This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Australia, which closed in 2021.

What The Hell Is A 'Bullet Journal' And Why Are People Using Them?

Taking it right back to pen and paper.

They are calling it the analog system for the digital age.

Keeping a 'bullet journal' is the way millennials are keeping on top of their lives, using it as a to-do list, as well as recording what fulfills them.

Surprisingly, it's not done on some fancy app -- it's written down on paper.

"The Bullet Journal as you see it now is the culmination of 25 years for trying to solve my own organisational challenges," Ryder Carroll, creator of the Bullet Journal told The Huffington Post Australia.

"It all started with being diagnosed with ADD at an early age and incrementally addressing one 'weakness" at time, through trial and error."

Bullet Journal

Carroll's creation is proving wildly popular. The hashtag #bulletjournal has been used over half a million times on Instagram alone.

So, what is a Bullet Journal? Is it a diary, a calendar or to-do list?

"The short answer is that the Bullet Journal can be whatever you need it to be. It's designed to adapt to your needs. It's a flexible framework that helps you organise whatever you apply it to," Carroll said.

Here's how it works.

You get yourself a regular old notebook. You can buy specific ones designed for bullet journaling, but any blank book will do.

"The two main things to keep in mind are size and quality. If it's too big you'll never take it with you. If it's too small it will be impractical. Be sure to get something that's rugged enough to keep up with you," Carroll said.

A photo posted by Morgan (@morganstudies) on

When it comes to what is recorded, you use what is called 'Rapid Logging' to jot down stuff.

"Note-taking and traditional journaling take time. The more complex the entry, the more effort is expended. The more effort expended, the more of a chore it becomes, the more likely you'll underutilise or abandon your journal. Rapid Logging is the solution," the how-to website reads.

Rapid Logging is the language in which the Bullet Journal is written. It consists of four components -- 'topics', 'page numbers', 'short sentences', and 'bullets'.

The 'Topic' is what you call the page, as well as the date. Name and number the page before you get started. It could be as simple as calling it 'March 27th', and numbering the pages in sequence. (1, 2, 3...)

'Bullets' are the short form notation used next to your bullet points. These bullets will help you arrange each point into one of three categories -- a task, event or note.

Tasks are marked by using a dot (.). Events are marked with an O (o), and Notes with a dash (-).

Then, when you've actioned, moved or scheduled each bullet, you mark it with a specific symbol (X, < or >).

Confused yet? Stick with us, it is easier than it initially sounds.

"There are a lot of very beautiful and elaborate Bullet Journals out there on Instagram. This can be very intimidating. It's not about how your Bullet Journal looks, it's about how effective it is," Carroll said.

A good way to look at the Bullet Journal is as a 'framework'. This consists of modules. The power of this type of journal is that you can mix and match these modules to best suit your needs. It's suggested you try bullet journal for two months to get the hang of it.

"If you're curious, start simply with the tutorials. It's a system designed to embrace your 'imperfections'. Bullet Journaling is about learning what matters to you, and getting closer to those things every day," Carroll said.

"For those that give it a real shot, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I'm a digital product designer, but I still find tremendous value in having a practice that allows me to unplug and think. No dings, buzzes etc -- just paper and pen and a moment all to myself to gather my thoughts and take a breath," Carroll said.

Given how much time we spend on devices, how much they're supposed to streamline our lives, out how much of our days they consume, that's really refreshing.


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