How The Bullet Journal Method Is Changing The Way I Journal and Plan My Days

Bullet Journal is for those who feel there are few platforms as powerful as the blank page. ~Ryder Carroll


The first time I heard the words bullet and journal together, I wondered what the heck a bullet journal might include? Fortunately those communicating a love for this style of journaling did not look like potential serial killers, so I mentally filed away the information for future exploration.

Interestingly, had I  been using the Bujo (short for Bullet Journaling ) method at the time, I could  have made a quick “bullet” in my notebook with a note for further exploration. More importantly I could have found that note when I decided to act upon that action. Which brings me one of my favorite aspects of the Bullet Journal- the hope of ever finding anything again in my rambling journaling entries…in a timely manner.


So what exactly is a Bullet Journal? 

Ryder Carroll does an excellent job of clarifying simply what this method is at his site, and he has a large number of faithful  followers who helped him kick-start develop and bring to life an actual Bullet Journal Notebook (which I promptly purchased myself in February when it was restocked).

Before going further I want to say, the beauty of the method is its simplicity AND flexibility.As a matter of fact many of us have done or do some form of notating using bullet lists whether in our journals, planners or other papers written. Also the method requires a notebook, not any particular notebook, although many who regularly utilize the system have their favorites.

Initially one of my own blogging besties Stacy brought it up for our monthly Journal Gathering which piqued my interest further. I admit I was drawn to it, and simultaneously repelled, because I am not a list-maker, or doodler so much as a word rambling, idea explosion on paper person. I was leery.

My journals sometimes visually resemble a combination run-on-sentence and  kindergartner’s brainstorming session meets train wreck with road kill ramble. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I’m neat, sometimes I make pretty in my pages, but sometimes I’m all soul pouring, blood, sweat and tears…and so as a passionate writer and journal keeper, my mind resist “forms”. This old dog has been journaling for too many years to learn new tricks…and who doesn’t resist change?  I’m a bit more open to try new things in my planning/planner generally speaking.

But after watching Ryder Carroll explain, at least 40 times rewound on You Tube, before being willing to dip my toes in the way, my ADHD mind began to see the possibilities. In September of 2015 I implemented some of the Bujo aspects into my current journaling and planning. I continued to watch Ryder’s video and re-read the basic model (I’m an old dog, remember?). When you are trying to implement change to a 30 year habit it takes repetition and time. Did I also mention ADHD? Reining in my mind is not for the faint of heart; journaling as a habit has been key in my harnessing my focus, energy and creativity.

Change requires repetition, simplicity and commitment. Adapting any new habit is a process which requires flexibility for individuality – this I know from many years of coaching as well as my own personal experience. The Bujo approach offers all of these, which makes it brilliant in my opinion. Sort of giving enough rope to roam, but not enough to hang yourself is how I like to think of it. Again, the Old Dog’s opinion here. Squirrel!

I generally keep a planner and journal separate, while housing within my heart this dream of keeping them combined. It’s something I have toyed with for years unsatisfactorily. I don’t know why this desire to have one book “to rule them all” so to speak, but it probably lives withing most of we who have this affinity for planners and journals. I have settled for a Traveler’s Notebook, which allows me to carry multiple notebooks at once which somewhat quells the desire. (I will be doing a sharing my Traveler’s Notebook journeys in this series including views and reviews of my TN collection- stay tuned!)

In a nutshell, or how about a Bullet List, I will tell you what aspects of this method I am implementing and if you want more details, let me know in the comments and I will happily address your question or do a follow-up post.

Briefly, I would describe the Bullet Journal Method as a simple way to capture your journal entries in a retrievable manner. For me this has been really helpful because I often need to retrieve information which is lost in pages upon pages of notes, plans, ideas, rambles, poems and various snippets.

Here’s how Ryder succinctly states it at his place:

“It’s an analog system for the digital age that will help you organize the present, record the past and plan for the future.”

With Bullet Journaling I don’t feel like I need to compartmentalize my writing. However, I do find I tend towards two to three styles of writing in general, and through experimenting with Bujo, I have gained freedom in the way I plan my time and access my thinking. So, in addition to the ability to retrieve my writing in a systematic way, say for a blog post, or poetry submission, I believe this method supports and facilitates the way my mind works jumping from one thing to another in time, without losing relevant information because there is a specific, simple way to capture and note the details.

