"Bullet Journal" -- rediscovering the wheel?

I came across the everything-old-is-new-again thing called a bullet journal on reddit.

Holy crap, I still have my old Day Runner with all of its customized pages from… well, the 1980s. I guess that does seem prehistoric to someone born in/after 1990. I graduated to a Palm Pilot around 1992 and used one model after another until they became extinct. (I had a thread here years ago about how to transfer Palm data into an Outlook calendar. It can be done, and I did it.) I prefer the automated reminders and staring-into-infinity nature of a digital calendar and won’t likely go back to a paper one. However, I know the bullet journal is more than a repository of appointments; it’s the central command of a person’s life.

Don’t get me wrong–I’m glad to see a return to caring about pens and paper. I still use a fountain pen from time to time just for the sheer pleasure of it. I don’t believe digital media will ever completely replace pencils, paper, printed books, printed photographs, etc.

Are you a bullet journaler? How do you use it in your life?

I’m old enough to have had a day-runner (and filofax and a bunch of other similar products). I’ve tried bullet journaling. Neither of those work with my level of disorganization.

From where I sit, the big difference between those and a bullet journal is the way they’re organized. For the day-runner types, you would get a number of sections of pages (the calendar section, budget section, address section, notes section, etc.) and fill them in the way you wanted to use them. If you didn’t use one of the sections, that was wasted paper and space. If you needed more (say for the next calendar year), they were preprinted, so you’d have to go to the store to find the right set of pages that would fit into your system (or mail order them).

Bullet journaling (OTOH) starts with a blank book, you design the pages that you need in the order that you need them. It also is your format (it was a blank book after all - nothing’s there that you didn’t put there), so if you work 2-days-on/3-days-off you don’t have to try and fit it into the week-at-a-glance calendar, you can just build your own 5-day-week calendar (and draw flowers over it. Bullet journalers seem to really like drawing flowers on things).

They aren’t dissimilar, though.

Bullet journaling strikes me as essentially a hobby for people with too much time on their hands. For those who don’t care to do web research on it, as previous posters said it’s basically a dayplanner…that you plot and draw out yourself. Like with a ruler. There are tons of websites about how to index them and organize them and blah blah blah.

As a wife and mother with a business, a multi-acre property, and a couple of side hustles, I can only dimly remember having that kind of spare energy. But the young folks like it.

Very much so. The idea, as I understand it, is to make yourself more productive and efficient…by spending hours and hours constructing elaborately decorated “to-do” lists. It is, for me, one of the more eye-rolling fads of recent years.

I abandoned paper calendaring pretty much as soon as computer based became a reliable option, and have never looked back. I always hated manual calendaring/to do lists and the like - much too difficult to edit, change and still keep in a neat, organized fashion. At least for me.

To be fair - one of my coworkers does bullet journaling (sans the flower decorations). At its barebones level, it does seem to be pretty efficient.

I tried it because I try new organizing things every so often in the hope that one will “click” with me and will make me organized. This didn’t. I’ve never found an electronic calendar that I really liked. (I’ve never found any kind of phone/address thing that I liked as much as a rolodex. Those things were wonderful. I never should have gotten rid of that.)

This old broad is enjoying it as well. I find it helpful for habit tracking. I am not very good at taking my medications on time. In order to keep macular degeneration from further degenerating, I follow a diet that recommends fish three times a week and fruit, nuts, and leafy greens daily. I also swim three times a week and I’m trying to work in two more gym days. I block off a whole week on two facing pages leaving the 8th block for general notes. Sunday night, I use a template to draw in the symbols I’ve chosen to represent different meds, swimming, gym, fish, leafy greens, etc. I color them in as they’re done. I also make note in that 8th blank of things I got done over the weekend.

I like visual reminders, charts, graphs. I tend to beat myself up over things not done, so taking the time to write down what I actually HAVE accomplished helps. I’ve had issues with anxiety and depression in the past. I worked hard to get through them and I find that this “weekly review” helps get me through the long dark tea-time of the soul that is Sunday evening.

Maybe having the floor plan with measurements of all doorways, cabinets, shelves, etc. with you when you go out is overkill for most people, but when I look at something and say “I wonder if that would fit in that wasted space under the shelf, next to the Sterlite 3 drawer cabinet?” or “Would this fit between the U joint and the cabinet wall under the bathroom sink?” I have the means to find out.

I’m not spending hours doing this and you’ll never see my journal on line like those people with the perfect handwriting. But I find it very useful.

This is a revelation. Earlier in the week I flew to Los Angeles. The woman in the seat next to me had a little book with blank pages, and spent much of the flight with a pen and a ruler, meticulously drawing grids of squares that ended up looking like a blank calendar page.

Was that what she was doing–one of these bullet journal things? Seemed like a weird thing to spend time doing, but then anything to keep your mind occupied on a long flight, I guess.

Another old broad here. :smiley: I’ve used a bullet journal for about 18 months. I like that it is very flexible. You can use it in any combination of a journal, a to-do list, a habit tracker, a calendar, etc. I can modify it over time based on how much I feel like writing in it.

Right now I am pretty busy so the only things I am updating are my weight tracker (I am trying to lose a few pounds), my house cleaning tracker, and my read book list. But usually I write down notes about events that happen, like a journal. Sometimes I write in goals, or what I have accomplished during the day. I used to log my running, but I gave that up because it wasn’t worth the time and effort. I have to limit the trackers/calendars for each month because then I get overwhelmed with all the new spreads I have to do at the start of the month.

I also like that you can make it as elaborate or as simple as you want. Sometimes I do decorated spreads, but only when I feel like it. I don’t use a ruler. I do use fancy brush pens though!

I like this bullet journal explainer: WTF is a Bullet Journal?

Sounds like a useful mash-up of the adult coloring books fad and the ability to get organized.

Thanks for that link.

Here are a couple of other ones that she references:

23 Bullet Journal Ideas That Are Borderline Genius

Examples on Instagram

It reminds me a bit of the scrapbooking thing, where you go to Michael’s or Hobby Lobby and find all kinds of cutouts and special pages and tags for your elaborate scrapbooks. Having to copy and recopy stuff would bother me. One of the things I like about my digital calendar is that I put in “Heartworm pill for Sweetie” on the first Friday of the month and the calendar populates that day forever (until one day, sadly, I’ll have to remove that reminder like I did for Buddy’s heartworm pill :frowning: ). But I put in all sorts of reminders and my phone dings to remind me that there’s a reminder. OTOH I do like the idea of people spending time with pen/pencil and paper instead of everything on the phone/computer.