RYDER CARROLL: When people ask me what the Bullet Journal method is I like to describe it as a mindfulness practice that's disguised as a productivity system. So what sets Bullet Journal apart from regular list keeping and journaling? It's not linear. So essentially you create these things called collections which are essentially lists or graphs or whatever you need of related information. So that could be a shopping list, it could be a to do list, it could be a project, it could be a fertility tracker, whatever you need it to be. And Bullet Journal lays a framework for you to have all these different components work with each other. And the way it does that is through simple mechanisms you already know – page numbers, page titles. So, for example, there's an index and the index allows you to simply store all the different collections that you have in your notebook so you can quickly find them again.
There are four core collections in the Bullet Journal. One is the daily log. It's a way for us to capture all the thoughts that bubble up throughout the day and categorize them into tasks, events and notes using different symbols. So we keep our entries very short and then we also tag them essentially with an icon.
Then we have this thing known as a monthly log. And the monthly log on one page is a monthly calendar and then on the next page is a monthly task list essentially where you can create a monthly inventory each month. You take a step back, think about what you want to get done that month. Anything that's bubbled up and getting it out of your head and on paper. The calendar on the monthly log can be used in one of two ways. In a traditional way but I prefer to use it as a way to actually write down things after they happen. So the calendar quickly becomes a timeline of the decisions you made and the events that have happened essentially. And having the context of when what actually happened can be very revealing in its own right. Like did you actually start working out three weeks ago or a week and a half ago. Did you send that email then or what not. So it's a timeline of highlights in your life. So you have the monthly log.
Then you have the future log for all the things that happen outside of the current month. The Bullet Journal unfolds in real time so we don't hoard pages. Essentially every time you flip a page it can accept pretty much anything that you need it to be it drawings, poetry, lists, projects, whatever you want. And the way that works is with the index. So every time you flip the page and you use it for a different purpose, you number your pages and then you list that page and its title in the index. So you have these four core collections. But you can create collections for pretty much anything you like. Again, shopping lists, vacation planning.
Lists can be infinite pretty much. You can keep writing things down and whether or not you do them well, you know, that just depends on the person. What I found really important is that I keep reengaging with the things that I write down and keep curating the substance of my experience if you will. So we have the monthly log essentially. Every month we set up a new monthly log and in between the monthly logs you have the daily logs. And the daily logs are there to capture your tasks, events and notes. So at the end of each month what you do is you reflect over the last – so at the end of every month you reflect through the past month and see the things that you've done and the things that you haven't done.
And then you have a choice to make. If something isn't done you can ask yourself why? Is it because you just didn't get around to it or because it's not really adding value to your life? Is it vital? Does it matter? And if it doesn't then you get rid of that item. In the process of reviewing your previous month you're automatically filtering out distractions from your life. So it's not about keeping a never ending to do list. It's about keeping a to do list that's actionable with things on it that you believe actually add value to your life. And that's something that I haven't seen before. So a lot of people ask me like doesn't it take a lot of time to keep rewriting your tasks. And I would say it might take a little bit more time upfront but if it's not even worth rewriting then is it really worth taking up space in your life, in your mind, in your day. Because a lot of times the things that we work on will absorb so much more time than they need to. I think the question is does it need to be done in the first place.