Bullet Journaling — A non-coding super power

Bullet Journaling helped me through a lot of difficult phases in my life, independent of whether they were personal, educational or working related. In this short article I want to show you how you can use (Bullet) Journaling in your everyday life to get a better grip on what’s happening and what you want to happen. This article is loosely based on my talk I gave at a pyLadies Berlin meetup in March this year.

During my Bachelor in Political Science I struggled with tasks, deadlines and juggling University and private life. I was looking for something to structure my life. In that time I had a calendar to keep appointments and deadlines on track. I also made notes for University there and collected interesting paragraphs, quotes or keywords I wanted to look up . As you can image, my calendar was a big, bright sticky note chaos.

On top of that, I carried various notebooks in my bag: One for collecting stories and story notes, one with notes for University lectures, and I STILL kept losing and forgetting things. When I had my University notebook with me, I had an idea for my current story but no place to write it down, and vice versa. Maybe this description sounds familiar to you ;)

Then I discovered Bullet Journaling. I started with it, first because it looked beautiful. Then I recognized that it made my life a lot easier and more organized. Suddenly I had only one notebook left to carry around and to take care of. And then I began digging into the whole story behind Bullet Journaling, its purpose and meaning, and I absolutely love it until today.

What is a Bullet Journal?

A BuJo can have very different appearances. It can look very clean and straight, using only a black pen on white paper, it can be artsy with a lot of water color drawings and room for creativity, or bright and chaotic, with highlighters, stickers and doodles. Your BuJo looks just exactly like you need it to be, and it keeps changing from day to day, with your feelings and needs.

List of inspirational BuJo accounts: thedailywriting, journalspiration, merakumi, enemesis_4, happybujolife, elvish_ink, or simply search for “bujo inspiration” on pinterest ;)

How can I start with it?

But typically, the basic principle stays the same: You start with an empty page. At the beginning of each day, you start with planning your day, reviewing open tasks and appointments. This is your Daily Log. On this page you collect notes, thoughts, tasks throughout the day. Important are the different notation techniques, which you can define on your own. I’m using a “dot” for tasks, a “circle” for appointments, and a “dash” for notes. Additionally I use arrows, exclamation and question marks, and sometimes also colors, so that in the end of the day I find everything again.

In the end, you review this page: What have you accomplished? What is done, what needs a follow up? Which thoughts should be saved, which tasks and deadlines do you need to plan up ahead? All those open tasks will find a new place in the other pages in your BuJo, as you migrate them during your evening reflection.

For future tasks and appointments, there are different pages: There is the Weekly or Monthly, where you plan the upcoming days with work, meetings, appointments, tasks. It really depends on your taste, whether you prefer a weekly view on your tasks, or a monthly view. And last but not least there is the Future Log, where you plan the next months, just as long into the future as you need it. For bigger topics you always can create separate collections with thoughts, inspirational quotes, task lists, calendars. I had, for example, an extra “calendar” semester view for my University tasks, as I needed to plan often longer than a month ahead for presentations or exams.

But Collections can be much more than that. Some people track their sport progress or how much water they drink during the day (also called Habbit Trackers), others use the Collections for meal planning and grocery lists. I like to sketch ideas for new stories I have in my head or to doodle while being on calls. Especially during Corona my diary kept me sane: When my head wanted to overflow with stuff, just dumped all thoughts each evening on a page and wrote until my mind was empty.

When I started coding I recognized, that it fitted my BuJo habits perfectly. Later I learned that Ryder Carroll, the inventor of the Bullet Journal Method, came from coding and webdesign as well. He created his first BuJo to match the requirements he had from combining work projects, development and private life in one place.

Important to keep in mind is: Not every page, not every concept will work for you. You have to try it out, to give it a chance, and if it doesn’t work out for you, you can move on. In those 5 years I’m using my BuJo I had so many different styles and approaches for tracking things, for aligning my Monthly and Weekly Log, for a couple of months I didn’t even use my BuJo at all. But I think that this IS SO GREAT about this concept. It gives you freedom. It gives you rules and ideas, when you need them. You can just pick what makes sense for you and ignore all the rest. It is just you and your notebook. All you have to do is start ;)

Relevant links:
- Talk at pyLadies on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVv3sug4x9o
- Official Bullet Journal Webpage: https://bulletjournal.com/

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Data Scientist with focus on NLP and conversational AI @sovantaAG. Co-Creator of tooka.ai. Likes to chat about AI, SciFi, bots gone rogue or the Art of Python

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Larissa Haas

Larissa Haas

Data Scientist with focus on NLP and conversational AI @sovantaAG. Co-Creator of tooka.ai. Likes to chat about AI, SciFi, bots gone rogue or the Art of Python

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