Bullet Journaling

September 4, 2017

I started maintaining a bullet journal today, in a bid to improve productivity and get better organized. A friend observed the diary and enquired with some curiosity when I’d started, and seemed to find it a tad funny that I was going old-school. I’ve always been minimalist, the bullet journal is a perfect example of something extremely minimalist, but still very effective. What I liked best about the idea is the ease with which it can be created and maintained, while still being in a standard template. I don’t have to try and setup my own conventions or experiment till I find something I can use, and instead dive right in.

How’s bullet journaling any different from writing a conventional diary?

Bullet journaling achieves greater brevity, without being ambiguous. For example, let’s see the following conventional long-hand diary entries, and what they convey/leave out.

Journal Entry Intended meaning Remarks
Schedule appointment with doctor Setup an appointment with doctor Clear, but not very brief
Appt with doctor Setup an appt with doctor Ambiguous
Appt with doctor Reschedule an appt with doctor Ambiguous
Appt with doctor Completed a scheduled appointment with doctor Ambiguous

Now let’s see some typical journal entries, with symbols/notations (called signifiers), and see what they mean. We’ll see how these entries remain unambiguous, despite being terse.

> Appt with doctor: Migrated/rescheduled appointment with doctor
< Appt with doctor: Scheduled appointment with doctor
X Appointment with doctor: Completed appointment with doctor
- Doc noted no issues. Note/observation

The style of bullet journaling is closer to writing commit messages in git, than it is to blogging, and it might take a while to get used to writing terse but clear entries. For the notebook itself, I chose one that is small enough to easily carry around, without being too tiny, and it has about 150 pages. Depending on how small my writing is, how many entries I jot down, and how concise the actual contents are, it might last for upto six months. By the time my first book is filled up, I hope to have gained enough experience with the standard bullet journal conventions/signifiers to be able to come up with my own notations, which will further aid in maintaining brevity, without compromising on either quality or range of coverage.