Bullet Journal Basics| Collections & Conclusions

Bullet Journal Collections & Conclusions Title

We’ve covered so many topics during this series introducing the Bullet Journal® and breaking it down. Everything from Rapid Logging to the Monthly Log and the well-loved extra known as the Weekly Log. I’ve enjoyed every moment writing this series, even the more frustrating ones.

But you didn’t come here to listen to me ramble about the process of writing this series. So let’s get this show on the road and start talking about Collections.

What Is A Collection?

In the Bullet Journal® system, collections are a way of separating information out. A way of organizing things so that they’re more easily found. It can be a list of books to read, meeting notes for work, breaking down a project etc. what matters is that a collection sets this information apart.

Using Collections

As much of a cop-out as it seems, I don’t have much to say on the use of collections. The way they’re used is extremely mutable, individual to the person. This is because the exact information is linked to the person using a specific Bullet Journal®, their needs from a given collection, and what meets those needs.

Collection Ideas

Despite the idea personal nature of collections and how that makes what collections someone may need in their journal impossible to predicts. I can give advice the following advice and some examples.

Don’t add collection just because you saw it on Pinterest or some other social media and it looked useful or interesting. Ask yourself if it will fit your needs and if you will actually use it before adding it to your journal. Collections are meant to be used and adding something then finding out it doesn’t meet your interests and needs can be discouragings. It’s your journal and you can take charge of what is in it so that you can be happy with your progress over time instead of frustrated.

A list of Books To Read, for example, will help those who love reading keep track of their reading, expand their horizons to things that sound interesting, and give those who want to read more a sense of accomplishment when they check a book of the list.

Project Breakdowns can act as both a way of breaking large projects down and a way of indexing any other pages that are part of those projects, like a bibliography or citations for a thesis.

Meeting Notes can help a business person or someone who heads up a social club keep track of what is going on at, well, meetings. All notes about meetings with a certain client can go under the same collection, being linked to pages via a process known as threading or a sub-index. Keeping everything in one space and easy to find later.

On the other hand, some people keep a list of the TV Shows I’m Watching, a Series Rewatch or Movies To Watch as a way of keeping track of how much TV/Films they consume and if they like them.

The list of possible collections is endless. As you use your journal more and more, your collections and the way you use your Bullet Journal® will evolve.

You can find me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook.

 


Others In The Series

The Series Intro

The Index

The Future Log

The Monthly Log

The Daily Log

The Weekly Log

Bullet Journal Basics| The Weekly Log

Bullet Journal Basics- Weekly Log Title

We’re almost at the end of the Bullet Journal Basics series and I have to say that it’s been enjoyable. Hecktick at times and frustrating when writing occasionally, but I still enjoyed it. So I hope everyone else enjoys this penultimate post as much as I enjoyed writing it.

However, I do have one thing to note before we move on. The Weekly Log is a subject of debate in the Bullet Journal community. Some feel it can be part of the basic system and some feel using it makes the Bullet Journal a DIY Planner. Personally, I don’t see it as being an official part of the basic system. It isn’t part of the getting started videos or web page. But it can be useful for those who feel they need it and it can be simple.

What Is A Weekly Log?

I like to think of a Weekly Log as a useful addition to the system. Like the middle tier of a cake. The top tier is the Future Log and the bottom is the Daily Log, the workhorse of the system.

The Weekly Log is a great way to break down larger projects. Sometimes those projects can be really long-term like writing a novel, and other times they’ll be writing a short story or an essay. But the ability to just add a task or two to your Daily Log and then, when those are complete, check it off of the Weekly. It can build a sense of progress and that sense of progress can be very good for completing long-term projects.

The downside is that not completing the tasks you set for yourself can be discouraging. I would suggest starting with a week long or two-week long project before using a weekly to track progress on something more long-term.

How Is It Used?

Using a Weekly Log is simple. All you need to do is the following:

  • Create a variation that suits your needs.
  • Fill out the information you already know.
  • Check things off as things get done/deadlines are reached.

