The Unexpected Magic of Bullet Journaling
Despite being a “productivity guy”, I never got into bullet journaling.
It seemed a faff to manually write down all my weekly, monthly, and yearly tasks and events. Why keep track of them by hand (every single day) when I can use apps like Calendly or Todoist which:
✅ Automate everything (text reminders, recurring events)
✅ Sync across all devices
✅ Have co-op mode (bookable calendar slots, shared tasks)
I was a hard pass on bullet journaling.
Last week though, I read some of The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Caroll – the guy that started the craze back in 2013 – and Igot curious about pen-and-paper productivity. So I naturally did some YouTube research.
The first video that popped up was by Matt D’Avella: I tried bullet journaling for 30 days. But although I love Matt, I try not to watch his videos, in case I unintentionally copy his ideas. Nathaniel Drew has the same problem. 😁
But the next video was Pick Up Limes’ Minimal Bullet Journal Setup. It was way simpler than I expected, and looked kind of cool. So I got out a fresh notebook, followed Sadia’s instructions, and got hooked.
I’ve been bullet journaling for the last seven days now, and I’m still loving it. You can customise your bullet journal a lot of ways, but here are the basics:
1. Get a dot grid notebook, so you can easily draw straight lines, boxes, etc.
2. Decide on a layout. There are tons of different ways to set up your bullet journal. So take the time to look through online examples and find a (not too complicated) layout that works for you. Common pages include:
- Daily Log (to record events, thoughts, and feelings)
- Daily To-Do List (stuff you want to get done)
- Month-at-a-Glance (track events, deadlines, and appointments)
- Year at-a-Glance (top-down view of the year)
- Brain Dump (get random thoughts down on paper)
- Goals Page (to stay motivated)
3. Start tracking your tasks. A big part of bullet journaling is keeping track of your to-dos. The usual code is:
- A bullet (•) for a task you’re doing today.
- A cross (x) to show the task is complete.
- An arrow (>) to show you’ve moved the task to another day.
- A star (*) to show the task is important.
- Crossing out (~~•~~) to show you’ve cancelled the task.
Once you’ve grasped the basics, you can start play around with different layouts (eg habit trackers or monthly gratitude lists).
I’ve noticed that re-writing tasks or events on multiple pages isn’t actually a bug but a feature of bullet journaling. The slow manual input and repetition helps cement ideas in my brain as actually important. Writing my tasks this way feels way more intentional than chucking stuff into Todoist or Google Calendar. The ‘year view’ also gives me a better zoomed-out perspective than a regular digital calendar, because it only shows my most important tasks or goals.
Arguably the most fun part of bullet journaling is getting to buy lots of stationery (feels a bit like going back to school lol). I ordered a lot of stuff – maybe too much:
- Ottergami Notebook
- Gel Pens
- Correction Tape
- Pencil Case
- Tipp-Ex/Whiteout pen
Let’s be honest though: it’s easy to get hooked after trying a new new productivity system for a week, thinking it’s the solution to all your problems.
So I’ll report back next week on how the bullet journaling’s going.
Have a great week!
Notion is an incredible productivity app. I use it for all my creative and business projects, including:
🎬 Scripting Videos
📮 Writing Newsletters
🎙️ Running my Podcast
It’s also game-changing for planning personal projects like holidays, workouts, and meal prep.
My favourite thing about Notion is how easy it is to customise workflows. You can use kanban boards, video embeds, smart spreadsheets – and new features are being added all the time.
It’s a super-clean and minimalist app by default, but I give my pages some character by adding emojis and images. For more ideas, Notion has a massive online community creating page templates (check out my free set of YouTube creator templates).
Get started on Notion today, for free (!), using my link: https://ntn.so/sundaysnippets. You can also check out their template gallery for inspiration. Thanks to Notion for sponsoring this issue of Sunday Snippets 😄
♥️ My Favourite Things
🎙️ Deep Dive Podcast – Dr Tim Pychyl: World’s Leading Expert On How To Solve Procrastination. Tim and I discussed exactly what procrastination is, how to nudge ourselves into better habits, spirituality, and getting into a good ‘flow’.
📒 Stationery – Ottergami Notebook. This is my new bullet journal notebook – thick pages, grid pattern, with a nice soft vegan leather cover.
📚 Article – How to be Happy, by Luke Muehlhauser. A great LessWrong post that lists 14 concrete strategies for being happier, including Go outside and move your body, avoid consumerism, and improve your self-esteem.
📝 Article – The Perils of Audience Capture, by Gurwinder. A fairly unsettling article about how creators can end up making more and more repetitive content, because that’s all their audience wants to watch/read. If your first hit YouTube video is of you eating 5 cheeseburgers, and you carry on trying to replicate that success… things can go downhill pretty quickly.
🎬 My New Videos
🤔 How to Stop Overthinking – Overthinking nearly stopped me starting a business, my YouTube channel, and asking my future wife (🤞) out on a first date… In this video I go through 5 practical strategies that help me stop overthinking.
📱 27 Apps That Shaped My Life In 27 Minutes – An episode of ‘Tech Club’ where I go through apps like Anki, Dreamweaver, and Podia that have shaped my life over the past few years.
✍️ Quote of the Week
A meeting of two strangers at a party is always somewhat embarrassing when the host has not identified their roles in introducing them, for neither knows what rules of conversation and action should be observed.
From The Way of Zen by Alan Watts. Resurfaced using Readwise.