you can add new notebooks and stack them together under a stack/umbrella notebook.

First, there is the futures log, where I have a year overview. Then there is a monthly log, where I jot down tasklists per month, and where I have an overview of the most important things in my calendar, which makes it easier to decide in what week I can do what tasks.

Thirdly the weekly log, where I keep my tasklist for that week, a tracker of habits I want to create, a legend (optional), and my daily log, going from Monday to Sunday.

Finally I have a notebook for ideas, which I might move to collections, but I’m not sure yet. And a notebook for collections, which are basically lists that I want to keep together. This is where tags become important to group things together.

Let’s dive into the different sections!

future log — yearly overview

This is my future log, or my yearly overview. Each year has its own note. Seen above as year log 2017 and year log 2018. Here I write my big overview. From big projects for work, or my blog, trips, a big meeting... I might add what blogs I want to write in what month or what achievement I will do — like run a half marathon. So why is this important?

This overview gives a great overview of bigger, time consuming things per month. When a big project lands in my inbox, I can check the deadline, check my future log, and decide if I have time for that.

It’s been great for work especially, because I have several big goal projects which I want to spread out over the year to make sure I’m not left with to much to do at the end of the year.

Moving to the monthly overview, again, each month has its own note. I have listed all months with numbers of the month. Using the ‘view options’ at the bottom, I can make sure they are in the right order. Which is not super important, but still viewer friendly, especially if you are looking for a more real life, not digital, notebook feel.

I have two notes per month. One is a calendar. Here I keep an overview of my biggest appointments or deadlines. I do not use this a lot, but it has come in handy when quickly scanning the month, as I feel it gives a better quick overview compared to my monthly overview in my google calendar, which feels to crowded with reminders, facebook events, etc. This is clean and short.

Then the other monthly note is for my tasklist and/or goals, which are all put in with checkboxes. Because: #checkitoff #neverfeltbetter

You can add project goals, or subgoals, blogs you want to finish, books you want to read, the list can go on and on. You can put them in a certain order. Like the most important three at the top. You can split the checklists into work, blog, health, self development. Whatever you like. Knock yourself out.

At the start of every month I check my future log for that month, and bring goals into this list. And then I add what I want, or what ever comes up during that month. What does not get done at the end of the month, gets moved to the next month.

I do like to track the migration of goals or tasks, so I do not cut them from the list if they migrate. I leave the box unchecked and add a ‘->’ in front of the box.

And so we move into the weekly log. In each note I list the weeks per week number, to give the option to view all weeks in succession.

To give a better overview of what is in my weekly log, let me split it up for you.

At the top I have my tasklist. Every week I evaluate what tasks in my monthly overview I want to — or need to — do that week. You can add any extras that are not important enough for you monthly log, or that come up during the week.

Similar to the monthly log I do like to track the migration of goals or tasks, so I do not cut them from the list if they migrate. I leave the box unchecked and add a ‘->’ in front of the box.

Below my tasklist, I have my tracker. Some bullet journals keep this in their monthly overview. I prefer to keep it here. It is the days of the week, a check box per day, and the goals at the end.

Currently I keep a legend of my shorthands here, for easy access, as the weekly log is where I keep the majority of data. Especially when starting out with a bullet journal, you have not really memorised the shorthand. By now I do know my shorthand, so I will probably leave it off soon.

Underneath my legend I have my daily log overview, per day. This is where I work most of the time. If certain tasks at the top are date specific, or if I only have time for them on one certain day, I copy them to my daily log. For other tasks, I just leave them in the tasklist, and when I have some extra time, I check them off.

This is also where I add my workouts, to see how they are spaced throughout the week. I add errands, meetings, etc. This gives a perfect overview of the day, which gives me insight on what tasks I can do when, I can see if a day is too crowded or if there is some time extra stuff. Plus it feels awesome to check stuff off. Which is why I also check stuff off that is not a checkbox. If something has been done, I add a ‘/’, if it is cancelled I add a ‘X’, if it migrates I add a ‘->’. I know that this journal is digital, so you could just cut and paste or delete. But I prefer tracking how the week changed, and if there are tasks that I keep migrating. Because if there are things that I just keep not doing, perhaps they shouldn’t be on my tasklist. Or, I should get over myself and just do them. Either way…tracking’s important.

If a week, or month has passed, I just click and drag that note to ‘completed bullet journal 2017’.

Finally collections. Here you can keep lists of anything you want. Lists of books you want to read, tracking a food diary — which you see in this screenshot -, blog ideas, log your weight over time, birthdays, addresses, gift ideas… it can go on and on.

And here is where Evernote might be even more awesome than a paper diary, Evernote has a pretty good search function, but you can add tags, which makes it easy to search notes. You can also decide to show notes that only contain certain tags in this notebook, which gives a good overview. You can merge notes if you want to. So say you are out and about. In a magazine you see an add for a book you want to read. Take a picture, upload it to this notebook with the tag ‘book’. You can keep doing this for a couple of months. Then at one point at home, you open your Evernote, you open all the notes you have with the tag ‘book’, and then you can merge all these notes into one note. Super useful!

And that is how I use Evernote to bullet journal. I hope it was useful to you. Let me know if you are trying it out, or if you have any additions, things you would change to make it work better for you.

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Read an update on this article here.

*this piece first appeared on my personal blog

A political scientist and (green) coffee professional in Amsterdam. Spend time on productivity, framing and unframing in my spare time.