The Analog Method for the Digital Age...

This year, started on a Monday, and coincidentally, I started a new experiment to stay organised and keep track of my day-to-day happenings. It's called a Bullet Journal, and it's a method of keeping a concise, goal/task-driven journal of daily happenings. It's very free-form in nature, meaning that you don't need a dedicated diary format to adhere to, or some specially printed book; any old exercise book can fit your needs!

My goals and desired outcomes were simple - I wanted a way to record my day to day events, whilst not losing focus of tasks and things that needed to be done, be it professionally, or personally. I also wanted to be able to do this, no matter where I am, as long as I had sufficient visibility, the journal, and a pen. I didn't want to be beholden to battery power, or other nasty limitations.

And as a plus, I really enjoy the tactile feeling of just, writing something. For any seriously longer-form journal entries, there is of course, this very blog that you're reading.

Before I go into my rant about Bullet Journals, and how I do them, and such - here's the original site that I learnt about it from: -- It's kind of turned into some sort of online store/sales point - but the concepts are still visible and solid. There's also about a hundred thousand people who've made videos about Bullet Journaling on YouTube and various other social media.

A rapid way of Journaling

The cornerstone of being able to use a bullet journal is based on a concept called Rapid Logging. It's essentially a way to capture information, and notes as bulleted lists (with a small range of bullet types/symbols). It kind of looks like this (sorry about the huge gaps, these source images come with quite a bit of padding, and really, I thought it looked quite good!):


On the left, you see how someone might have a journal entry that's somewhat longer form, but quite typical of a diary. On the right - you have something a little more 'lean'. This is rapid blogging. You'll notice that there's different symbols for everything; and every bullet journal has their own symbols and guide (I'll go through mine later) - but for now, the default ones you see in the tutorial image above are split into several types.

Has bullet journalling helped?

Yes. Emphatically, and simply, yes. It's a focused, habitual and easy way to keep track of things, remind yourself of your goals and ideas, and really take a breather in your busy day.

My Personal BuJo Experience

Since this is my first bujo, and as reach the end of 2018 (and coincidentally, near the end of the book I use for it) - I thought I'd do a bit of a retrospective on the way I've used it, and things I've learnt.

My first BuJo involved a fair number of mistakes; initially so bad that I ripped out the first 20 or so pages of the book! (yikes!) But after some planning, and with (not quite) enough forethought, I managed to eke out a usable solution. I tried a variety of different symbols, and worked on how detailed I should make my daily log entries (everything from weather, to BSL and daily spends) and by the final quarter of 2018, I finally came up with a simple box and circle bullet point system, with simple daily labelling to help.

And in actual fact - by happy coincidence, I realise I can even type the method I use out:

[ ] = task
[x] = task done
[>] = rescheduled task
[-] = cancelled task

( ) = event/appointment
(x) = event done
(>) = rescheduled event
(-) = cancelled event

- thought/note
! important thought/note/reminder
? question/investigation

This absolutely doesn't mean I'm going to use a typed version of my bullet journal however; the key point of the bujo is that it's a physical, tactile experience that gets the brain some exercise! Being freeform also allows me to quickly customise pages or scribble out extra notes and so forth. However this DOES give me some ideas on how to do something of a bujo for devs ;)

Anyway, moving on - as we go into 2019 - the new BuJo I've worked on setting up today is going to include a couple of features I've seen around that I'd like to try out - such as a year in pixels, based on the mood of the day, I can colour in a square in a grid, with a corresponding colour to mood - and at the end of the year I should have a fairly pragmatic overview of just how well things went that year.