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Bullet journal

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This pair of pages shows printed entries in a Bullet Journal. The left-hand page shows a variety of progress bars indicating the amount of work completed on different tasks. The right-hand page shows typical bullet journal notation using bullet points (•) for incomplete tasks, exes (x) for completed tasks, and right-facing angle brackets (>) for "migrated" tasks moved to this list from another list. The right-hand page also includes a list of appointments for one week, listed by day and time.
Example page from a bullet journal, showing some typical notations.

A bullet journal (sometimes known as a BuJo) is a method of personal organization developed by digital product designer Ryder Carroll.[1][2]

The system organizes scheduling, reminders, to-do lists, brainstorming, and other organizational tasks into a single notebook. The name "bullet journal" comes from the use of abbreviated bullet points to log information,[3] but it also partially comes from the use of dot journals, which are gridded using dots rather than lines.[4] First shared with the public in 2013, it has become a popular organization method, garnering significant attention on Kickstarter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest.[5][6]


Composition of a bullet journal[edit]

Bullet journals are usually handwritten and kept in a single notebook. The core tools of a bullet journal are:[7]

  • Index – The index is typically placed at the beginning of the bullet journal and serves as a reference for locating specific sections and pages. It lists page numbers and titles of various sections or collections within the journal.[8]
  • Key – The key is an important component of a bullet journal. It consists of a set of symbols or signifiers that represent different types of entries and their status. Common symbols include: a dot (•) for tasks, an open circle (◦) for events, a dash (–) for notes. Additional symbols include: a star and a dot (*•) for important/priority tasks, a cross (x) for completed tasks, an arrow for tasks postponed within the month (>), etc.
  • Future log – The future log provides an overview of upcoming months. It is typically used to record future events, deadlines, and long-term goals.[9]
  • Monthly log – The monthly log helps you plan and track tasks, events, and goals on a monthly basis. It often includes a calendar view with space to record key dates and appointments.[10]
  • Daily/weekly log – The daily or weekly log is where you record tasks, events, and notes on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis. The log typically includes space for each day or week, allowing you to jot down tasks, events, and any relevant notes.
  • Collections – Collections may make up the bulk of a bullet journal, and organize information by content – these can be logs, lists, trackers, etc. Other popular collections include habit and mood trackers, fitness or diet trackers, a list of books to read, restaurants to try, etc.
  • Migration – Migration is the practice of periodically updating lists to new lists, such as carrying over unfinished tasks from one month's log to the next. This helps users stay organized, productive, and on task by allowing them to prioritize what things need to get done, and what can be placed on hold. Migration can also refer to the process of moving into a new notebook. Migration has been described as the "cornerstone" of bullet journaling.


The method requires a pen or pencil and a notebook, though many users are more elaborate. Commercially produced notebooks exist that are designed for bullet journaling, but any blank notebook will suffice.[2] Users who focus on the creative element may use a variety of supplies, including a ruler, colored pens, markers, pencils, stickers, stencils, washi tape, etc.[11]

The bullet journal system aims to provide a framework for users to plan out their lives and increase productivity. Inherent to the bullet journaling system is flexibility – there is plenty of room for users to customize the system to their needs.


Proponents describe the bullet journal as both an effective planning method and a "creative outlet" with a focus on "simplicity and clarity."[12]


An example of a bullet journal.

Since the introduction of the original bullet journal method, the online community has morphed the bullet journal into all different styles: minimalistic, artsy, doodle, super-organized, and scrapbook, to name a few.[13] What differentiates styles is how elaborate pages are, whether that's in terms of content or appearance, or in how the user approaches the system. For example, the bullet journal may be used for its functionality, and organization, or as an outlet for creativity.

Digital bullet journaling has also become popular. Although bullet journaling is traditionally done with pen and paper, many users have created digital bullet journals using a variety of note-taking apps or apps designed specifically for digital bullet journaling.


A bullet journal is a way to schedule by day, week, month, or year; it can also be used to keep track of progress on various tasks. It may be used as a medium for meditation, as an artistic outlet, and/or as a diary. Many people seek inspiration on social media, searching for users who post their own creations in the hopes of inspiring others. A BuJo can be used as an academic planner by holding records of assignments and deadlines. It can also be used to track mental health with pages such as mood and habit trackers. If maintained over a long period of time, it may also be used to reflect on memories and past events.[citation needed]


Many students have taken up bullet journaling to help them succeed in all levels of school – high school, college, graduate, etc. On YouTube, there are many "study with me" videos, which feature YouTubers studying, as well as sharing tips, tricks, and favorite supplies. Closely related are studygrams, which are Instagram accounts dedicated to studying and taking effective, organized, and aesthetically pleasing notes.[14] Bullet journaling has been featured in many of these videos as a way to get organized and stay productive in school. In 2019, Study with Me: Effective Bullet Journaling Techniques, Habits, and Hacks To Be Successful, Productive, and Organized – With Special Strategies for Mathematics, Science, History, Languages, and More by Jasmine Shao and Alyssa Jagan was published.[15] This book was inspired by the popular "study with me" or "studygram" phenomenon.[15]


Proponents of the bullet journal system have also used it to organize their work lives and careers since the system promotes productivity and is easily customizable.[16] Bullet journals can be used to keep track of tasks, schedule appointments and meetings, manage projects, take notes, track how time is being spent, etc.[17] Some have even used it to keep track of goals for annual reviews.[18] Thousands of videos can be found on YouTube on how to use a bullet journal for work.[19]


People also use bullet journals to track or log finances, as they can be used to track spending or savings goals.[20][21]