It should be noted that some people only use a Weekly Log and a Monthly Log. Or use a Weekly only. Experiment. You’ll find your way.

Weekly Log Variations

It can’t be stressed enough how important finding the variations of each Bullet Journal® module that works for you is. With that in mind, here are some simple variations to get those who wish to use this extra module started.

The Simple List is, as the name suggests, the simplest of the variations we’ll cover. There’s literally nothing to it. You just write the week, date range, or both at the top of the page and then write down the items on your list.

It fits in just about any size Bullet Journal, from the tiny to the large. It can also be prettied up if a Bullet Journalist wishes to do that, or modified in other ways. For example, the first letter of each weekday can be placed under or beside reoccurring tasks as a rudimentary sort of tracker. Week long chunks of larger projects can also benefit from this treatments.

However, much as it is great for weeks you have no desire or time to do the next two methods. Variations like adding the first letter of a weekday can make things confusing.

Batched Lists can be considered a step up from the Simple List. However, they’re still very simple. Repeat the header process for the Simple List, then you just divide tasks and events into as many lists as you want or need. Dividing things can get a bit convoluted though, and make adding to lists a bit difficult.

If going with Batched Lists, I would suggest more than two to start. By doing it this way, the Bullet Journalist figures out what they need in their journal. Do they need this list setup to be one page or do they need a full two-page spread? It’s worth noting that someone using an A6 or other small notebooks will likely need a two-page spread regardless of how simple they keep things.

The exception to this is someone using a B6 notebook as their Bullet Journal. The upside to this is that it forces those using smaller journals to be ruthless with about what is important enough to make each list. The downside is that someone may find they need more pages than if they had been using a medium or large notebook at their Bullet Journal. That brings us to the last simple Weekly Log methods, the Alastair Method.

The Alastair Method will be familiar to anyone who has read my post on the Future Log, but it bears recapping.

The Alastair Method was devised by Alastair Johnson during the period I like to call Bullet Journal 1.0. At the time, there was no Future Log. There was only the Index, Monthly Log, Daily Log, and Collections. Eventually, people asked about how to record tasks and events further out than a month so often that Ryder Carroll, creator of the Bullet Journal®, added the Future Log module to the basic system.

It’s a simple and versatile method that is good for breaking down large projects into smaller chunks. Good for getting reoccurring tasks off your Daily Log, if you choose to use a Daily Log. Good for combining tasks and tracking into one entity. The Alastair Method even fits in almost all notebooks.

To use this method you follow the same header method for both the Batched and Simple Lists. When that is done, a couple of lines down you write the first letter of each weekday on the left side of the page. The right side of the page is where you write your tasks. For a more in-depth look, please visit this link. It will take you to the official Bullet Journal website’s page on the Alastair Method.

What I use

I use all of the methods in this posts depending on my mood and how much time I have on a given Sunday. Most often I use the Alastair Method because it provides structure while not overwhelming me. I like that it get’s big tasks or ones that repeat off of my Daily Logs, allowing me to break them down into smaller tasks or just cross them off.

Please don’t forget to join me for the last post in this series. I’ll be talking about Collections and wrapping everything up.

You can find me on Facebook and Twitter.

Bullet Journal Basics| The Monthly Log

 

Bullet Journal Basics- Monthly Log Title

Once again this post is a day later than I anticipated it being. And once again, I’m sorry for the delay.

Last week we talked about the Future Log. How to use it, what it is, and some of its many variations. This week I want to focus on the Monthly Log. It’s not only a standard part of the Bullet Journal system itself, but also the first in what I like to call my three-tiered approach to planning. Though, if I really consider it, the Future Log makes more like a four-tiered approach as I use what is called a Weekly Log as a mid-level overview of my week.

But, I’m digressing. Let’s move on.

What Is A Monthly Log?

A Monthly Log is one of Ryder Carroll’s original Bullet Journal® modules. It is essentially a combination of monthly to-do list and monthly scheduling at its core.

How Is The Monthly Log Used?

