Q&A: What Is A Bullet Journal? A Beginners Guide

Q&A: What Is A Bullet Journal? A Beginners Guide

bullet journal example

The Theme for May: An Introduction To Bullet Journals


So for May we have turned the spotlight on something quite close to my heart – how to stay organised. How, even in an age of apps, syncing and automation do you manage to keep on top of all the things you need to do, and say you’ll do, and think you’ll do, and want to do? How can something so old-school as stationery be of use in the 21st Century? After all, didn’t paper die out sometime around the millennium? So we will touch on a subject that is very fashionable in stationery-circles at the moment – Bullet Journals – and look at how using some or all of this system can work alongside digital solutions to make you more productive.

What Is A Bullet Journal?

To many people bullet journals are just a series of to-do lists, and essentially they are. Just that they have quite a bit of structure and organising around the lists to make it all work. Officially Bullet Journals (BuJo for short) are the creation of Ryder Carroll, a New York based designer who came up with a way to make notes for himself and then realised he had a system that others would find useful. So he created the Bullet Journal. Find out more about it over on the official website which does a far better job of explaining it than I could do here.

bullet journal example
An example of a Bullet Journal with accessories

So Are We Just Going To Explain Bullet Journals This Month?

Not exactly. There is enough out there on the system and to be fair, you would only need to look at the official website to find out all you need to know about it. Instead, the inspiration for this month was born out of my own frustration with two things:

  • my inability to stay organised;
  • my reluctance to embrace the Bullet Journal system.

My problem is that I have always struggled to keep on top of it all – as fast as one task is completed so another five appear, but worst of all is being able to sift through them all and keep a sense of priority. And then someone mentioned Bullet Journals. And I was seduced. After all, here I am with a stationery company with all that amazing stationery and here is a system to solve my problems that uses stationery. Perfect! Or so you would think…but it just didn’t work for me.

So the point of this month’s theme is less about selling the idea of Bullet Journaling per-se, and more about explaining it to anyone who hasn’t come across it, and then showing how I and (hopefully) others have found a way to take elements of it and make it work for us. And by doing so it might inspire you to try it and find your own way.

Why did I struggle?

I personally found it all to be too much of a system and I don’t think I am alone in feeling that. It looks wonderful, does amazing things but it also looks like a job in itself and is too rigid. I will come back during the month and explain how I my own system that works for me, and what would be really nice is to see how other people have adapted it to suit their needs. Bullet Journaling gets even more amazing and off-putting once you see what some people do with the system, and we will come to that later as well.

bullet journal example
An example of a Bullet Journal calendar

Analogue vs Digital

The point here is that both are equally relevant, rather than it being one vs the other. Stationery is actually essential alongside your apps, not a replacement for them. I love my technology (I have way too many apps for it to be healthy), but I also love stationery.

What we hope to show is how everyone needs a notebook and pen because it can make you more organised, more efficient, and it is better for you. Studies have shown that the act of writing makes you process and remember what you are writing about more than by simply typing it* so that’s another reason use pen and paper. And once you use pen and paper, so you need a system to organise what you write and so you come full circle and start to need a bullet journal or version of it.

What To Expect

Throughout the month we will post articles about Bullet Journals and Bullet Journaling, what it can do for you, reviews of suitable products, showcase examples of what other people have done and we hope to get someone in the office to try it out for a month to see what they make of it. Please keep an eye on our blog and our newsletter to see what is happening.

 * https://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/dec/16/cognitive-benefits-handwriting-decline-typing. Click here to read more

Reader Comments

  1. I use one journal for everything – hence I get through a Leuchtturm1917 a month – so that’s bullet journalling, journalling, poetry, meeting notes, book notes, random thoughts, blog planning, everything.

    Because at one point I had seven notebooks and I always had the wrong one with me. I have used the bullet journal as I want, and it is messy, it is not as beautifully laid as some peoples, because I don’t want to spend the time making my todo list look beautiful, I would rather write or play music or get away from my desk.

    What I have found very useful is monthly reviews, the symbols -especially useful when I’m taking notes from books and meeting minutes and a weekly plan of what I am going to do when. I get over whelmed and sometimes just writing down what needs to be done helps.

    I’ve taken what I need from the bullet journal and incorporated it into my way of working – and I love having one book for simplicity!

    1. Hi Jen, can you give me some idea of how you do that. Do you have different sections for each of the different activities you mention. This sounds wonderful and something I would like to do.

      Many thanks

  2. I use a pocket journal for my bullet journal (pocket size dot grid moleskine). Although I go through them quite quickly, it is small enough to carry with me at all times. I don’t use collections much but do like the symbols and the braindump pages.

  3. I think the secret of Bullet Journaling is adapting it to your own needs.

    Whilst there are some beautiful examples of Bullet Journalling out there (which I found a little off-putting) – they seem to make a full time job of the journal itself as opposed to the tasks in-hand.

    My advice is choose the elements you need/will use and skip the ones you don’t.

  4. This year I switched from a Filofax to a Hobonichi A6 planner, and found that how I filled it in was starting to resemble a bullet journal, albeit a much more colourful version, and far less technical than the ‘official’ guidelines.

    I write ‘to do’ lists daily, a but I can’t bring myself to fill mundane tasks like laundry into such a nice, organised and re-readable place. In that respect, I like the idea of BuJo, but maybe on post-it notes (for the disposable tasks), using the main body for long term goals and the like. The Hobonichi system is perfectly set up for this kind of planning, so I’d like to give it a real try at some point.

  5. I have just now discovered bullet journaling, though I have been doing a version of it for years. My question is how people can use journals without removable pages?
    What if you have filled two facing pages for a months list of events, tasks, etc., and then you remember 12 more things that need doing that month. However, you have already filled in the next month on the page after the current month’s facing pages. Do you just scribble in the margins? And, wouldn’t you have to redo the Index all the time because you would be adding things in the existing pages? Also, If you have a Future Log that starts on page 20, but p. 19 of the monthly log needs to be expanded, you can’t add a page for it nor can you move the Future log to another page. I just don’t understand how a bound journal works for the bullet system. Thank you.

    1. Hi Patricia,

      You have a good point! I have filled 3 Leuchtturms with my journalling and if there is something that I need I simply transfer it over (copy) into a next one…

      Take care,


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