A Review of Bullet Journaling

“Her fingers itched at the thought of a notebook, of a pen flying over the pages, of her thoughts, finally free to move, flowing out.” (Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh)

I started keeping notebooks because of Harriet M. Welsch. But I wonder if I had any idea that they would become part of my brain space–that, like Harriet, I would feel strange and constrained when I hadn’t written my thoughts down, or when I hadn’t summed up daily events.

Nevertheless, that’s been happening more and more often. So when I saw this post about bullet journaling, it immediately appealed to me as a way of organizing things at a glance, separate from the irregular stream-of-consciousness life of my notebooks.

A month later, I have to say that I quite like the system. I’ve made some adjustments, of course. The summarized calendar view doesn’t work for me; I’m good with a monthly list of things to do and a daily breakdown of events. I also only use two bullet types: dots and check boxes. Another thing that works for me is that I chose a slim journal. This was in case I didn’t like the system, but it had a great side effect: my bullet journal can fit in my purse without taking much space from my regular notebook, so I can use it to jot down events or to-do lists as needed throughout the day.

As far as worrying about the bullet journal replacing my notebooks: it does seem to have absorbed my notebooks’ recap function, but I tend to neglect that anyway. And now that I think about it, since starting the bullet journal, I seem to feel less stressed about missing daily recaps; this way I am recapping, and I can always come back and fill in some detail later, in my notebook.

I also like that my notebooks “talk” to the bullet journal, referencing things written there, so that to a certain extent, the two function together rather than independently. I could write a whole post about brain space, all the external things that become part of the way our minds function, and that thus become essential to constructing a complete view of the inward identity of an individual. (On second though, nah, that’s probably enough right there.)

But this post is about the bullet journal specifically, so instead I’ll just say this: I expect bullet journaling is something I’ll keep doing, not as a replacement for my notebooks, but as a companion. I’ve found it useful for keeping things organized in my mind, and that’s invaluable for me. Besides, as everyone knows, notebooks are always ready to gather companions. One way they’re like the TARDIS. Also, they’re bigger on the inside.

Notebook and Logs

Reading and writing logs, bullet journal, and current notebook: a few of the things that make up my external brain space.