There are a variety of ways the Monthly Log can be used by Bullet Journalists. Most common is a way to keep events happening that month on the monthly calendar. At its simplest, which you will find if you look at the website, being just the day of the month down and week down one side of the paper and things you know need to be done this month that aren’t appointments or the like on the other.

However, it is worth noting that the one-page monthly calendar is only usable in larger formats. Those in an A6, B6, pocket or B7 notebook/setup with have to break it across multiple pages that depend upon the variation someone is using.

Monthly Log Variations

Now that I’ve covered the what and the how in a fairly basic way, I would like to move on to talking about variations in the Monthly Log. Specifically, the calendar portion of things. I’ve found that there’s only so many ways one can discuss the to-do portion of the Monthly Log. A simple list, batched lists, Eisenhower Matrixes. Unless focused on entirely and in their own right, these useful variations on the to-do list portion of the Bullet Journal® tend to overwhelm people new to the system.

That in mind, I would like to focus on the two most common variations of the Monthly Log’s Calendar. What I like to call Traditional Plus and the Calendar Method.

Traditional Plus

Like the name suggests, the Traditional Plus monthly calendar is a modified version of the traditional monthly calendar. The most typical of this variation involves writing the date and day down on the left side like normal. The next two pages or more separated into columns labeled according to the needs of the Bullet Journalist.

Someone may, for example, need one column/page for personal appointments or events like Birthdays and one for College/Grade school/Teaching events and appointments. Another person may need to divide things into all day, personal, and work. A writer may wish to use one side of the calendar or a column to track research time and other writing related things. Like if they sent out a piece on a certain date or were contracted for a piece.

In a smaller notebook, like the previously mentioned A6 and smaller, these sections will be split into the first half of the month on one set of pages and the second half on another.

Calendar Method

What I like to call the Calendar Method looks exactly like the calendars people are used to.

It’s great for people that need to see the days as blocks in order to place events and appointments. But it does have a couple of drawbacks. If someone isn’t using a Grid composition notebook, letter-sized notebook, or A4 notebook it can feel a bit confining due to lack of space depending on the person. This is especially true in notebooks that are B6 and smaller.

Monday I to finally be talking about Camilla as Queer Fiction. Wednesday was meant to be the second in my research series, but I didn’t post the first part of the series this week. Instead, Wednesday will be the first post of my research series. Friday will, as per usual, be a continuation of this series with a post about the Daily Log.

In the meantime, I can be found on Twitter and Facebook. Feel free to come and talk; I’d enjoy it.

Bullet Journal Basics| The Future Log

Yikes! I didn’t mean to be an entire day late with this post. Hopefully, next week will be better.

Last week I talked about the Index portion of the Bullet Journal, today I want to talk about the Future Log as I understand it. It goes without saying that every opinion in this part of the series and the series as a whole is mine and mine alone.

What Is A Future Log?

The simplest answer to this question is a list. A list reminding you when things like national holidays, birthdays, faith-based holidays are happening. A list that keeps track of appointments that may be months out. A list of tasks you know you want to do in the coming months. And a list of notes to yourself for the future.

How Do You Use The Future Log?

So, if the Future Log is a list, does that mean there’s no right and wrong way to use it. Yes and no. The right way is the way that works, even if it means not using it. The wrong way is, by contrast, using it in a way that hinders being able to get the most out of it.

Even when we talk about methods like the Alastair Method and The Calendex, methods that emerged before the Future Log was officially made a component of the basic Bullet Journal. None of the methods I talk about in this post should be used if they don’t work for someone. They’re part of a tool and have a function, and forcing ourselves to use something that isn’t working doesn’t help us.

Types of Future Log

It goes without saying that there are many types of Future Log. However, in this post, I will just be dealing with the three types. The Traditional Future Log, which can be found on BulletJournal.com; the Calendex, which has been featured on the official website; and the Alastair Method, which was also featured on the official website.

Traditional Future Log

The Traditional Future Log is the one you can see in Bullet Journal creator, Ryder Carroll’s, updated Bullet Journal overview video and as part of web tutorial on the system.

