How to Revolutionize Your To-Do List with Bullet Journaling

By CSU Global - January 27th, 2020

writing in journal

Bullet journaling — a method of planning out tasks, important dates, and long-term goals in an easy-to-read bulleted format — has been getting a lot of attention over the past few years. Devotees hail the format as life-changing, citing higher productivity levels, a clearer sense of long-term goals, and reduced levels of stress. 

According to, “The goal of the Bullet Journal is to help its practitioners (Bullet Journalists) live intentional lives, ones that are both productive and meaningful.”

Are you curious about the bullet journaling method as a way to get more organized this year? We’ll explore how it works and what benefits it brings. 

How Does Bullet Journaling Work? 

Bullet journaling goes beyond simple to-do lists and encourages people to look at their activities holistically, bringing in things like long-term health, career, and family goals into the picture. 

Its format uses simple codes to help organize by daily tasks, monthly events, professional and personal goals, and more. This space- and time-saving format is known as the “rapid logging” method, the core of the bullet journal philosophy. Simply put, each item on your list is categorized by a special code so you can glean information quickly and rapidly move information from your brain onto a page. 

The Format

Each bullet journal begins with an index that you create yourself, outlining codes you’ll use to organize your journal. Ryder Carroll, the developer of the bullet journal, recommends using the following symbols: 

• Tasks
O Events
— Facts, ideas, or observations
* Priority items
! Inspiration, big ideas, and mantras 

After you establish your index, your bullet journal should follow this format: 

  1. Future log – a four-page entry full of birthdays, events, year-long goals, travel plans, and long-term plans  
  2. Monthly log – a two-page overview of your month that includes things you want to tackle in one month, alongside goals for family, fitness, health, career, and so forth 
  3. Daily log – your day-to-day to-do list 

Each month, you’ll sit down and write out a new monthly log. As you evaluate which tasks you did and didn’t accomplish, you’re automatically “weeding out” those that don’t serve your overall goals or occupy an important enough part of your life to have earned your attention over the past month. For those unaccomplished tasks that are still important to you to check off, simply “migrate” them to the next month. 

You don’t need a special notebook to get started – any notebook will do, though an unlined notebook with a sturdy cover is the typical choice. While it’s up to you which kind of journal you want, aim for one that is durable enough to be carried around, tossed in a backpack, and used several times a day. 

Why Is Bullet Journaling So Popular? 

Ryder Carroll first introduced the method online in 2013, and he’s explained that he developed the system in response to his childhood diagnosis of attention deficit disorder — the method helped him organize his thoughts and prioritize relevant items. 

Soon after its introduction, the video went viral, and bullet journaling caught fire. Users say that writing down thoughts and providing structure to their days and months helps them maintain focus. Especially for millennials, who often juggle a side gig or two alongside their full-time job, bullet journaling can provide helpful structure and organization. 

What Are the Benefits? 

The world moves quickly, and we’re in the midst of an anxiety epidemic. Positivity about a healthy job market is easily overshadowed by wage stagnation and income inequality. The daily barrage of news keeps us on high alert. Issues like perpetual digital connectivity, climate change, politics, healthcare, and more ratchet up stress levels. 

When using bullet journals, users report reduced levels of stress, feelings of accomplishment when they reach professional goals, and more. According to Carroll’s 2017 Ted Talk, bullet journaling can help declutter the mind and create space for focusing on what really matters. Using the bullet journal method to organize your life can help you gain clarity on what’s really important and meaningful to you, which brings feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment. Bullet journaling can also increase levels of mindfulness, which can reduce stress, decrease blood pressure, improve sleep, boost memory, and alleviate anxiety. 

Get Started! 

Ready to explore bullet journaling? Here’s a five-minute tutorial on getting started. 

For inspiration, check out #BuJo (short for bullet journaling) and #BulletJournal hashtags on Instagram and Twitter. Users all over the world provide examples of layouts and success they’ve had using the bullet journal method.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Subscribe to the Global Broadcast

Each month, receive articles that inform and inspire.