All right, I admit it. I caught the “pretty” bullet journal bug. I LOVE making my spreads colorful and pretty, even with my limited artistic ability. Recently, I focused more on the look of my bujo than the function. I ignored the fundamentals of rapid logging, the part of bullet journaling that saves me time! How could I lose sight of what my bullet journal is actually for?! While there is nothing wrong with making something look nice, it’s time to get back to basics.
So many people in my life ask me why I keep a physical planner when so much of my life takes place online. Doesn’t it take longer to write it out? Don’t you carry it everywhere with you? Yes, and I do it gladly.
The Hidden Benefits of Bullet Journaling
First of all, planning everything out by hand keeps me actively engaged in my goals. By writing them down and breaking them down into smaller tasks by hand, they’re constantly present in my mind. I actually remember what it was I was supposed to accomplish in a given day. Even when I don’t remember, I have it right there in my bujo. Second, the bullet journal system offered a customizable solution to all the frustrations I had with traditional planners:
Why isn’t this box bigger?!
Seriously, why does the week begin with Sunday? My work ALWAYS begins on Monday!
WHY IS THIS PLANNER TRYING TO FIT ME INTO A BOX?!
And probably most important, why isn’t all this helping me grow as a person?
Okay, so maybe it wasn’t trying to fit me into a box, but that’s what it felt like every time I tried to cram the busy days into one of those teensy little boxes. I constantly threw these questions at my planner. If you’re still reading, I assume you’ve felt my pain.
While I detailed how my bujo helped me prioritize and organize in this blog post, one of my first posts on the subject, I glossed over its greatest benefit. Every bullet journal is different, because every person has different needs, combined with a different style. Some people (myself included) prefer Leuchtturm 1917s* and some prefer Rhodia Notebooks*. You’ll find people who prefer the traditional Filofax* and others that find whatever notebook they have lying around their house. Don’t even get me started on the pen debate.
The point is, you are no longer limited by the contents of a pre-made planner. If you need to track expenses, you can add a place in your bullet journal. Or, if you want to have a list of everyone’s birthdays you always forget (guilty!), you can do that! Ultimately, the options are unlimited.
Relaxation & Calm
Bet you didn’t know there would be health benefits involved, did you? Well, there are some definite benefits I’ve noticed in keeping my bullet journal. While it can’t lose weight the weight for you or lower your blood pressure, there are some definite health benefits to bullet journaling. I find myself more relaxed knowing what I’m going to tackle the next day (I write out my to-do lists the night before). The actual practice of filling out my trackers and goal setting is also relaxing to me.
The act of writing everything out actually puts my mind at ease because I’m not worrying about forgetting things. Recently, I’ve taken to logging all my food informally in my daily. I didn’t do this because I’m actively trying to lose weight (though I have interestingly enough lost 9 lbs since starting this). Instead, I started logging my food because I was curious about my eating habits. Many people use their bullet journal to track health-related things like weight loss, food diaries, and fitness logs.
More on that later… On to the whole reason I started writing this post!
So, What the Heck is Rapid Logging?
I asked the same question. When Ryder Caroll developed the bullet journal system, he needed a way of quickly writing down his ideas and tasks. I like to think he had the same problem I seem to — too many thoughts and not enough RAM in my brain (haha–nerd joke). Since then, his system has developed into a series of concepts strung together and customized to the individual’s needs.
Rapid logging goes much quicker than traditional note-taking and journaling. It takes the complexity and effort out of the whole process. As you’ll find on the bullet journal website (linked above!), it consists of four basic properties:
- Page Numbers
- Short Sentences
And bam. With these four components, you have a rapid log. You don’t think I’d just leave it at that, do you?
Topics & Page Numbers
These are paramount to this analog system. A page doesn’t make sense if there isn’t some kind of descriptive title at the top. The object of rapid logging is to streamline the way we take notes, create tasks, and “log” our lives. It defeats the purpose if we don’t clearly define what each page is for.
Also important are the page numbers. The biggest reason I bought a Leuchtturm 1917* journal was the included page numbers and index. It’s impossible to remember which collection of thoughts is on which page (or which appointment is on which day). This helps me further define what’s in my journal, for easy perusal in the future. So, when I need to look back at my master list of publish blog posts, I know exactly where to look!
Think of it like having a hook by the door to put your keys on at the end of the day. You lose the frustration of searching for them, because their location is always clear.
This is where things get a little more complex AND customizable. Ryder Carroll’s system breaks bullets into three categories: tasks, events, and notes.
On a regular basis, I use mostly tasks and events. Occasionally I use notes when I don’t want to forget something, but ordinarily those are on independent pages and not my daily logs. Mostly I use them when I attend a webinar, take a class, or read something that requires it.
How you define task completion and migration tends to depend on your preference. For example, Ryder Carroll’s original system shows completed and migrated tasks in this manner:
While that works for some people, I prefer to fill in boxes when a task is completed. This allows me to fill it in halfway if I’ve begun a task but ran out of time or materials to complete it. I prefer doing this mainly because there are just some days when a lot of things get started and very few get finished. If I have to migrate a task, I just signify that with a simple arrow next to my box. With events, I use the open circle to signify an appointment or event, the time, and a quick blurb describing it. Then, when I’ve attended or completed the appointment, I fill in the circle. If something is postponed, I use the same method as migrating a task.
I admit it, it took awhile to get used to the concept of short sentences when rapid logging. With some things, I wanted to write a more detailed description. I didn’t want to forget an important detail or idea! What I’ve learned, though, is the importance of keeping those descriptions short when rapid logging. If it needs more detail, turn to a clean page, write down the details you need to remember, and then write the page number next to the original notation.
It seemed SO STRANGE to me at first, but it leaves the original task/event list uncluttered. It also helped me break down large daunting tasks into smaller manageable ones. For example, when I brainstormed my e-mail course (coming soon!), The brainstorm was my original task. Then, I went to a new page and wrote down all the ideas I wanted to include. The next day, I flagged everything I had to do as part of that brainstorm (write blog posts, draft e-mails, etc.) and made a master list. That night, I referred to that master list and added what I thought I could make time for to my daily log for the next day.
The result shocked me. I did not get overwhelmed by all the tasks required to finish my e-mail course. I accomplished more of the other things I also needed to finish because I worried less about the daunting task ahead of me.
Why Should You Try It?
Well for one thing, you might be surprised at the results (as I was). Also, the risk is relatively low. Go out, buy a $1 notebook from a convenience store. Try it out for a week. See what happens. Worst case scenario? You have a partly-filled notebook you only wasted $1 on.
Best case scenario?
You find a system that helps de-clutter your brain, prioritize and streamline your daily tasks. Who knows? It may even inspire you to start blogging about it like I did. 😛
*Some links in this post are affiliate links. While this doesn’t increase the cost you pay, I may receive a small commission as a result of a purchase. To see my full policy & disclosures, please click here.
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I hope you’ve found this helpful!
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