As you can see from the picture, in the standard version of this Future Log you do the following: label the top of the spread, divide the pages into threes, and label each of the resulting boxes with the next six months. But you can also do this by dividing a page into two or more columns depending on the size of your notebook. Some people even include a mini calendar to help with visualizing their month.

However, I do think this method has a small drawback. It’s harder to use this method in a pocket-sized notebook or other smaller notebook size. This can sometimes force someone in those sizes to use a whole page per month if they choose to go with this variation of the Future Log.

The Alastair Method

The Alastair Method is perhaps, in my mind, even more, simple than the Traditional Future Log. Label the page or pages with Future Log and providing you’re using a grid or dot grid notebook, all you have to do is place the first letter of the month at the top of your columns on the left side of the page and…voila! You’re done.

It’s a great method for minimizing the amount of space the Future Log takes up, which is especially awesome if someone is using a smaller notebook as I mentioned in the Traditional Future Log sub-section.

The Calendex

Perhaps the most complicated of the methods, I’ll simply leave it the explaining how it works to this Calendex article.

Its drawbacks include constant flipping through pages looking for appointments/events and no place for tasks in its original form. Its greatest asset being that the combination of calendar and index makes it great for people whose lives are heavily based on scheduling things in advance. This is especially true when the columns are wide enough.

What I Use and Recommend

If someone were to ask me what I recommend someone new to this system use, and what I used myself. I would ask about the size of their journal. I’ve found that the Traditional Method works best in average and large notebooks and the same with the Calendex. On the other hand, the Alastair Method is useable in all sizes as long as the user is able to keep the columns straight when looking at it. It isn’t that the Traditional Future Log and Calendex can’t work in a small notebook, but that they’re, generally, harder to pull off due to the size of the notebook.

Currently, I’m not using a Future Log at all. I moved from a Large Moleskine Classic (Amazon Link.) to a pocket-sized Traveler’s Notebook. The two slightly oversized pocket notebooks I’m using are crappy, so I didn’t want to use a Future Log until I move into better ones. When I do move into better notebooks, however, I will be using the Alastair Method.

Next Friday I will be talking about the Monthly Log. Monday and Wednesday’s post will, hopefully, be about my personal minimalism guidelines and a review of K.M. Weiland’s Outline Your Novel. Feel free to join me for those posts, if you want to. You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter. As for my Instagram, it has currently fallen into disuse for the most part. When I start getting back to my desired weekly Instagram post count, I will add the link again.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate in links. All that means is that I may receive a small commission if you click on a link from a product I’ve recommended in this post and purchase/subscribe to one of them. I’ll only ever recommend products I’ve used and enjoyed myself.Thank you for supporting my dorky little corner of the internet!

Bullet Journal Basics| The Index

Bullet Journal Basics- Index Title

Last Friday I introduced this series and talk a bit about rapid logging. This week I would like to talk about an often neglected part of the Bullet Journal system, the index.

One thing before we begin. If you want to a more general overview of the whole Bullet Journal system, please feel free to visit the official website.

What is an index?

An index or indices, to put it simply, is a list. Topics arranged down a page in a list, sometimes alphabetically, with the page(s) in a text where they’re located next to the topic.

Sub-indices?

A sub-index is no different than the main index of a Bullet Journal. It organizes information by topics and page numbers.

Where it excels and why so many use them is because they’re great for saving space in the main index and making pages dedicated to a subject like journal entries, drawing, or meeting notes more easily located later.

However, I would say that there’s also more variation in the sub-indices someone may use in their Bullet Journal than in the main Bullet Journal index. A simple list with the relevant topic heading isn’t uncommon at all, but someone may also choose to use a method based on Future Log methods like the Alastair Method or the Calendex.

What should be indexed?

There’s some debate over what should or shouldn’t be put in the index of a Bullet Journal. Some say everything, some say only the really important stuff.

I’m in the important stuff camp. My easy rule of thumb being that sub-indices, the start of a new month, Future Log, and collections should be placed in the main index. And anything important to the topic being covered by a sub-index should go in a sub-index if someone chooses to use one.