Mental health[edit]

Bullet journaling to manage mental health has also become very popular, due to the tracking features of the bullet journaling system. Recording information over time in one place, it can lead to insights into users' moods, habits, mental health triggers, and more.[22] Some people use bullet journals for goal setting or gratitude logs.[22] Additionally, a bullet journal can be a designated outlet to work through strong emotions or difficult times.[22] The act of writing things down can help people get thoughts out of their heads and make them become more objective and less stressed.[23]


Ryder Carroll began looking for a simple method of personal organization in college in the late 1990s. Diagnosed with attention deficit disorder as a child, he wanted a system to help "move past his learning disabilities."[5] By the time he graduated from college, he had devised the bullet journal method. A friend encouraged him to share his method, and he began sharing it online in 2013. It attracted attention on social media, earning $80,000 in Kickstarter funding to create a centralized online community of users. It was the subject of over 3 million Instagram posts by December 2018.[5][6] The method has been influenced by Carroll's experience as an app, web, and game designer, as well as by his interest in scrapbooking.[5]

Carroll gave a TED talk about bullet journaling at the 2017 TEDxYale event, titled "How to declutter your mind – keep a journal."[24] Carroll also published a book on the system, The Bullet Journal Method, in 2018.[25]

Economic impact[edit]

Since the introduction of bullet journaling, its growing popularity has contributed to an increase in sales of traditional stationery products, such as notebooks, pens, etc. As of 2018, there was an 18% increase in the sale of notebooks in the US compared to the year before.[26] There was also an increase ranging from 5% to 17% in the sale of various types of pens.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Molinsky, Andy (March 12, 2019). "008: Bullet Journal". From the Dorm Room to the Board Room (Podcast). Brandeis University. Event occurs at 01:44. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  2. ^ a b Schumer, Lizz (March 2019). "Bullet Journals". Good Housekeeping. 268 (3). ISSN 0017-209X.
  3. ^ Alvarez, Kim (January 21, 2016). "Thorough Guide to the Bullet Journal System". Tiny Ray of Sunshine. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  4. ^ Sigler, Jennifer Leigh. "First Comes Love: Ritual and Domesticity in the Aspirational Leisure-Labor Economy of the 21st Century." Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, 2019. Ann Arbor: Proquest. Web. November 20, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d Mejia, Zameena (August 2, 2017). "How the creator behind the viral bullet journal turned his own life hack into a full-time business". CNBC. Archived from the original on August 3, 2017. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  6. ^ a b León, Concepción de (December 27, 2018). "The Art of Bullet Journaling and the Improved To-Do List". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  7. ^ Watters, Ashley; House, Abshier. "What is a Bullet Journal (BUJO)?". For Dummies. Archived from the original on May 13, 2017. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  8. ^ Kemsley, Saskia (February 15, 2023). "Best bullet journals for all your planning needs". Evening Standard. Retrieved May 25, 2023.
  9. ^ Rose, Silvia (April 13, 2019). Bullet Journaling: Get Your Life in Order and Enjoy Completing Your Tasks. C-S Publication via PublishDrive.
  10. ^ Barnes, Jo (July 19, 2022). "50+ Bullet Journal Ideas (for Beginners) to Live Your Best Life". Your Lifestyle Business. Retrieved May 25, 2023.
  11. ^ Adamson, Sydney (August 2018). "Bullet Journaling 101". Girls' Life. 25 (1). ISSN 1078-3326.
  12. ^ Moffett, Billie Jo (November 8, 2018). "Bullet Journaling: Putting Pen to Paper – Public Libraries Online". Public Libraries. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  13. ^ Journals, Bullet (July 29, 2017). "5 Different Types of Bullet Journals". Blossoms and Bullet Journals. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  14. ^ "All About StudyGrams". StudyBlue. December 22, 2017. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  15. ^ a b "Study with Me". www.goodreads.com. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  16. ^ Coworking, Novel (September 3, 2018). "How to Use a Bullet Journal for Work". Novel Coworking. Archived from the original on December 4, 2019. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  17. ^ "How to Use Your Bullet Journal for Work | Rock Your Professional Life". Kalyn Brooke. August 21, 2018. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  18. ^ PrettyPrintsAndPaper (February 13, 2016). "Using A Bullet Journal at Work". Pretty Prints & Paper. Archived from the original on December 4, 2019. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  19. ^ "bullet journaling for work – Google Search". www.google.com. Retrieved November 14, 2019.
  20. ^ "#BulletJournal: Seven million beautiful ways to save money". BBC. BBC. Retrieved February 25, 2024.
  21. ^ "How to use a bullet journal savings tracker to reach your goals". Discover. Discover. Retrieved February 25, 2024.
  22. ^ a b c "How Bullet Journaling Can Help Us Manage Our Mental Health". The Blurt Foundation. August 16, 2018. Archived from the original on December 4, 2019. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  23. ^ Rees, Sarah (March 1, 2019). "Bullet Journaling for Mental Health". Sarah D Rees. Retrieved November 18, 2022.
  24. ^ How to declutter your mind – keep a journal | Ryder Carroll | TEDxYale, retrieved November 20, 2019
  25. ^ Carroll, Ryder (2018). The Bullet Journal method: track your past, order your present, plan your future. New York: Portfolio/Penguin. ISBN 9780008261375. OCLC 1066062588.
  26. ^ a b "Bullet Journaling Trend Lifts Sales of Notebooks and Writing Instruments". The NPD Group. Port Washington, NY. June 26, 2019. Archived from the original on December 4, 2019. Retrieved December 3, 2019.

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