My New Best Friend, the Bullet Journal


I’ve mentioned it a few times, and hinted that I’d go into more detail. Now, with NaNo (mostly) behind me, and the new novel draft in the home stretch, this seems like a good time.

Plus Thanksgiving is tomorrow, for us ‘Muricans, and boy, am I thankful for a method to keep my life on track.

So, when I started keeping a creative journal, I also starting following some journaling blogs on Tumblr, which led to my discovery of bullet journals. I read up on the full system, but I knew I didn’t need (and likely wouldn’t remember) all of the symbols for the various types of entries.

I’ve been keeping the journal consistently since the end of September, now, and the simplified system which works best for me boils down to three symbols: the dot for a to-do entry, the X for a completed one, and the arrow for a migrated one. (I will also strike-through an entire line if it turns out I put something on the list that doesn’t actually need to be done–this way, when I’m looking over previous days’ lists for anything I missed, I won’t think I need to migrate it to a new day.)

Throughout the day, I’ll sit down for a minute with my journal to see what I’ve completed and what still needs to be done. Sometime in the evening, I’ll take five minutes to set up my list for the next day, maybe the next two. I don’t plan farther ahead than that on a daily basis, because I’m one of those people who feel overwhelmed by looking too far ahead and focusing on how much there is to do, rather than what I need to do now.

For example, a selection from today’s list:

  • Blog post
  • Journal entry
  • 2K+ words for NaNo
  • Laundry
  • Bake pumpkin pies

(I always bring the pies to Turkey Day with my family, because I apparently make the best ones. My secret? Use the recipe on the back of the pumpkin can, but triple the cinnamon and double all the other spices. Never fails.)

As of this moment, I have written my 2K+, done the laundry, and am writing the blog post. I have not started the pies or written in my creative journal.  Soon.

I have a separate list in the back with longer-term, non-immediate goals, and I check that and schedule tasks appropriately once or twice a week.  (Mostly stuff relating to my upcoming book release, and my holiday travel, at the moment.  Coordinating all that has been a bit of a challenge…)

The satisfaction I feel at night when I know I’ve completed everything I meant to that day and X’d all those dots…honestly, it’s helping me sleep better.  I am an anxious person, and spending maybe a total of ten minutes a day with an elaborate to-do list has worked miracles on my organizational skills.  Things get done, and if they don’t get done today, they get migrated to tomorrow, and they become the top priority (beyond fixed things, like my work schedule and putting dinner on the table.  Tonight is matzo ball soup!)

It’s not going to be a life-changer for everyone, because not everyone needs this kind of micro-management in their lives…but if you keep telling yourself, like I did, that you need something to keep yourself organized, then I’d recommend giving it a try.


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