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The Bullet Journal Method

Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future

By Ryder Carroll
15-minute read
Audio available
The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll

The Bullet Journal Method (2018) by Ryder Carroll breaks down bullet journaling: the planning and productivity system your most organized friend is definitely already using. Use bullet journaling to clarify, prioritize, schedule, and reflect on your tasks and goals. You’ll never miss an appointment or lose track of a great idea again. 

  • People who write to-do lists but never seem to finish them
  • Productivity pros keen to try the system that’s revolutionized personal planning
  • Dreamers who want to turn vague plans into a reality

The digital designer and entrepreneur Ryder Carroll has been an avid journaler since he was a teenager struggling with an attention disorder. Over decades, Carroll refined his note-taking system into the bullet journal method. Since sharing his method with the world, Carroll has been highly sought after as a speaker and personal productivity expert.

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The Bullet Journal Method

Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future

By Ryder Carroll
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll
Synopsis

The Bullet Journal Method (2018) by Ryder Carroll breaks down bullet journaling: the planning and productivity system your most organized friend is definitely already using. Use bullet journaling to clarify, prioritize, schedule, and reflect on your tasks and goals. You’ll never miss an appointment or lose track of a great idea again. 

Key idea 1 of 9

Edit your tasks before you commit them to the page.

Skim through the bullet journal hashtag on Instagram, and you’ll find over six million posts. That’s six million-plus images of crisp white notebook pages embellished with beautiful handwriting, intriguing symbols, and elaborate color-coding.

These images may leave you itching to pick up a pen and paper. Resist the urge! The goal isn’t to mindlessly fill up pages. Your bujo, as bullet journals are often called, should be reserved only for what’s truly important to you.

The key message is: Edit your tasks before you commit them to the page.

Your bullet journal isn’t a regular notebook to be filled with random jottings that you never revisit. Used properly, a bujo is a tool to help you find your focus. And let’s face it, these days true focus can be hard to come by. Life is filled with distractions, like that pile of urgent emails in your inbox. And it’s saturated with choices, too, like the shows sitting in your Netflix queue. 

Bullet journaling shouldn’t add to your stress. Instead, it should help you focus on what’s actually important so you can accomplish your authentic goals.

That’s why the bujo process doesn’t start with journaling. It begins with a mental inventory designed to declutter your brain. Here’s how to do it:

Take a loose sheet of paper and divide it into three columns. In the first column, list all the things you’re currently doing, both at work and in your personal life. In the second column, list all the things you should be doing. In the third, list all the things you want to be doing.

This exercise might take a long time, and you might need more than one piece of paper. That’s fine! Keep going until your mind is emptied. 

You’ll be left with a map of how you spend your days. In other words, you’ll see a snapshot of your time and the choices you’ve made about how you spend that time. Are they the choices you want to be making? Look at each task and ask yourself, is this task important to me? Is it necessary? If the answer is “no,” cross it off your inventory. It’s not going in your bujo. 

Before you’ve even cracked your notebook open, you’ve learned one of bujo’s key lessons: what you leave out of your bullet journal is just as important as what you put in. 

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