How do you index something?

In addition to the debate about what should be included or excluded from the Index, there’s also some debate about when to index something. I won’t rehash those debates here, they’re pretty pointless. But I prefer to think of indexing as an ongoing activity.

An activity where someone updates their Bullet Journal’s Index as the need arises. This may mean daily for a Calendex style index of Daily Logs for some and/or rarely for those who doesn’t use many Collections at all. The important part is that things are updated as you go.

Next Friday we’ll, as I mentioned before, be talking about the Future Log part of the Bullet Journal system. But if you want to join me I will be putting up the promised Magpie Lord post sometime this weekend. And Monday I’ll be talking about Gothic Minimalism. What Minimalism as a lifestyle movement is and how I put my own dark, Goth flare on it to be more exact.

In the meanwhile, you can find me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook as well as the blog.

Bullet Journal Basics| Series Intro

Bullet Journal Basics- Series Intro Title

The Bullet Journal® is a popular form of organization. So popular that companies are marketing their products to people who use this organization method, and magazines all over the globe have had articles about it.

With all this attention being paid to what is, at its core, an indexed book of lists it’s no wonder that some people have the impression a Bullet Journal is a fussy thing. This is especially true if their first introduction was via social media or an article that showcased more elaborate forms of Bullet Journal®. However, I disagree. The Bullet Journal needn’t be elaborate if that isn’t what the person in question wants. Though it can be as elaborate a someone wishes to make it, if that is what they want. In fact, the basic template is very simple if you go to the website:

Index

Monthly Log

Daily Log

Collections

These are called modules. Some people even add an additional module to their Bullet Journal that is known as the Weekly Log to give them an overview of the things they need to get done during the week, whether for work, personal, or some combination of the two.

However, the real backbone of the Bullet Journal® is something known as rapid logging.

Rapid Logging

Rapid logging is a way of quickly capturing notes, tasks, and appointments. The theory behind it being that being able to quickly note things down leaves more time to get things done and makes using a Bullet Journal® less of a chore than it would otherwise be.

At its core, rapid logging depends on the person developing a form of shorthand, symbols, and signifiers that work best for them. The ones from the website, incidentally, are an excellent starting point. If you’re interested in this system, I would test them out and go from there. I do, however, have the following tips for modifying them to your needs:

  • Symbols and signifiers should be easily remembered.
  •  Shorthand should be easily remembered.
  •  Longer notes should, ideally, use the least amount of words needed to be useful now and possibly in the future.

That said, while rapid logging is the heart of the system, don’t be afraid to use more traditional journal entries in your Bullet Journal if you have the time. Sometimes a good journal entry on the next page or at the close of the day in line with your rapid logged content is just what you’ll need. The Bullet Journal® is highly adaptive, don’t stifle yourself by rapid logging when it doesn’t make sense.

Series Expectations

If you’re reading this, especially this far in, you’re here to hear my views on the basics of Bullet Journaling. Which is awesome and greatly appreciated.

But for all my hope that you also enjoy my other content, I don’t think it fair that I, essentially, force you to check in constantly or wait to hear about new posts in this series from social media. To deal with that, I’ve made the topic on the blog for Fridays this Bullet Journaling series. After it’s done in a few weeks, I plan to keep Bullet Journaling as the main topic for Fridays.

Having specific topics, like Bullet Journaling, on certain days will, I hope, take some pressure off of you and off of myself. Creating a more engaging and symbiotic relationship.

Next Friday I will be talking about the Bullet Journal module known as the Index. And for those who are interested, my next post will be a monthly update for March 2017. This month has been interesting, to say the least.

In the meanwhile, you can find me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook as well as the blog.

The Writer & The Bullet Journal

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. All that means is I may receive a small commission if you click on a link in the recommended products section at the bottom of this post and purchase/subscribe to one of them. I’ll only ever post links to things I’ve used and enjoyed myself. Thank you for supporting my dorky little corner of the internet!

