How I faked bullet journaling all these years — & The Art that is(Properly) Migrating Your #BuJo

Photo by dylan nolte on Unsplash

Okay, okay.

I’ve been journaling for three and a half years, and ‘bullet journaling’ for two and a half.

I have two journals at any one time — AND — in neither ( don’t shoot me ) do I use bullets.

The awful realisation that maybe I don’t bullet journal after all has finally caught up with me. And I’m only on #11 of my bullet journals.

So let’s just say up until now I’ve had a DIY jack-of-all-trades kind of journal.

It has a partially completed index, and an important page and, somehow, a fully functioning future log. Tick.

(Or completed bullet, if you prefer).

It has a goals collection — but by all appearances, I look at it once and then never revisit it again.

It has weekly logs, calendars, diaries, appointments, ideas, plans, action plans, trackers, notes, brainstorms, lists and doodles.

Some are even colour coordinated.

But none of this is bulleted. So none of it is actually useful to me. It is not a functioning #BuJo. It’s a fake.

Roughly every quarter when I migrate from one journal to the next, I painstakingly copy over whatever I have the time and patience to write out again.

I work for myself, and stuff does get done. It has to.

And I directly attribute that achievement to whatever it is that I do that I label “Bullet Journaling.”

But it could be as little as 10%, and I’ll be lucky if it’s as much as 40% of what I’d like to get done. Heck, I don’t even know yet what it is I want to do or get done — and that’s a huge part of why I started journaling in the first place.

So in a way, this is journaling at its worst — ineffectiveness and procrastination disguised as organisation and productivity.

It’s not all bad though.

I have one system which works well for me. I invented it all by my morbid self — it’s called the Bus List.

It’s basically a brain dump — a list of all the things that are outstanding, need to get done or delegated, in the event that I get hit by a bus tomorrow and my poor (currently imaginary) PA had to step in and take the helm.


It’s not ideal.

But it is how I’ve managed to keep track of tasks so far, and keep all the wheels moving and plates spinning.

I’m a huge fan of journals, all things #BuJo and productivity, so this week — during a sudden and unscheduled period of no Wifi, phone signal or coffee — I decided to have a quick read through The Bullet Journal Method, by Ryder Carroll — the forefather of Bullet Journaling.

What started off as a flick through quickly escalated into a full-on devour.

I’m shook.

I realised I’ve been really half-arsing it all these years. Making it up as I went along, and feeling self-satisfied, pretty damn productive and proud.

Was it bulet journaling? I mean, I never really checked properly. I thought it was my version of it— because I just didn’t think I had the capacity to ever learn how to do it properly.

All I can say is: I am one transformed woman.

It’s tempting to identify my gender as ‘buman’ in honour of how significant and fundamental and life-changing this has been.

So what happened?

My trigger, my starting point had been a brand new, unopened journal.

The Quarterly Migration was upon me. I had run out of pages in one journal and so was preparing to start a new one.

I had my pen and ruler out, but as I’ve misplaced my colouring pens, this one was going to have to start in monochrome. I’m not artistic in the slightest, so I was comfortable with that.

But the goal posts got moved, quite literally.

I read the Bullet Journal Method — the book, and then after that, the website.

I learned that you do not just go willy-nilly into a new journal. My new starting point is actually the old journal. And so now I must go back through this — bulleting every single one of those thoughts, notes, ideas, tasks, plans.

Retrofitting what was a previously alien system to code my old thoughts. To pass them through a filter of important, or not. Is it going to move me forward, or not.

Now it all makes sense.

I always loved a to-do list — but this is what makes the to-do list dynamic. This is what brings the bullet journal to life. It’s giving it a dimension and a context that I’ve been missing for the past eleven iterations.

Some tasks, mercifully, have been completed. It’s time to strike them through once and for all.

Some tasks grew arms and legs and became projects, and then bred other tasks and thoughts and ideas and plans, with no framework to contain them. It’s time to organise, categorise, and prioritise.

Some ideas were scribbled down but never actioned — almost lost, almost forgotten. Now is the time to shepherd them, rather than consign them to live in this journal forever.

Today is the day that I understand the mighty monthly log. I get to start one afresh, and I pledge to keep it updated with what I do as a record of my actions, rather than a snapshot of my aspirations on one day, on that eve of the month ahead.

Today is the day I create intelligent, coherent, useful collections — rather than haul all of the old ones with me — ones that never fitted me, belonged to someone else, served somebody else’s purpose.

Today I can design and start to populate spreads that I have a decent chance of utilising — rather than leave them blank, uncompleted, abandoned. All those things I never tracked, never revisited, never did, never learned from.

Today I create my future by reviewing my past. Today I begin to intentionally bring together my inner world and outer worlds in one, neat, indexed A5 place.

Today is the day I actually become a Bullet Journalist.

Founder, feminist, entrepreneur, coffee + self care

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