Bullet Journal: What is it, How to do it and Why you will want one

“The analog system for the digital age”, this is how the Bullet Journal defines itself. It is, precisely, a method of organization in paper and pencil, similar and at the same time very different from an agenda, that you will want to practice, ideal to make time more productive.

The creator of the Bullet Journal method is the New York designer Ryder Carroll, who claims that he created this system because we have too much busy time. Nevertheless, it is not always productive. In today’s age, we all have a lot of responsibilities, and having a flexible analog system that allows you to have everything you do in one place is helpful.

In reality, Ryder Carroll had some attention deficit issues, and he created the Bullet Journal as a way to deal with them. To his surprise, the method was very popular (perhaps because we all have a little attention deficit these days).

In fact, it had such an impact that, for those who adopt the system, it almost becomes a way of life. The BuJo (as they are abbreviated) are gaining more and more ground and are here to stay.

Don’t you quite understand what we’re talking about? Check out this video, where Ryder explains it to you in the Bullet Journal, and then we continue (if you don’t see the subtitles, choose them with the square button on the bottom right).

What is a Bullet Journal?

As you have seen in the video, the Bullet Journal is basically a handmade planner. It can be done on any notebook, which has, to begin with, two great advantages: it is cheaper than a common agenda, and it is customizable.

While any notebook will do for the Bullet Journal, dotted sheets or, failing that, squared sheets are the most convenient. You can also purchase the “official” Bullet Journal, produced and designed by Carroll, although it is a bit pricey.

Another great advantage of the Bullet Journal system is that it does not leave any empty spaces. If one day you have nothing to do, you just don’t write it in your Bullet Journal. In this way, we save ourselves the hateful blank pages (and, of course, we take care of the paper).

Making lists as a way of life

The basis of the Bullet Journal system is to make lists of tasks. Why can something so simple be so revolutionary at the same time? Basically, because we have too many thoughts per day.

In addition to this, most of us currently work and function in general in “multitasking” mode: we have many projects underway, at work, at home, in the family, in our personal endeavors. The Bullet Journal is the key to doing everything.

In the end, this results in our mind being exhausted by scattered thoughts, and we cannot focus on any of them. That’s what results in us being very tired at the end of the day (because we’ve done a lot), but not having the feeling of having been productive.

Lists allow what Carroll calls “declutter the mind”, what translated means “clear your mind”. Get all those things we are thinking about out of the confines of our brain, put them in order, make them more visible and tangible. In this way, it is much easier to decide what we are going to do next and focus on it.

So you see, if you are not one of those who make lists often, starting a Bullet Journal is a good way to approach this mode of organization.

And for those of you who already work from to-do lists, this method will only help you organize them better. Those who list all their lives all the time will enjoy doing their Bullet Journal every day.

In addition, because of how the Bullet Journal is organized, it can also become a blog of ideas, and a kind of documentary of everything that happens to us during the year.

bullet journal step by step

Now, so far everything is very beautiful, but… How do you make the Bullet Journal? The first thing you should do is choose a notebook that you really like. Remember that it will be your companion all year.

Now that you have it, you should know that the support of the method is to work from modules, that is, respecting certain “sections” within the agenda. Once you know them and know how to apply them, you will already be initiated in the Bullet Journal world.

This is the step by step to create it from scratch:

Number the sheets

This is very important and the first thing you should do. Yes, it can be a bit laborious but all the sheets have to have a number. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later. The original Bullet Journals already come with numbered pages, but it will only take you about 10 minutes to do it by hand.

The index

Now that you’ve gone to the trouble of numbering all the pages of the Bullet Journal, you should know that the reason for it is right here in the index.

The first two pages are perhaps the most important of the Bullet Journal. It is that they are the ones that allow quickly find any “entry” within the Bullet Journal. Basically, it’s what gives it that flexibility: you can annotate anything anywhere, and then you just have to index it.

That is why it was so important that the sheets are numbered.

The symbols

It is important that you define a symbol for each type of annotation in your Bullet Journal . Ryder proposes 3: dot for tasks, circle for events, and line for notes. Also, add a star for priority.

You can choose as many as you want and the ones you like the most. The purpose is that you can quickly see what each point of your notebook is about.

Future log or annual registration

The following pages are for the future log of your Bullet Journal. There you will be putting all the things that you must do the different months of the year. As the Bullet Journal is done day by day and month by month, this module is very important to leave a record of things that are going to happen later.