I’ve been using a Bullet Journal® in some capacity or another for a few months, and I’ve found it very helpful for organization and getting things done. I firmly believe that a writer needs goals and should use the organizational method that helps them achieve their goals. So it seems fitting that I should share the way using a Bullet Journal can help a writer reach their writing goals as mentioned in my post on setting goals.

What is a Bullet Journal?

The main Bullet Journal® website, linked both here and above goes into more depth, but at its heart, a Bullet Journal is a method of organization.

It’s an analog method, meaning paper and pen much like a traditional printed planner, created by Ryder Carroll over the course of a number of years to help him organize his life. A place to keep to-do lists, goals, projects, wish lists, sketches, research and any number of other things a person may need it to do.

How can it help writers?

 I don’t think anyone reading this post needs serious convincing on how the points from the previous section can be useful for writers of all sorts, but it never hurts to put things in context. The way I see it, a Bullet Journal® gives writers a place to…

  • Keep track of submission deadlines or project deadlines they’ve set for themselves.
  •  Keep goals and plans on how they’re going to reach those goals.
  • Keep a step by step breakdown of a project like a novel.
  • Store character bios/profiles.
  • Store research and worldbuilding.
  • Keep to-do lists, monthly, daily, or/and weekly that will help a writer reach their goals.
  • Keep story ideas, both general and for a specific project/goal.

I’ve focused on the specifics with regards to writing, but a Bullet Journal can also organize a person’s entire life if they want. My own —more on that later— currently organizes my entire life, because being a writer is part of my life and not the sum total of it, and things like a family member’s birthday may affect how much work I can get done on a given day.

The different methods of Bullet Journaling…

Like Bullet Journalists, there are a number of common methods of Bullet Journaling. Binders, traditional notebooks, and a Traveller’s Notebook.

Most people start out with a traditional notebook of some sort, whether hardcover, soft cover or spiral bound, in whichever size they feel most comfortable. And many continue to use that, for lack of a better word, style for their Bullet Journal.

The majority of hacks you’ll come across were originally designed for bound notebooks and then adapted to others.

Others use binders, which need no explanation, or they use a Traveller’s Notebook (hereafter known as a TN). A TN is a leather, faux leather or fabric cover, and sometimes laminated paper cover that encloses a number of notebooks within it. Normally the books are soft covered, but people also use hardcover notebooks in their TN.

What these methods share is the ability to compartmentalize things. Giving the user or, in this case, writer the ability to separate them into sections such as daily, personal collections, and both general writing collections and specific project based collections.

What I use…

As I mentioned earlier and promised to talk more about later, I recently went from using multiple notebooks, a size large hardcover graph Moleskine and a number of composition notebooks, to just using my personal Moleskine for everything. Some people are able to have things separated out like that or work with confidential information and need to keep separate books. But while I enjoyed the concept, I found that keeping everything in front of me works better.

But while I enjoyed the concept, I found that keeping everything in front of me works better. The only problem for me with this method is that I do desire some measure of separation while keeping everything in front of me and I don’t relish the idea of transferring all the personal and professional collections that are still relevant when this notebook is done. So I’ve decided to move into a couple of TNs once this notebook is done, and give myself the simultaneous ability to keep things together and separate. One for this blog, one for personal and general work, and one for ongoing projects like the novellas I mentioned in my goal setting post, short story drafts, and future novels once my current one is done.

I’ll admit that I already wonder whether a binder system may be best for my ongoing project, but most of my blog related stuff is already in a cardstock mock up of a TN and working perfectly fine. So I don’t anticipate any issues with the TN setup when it comes to my projects.

I hope everyone enjoyed this post! It was meant to be up one Friday, but that simply didn’t happen. Tomorrow I’ll be writing about the need for representation of marginalized groups in various forms of media via a post that is, in part about, Xena: Warrior Princess after a review of J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s novella, Carmilla.

Recommended Products

Pens: Zebra Z-Grip Flight and Pilot G2.

Notebooks: Moleskine Classic notebooks (PocketLarge, Extra Large) and standard composition books.