As with any method or program, implementation over time with adaptation will be the key to assessing whether it’s practical for the person using it. The methods I have employed and enjoyed with most success and with residual effects to my journal keeping and planning habits are those with simple precepts which are not rigid in form or extensive in detail of instruction. As many of you who have trained with me or follow my plannerly lifestyle know I say “It’s the habit that’s the key-not the program or planner itself”. Once you have the basics down habitually,  you are in a better place to experiment with various strategies, creative variations and all sorts of diverse concepts. Because then it will not be overwhelming. You will simply discern if something is a good fit for you or not. More often than not, we like to try before we fly (or buy). Is all you need to try this method is a blank notebook and pen.

I am primarily using the method with my planning but do use aspects of it in my journaling as well. I continue to seek to merge all of my plans and journaling into one place…to no avail. But it is such a joyful journey, I’m not losing sleep over it.

Last but not least, my husband is not a planner/journal guy BUT after inviting forcing him to check out the Ryder’s video with me, he to my JOY is keeping a Bullet Journal as his own way of planning. He did call me a “Planner Bully” at one point, but I forgave him. He is using a Moleskin lined Journal for now and likes it.

Why I love Bullet Journal:

  1. A highly adaptable way to keep a planner without buying an expensive/elaborate type planner. (Not that there is anything wrong with that! 😉 )
  2. Anyone can use the method.
  3. Increases ability to organize thoughts, ideas, plans etc. without feeling compartmentalized which can facilitate creative thinking.
  4. Can be simple or elaborate- user determined potential.
  5. An accessible, easily replicated tool for organizing, planning, tracking behavior.
  6. Unlimited possibility for use.
  7. Can be used independently or for a specific focus. *I am using my Bullet Journal (pictured) for my writing/publishing goals and notes specifically, but I utilize the Bullet Journal Method in an adapted manner for my planning and journaling daily.


OK, so I am still relatively new to it all, for the best simplest clearest explanation and example check out Ryder’s blog. For amazing inspiration and creativity you can check out the whole community of Bujo lovers. Check it all out HERE.

Leave your questions or comments below and I will share what I know or do my best to direct you as best as I can! If anyone from the Bujo community happens to read this, I welcome you to join in with your input and experience! Thanks for being here.

Continuing on our Journaling as a Lifestyle Series- You can see all the posts in the Journal Keeper’s Journey HERE.


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Published by enthusiasticallydawn

Dawn Paoletta is the author of Journaling for Discovery and Delight. Her writing is included in several anthologies and her poems have been included in the Wickford Poetry and Art Exhibit and Books. Dawn is currently working on her next book. Inquiries at

10 thoughts on “How The Bullet Journal Method Is Changing The Way I Journal and Plan My Days

  1. I’m surprised and impressed that you could work out how to do it from Ryder’s YouTube video. It certainly looks like something worth thinking about, although I wonder how manageable it is when you’re on your tenth notebook. I suppose it’s one of those things that you get better at the more you do it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I’ve been through a few journals that morphed, and repetition is king. I do not believe I follow exactly but adapted specific details like the indexing …that worked for me, however I think when I first saw it, I was absolutely sure I could never like it…but I think aspects of it absolutely help me deal with the shifting gears in my mind. Thanks for commenting.


      1. I think there was a girl Jessica Torrino who I liked her perspective…for me it is not about creating anything pretty or fancy but the few simple minimalist details that helped how I approach. I think Ryder is pretty clear, there is much room for variation. But this is why his basic and simple explanation/ modules etc is so brilliant. Everything else can become distraction if one is not careful. Distraction I do not need! 😉 Enjoy the journey. Take what you can use and lose the rest. Blessings to you this weekend.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I like that you can incorporate the bullet journal method into any form of planning to kee your organized and productive! Aside from my normal planning I use the method in a separate notebook for my blog and business! Great post! I’m excited to see your new developments!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great post – bullet journals are a recent discovery for me and I’m keen to know more! Thanks for taking the time out to explain it, it’s really helped me understand and given me the drive to start one.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved the simplicity of bullet journaling as well. I discovered it last summer and have been hooked to the concept since. I couldn’t draw out all the layouts I wanted, so I found ways to bullet journal in my planner which I posted about on my blog here:

    I’m glad you found planner peace for you! Thanks for sharing with Small Victories Sunday Linkup. Pinning to our linkup board and hope you found some great posts to visit this week!

    Liked by 1 person

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