If a trip arises for you in two months, for example, that is where it is scheduled.

It is also there where you will write down things that you leave pending from previous months; this is called migration.


Migration is the most evaluative part of the method. Generally, it is done at the end of a month and planning the next. At that time, you should see if you have any tasks left undone.

If so, it’s time to decide: Are those tasks still worth doing? If the answer is no, you discard it. But if the answer is yes, you migrate it. That is, you write it down in the new month.

In the event that the task is still important but you do not have space for it in the month that begins, you can decide to postpone it for another time of the year. Therefore, you must write it down in the corresponding month of the future log.

To distinguish the tasks that you have been “carrying over” from previous months, Carroll proposes marking them with an arrow to the left.

The good thing about this exercise is that it allows you to clearly see what things you are not prioritizing, and it is a good idea to ask yourself why this has happened, in order to avoid having more and more tasks that you are not going to fulfill in your Bullet Journal.

monthly record in bullet journal

At the beginning of each month, you should make a monthly entry in the Bullet Journal, which is used to have a quick glance of all the commitments that you have for that month.

The monthly record must occupy a single page or at most two, but in such a way that you can see everything at first glance, quickly and clearly.

In addition to the specific commitments, it is ideal that you make a list of objectives to meet, to always keep them in mind.

daily log in bullet journal

Finally, it is time to make a daily record, where each day you will write down everything you have to do in the form of a list.

To do this, you will use the signs that you have previously defined to catalog each type of point in the list. After completing a task, you mark it, to keep track of everything you’ve done and also what’s missing.


Possibly as you begin to use the Bullet Journal you will discover that you have recurring notes on a certain topic. For example, you may write down a book that has been recommended to you so you don’t forget it, the title of a movie that you liked or a new idea to add to your weekly menu.

When several entries accumulate on the same topic, you can create a collection: that is, a page where you write down those ideas, all together. In this way, you can have a collection of “Pending books”, “favorite movies”, “healthy menus”, etc.

To find them quickly, of course, you should note the name and page number in the Bullet Journal index.

Other Bullet Journal Ideas

Although the original method proposed by the Bullet Journal is rather minimalist, more and more people are using their notebooks/planners in original and new ways. Thus, for example, you can add “trackers” to your BuJo: that is, a follow-up of tasks, habits, hours of sleep, or whatever comes to mind.

There are also those who make small works of art on each of its pages, making each Bullet Journal a collector’s item.

That is, also, the good thing about choosing notebooks with dotted pages. You can do graphics, lettering, or whatever you like.

My Personal Experience: Bullet Journal Pros and Cons

Now that you have more or less understood how the Bullet Journal works, you may be wondering if it is really worth it or is it something that is overrated.

I can’t give you a definitive answer about Bullet Journaling, because that’s pretty personal, but since I’ve adopted BuJo as my journal for three years now, I can tell you from my experience what the pros and cons I see for this method are. .

The advantages

One of the best things about the Bullet Journal, in my opinion, is that it is an analog method. I am one of those people who find it easier to understand things if I write them down in my own handwriting. That is why it is an advantage for me, although it may not be for you.

Added to this, I love making to-do lists, which is why I enjoy doing the Bullet Journal. It seems to me that it is a simple way to be clear about the step by step of everything I have to do during the day. This prevents me from being overwhelmed and helps me organize myself.

Another thing that I love is that, unlike traditional planners, using the Bullet Journal you can organize your tasks based on goals instead of based on schedules. As I have been working as a freelancer for years, this is crucial for me, since I do not have fixed hours.

Then there is the matter of space and flexibility. Not all my days are the same, and the Bullet Journal allows me to have days where my to-do list spans multiple pages and days where I barely write down a single task.

Finally, I find it funny, and that makes me give it importance. Let’s just say that you have turned the tedious act of planning my day or my week into a special moment, and I do it with more enthusiasm with the Bullet Journal.

The cons

But I don’t want to lie to you either, so I’ll also tell you what the cons of Bullet Journal are that I see.

First of all, the time factor. I love to draw pictures, add graphics and all kinds of “widgets”, and that takes a lot of time: sometimes I end up forgetting to write down something important because I’ve wasted planning time decorating. But even if you make a Bullet Journal in a super simple way, you have to do it yourself…